York, one of the most beautiful cities of England
Updated: Nov 25
Although England is not considered a very touristic country, it has some pretty interesting places, which are definitely worth visiting. If you want to make a city break in a place you never thought of, then the UK is the answer.
York is one of the most beautiful cities in the North East of England, founded since the Roman conquest and it is one of the few cities in the world built inside a protective wall, which still exists today.
One day, or maybe two spent here are more than enough to be able to fully enjoy this place, which is ideal for street walks, sightseeing, night life or even shopping.
To get here, the closest airports are the ones from Leeds and Manchester. From the UK, you can get to York by bus, train or car. For the car, you can find a parking space right next to the castle. The town is not very big, so to get from a place to another, you can walk, there is no need to use public transportation.
The city is generally quite crowded, so if you don't want to look too much for a parking space, or want to take pictures without too many people around, I recommend you arrive as early as possible in the morning.
Having lived in North Yorkshire for over 5 years, I have visited York several times and I can say that it is my favourite city in England. So, if you are thinking, you don't know whether to visit it or not, this is the sign you needed! You have to visit it! Altough is not a big city, it is full of history, like an open-air museum with beautiful old houses and the vibe is amazing.
WHERE TO STAY IN YORK: - 5-star hotels: The Grand York, The Carriage House (near York); - 4-star hotels: The Bishop and the Bison, Ascot House; - Hotels of 3 stars or less: Clearly Apartments Bootham, Chelmsford Place Guest House;
WHAT YOU CAN VISIT IN YORK:
For most of the activities and locations presented below, but also many others, you can purchase a general admission pass/ticket, which includes 20 attractions and which you can buy here.
So, let's see what you can visit in York:
Visit to the Cathedral, known as the York Minster, which can be visited both indoors and on the bell towers.
It is considered one of the largest cathedrals in the United Kingdom, and its construction was completed in 1421 and over the centuries, it went through various forms of restoration, even a fire. The fire broke out in 1984.
Inside, you can admire the stained glass windows dating from the twelfth century, being the largest in the world.
The two towers are housing the cathedral bells, which can be heard every 15 minutes during the day.
Gothic-style elements were added to the cathedral in the middle of the 12th century, being the largest in the world at that time, given that the one in Cologne was not yet finished.
The Shambles, the most famous street in York and one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. It was kept almost intact from the medieval era, when it served as a meat market. It is one of the best preserved streets in the world. It was also the inspiration of the author of the Harry Potter books, for the famous street "Diagon Alley", which appears in her works. On this street there are shops with local or handicraft products, a shop with products similar to those that appear in the Harry Potter films, but also a shop with Christmas products, which is open all year round. The most beautiful time to visit this street is during Christmas, when all the shops are full of ornaments and decorations for the house and for the Christmas tree. The shops located in the old gingerbread houses give you the impression that you are entering Santa's house. Unfortunately, it doesn't snow much in England, otherwise the story would have been complete.
As can be seen in the photos, the shape of the street and the sidewalk, which perfectly fitted the wheels of the carriages in the past, are intact nowadays. The sidewalk was built higher than the road to help draining the blood from animals and rainwater, so pedestrians wouldn't get dirty.
Most of the buildings on this street are made of wood and brick, all of which are extremely old. After ten o'clock in the morning, until late at night, this street becomes almost unfit for the multitude of tourists.
Clifford Tower or York Castle, as it is also known, is a ruin of a fortified complex, which was used as a prison until 1929.
The visit to this location can be quite short, because there are not many things to see, but the view from above over the city is absolutely gorgeous. The building was recently restored by English Heritage, the association that deals with the administration of ruins in England. The entrance ticket costs £5/person.
Right across the tower, is the York Castle Museum, which is divided into time segments, the oldest being 400 years ago.
You don't necessarily find old things here, like in a regular museum, although there are some. The museum focuses on rebuilding places as they were in the past, such as 60 years ago. There is also a Victorian street, which makes you wonder if you are traveling back in time.
Definitely worth a visit. More information here.
The Railway Museum is one of the must-see places in York.
It is an exhibition of locomotives and trains, and the building in which they are located looks like a real train station. Here you can admire both the first trains built and also trains that are not very old.
The entrance is free, and inside there is a place to eat, right in front of the wagons in the picture below. The place creates the impression that you are about to go on a journey
The Chocolate Museum
You can book a tour in the small chocolate factory, where the entire manufacturing process is presented, from the processing of cocoa beans to the finished product, all in a very interactive way, for both children and adults. It is about a small location, owned by a family that has a history in the manufacture of chocolate. The experience of creating your own chocolate bar is included in the tour, and the whole visit lasts around an hour. You can make a reservation here.
Walk on the city walls, which were first built by the Romans. The length and the skeleton remained the same, and later, in the medieval period, a stronger wall was built over the already existing one. The Roman wall even withstood the Viking invasion in 866, being today one of the most famous tourist attractions in York, but also in England.
Boat trip on one of the rivers that cross the city of York, namely the Ouse River. It can be a very interesting experience and you can admire the city from another angle.
Jorvik Viking Centre or the place where, in 1972, discoveries were made dating back to the Viking occupation.
The soil of the place where the discoveries were made preserved very well insects, pollen, animal bones, as well as leather shoes, clothes and other objects. With the help of these discoveries, scientists were able to better understand how people lived at that time and what kind of diet they had.
Walk through the old town centre, which is full of houses that seem to be from another world. I could say that some really are, considering that they are extremely old.
The one in the picture below was built in 1434, almost 600 years ago, and has seen people pass through it for so long, so many generations, has witnessed so many changes and bears witness to human evolution over time.
York has several churches, where the entrance is free and where you can take a look inside. Most are open to the public and entry is free. I'm sure you can't miss them, York is one of the cities with the most churches.
Gin Shop - York Gin
The British are big consumers of gin, I could say that it is their traditional drink, at least in the northern part of the country it is for sure. They have a long tradition of consuming gin, more precisely in the 1700s, this drink became very popular, being consumed to this day.
So what better souvenir than a bottle of gin? Especially since it comes with a visit to a house built before 1606.
Hot air balloon festival
This festival usually takes place at the end of September. It is organized regardless of the weather, but the balloons will not fly if it is windy. A balloon flight, depending on your chosen offer, can cost between £130 and £400 per person. This type of festival will especially delight the little ones, as there are many areas for children. The attraction of this festival is, in fact, the fair with various entertainment and food stalls.
You can check details here.
York is known for shopping. Not as well-known as Milan, but it has a few shops in the city center (shops that we often find in any country, such as Zara, TK Maxx, Primark, etc.), as well as a few outlets with designer clothes, near the city. The most famous is the York Designer's outlet, with stores such as Michael Kors, Guess, Hugo Boss or Ted Baker.
Other places and activities in York: - York Maze; - Yorkshire Air Museum; - The bunker from the Cold War; - York Dungeon; - Harry Potter themed tour, tickets here; - Guided tour of the old center, tickets here; - Hop-on, hop off bus ride, tickets here;
- York: Chocolate Bar Making Workshop at York Cocoa Works, tickets here.
I filmed a vlog from this beautiful city, you can find it on my Youtube channel.
For more photos and travel destinations you can also follow me on Instagram.
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