A family watch on as a woman in traditional dress demonstrating stitching at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York.

Getty Images

Jorvik Viking Centre

Top choice in York

Interactive multimedia exhibits aimed at bringing history to life often achieve exactly the opposite, but the much-hyped Jorvik manages to pull it off with aplomb. It's a smells-and-all reconstruction of the Viking settlement unearthed here during excavations in the late 1970s, experienced via a 'time-car' monorail that transports you through 9th-century Jorvik (the Viking name for York). You can reduce time waiting in line by booking timed-entry tickets online; there is almost always a queue to get in.

While some of the 'you will now travel back in time' malarkey might seem a bit annoying, it's all done with a sense of humour tied to historical authenticity that will give you a pretty good idea of what life must have been like in Viking-era York. The museum exhibition at the end of the monorail includes items on loan from the British Museum. Look out for the Lloyds Bank coprolite, a fossilised human stool that measures an eye-watering 9in long and half a pound in weight, and might be the only turd in the world to have its own Wikipedia entry.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions