York is one of the most interesting cities in the entirety of England, with its amazing gothic architecture, rich history, and mouthwatering meal options. It’s funny though, how I got here. I literally didn’t have any accommodations left to book in Edinburgh. Yes, none! I searched wide and far. Apparently, in Scotland, the weekend gets really booked, so if you want to stay there, it’s not possible to do a last minute booking. I ended up booking a train ticket to York, and I didn’t regret it.
Here are some great attractions that’ll be sure to keep you busy:
- 1 Go on a Free Walking Tour
- 2 Walk through the Shambles
- 3 Walk the Castle Walls
- 4 Try Betty’s Tea House
- 5 Have tea in the Crumbs Cupcakery
- 6 Visit the Most Haunted Pub
- 7 Chill, lounge and have a cocktail at Evil Eye
- 8 York Chocolate Story
- 9 York Minster
- 10 Learn about the Vikings in the Jorvik Viking Center
- 11 York Castle
- 12 St. Mary’s Abbey
- 13 Visit Museum Gardens
- 14 York Railway Museum
- 15 Go Pub Hopping
- 16 Learn the history behind Clifford Tower
As I’ve said before, for any city that there is a Free Walking Tour, I try to do it the moment I arrive to give me a good orientation and history of the city plus tips on where to go. Footprints Tour does this every weekend at 11am and 2pm. Don’t forget to tip the tour guide what is due them.
Walk through the Shambles
The Shambles is an old street in York which is rich in history and culture- but you’ll enjoy it all the more if you happen to be a Harry Potter fan, because guess what? That’s the area where the book’s famous Diagon Alley was taken inspiration from! There are lots of tea places and quaint shops here too. I had tea in Earl Grey Tea room and I loved the ambiance. The décor was vintage and classical, walls lined with antique-like artifacts as well as tea cups and pots.
You will also find the Harry Potter Shop here- If you’re a Potter head, you simply can’t pass this opportunity to nab yourself some souvenirs of the well-loved book series. Beware though, there is a line. They close at 5, so be sure to arrive way before then in order to obtain a more wholesome experience.
Walk the Castle Walls
The city of York is famous for being a walled city, so why not enjoy the uniqueness of the architecture by taking a walk around? You’ll be able to admire the innovative build of the brick barrier and feel as if you’ve gone back in time.
Try Betty’s Tea House
Betty’s Tea House is one of the most iconic restaurants in the city, and that says quite a bit considering how stuffy Brits are with their tea! You’ll be able to enjoy tea and cakes in an incredibly elegant ambience. It is a family-owned tea house with lovely Yorkshire and Swiss-inspired delicacies, and just so happens to be one of Britain’s best companies to work for. Why not give some support to this well-loved spot that’s been around for so long it’s practically historic?
Have tea in the Crumbs Cupcakery
Without a doubt, a worthy dessert shop to visit when you’re in the mood for tea and sweets.
I bumped into Crumbs Cupcakery and the ambiance drew me in quickly. It’s a cute little cupcake shop with a very homey feeling. I didn’t know what to order since they had a lot of selections that just screamed “take me”. Honestly, if I was with someone I would have but since I was alone, I had to pick one. I took the chocolate orange and I didn’t regret my choice. I also tried their Yorkshire tea while sitting in their overly cute, very instagrammable cupcake shop.
Visit the Most Haunted Pub
Love haunted locations and everything about them? Golden Fleece is the most haunted pub in the entire city, and definitely the place to be if you want a good “scare”. Not to mention: the drinks are amazing, I can’t say much for the food though as it was too busy when I was there and I didn’t get to try it.
Chill, lounge and have a cocktail at Evil Eye
When I was in York, I met a lot of people who just went there for the weekend to party. One of the guys I met in the hostel, who isn’t a newbie in York took us to Evil Eye. They had really good drinks and a very wide selection. The place upstairs is also very cozy, it has different nooks and comfortable sitting area. Feels like a place to have a group hang out. The strawberry daiquiris and mojitos are to die for, if you’re looking for a recommendation.
York Chocolate Story
Got a raging sweet tooth? Satiate it at the York Chocolate Story museum. You’ll be able to learn all about the history of your favorite chocolate and enjoy sweets and hot drinks at their cafe and shop right afterwards. Prices per adult are around 12 pounds a person, but if you’ve got a kid under the age of 4 with you, they can enter for free! Doors open at 10AM and the last tour is at 5PM, so be sure to get there early! They’re open daily except for the Christmas holidays, meaning there’s lots of time to plan a visit.
If there’s a single place you have to see in York, without a doubt it’s the York Minster. It’s one of the largest cathedrals in the entirety of Europe. Be sure to bring a camera, because the awe-inspiring sights of this piece of architecture will want to be saved. Admission tickets cost 10 pounds per person, so be sure to take that into note when visiting. The best sights to be seen on the York Minster are on the roof top, and visiting said spot is one of the most popular things to do in the city. Try it yourself!
Learn about the Vikings in the Jorvik Viking Center
Curious about history? You’ll be able to satisfy that need for information at the Jorvik Viking Center and learn all there is to learn about Vikings and their origins! A definite must see, so book your tickets as soon as you can. They’re open daily from 10AM to 5pm. Prices vary depending on the type of access you want, so check out their website for more information. It’s incredibly popular, so try and nab a spot as early as you can.
The York castle is one of the most stand-out structures in the entire city. It is a fortified building consisting of various smaller structures and it definitely needs to be at the top of your to see list! The historic air and sophistication of this popular tourist attraction will make your visit unforgettable. It’s open from 10-4 everyday, so be there early in order to bask in the environment for longer.
St. Mary’s Abbey
This is one of the most awe inspiring ruins in York, so be sure to check it out while you’re there! Sit back and relax, just enjoy the view- it’s the perfect place to do so. This location used to be one of the most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England, a place wherein monks and clergymen came to study and worship.
Visit Museum Gardens
If you love nature and history, you’ll be able to experience a mix of the two at the York Museum Gardens, home to beautiful botanical gardens which go on for yards and yards. Or, just like the others, you can spend time just laying back and enjoying the surroundings.
York Railway Museum
Want to see more of the city without breaking the bank? Well then, add the York Railway museum onto your list because it just to happens to be free. It tells the story of the United Kingdom’s largest railway system, and is a popular tourist spot especially for individuals interested in the area of practice. It’s also good for pictures, if you’re into that.
Go Pub Hopping
England is known for having the best pubs, and York is no exception. Grab a frothy mug at the most popular joints, such as the White Swan, House of Trembling Madness, Golden Fleece, and Evil Eye
Learn the history behind Clifford Tower
Everyone knows the best views of York can be found at the top of the Clifford Tower! Book a tour and enjoy the panoramic sights all while learning about the interesting history behind it- be prepared for quite the gruesome history lesson, however, because the tower was not only used as a treasury but also for war purposes, including but not limited to the Jewish Massacre. It is a definite eye opener and is more than worth the visit.