York is one of those places that I’ve wanted to visit for a while but never quite made time for it (a mistake, let me tell you!). My cousin is currently at university there and my Auntie is a regular visitor. On Easter Sunday, she asked if my Mom and I wanted to come for a whirlwind visit and we were both keen. York is about a two-hour drive from Birmingham with no traffic which is much closer than I thought it was. We spent the day there so I thought I’d write down my thoughts on how to spend a day in York,
A Bit About York
Located in Yorkshire, the City of York is famous for iconic historical landmarks such as York Minster and its city walls. To the North-East of Leeds, York is easily accessible by train or by car – it’s not too far from the M1 and has plenty of tourist attractions that could easily fill a weekend and beyond.
How to Spend a Day in York
Things to Do
The big draw to York is, of course, its city walls and you can’t spend a day in York without visiting. York has had walls in some shape or form since Roman times and has more miles of intact walls than any other city in England. We wandered around the walls which do around pretty much the whole of the inner city section of York. It was lovely to wander around and take in the views of the city.
The only walled city I’ve ever been too and walked around their walls is Chester. York’s walls are newer than Chester’s and the biggest difference I noticed is that it only has a railing on one side… you can literally step off the other side of the all in York (not something I’d recommend, however, as it’s quite a way down!)
York is full of your regular UK high street shops but is also home to quaint little stores that you must visit. ‘The Shambles’ is the oldest street in York. Once known as ‘The Great Flesh Shambles’ the street used to be home to many a butcher but alas, none of them now remain – although their meat hooks can still be found outside a number of shops. What fills the street now is an eclectic mix of shops full of trinkets, teas and other items including a restaurant or two.
The Shambles was one of the inspirations for Diagon Alley and as soon as you enter the street you can immediately draw comparisons. If that wasn’t enough for the Harry Potter fans amongst us, The Shambles is certainly capitalising on their fame; there are no less than three shops inspired by the boy wizard – all located down one end. You can pick up anything from your scrolls and quills to your Nimbus 2000. There’s even a place to park your broom outside.
One of the biggest historical landmarks in York is York Minster or to give it it’s full name, The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York. York Minster is very gothic style architecture and is the seat for the Archbishop of York. Fun fact – the Archbishop of York is the third highest role in the Church of England under the Sovereign and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Other things to do in York include a boat tour down the river, the Roman Baths, the Railway Museum and the ghost tours – all things I’ll be doing next time we come.
Places to Eat
After a two hour drive up from Birmingham, we were quite hungry and wanted to eat ASAP. We stumbled across a pub my Auntie had been to before called The Royal Oak which is a lovely Tudor style pub. I’d recommend booking as we were very lucky to get a table as we arrived bang on noon. We sat upstairs in the parlour which overlooks the cobbled street below. As it was a Sunday, there was a Sunday lunch menu with a few additional options.
I went for seafood linguine with prawns, scallops and cod served with garlic, chillis and tomato. Mom went for a Ham Hock pie which she informs me was delicious and my cousin went for the Roast Beef dinner which obviously came with the biggest Yorkshire pudding. They served all the trimmings on the side which I love as it allows you to put as much or as little as you want on your plate and they bring you extra gravy as standard (of course!)
Instead of having pudding we opted for ice cream a little later on in the day. We ended up going to a small gelato shop directly opposite Royal Oak There was a queue out of the door which in my opinion, is always a good sign! I went for the pistachio and extra dark chocolate which was probably the richest and tasty chocolate ice cream I’d ever eaten. It was delicious and I can only compare it to a beautiful gelato that I had when I visited Milan a few years ago.
This was of course just a taster of what York has to offer and I’m excited to come back for a weekend and explore more of the city. I hope you found this small guide on how to spend a day in York helpful. If you have any recommendations for future visits, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.