Always high on the lists of places to visit and to live, York is both beautiful and historic. A trip allows you to unpick the layers of history here, from its days as a Roman settlement to its Viking past and the glorious buildings that showcase its medieval wealth. It’s also buzzing with wonderful olde worlde pubs, fine restaurants and a busy events calendar, making a visit thoroughly worthwhile at any time of year. It’s also within easy reach of a lot of the population with direct trains to York from the likes of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Edinburgh.
Start with the Shambles
Don’t worry – the name isn’t a prophecy for the trip ahead. It’s actually the Old English word for slaughterhouse (which admittedly, isn’t much better) and is deservedly York’s most famous street. The narrow cobbled road squeezes between medieval buildings that almost touch each other above your head. Marvel at the timber-framed buildings, some of which date back to the 1300s, and were built very close to those opposite so meat hanging outside wouldn’t go off in the sun!
Visit York Minster
One of the country’s premier ecclesiastical buildings, this incredible cathedral showcases fine medieval architecture and stained-glass windows. The underground chambers are exciting places to explore, and it’s well worth paying the extra few pounds to climb the central tower for a fine view of the city (and the chance to spot one of the resident peregrine falcons).
Walk along the city walls
A great way to see York and learn a bit about its medieval past. These walls used to protect the city and are substantial enough to provide an elevated wander that’ll take you at least an hour to complete. They’re the longest town walls in England and were constructed in the 13th century.
Visit the National Railway Museum
This is the largest such museum in Britain and perfect for those with a fascination for transport and technology. Artefacts include steam engines, beautifully restored carriages and the only bullet train outside Japan. There’s also a miniature railway outside, so the kids will have just as much fun as the adults. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcome.
Step into the dark side at York Dungeon
A fantastic spine-tingling experience of a side to York’s history you won’t see elsewhere. Learn about the grizzly crimes committed, the equally terrifying punishments, and meet some of history’s most notorious criminals, as actors bring the past back to life.
It’s testament to York that you could do all five of our suggestions, then visit again and do five more and experience the same city in a totally different way. For a reasonably small place, there’s so much to do here, so make sure you come along and see what all the fuss is about.