There’s much more to the UK than just London, and anyone spending a couple of weeks or more in Great Britain would do well to venture out of the capital and head up to the North. As a northerner myself, I may be biased, but I reckon that the region is home to the country’s most vibrant cities - Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool, and York. A hugely important city for both the Romans and Vikings, when it was called Eboracum and Jorvik respectively, York has a lot to offer for history buffs and culture vultures, and is well worth taking a day or two to explore. So, what are the things to do in York that should be at the top of your list? Here are my top tips.
1. York Minster
Built in 1220, this magnificent cathedral took over two hundred and fifty years to build, finally being completed in 1472. The Gothic structure towers over York’s skyline, and curious visitors are welcome to take a look inside and marvel at the interior - but no flash photos are allowed.
2. The Shambles
A walk down The Shambles feels like you’re strolling down Diagon Alley, although instead of broomsticks and wands, you’ll find milkshakes, trinket shops, and cafes serving up traditional Yorkshire grub like a Ploughman’s Lunch or Yorkshire ham with egg and chips.
3. Museum Gardens
To be frank, the Yorkshire Museum isn't all that impressive, but the gardens in front of it are. The crumbling stone ruins and arches of St. Mary’s Abbey flank the front of the museum, and on a sunny day, the rolling grass mounds are full of children playing and people soaking up the sun.
York has a reputation for being an extremely haunted city, and the numerous ghost walks and trails are testament to this. Numerous restaurants and bars advertise their spooky credentials, and no visit to York is complete without walking the cobblestone streets at night and seeing if you can spot a ghoul or two.
5. Down by the River
The River Ouse snakes through the center of York, and its banks are lined with pubs, cafes and restaurants, which, on a summer’s day, are packed full of people having a pint or watching the world go by. Those wanting to explore the river independently can rent a boat for an hour or two and cruise down the Ouse. For landlubbers on an empty stomach, I’d recommend The Living Room for a sophisticated spot of lunch - try to get a seat outside for a killer view.
There’s a lot to discover in York, and it’s a city where you can feel the history seeping out of the cobblestones. The Romans and Vikings knew they were on to a good thing with the city, and visitors to York are sure to be captivated by its quaint charms and the locals’ Yorkshire hospitality.
What did you enjoy most on your visit to York, England?