York is a city famous for its horse racing. Every year in August, the York Racecourse hosts the prestigious Ebor festival, with various others scattered through the summer season.

York City Football Club play at Bootham Crescent, about 20 minutes' walk from York Minster. York have played in the lower tiers of the English league system for most of their history (in 2013-14 they will play in League Two, the lowest professional tier). Most matches take place on Saturday afternoons, with some on weeknights, and admission costs around £13 per adult.

York City Knights Rugby League Club play at the Huntington Stadium, around 3 miles from the city. There is a good open rowing club in the city centre and events and regattas often take place on the river Ouse during the summer.

As York is situated on two rivers the Foss and the Ouse, there is some great river fishing, which is free within the city. The rivers have a good head of Bream up to 7lb, along with roach/perch and eels. There are some monster pike situated in the Foss basin just opposite the castle museum. Local tackle shops will point you in the right direction.

The historic center of York is a traffic-free pedestrian zone, but outside of this, the roads are fairly uncongested, making the city a great place for biking.

Parks and gardens around the city also provide excellent places for a relaxing walk. The award-winning Rowntree park features formal gardens, a canal and water cascade. There are also nature trails, basketball and tennis courts, a skate park and playgrounds. The West Bank Park is a good place to go for bird-watching or hiking, as it features a mature woodland and an arboretum. Acomb Wood is another tract of natural beauty and a wildlife haven, accessible by bus or from the Quaker Wood parking lot. Clarence Gardens, located in the heart of urban York, has three bowling greens and a playground shielded from city noise by a ring of trees.

For more vigorous sports in York, there is the Oakland Sports Centre, which requires the purchase of an access card, as well as two public swimming pools (Edmund Wilson and Yearsley). Bowling greens and tennis courts throughout the city may also be used for a fee.