Travel blog

British getaways: a weekend in York – the ultimate guide

As ‘southerners’ we don’t tend to venture too far north very often but on this occasion we made an exception! We’ve been dying to visit York after hearing all about it’s beautiful buildings, riverside walks and cosy pubs. And now I definitely understand why people go back again, and again!

Not only does York provide you with a snapshot of British history, it’s filled with quirky little cobbled lanes, lots of attractions, boutique shops and tea rooms, making it the perfect place to take in the sights in good ol’ English fashion.

Here’s what we got up to during our weekend in York:

  • Clifford’s Tower
  • The Shambles
  • York Christmas Market (seasonal ofc)
  • York Minster
  • City walls
  • Barley Hall
  • Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms
  • Roman Bath pub
  • Museums: Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, National Railway Museum and many more!
  • Eden Camp

Top Sites in York

Clifford’s Tower

As the last remaining structure of York’s Castle, Clifford’s Tower is a must. Part of the English Heritage Trust, you can pay a small fee to enter the tower and also climb to the top – which gives some great views of the city of York and, on a clear day, beyond!

The tower is a symbol of some of the most powerful medieval kings England has seen. It was built by William the Conqueror originally, but after being burnt to the ground (twice) it was Henry III who was behind the build of the tower remains you see today.

I’ve been told one of the best time to visit the tower is in spring, when the surrounding grass areas are covered in hundreds of yellow daffodils!

The Shambles

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, make sure you take a trip to the Shambles for a real-life Potter experience. The Shambles is classed as York’s prettiest street and has even won a title for being the most picturesque street in Britain. This cobbled street in central York is filled with tiny pubs, tea rooms, sloping 15th century buildings, and of course a Harry Potter shop (be prepared to queue!).

York Christmas Market

Obviously this one is only applicable in the run up to Christmas but is well worth a visit if you do happen to be in York in December!

England have some of the loveliest Christmas markets in Europe, filled with locally made craft stalls, clothing, and delicious local foods and drink! York Christmas Market is no exception. The market included a Yorkshire Gin stand, a food market and lots of other creative stalls – the perfect place to pick up some Christmas pressies and decorations!

York Minster

York Minster, one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world, sits right in the centre of York. The cathedral can be seen from all over York but is most impressive from up close. The gothic architecture is amazing and the scale of the cathedral is really something!

People have been visiting York to see the cathedral for over 1000 years and it still remains a centre for Christianity in the North of England. Visitors can do tours of the Cathedral and even a tower climb, which gives the highest view of York the city has to offer.

City Walls

The city of York is enclosed by 3.4km of city walls. These walls have defended the city since the Roman times and surround the historic centre of York. As the longest city walls in England, it takes approximately two hours to go all the way along, passing original gateways and towers, the walls provide an insight to York’s history.

We didn’t walk the whole way along the walls but did a couple of different sections, one of which went round the back of York Minister and gave great views of the cathedral’s grounds!

Barley Hall

A restored medieval townhouse in the centre of York gives visitors the chance to experience what it would have been like to live in medieval England. The house has been restored to its original state, with exposed beams, high ceilings and a horn window.

Cosy pubs and traditional tea rooms

York has some of the loveliest, most British pubs you will find in England. In the winter, head to a pub for a nice Yorkshire ale and warm up by the fireplace. One of York’s most renowned pubs is the Roman Bath pub which features ancient roman baths in the basement of the building. These can be visited for a small entrance fee.

Of course, you cannot visit York without visiting a Yorkshire tea room. Betty’s tea room, is one of the most famous in York and is a fantastic experience – if you can get a seat!

Museums in York

As a hot spot for exploring English history, York is home to some pretty impressive museums and historic centres. These include Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, and the National Railway Museum!

Make sure to check them out to learn a bit more about English (specifically York’s) history!

York and beyond

Eden Camp

Located about 30 minutes from York is Eden Camp, a second world war museum. The museum, set in the buildings and grounds of an original prisoner of war camp, is a great experience for all ages and is such a fun, and interactive, way to learn a bit more about the second world war.

There are several huts, that will transport you back to wartime Britain where you can experience the sites, smells and sounds of both the front line and home front during WWII.

Yorkshire Countryside

The city of York is surrounded by some beautiful countryside so make sure to check out the Yorkshire Moors, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park if you have a bit of spare time!

We loved York and will definitely be heading back to explore more of the city at some point in the future!

What’s your favourite thing to do in York?

Adios for now,

Char & Mar x

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