Things To Do In York

York has had many names over its near 2,000 year history: Eboracum, Eoforwick and Jorvik. But one thing remains the same; it is one of the most beautifully preserved cities in Britain. We’ve put together some suggestions for getting the most out of your time there, whether its a weekend break or just a day trip.

York culture

York Minster

York Minster

York may have been established by the Romans in 71AD, but its name, and one of its most popular visitor attractions, is closely tied to the Vikings. Archaeologists in the 1970s discovered homes and workshops dating back a thousand years in the centre of York and it was these findings that led to the creation of the JORVIK Viking Centre. Take a tour to see (and smell) what life was like in York back then. The vast National Rail Museum is also based in York. Two of the most iconic locomotives can be seen here; the Mallard, which broke the world speed record in 1938, and a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket; a feat of engineering. York Minster Cathedral dominates the skyline in York, with its stained-glass windows and stone spires, it’s a brooding presence in the city centre. Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft gives you a chance to visit the underground chambers and discover the hidden history of one of the worlds most famous cathedrals. You can see the remains of a Roman barracks as well as the original Norman foundations. If you fancy a wander, the Museum Gardens are worth a visit. Finished in the 1830s in the grounds of the medieval ruins of St Mary’s Abbey (see photo at the top), these peaceful botanical gardens are home to thousands of trees and plants.

Shopping in York

The Shambles is a narrow, winding street packed full of shops. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book, when medieval shoppers would visit to buy meat, as it was the place where livestock was slaughtered. Now there’s a nice mix of independent stores to browse. There are a host of pop up markets in York, but if you’re there on the last Friday of the month, you can visit the Farmers’ Market on Parliament Street. It prides itself on only selling goods that have been produced by the stallholders.

Eating in York

Betty’s is an institution in York. Elegant and understated, the design was inspired by the founder’s voyage on the Queen Mary in the 1930s, You don’t have to be vain to check out “Betty’s Mirror”, where serving airmen in WWII signed their names in a diamond pen. It might do to book ahead as it gets pretty busy. If it’s Italian you are after, than Le Langhe offers some authentic cooking. Famous for its fish dishes, The Blue Bicycle may have had a risque past (the cellar was a brothel at the turn of the century), but now you can enjoy a drink overlooking the River Foss without the added extras.

Staying there

There are lots of places to stay in York, many of which are within walking distance of the city centre attractions.

The Principal York Hotel

Rating: Four Stars

The Vibe:

Country-style retreat in the middle of York

Principal York Rooms

Need to know:

Next to the city walls and the railway station, and within two minutes walk of the city centre, this luxury hotel couldn’t be placed in a better location. Thanks to three acres of landscaped gardens it also doesn’t feel like it’s bang in the middle of a city. In 1878, you could book into one of these spacious rooms for just 14 shillings, and the five story structure was built to entice wealthy people used to their creature comforts to visit York. The prices may have changed, but there are still many of the original features from the hotel’s early years, such as the original doorbell system for communicating with the concierge. The Tempus Restaurant not only serves local produce wherever possible, but also has fantastic views of York Minster to enjoy over lunch or dinner.

Tempus Restaurant

Getting there: Station Road, Station Parade York , North Yorkshire , YO24 1AA

Have you visited York?

We would love to hear your top tips for places to visit in York. Get in touch by leaving a comment below. And to find out more about York, click here for the latest tourist information.

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