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There are various public car parks in and around York if you want short-term parking. All are detailed here on this very good council map. Probably best value at the weekend is the York Commuter Car Park on Cinder Lane / Leeman Rd - just £4 for a whole day.
If you are heading into York for a full day then best to park outside of York on the ring road and use one of the 5 excellent Park & Ride facilities - just £2.60 for a day return as of June 2013. This fare includes 2 children under 16 for free.
If you are staying in York for a length of time ( a week) then do your due dilgence and go for a hotel with a car park or make sure to check that the B&B you use can provide you with a day permit for on-street parking. Most visitors from overseas will use the train and that takes all the headaches out of any parking issue !!