Weekend city guide: York

Jenessa Williams

Everything you need to know to spend a picture-perfect weekend in the historic city of York. 

For a taste of quintessential Britain, it doesn’t come much prettier than York. Whether it’s a cosy winter’s weekend or a summer adventure, the northern hospitality will come out in force to guide you around any number of pubs and literary hotspots.

It’s no wonder that many of York’s cobbled streets would look perfect on a luxury chocolate box—it was right here in the 1930s that Rowntree’s (now Nestlé) was founded.

Enjoy your own sweet stay with our top tips below.

 

Where to stay in York

Hotel Indigo is a good place to stay in York
Hotel Indigo

To stay right in the heart of the action, Gray’s Court Hotel is a traditional home-away-from-home, with views overlooking the minster. Kick back in front of the fire with a book from their extensive library, and set your alarm early to make the most of breakfast, which included salmon smoked fresh on site.

Fan of concept boutique? Hotel Indigo York (pictured above) is inspired by the city’s chocolatey history, rich with sumptuous Cadbury’s purples and cocoa-browns.

With 101 stylish and contemporary rooms, there’s a buzzy atmosphere in the communal spaces that will kickstart your evening out in style, without compromising a peaceful nights sleep.

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What to see in York

The Rambles shopping in York is historic

Religious or not, you can’t visit York without marvelling at the sheer stature of York Minster. One of the largest in Northern Europe, it functions as both a space of worship and a museum, with visiting hours every day of the week. To capture the perfect photo, visit at sunrise or dusk for minimal tourists.

Dating back to the 14th century, The Shambles (pictured above) is quintessential York. A little spooky but ultimately very charming, it’s a hodge-podge of souvenir shops, bakeries and bookshops will make any anglophile fall in love with it’s unspoilt aesthetic.

Continue your shopping by branching out into the city centre, fully pedestrianised and easy to mosey around without needing much of a plan.

York national railway museum

Trainspotting normally excites a very specific type of hobbyist, but York’s National Railway Museum (above) is likely to raise a smile from even the most discerning member of the family. Ride a steam locomotive, investigate an archive full of blueprints and stock up on quaint gifts for children and adults alike.

On the scarier end of things, York Dungeons is just as (if not more) entertaining than it’s London equivalent thanks to its ability to draw on the rich local history of ghostly and criminal activity. There are 11 live shows to choose from, and even an adults-only experience to test the hardiest of horror fans…

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Where to eat

Betty's Tea Room in York

Yorkshire folk like a good brew, and with more than 365 pubs to choose from, you’re likely to be well hydrated in York. The Golden Fleece is said to be York’s most haunted, or The Guy Fawkes Inn, where the man himself was born. We particularly like Mr P’s Curious Tavern for a pint or indeed a slice of ale cake.

Speaking of cake, Betty’s Tearooms (pictured above) can be found across wider Yorkshire, but this flagship location is still the prettiest place to enjoy afternoon tea or celebrate a special occasion.

For dinner, your best options are the ones that champion seasonal produce. Roots has caused quite the stir thanks to its owner, Michelin-starred Tommy Banks, with the Roots Feast set menu priced at a competitive £60pp. Expect hearty countryside treats such as lamb and turnip bao buns, deer tartare and stuffed pheasant.

Vegetarians may feel better catered for at Skosh, beloved by locals thanks to its Mediterranean influences.

Read more: Where to eat and drink in York

 

Get outdoors

York's city walls are open from 8am daily

Stretch your legs and take on a tour of York’s historic city walls, open daily from 8 am to dusk. The full two-mile walk offers plenty of opportunities to get your bearings in the city, with key points marked out by QR-coded information signs that allow you to step back in time and imagine life in the 13th century.

For those who’d rather stay seated, a boat ride along the river ouse can be both leisure and exercise, depending on who’s paddling. Hire your own boat or join a river tour, running throughout the year at low prices.

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