If you are planning a trip to England, then you really do need to visit York. It’s one of the most fascinating cities in England due to its history. This history is kept alive through the astonishing preservation of its buildings, streets, and shops. So if you are planning to visit York, here are the top ten things you should do.
1. York Minster
You cannot visit York without visiting this architectural beauty. York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. It was completed in 1472 which is a fact so mind boggling to think about, particularly when you are standing on the cathedral floor looking at the intricacy of the building. Admission to York Minster is £10 but if you pay an extra £5 you also get to visit the tower. Just be warned it’s a long walk with 275 stairs, and very little space to rest. If you do make it to the top though you will be rewarded with an incredible view. That is of course once you have caught your breathe.
2. York City Walls
One of the coolest things about York has to be the preservation of the city walls. Dating back to Roman times the walls were used to defend the city from attack. York has more walls intact than any other city in England, although the walls have had substantial changes made to them since Roman times. The walls visible today are estimated to have replaced the Roman walls in the 14th century. If you wanted to walk the entire length this would take around 2 hours. If you are pressed for time we recommend walking between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar. You get some amazing views of Westminster as well as a chance to look at some amazing gardens.
3. The Shambles
This is probably the busiest street in York and it is not hard to see why. The picturesque buildings dating back to the 15th century appear to lean over the cobbled street to almost meet in the middle. Historically the street was filled with butchers shops and houses. Now though you will find some quirky shops and bakeries. It’s a beautiful place to walk around, although it is best enjoyed at a slow pace.
4. The Golden Fleece
If you are like us then you probably don’t need an excuse to go to the pub on holiday. The really cool thing about the Golden Fleece though is that it was built on stilts without any real foundations. Which explains the strange angles and nooks when you enter the pub. Oh and did I mention it is also the most haunted pub in York? It dates back to 1503 and there have allegedly been several ghost sightings. Thankfully we didn’t spy anything supernatural during our visit. It is a very small pub so it can be hard to get a table to sip your pint. There is also a restaurant out the back which we didn’t eat at but it did seem really busy.
5. Tea and Scones
What could be more British then sipping tea whilst munching on some home made scones? There are several tea houses in York with the most popular being Betty’s. It is somewhat an institution in these parts with people lining up in the street to get a table. As we didn’t really have to time to wait 40 minutes for a table we decided against Betty’s. We did stumble across another tea house, Bullivant of York, and were treated to an afternoon tea with scones and home made jam. As a self-confessed chocaholic, Dave was delighted to have a chocolate scone with Nutella and cream.
One of the best things about York has to be the food. You can walk around The Shambles and stumble upon fish and chips, roast pork rolls, Yorkshire puddings, bakeries with sourdough and earl grey teacakes. We also stumbled upon a bakery that sold the most exquisite brownies we have ever tasted. It was definitely much needed energy after all the walking and climbing.
7. Clifford’s Tower
Built upon a large mound York Castle or Clifford’s Tower has had its share of brutal and bloody history. These days you can climb to the viewing platform and get some amazing views of York and especially of York Minster. It is also a lot less strenuous of a climb than York Minster so if you are looking for an alternative then this is a must visit.
8. York Museum Gardens
We highly recommend taking a leisurely walk around the museum gardens. Located in the surrounds of the medieval ruins of St Mary’s Abbey the gardens are at their best in Spring when the flowers are in full bloom.
9. National Rail Museum
Entry to the museum is free, and it brilliantly tells the story of rail travel in Britain. From peeking inside the carriages of royalty to observing the history of British rail, I have to admit this museum is actually kind of cool. It is also very conveniently located next to the train station so it’s a great place to visit before getting the train back to wherever you need to go.
10. York Cat Trail
One of the quirkiest things I noticed about York were the statues of cats located on some of the buildings. You can pick up a guide at the Cat Gallery shop, which as you can probably guess is a shop devoted solely to our feline friends. Cats have played a big part in York’s history and if you look carefully you will find 18 of them dotted around the city. It’s actually a fun way to explore some of the streets of York.
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