Rievaulx Abbey

Things to see and do

What you need to know

We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. Here's everything you need to know.

  • Do we need to Book?

    Advance booking is now essential. We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won’t be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you’re a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. Make sure you've read our ticketing FAQ before you book.

    Book Tickets

    Booking FAQs

  • What parts of the site are open?
    • Abbey and grounds - All outdoor spaces will be open as usual.
    • Museum - The museum is closed. 
    • Café - Take away food and drink will be available. 
    • Shop - The shop is closed. 
  • Visiting Rievaulx Abbey after 16 May

    Rievaulx Abbey's interior spaces will open on 17 May, in line with government guidelines. At Rievaux this includes the café and the museum. 

    The café will open with indoor and outdoor seating, and it will also offer takeaway. The shop will also open.

    Face coverings are required within all of our interior spaces.
    We have additional Covid-secure measures in place including social distancing, enhanced cleaning and limits on visitor numbers.


  • Keeping you Safe

    We've made a number of changes to help keep you safe. Although things might be a little different when you visit, you’ll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history really happened. And you’ll still be given a warm and safe welcome by our friendly – if socially distant – staff and volunteers.

    You can visit our reopening page for information on general safety measures we've taken to help keep you safe.

    General Safety Information

  • Do I need to wear a face covering?

    Face coverings must be worn in all indoor areas. We won't be able to provide you with a face covering, so please come prepared so you don't miss out.

Rievaulx Abbey ruins

Explore the abbey ruins

Hidden in the deep River Rye valley, the beautiful and tranquil abbey ruins reflect nearly one thousand years of spiritual, commercial and Romantic history.

Rievaulx was one of the first Cistercian abbeys to be founded in England in around 1130, and after the dissolution, became the centre of commercial activity for many years. The abbey forge was used to set up an ironworks on the site.

The abbey then entered its Romantic period when its picturesque ruins became a beacon for poets, painters, and scholars. It was one of the first major ruins to be conserved by the Office of Works (ancestor of English Heritage) in 1917.

Items on display in the museum at Rievaulx Abbey

Stop by the museum

Discover the rich past of this powerful medieval monastery in our elegant museum displaying previously unseen artefacts from the abbey including elaborate medieval stone carvings, chess pieces and gold coins which tell the story of the rise and dramatic fall of the first Cistercian abbey in the North of England.

Afternoon tea at Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey Cafe

Enjoy stunning views of Rievaulx Abbey as you enjoy a treat in our café. The café serves hot and cold drinks and a selection of high quality food using locally sourced ingredients. There's a choice of hot and cold meals, sandwiches, soup, cakes, tray bakes and scones all freshly prepared on site.

Our homemade soup is always vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy free, and we offer more options for those with a vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy-free diet. Children's lunchboxes are available, and we can offer smaller portions of some of the main dishes especially for younger visitors.

We also have an outdoor terrace where you can soak up the atmosphere of the Abbey while enjoying your meal or afternoon tea. The cafe is accessible without admission to the Rievaulx Abbey site and is open whenever the Abbey is open, but note that we close 30 minutes before the site.

Visitor using audio tour device

Take the audio tour

Pick up an audio tour when you visit and discover 900 years of fascinating history. Learn about the monks in medieval times. Hear how they devoted their lives to spiritual matters yet at the same time established a thriving business to become one of the wealthiest monasteries in Britain.

Find out about the abbey's role in the development of the Cistercian order across Europe, and its important place in England's medieval economy.

Explore some of the highlights from the collection at Rievaulx Abbey.
Plan your visit to Rievaulx Abbey today.

Family fun

Grab a trail sheet from the visitor centre and find out all about life as a monk at Rievaulx Abbey. Discover what monks ate, how they communicated and where they went to the toilet! Would you have liked to be a medieval monk?

Have a game of hide and seek in the maze-like rooms of the infirmary and snap a family selfie with a view from the abbey church. Enjoy activities during the school holidays too.

Visitors in front of Rievaulx Abbey

Lace up your boots

Walk in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims from the stronghold of Helmsley Castle to the breathtaking Rievaulx Abbey. Discover more about the castle at Helmsley, which belonged to the founder of Rievaulx, and explore the beautiful and peaceful Rievaulx Valley.

Download our walking map here. Theres also a free podcast available to download featuring historian Julian Humphreys who picks out key landmarks along the way.

The walk takes around one hour following the Cleveland Way. Unfortunately, parts of the path are not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.

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