Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

York is one of the UK’s most fairytale cities. It’s like stepping back in time to the medieval era and is the perfect place to delve into England’s history. From visiting the impressive York Minster to experiencing viking life at Jorvik, there are plenty of options for every visitor. Best of all, the city is compact and practically all the main sights are within walking distance of one another. It’s an ideal city break, especially as York is easy to reach by train from anywhere in the UK.

York is the third city to be covered in our video series, ‘UK Train Travels with Victoria’. The video also features tips from local blogger Jess at The Travelista.Make sure to check out the first episode, too, which featured the lovely city of Bristol, and the second episode, which showcased Liverpool!

These are some of the best things to do in York.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Walk the city walls

York centre is surrounded by 3.4km of medieval city walls, which you can walk along from start to finish. There are lots of different places where you can join them, so you can also choose to just walk the part of the length. To walk the full circuit takes around two hours and there are some beautiful views of the city along the way.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Visit Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is the last remaining structure of York Castle. The stone tower stands on a small hill overlooking the city and, although there’s not a lot to see in the tower itself, there are good views from the top.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Explore York’s history in its museums

Visit the York Castle Museum to explore hundreds of year’s of York’s history, from Jacobean times to the swinging sixties. There’s an impressive recreation of a Victorian street, which brings the past convincingly to life. Also go to the Yorkshire Museum, which houses some of the finest archaeological and geological finds in Europe, including maps and models of Roman York, a 4th-century bust of Emperor Constantine and a 9th-century York helmet.

Photos via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Climb the Minster tower

York Minster is the biggest medieval cathedral in Northern Europe, and considered one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic buildings. It took 250 years to build and stands at nearly 200ft high. If you can mange it, climbing to the top is must, but do bear in mind that it involves 275 steep steps up a winding tower staircase. The views from the top are the best in York.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Experience Viking life at Jorvik

In the late 1970s a Viking settlement was discovered in York, and the Jorvik Viking Centre takes you on a fascinating journey through a reconstruction of that settlement. A ride transports you through the 9th-century village, complete with life-like animatronic characters and the smells of Viking life. It’s one of Britain’s top visitor attractions.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

See famous locomotives at the National Railway Museum

York’s National Railway Museum is the biggest in the world and houses all sorts of famous trains, from the only Shinkansen bullet train outside Japan to the world-record-breaking Mallard. There’s also a world-class collection of royal trains used by royalty including Queen Victoria. The museum is free to visit.

Photos via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Visit York’s Chocolate Story

Home to Rowntree’s and Terry’s, York has a reputation for being the city of chocolate and the best way to explore that is at York’s Chocolate Story. The fully guided tour takes you through three floors of interactive exploration where you can discover the stories behind some of the biggest names in chocolate and even learn how to be a chocolatier yourself. The Chocolate Story makes its own exquisite chocolates on site that are on sale in the downstairs shop/cafe, which is open to passersby. And don’t miss the hot chocolate.

Photos via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Go shopping on the Shambles

The Shambles, a narrow cobbled street where the buildings almost touch, is known as one of the most picturesque streets in Britain. It looks like a real-life Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. There’s even a Harry Potter shop (but be prepared to queue to get inside!). There are lots of cute shops to explore along the Shambles and also in the surrounding area, for example on Blake Street where you can find the Yorkshire Soap Company and The Imaginarium.

Photos via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Take a break at one of the city’s cafes

There are no end of lovely cafes to visit in York. One of the best modern options is Brew & Brownie, which is known for its pancake stacks and excellent coffee. Or for a more traditional option, don’t miss Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms on St Helen’s Square where you can enjoy a classic afternoon tea and try one of its famous fat rascal buns.

Photo via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Drink at one of the 365 pubs

York has over 365 pubs, so you could drink at a different one on every day of the year. Two of the classics are the Guy Fawkes Inn, housed in the building where Guy Fawkes was born, and The Golden Fleece, said to be the most haunted pub in York. For something more modern, there are plenty of interesting cocktail bars, including the popular Evil Eye Lounge, which is hidden behind a speciality gin shop on Stonegate. And don’t forget to go for a Sunday Roast and Yorkshire pudding – the Lamb and Lion is a favourite.

Photos via Victoria Watts Kennedy

Hire your own red boat

A great way to see York is from the river, and the best way to do that is by hiring you own little red boat, which you’re able to drive by yourself along the River Ouse. The boats cost from £25-40 per hour depending on the season. The front part is covered, so it’s even fun in the rain!

Looking for the ultimate staycation in the UK? Why not take the train to York with Expedia? And for more, check out Expedia’s package holidays to York, and make sure to check out Victoria’s blog, Bridges and Balloons

 

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