When you visit York, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The city is surrounded by a wall the Romans began to build in 71 AD. Later the Vikings and Normans added to it. Today, you can walk the two-mile wall that surrounds the heart of York for free and get fantastic views of the historic city. York maintains its old world charm while offering visitors modern amenities. Whether you are a history buff, architectural lover, shopaholic, or foodie, York has it all and is well worth the trip.
Fun Fact: York was once England’s ‘capital’ of chocolate making employing half of the cities residents. Chocolate companies Terry’s, Carven’s, and Rowntree (Nestle) ensured those with a sweet tooth were never without a decadent treat. Chocoholics must visit York’s Chocolate Story to learn all about the history of chocolate and how it transformed the city. Of course, free chocolate samples are a part of the tour!
When to Go: The best time to visit York is in June, July, and August when temperatures hover around 70 degrees. But don’t count out November and December. The city is decorated for the holidays and several pop-up Christmas festivals and markets are a shoppers paradise. Temperatures during this time range from the 40s to 50s.
The York Minster Cathedral
Since the seventh century, the Minster has stood with open doors for people to worship. It is the oldest Gothic church in England with an impressive medieval stained glass window expanse that is the largest in Northern Europe.
The Treasurer’s House
One of my favorite spots is Treasurer’s House. This historic townhouse includes thirteen rooms beautifully preserved with furniture and paintings, some up to 300 years old. Treasurer’s House is a delight. Don’t miss the quiet outside garden, an oasis in the city center.
York Castle Museum
Step back in time with a visit to York Castle Museum. Over 10,000 authentic items ranging from everyday items, military regale, and costumes are on display. A reconstructed Victorian street beckons to be explored. Walking along the cobblestone street you will experience the shops and pubs decorated for the season. Also on view the personal collection of Vivienne Westwood shoes, a highlight for any fashionista!
The Shambles is a unique experience. Wander down the cobblestone street and enjoy the medieval storefronts. The Shambles is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s, Diagon Alley. Shop for delectable chocolate treats, enjoy a cappuccino in one of the cafés or step into one of the Harry Potter themed shops.
If you’re a bargain shopper, a ten-minute bus ride outside the city walls will take you to York Designer Outlet. Here you can shop for luxury brands for less. Check out, Mulberry, Molten Brown and L.K. Bennett.
What to Eat
Foodies will love the variety York has to offer from light bites to Michelin star restaurants.
The Ivy at St. Helen’s Square offers a tantalizing dinner menu in a relaxed, sophisticated dining room. They also serve breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Where to Stay
The York Principal – Situated near the York Train Station, this grand hotel built in 1878, stands as a testament to its royal origins. Tall ceilings and a grand reception hall welcome the weary traveler and invite them to unwind in its luxurious surroundings. A true resort, you can dine in two restaurants, enjoy a drink at the bar, or relax in the spa and spend some time by the pool.
York has something for everyone. I fell in love with the quaint city that retained its historic charm. I truly felt transported back in time and adored the easy and quiet pace of the city. You can get to York from London in under 2 1/2 hours via train and enjoy a relaxing journey and beautiful seaside towns as you venture North.