A weekend in York

I would have written this as a ‘City Guide’, but I don’t feel that I’m qualified to write something as informative as a guide to the whole city (/town?) of York when I only spent a few days there. Still, I’m bound to take a few more trips over the next few years, so some updates will appear over time! 

York is a beautiful town in Yorkshire, in the North of England. We recently spent a long weekend there helping my sister to settle into her new home. 

The town has two universities and a rich history. It dates from 71AD, when the Romans set up camp in Eboracum, as they called it, and since then has been shaped by the Vikings, the Normans and various English kings. As the history of York website says, York was at the centre of events in England for almost 17 centuries, and the architecture and decorations on the buildings reflect this. Today it remains a relatively small town (in terms of town centre and places to see) but is nonetheless a treasure trove for anyone wanting to explore English history - or pretty, Instagrammable streets. 

I’ll take you on a quick tour of the town and its coffee shops. 

Start your day with a walk on the City Walls. Bring a scarf because it might get chilly! And make sure you wear sturdy shoes (ie not flip flops!). You can walk all of it if you wish, or just take a section; I’d recommend starting at Bishopgate, in the west of the town, because you’ll get a good view of the railway station, York Minster and the surrounding areas. 

Once you've had enough of walking, come off the Walls at Lerner Bridge. You could make a coffee stop in The Perky Peacock, which wins ten points for location (in the actual Wall), or you could stop on your way into town at Brew and Brownie. (I haven’t tested it but anything mentioning chocolate and coffee sounds good to me.) If the weather is good, walk through the Museum Gardens free of charge and marvel at the old Abbey and the old Hospitium there. 

Head over to the Minster. If you like, stop for refreshment in Bennett’s, an old-style tea room with simple food and big windows for people-watching. It’s right in front of the Minster too, so you’ll have  one of the best views in town. Take the time to go inside the the old cathedral and marvel at its Rose Window and the crypt. If you’re not afraid of heights - or of a leg workout - then take the 275 stairs up to the top of the tower. You can see almost all of York from here! 

Time to descend the tower and spend some time in the centre of York. A visit here isn’t complete without a walk through The Shambles - one of the best-preserved medieval streets in Britain, and one of the most photogenic. You could wander through Stonegate on your way, where I’d recommend a special treat in Betty’s Tea Rooms - slightly less busy than the café at Harrogate, but just as lovely. There’s also a Chocolate Museum (I’ll test that out the next time I go) and lots of pretty shops to explore. 

Oh, and if you happen to be anywhere near Leeds Bradford Airport, do take a short detour to the High Trees Garden Centre, where you’ll find gifts, plants and some lovely scones. 

Have you ever been to York? What needs to go on my 'to-see' list for next time?