York has gained quite the reputation for being a ghostly hotspot, with its rich history and dark, cobbled streets making it the perfect backdrop for spooky goings on.
In fact, York is the most haunted city in the world with an impressive total of 504 recorded hauntings according to the Ghost Research Foundation International – so it’s quite the travel destination in the afterlife, too.
For the keen paranormal investigators among us there are several ghost tours available to choose from, exploring numerous locations across the city claiming to be haunted. From roman soldiers eternally marching on roads no longer there to ghostly figures wandering down dark ‘snickelways’, many things go ‘bump’ in the night here.
After all, there’s nothing like grabbing your torch, channeling your inner Derek Acorah and taking to the streets of York to uncover some ghoulish secrets. And if that wasn’t enough for you, a good fright is the perfect excuse to unwind with a pint of something strong in a warm pub afterwards.
Here’s our guide to the best ghost tours in York, plus some great independent spots to have a debrief drink in. Of course, that’s if you’re not too scared…
The Original Ghost Tour of York
It’s good practice to start with the original, and as the name entails the Original Ghost Tour of York was established back in 1973 – so they’ve got a few decades-worth of ghost-hunting under their belts!
According to their website, the tour was “an original creation believed to be the first in the world”, aiming to be accurate, authentic and genuine, exploring a world of folklore, legend and dreams.
They promise a unique opportunity to discover “the hidden magic of our Ancient City through the real art of storytelling. Tales are drawn from the immense History of York and are told against a backdrop of haunting beauty.” As a result, visitors end up walking in the very footsteps of those who have passed on before – which is always a very strange, electric experience.
Boasting previous guests such as Morgan Freeman, the Mighty Boosh and Richard Dreyfuss, you know it’s going to be a good night.
The tour goes nightly from The King’s Arms Pub, Ouse Bridge from 8:00pm with no need to book, costing £5.00 for Adults and £4.00 for Children.
Ghost Hunt of York
The award-winning Ghost Hunt of York offers a theatrical evening, prompting guests to follow its Victorian guide through the winding streets and narrow ginnels as they recount many a grisly tale.
Whatever the weather and always on time, the guide (unmissable in his frock coat, top hat and Gladstone bag) presents classic York ghost stories in a “captivating style, no tardy tales of tedium but intelligent, energetic accounts from a guide with a predilection for fun and entertainment.”
From horror to hilarity, be aware that you could be put up to a practical jokes and comic re-enactment or two – the most ‘notorious’ of which is when unsuspecting customers of Caesar’s restaurant are subjected to more body parts than they would normally anticipate from a menu.
Once again there’s no need to book, with the tour leaving every night from 7:30pm at the bottom of the Shambles. Adults cost £6 and it’s £4 for children.
The Ghost Bus Tour
If you’re tired of walking, why not take the bus instead? The Ghost Bus Tour offers “the UK’s only comedy-horror theatre sightseeing experience on wheels” – boasting a “Necrobus” that has been in public service for over a decade in York, Edinburgh and London.
Despite it’s crypt-keeper-esque name, you’ll be carted around in a classic 1960’s Routemaster bus, lovingly restored in ‘midnight-black’ livery, finished with antique lamps and plush red velvet curtains.
The York tour lasts roughly an hour and 15 minutes depending on the traffic and offers a comprehensive tour of the city’s haunted hotspots: Clifford’s Tower, Treasurers House, York Minster and Dick Turpin’s Grave.
The tours start at Bus Stop RE daily found directly outside York Station, kicking off from 7:30pm Sunday to Thursday (no tours Monday), 6pm and 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday.