The medieval jewel of Northern England, few places exude culture and history quite like industrial York. Home to a web of narrow, cobbled streets, an abundance of 13th century character and quintessential English pubs and tearooms, York is one of the most beautiful and frequented tourist destinations in all of England.
If history and culture is more what you’re after, York also has an abundance of museums and theatres, and serves as the perfect base for exploring Yorkshire’s moors, dales and traditional market towns.
York is home to some of the most beautifully preserved historical buildings in the world, including its biggest icon, York Minster. The largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, the Minster is York’s most visited attraction. The cathedral is considered the second most important religious structure in the country, second only to Canterbury Cathedral, and is a testament to the remarkable beauty of Gothic architecture.
The Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions outside of London and succeeds in bringing history to life in the form of a reconstructed Viking settlement. The Yorkshire Museum is well worth checking out for a glimpse at what Roman York looked like, and the 18th century Castle Howard is one of the most breathtaking stately homes in England, perfect for an afternoon wander.
Lined with traditional Tudor buildings that overhang in an endearingly mismatched fashion, the quirky cobbled lane that’s known as the Shambles will fulfil every stereotype you have about picturesque British streets. If the sun is shining, a 2-hour walk around the original Roman City Walls makes for a peaceful stroll.
Eat and Drink
England’s home of tea and chocolate, York boasts an unrivalled café and tearoom scene, from the trendy to the traditional. The York Chocolate Trail takes you on a journey of sugary discovery around the city, and is the ideal activity for those with a sweet tooth. Afternoon tea at one of the local tearooms is a cultural institution in York, and is featured on countless must-do lists.
The city is also situated at the heart of one of the UK’s most diverse food-producing regions, offering delectable fruits, vegetables, fish and meats. For those keen to experience the best of York by night, the city centre plays host to some upmarket wine bars, real ale pubs and vibrant nightclubs, as well as fine-dining gastro-pubs, bistros and restaurants promoting York’s emerging foodie scene.
Where to Stay
Whether you’re in the market for a self-catering townhouse, a modest hotel, an upscale period property or a charming B&B, York has all your bases covered. The historic city is the ideal place to base yourself when visiting York, with a host of traditional guesthouses offering visitors a real home away from home. Self-catering houses and apartments in rural Yorkshire provide a great base to explore the surrounding moors and dales.
A paradise for antique hunters, York boasts a diverse array of shopping options for its many visitors. Head to the Antiques Centre and the Red House if you’ve got your heart set on some quirky, vintage finds. Gift shops are abundant in the Stonegate area of the city, as well as chocolate shops for some yummy take-home gifts.
Nearby Leeds is the real shopping hub of North Yorkshire, with the architecturally stunning Victoria Quarter hosting big-name boutiques by brands such as Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood.
York Like a Local
To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, head south on the Riverbank Path towards the glorious Yorkshire countryside. Keep walking until you reach the sleepy village of Bishopthorpe, and explore a quaint English village that operates at a very different pace to busy York. Have a chat with some of the locals in one of Bishopthorpe’s pubs, and indulge in a couple of pints of real ale before heading back to the city.