York is definitively my favourite city in Yorkshire! I love the atmosphere, with the lovely cobbled stones, the Minster, the ruins of the Abbey… I have been there several times over the past three years and have always enjoyed myself immensely. The best way to visit the city is obviously to walk and wander everywhere, to discover all the secret alleyways and if you are lucky, visit one of the many craft fairs taking place in town throughout the year.
There are a few attractions that are also worth stopping by if you have the time…
The city walls
If you are arrive at the train station (coming to York by car is not a good idea and most of the city centre is car free), you can easily climb on the city walls from there to get into the city centre. The complete route will take around 90 minutes, as it follows the line of the original roman walls. The view of the Minster are great from up there! You don’t have to complete the full route, as you can come off the walls at different points throughout the city :-)
Once you have arrived in town, you cannot miss this architectural beauty. The Minster was built in 1338 and is one of the largest cathedral of this kind in the North of Europe. The admission price is quite steep (close to £15) but you can come back as many times as you want for a year! Not too bad if you are local..
There is a free guided tour every hour and I highly recommended it. I did it a few months ago and I learnt so much about the history of the place, with quirky little details.. that was great!
In the undercroft, the newly built museum, you can learn about the history of the place and its journey through time, from the Roman empire to nowadays. This is very interactive and super interesting.
The crypt was my favourite part, you can see some Roman and Norman remains that attest to the site’s ancient history and the famous Doomstone, a 12th-century carved stone showing a scene from the Last Judgement with demons casting doomed souls into hell.
The most iconic part of York is the Shambles, with the narrow and lovely cobbled stones. These medieval alleyways were once the home of butchers. At that time, it would have been common to see meat carcasses hung outside the houses. Since the streets are so narrow, the sun and heat don’t hit the meat has hard (that was very clever indeed). Just for your information, the Shambles takes its name from the Saxon word “shamel” meaning “slaughterhouse”.
Now there is no more butchers and the place is full of little cafe, tearoom and restaurant ! The perfect place for lunch or for a cream tea!
Not too far away from the Shambles, you can fin the remains of the original castle built by William the Conqueror. There is a good view of York from the top of the castle.
The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey
On the way back to the train station, you can fin a green oasis in the middle of this buy city. The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey is the perfect spot for chilling out or for a picnic. Around, you can find some lovely gardens with a bit a shade and some benches.
The National Railway Museum
Just before catching your train back hone, you can spend some time in the National Railway Museum. This is the biggest museum of this kind int he world. There is a huge collection of steam trains and classic locomotives. You can visit and even sit in most of the carriages. I’m not a train buff myself but I found this place really interesting!