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Ye Olde York

Look, if you want some hustle-and-bustle city that’ll put you into overdrive, York isn’t for you. But if what you’re after is picture-perfect landscapes, exquisite architecture and mazes of cobblestone streets littered with shops, restaurants and pubs, you should bloomin’ well be here by now!

Known for its amazing historic architecture (some of the finest in the UK, might we say), York is quite a sight to see. It’s easy to be cynical about tourists dawdling through streets and stopping at inopportune moments to take a photo, but the magic of York is that makes everyone – no matter whether you’re visiting from Seoul or Sunderland – want to act like that.

From tourist-attracting icons like York Minster to the City Walls themselves, and even kooky spots like the Jorvik Viking Centre and the York Dungeon, York will keep you happy, busy and reaching for that camera all day long.

But hey, it’s not just pretty buildings and wicked museums – York also has thriving shopping districts, a booming restaurant and café culture and myriad fun festivals all year round. And speaking of year-round, there are 365 pubs within the city walls – meaning you’ve literally got a different drinking hole for every night of the year.

York also offers a small-town trust and openness, from friendly townies to cabbies who’ll get out and help you with your luggage (when’s the last time you experienced that in London or Birmingham?). All in all, York is a guaranteed good time.

York’s Top 10

10. York Dungeon This place will see you wetting your pants in both fright and laughter.

5. Ghost Tour York is said to be the most haunted city in England. Take a tour to find out exactly how spooky. (Alternatively, try walking along ancient Mickelgate at 3.30am.)

9. Treasurer’s House Peruse the remarkable collections of olde art, furniture, jewellery and other bits and bobs, just don’t try to take any home with you.

4. The Shambles Medieval buildings lean at slightly unnerving angles into the street. Give the souvenir shops a miss and instead enjoy and duck into one of the many nearby pubs for a great night.

8. Jorvik Viking Centre Get your medieval on at this fun venue. And yes, horned helmets aplenty.

3. York Castle Museum Check out the city’s history with fun exhibits and re-enactments.

7. Yorkshire Museum Their dinosaur exhibit alone will blow your mind.

2. City Walls Explore the city’s walled surrounds and soak in its history.

6. Clifford’s Tower An ancient and bloody history and a fine view of the city!

1. York Minster We’ve gotta say, this is one hell of a Minster!.

York Local

City Centre

There’s a high concentration of tourist gems to explore within the city walls. Start by exploring York Minster, the largest (and one of the most impressive) gothic-style cathedrals in Western Europe. Also, don’t forget to take a gander at the Statue of Constantine standing right outside. Only a few meters away is Treasurer’s House, a grand building that houses a collection of antique furniture, ceramics and art. Next on the agenda should be the York Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower for some truly extraordinary views. For kooky tastes, don’t forget to hit up the York Dungeon (no scaredy-cats allowed). But really, just walking around the City Walls themselves can take you to hidden gems like Roman remains and abbey ruins.

Coppergate

Here you’ll find one of York’s busiest shopping centres, the creatively named Coppergate Shopping Centre, so make sure you bring along the plastic. You’ll find both High Street shops and designer boutiques, as well as a stack of cafes and restaurants. Once you’ve satisfied your need for shopping and replenished those energy levels, visit the Jorvik Viking Centre, a haven for wannabe Vikings and lovers of medieval times.

Helmsley

Head a little north of York for this history-rich district. With a history dating back to the 12th century, the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey are a must, and imbued with an almost sacred feel. Next, take a stroll through Helmsley Castle to discover its history as well as the history of the city as a whole. Nearby, you’ll find Duncombe Park, one of York’s most beautiful stately homes. You can’t step foot in the house (the snooty Duncombes won’t let you!), but you can frolic around the Helmsley Walled Garden and the lush, surrounding parklands.

York Eat & Drink

The Golden Slipper A big gold shoe welcomes you to a traditional pub in the middle of the city. Grab a pint and relax. City Centre

Black Swan If you want to propose to your woman, this is the place to do it. Put the ring in the cassoulet and you’ll no doubt win her heart. City Centre

Miller’s Nothin’ fancy here – just big servings of fab fish and chips. Ace. Fulford

Limehouse This cosy place has a loyal local following and great food (for great prices). City Centre

Kennedy’s Young professionals favour this modern bar/eatery for it’s great food and chilled atmosphere. City Centre

The Living Room This warm, earth-toned venue has everything from good ol’ pub food to modern Euro fusion on the menu. City Centre

BarSalvation For a rowdy night out, you can’t pass up this place. Slick tunes and cheap drinks always make for a fun time. But it isn’t exactly a traditional York pub, if that’s the sort of thing you’re after. City Centre

J Baker’s This place is one of Yorkshire’s best eateries. Chow down on some delicious and modern cuisine. City Centre

El Piano Vegan and gluten-free eats with a Mexican twist. This eatery has a chilled vibe and is a must for health nuts! City Centre

Bettys An icon! An institution! If you can brave the crowds, head to this tea room for some of the best tea and confections in town.

York Events

Late February sees hundreds of Vikings descend upon the city with the Jorvik Viking Festival. Whether you want to watch a battle re-enactment, attend a lecture, dabble in Vikingesque arts and crafts or just indulge in some medieval-style food, this is a fun fest for all ages. Don’t forget your Viking helmet!

York embraces its title as the ‘most haunted city in England’ with Spooksfest every March. Go on haunted pub walks, attend a workshop/discussion on the paranormal or get back to your childhood with ghost stories by candlelight. Spooky stuff.

What better way to celebrate our love for hearty food and a frosty pint than with the York Food and Drink Festival, in mid- to late-September. With a focus on Yorkshire cuisine, Parliament Street explodes with food stalls, beer tents, workshops and a lot of full bellies.

York’s Rowntree Park welcomes the Peace Festival, every September. This massive fiesta combines an eclectic mix of attractions including music, face painting, cabaret, art exhibits, belly dancing, stalls and even egg and spoon races!

The Festival of Angels in early December is a grand way to kick off the Christmas season. Dozens of ice sculptures litter the streets, music booms from outdoor stages and even Santa makes an appearance. The weekend’s finale boasts a parade led by the beautiful Golden Angel.

When To Go

The whole Vale of York is noted for the amount of rain it receives. Fog and flooding is common as a result (the King’s Arms on the banks of the Ouse even has its own internal flood meter). Keep an eye on the weather forecast and dress accordingly. In terms of aesthetics, York is lovely at any time of year, from the daffodils under the City Walls in Spring to the snow dancing in front of the Minster in winter.

What To Miss

Don’t drive in York. Leave your car at home (or at your hotel) and walk around. Many parts of the city centre are pedestrian-only anyway, so driving really is a waste of time.

Ladies, leave the heels at home unless you’re a veteran in navigating cobbled roads. Broken ankles really dampen the look of a new pair of Louboutins.

Getting There & Around

York is centrally located and easy to get to via the A64 and A59. But rail is probably your best bet. York Station is well-served by intercity trains and is centrally located, so a cab trip to your hotel on arriving won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Once there, York buses will regularly ferry you to outer areas, but chances are you’ll spend most of your time in the fantastic centre. To do that, all you need is time, energy and a pair of sturdy shoes.

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Hotels in York

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1 The Groves

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