Hello all, welcome back to the blog and back to yet another travel guide. These posts are fast becoming my favourites to write and you guys seem to love them too so it’s a win win in my eyes. I’m trying to concentrate on the UK at the moment and talk about places a little closer to home that are perfect for a mini-break. Today’s post is all about the beautiful York and I’m so excited to get stuck in and teel you all about it. York is such an amazing place and has such a rich history. There is so much to do for all ages and I would highly recommend it for a staycation. Being a proud Northerner myself, I grew up going on day trips to York with my mum. In fact, it’s her favourite place! She always wanted to move there and so York has always had a special place in my heart, however until last week I had only ever visited for single day excursions. Staying in York for a few days meant I was able to discover so many things and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to grab my camera and share my Yorkshire adventure with you guys!
So first thing’s first, this trip was kindly gifted to myself and Lloyd via Yorks tourism board – VisitYork. A big thank you to all the partners that allowed us to visit and make this guide the best it could be. Both Lloyd and I were overwhelmed with the amount of activities on offer and were spoilt for choice on what to include in our itinerary. We left London on the Tuesday and jumped on a direct train from Kings Cross to York with LNER. A quick tip regarding trains – try your best to pre-book a seat as even if not travelling at a peak time the train gets really busy and it’s sometimes a hassle to try and find a free seat particularly if you want to sit with the person you’re travelling with. The good news is if you’re travelling from London it’s a fairly fuss-free journey and takes just under two hours, which is great! We arrived in York and headed straight to our hotel. Another huge bonus about the city is that pretty much everything is within walking distance and the historic views are an added bonus en route to your destination. If however you’d prefer to catch a bus or taxi you’ll find multiple trasnport options outside the station itself.
– Where To Stay –
We really lucked out on accommodation as we got to stay at the beautiful Dean Court Hotel. Proudly counting the stunning York Minster as its next door neighbour, Dean Court Hotel is the perfect place to stay whilst visiting the city. From the moment we walked in we were greeted by the lovely staff who gave us a warm Yorkshire welcome at check in. Then we were led to our room and upon entering I had one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. As you can see from the picture above, it was a room with a view – and oh what a view it was! The room was big and bright and had everything we could want for. A seating area and table along with a Queen sized bed – which was super comfortable. So much in fact I actually asked which sheets they used as they were so soft and wanted in on the action haha! I had mentioned to Lloyd how I’d always wanted a window seat growing up and it was just so special to have our very own in our room. We spent most of our down time sat on there, people watching and watching the sunset over the Minster… perfection.
It’s also worth mentioning the food available at Dean Court. We had breakfast with the room which consisted of a continental buffet option along with a breakfast menu (I ordered a full English & Eggs Benedict during my stay) which costs no extra unlike many other Hotels. For our first night we decided to dine in the Hotels restaurant and enjoyed some of the AA Rosette award-winning cusine. Yet again with views of the York Minster it’s a lovely way to spend an evening. We went ahead and ordered the fillet steak and pork belly and I’m happy to report, both where excellent. After our meal we sat and enjoyed a glass of wine whilst watching the city centre clear out. It’s funny how a place that is so busy during the daytime becomes a ghost town once night-time hits… talking of ghosts, did you know that York is appreantly one of the most haunted cities in the world? Each evening people gather outside the Minster to meet there ghostly tour guide for a late night trail around the haunted streets. Although we didn’t manage to fit a tour in this time round, I’ve been told they’re lots of fun and would make for a great evening activity.
“An historic building, with connections to the Clergy of The Minster, with 40 unique individual bedrooms. The Dean Court is a 4AA Star intimate hotel, oozing charm and personality. A real home-from-home experience!”
Dean Court Hotel,
BW Premier Collection,
01904 625 082
– The York Pass –
If you’ve read any of my previous travel guides, you’ll know I’m a big fan of city passes. Having used one not so long ago in New York I was over the moon to find out York offers their own version too! The York Pass is the official sightseeing card for the city of York and North Yorkshire. It’s ideal for saving money on admission prices whilst seeing the best the city has to offer. It gives you entry to 45+ York & beyond attractions and is super convenient and easy to use. We used the physical card version however it is also available as an instant mobile download on your smartphone. Prices start from £45.00 for adults and £30 for children and include all the must see attractions!
York Pass is the official city sightseeing card, after purchase giving you free entry to a choice of 49 world class tourist attractions in York and beyond. Available as a 1 day York city pass and 2, 3, and 6 days York & beyond explorer pass – York Pass includes a free pocket guidebook, 24 hour city sightseeing bus ticket, pasta or pizza meal at ASK Italian restaurant (T&Cs apply), and extra value discount offers. Purchase your pass online and download it to your phone to use straight away. York Pass is activated when you enter your first attraction.
– Where To Go/ What To See –
Talking attractions, there really is something for everyone in York. Having visited many times as a child I’m fortunate enough to have experienced the majority and so for this trip I wanted to make sure I visited all the attractions I hadn’t yet been to. Again, the York Pass made our whole experience so hassle free as we simply turned up to each attraction, showed our card and went straight in. The only exceptions beeing the Jorvik centre, the queues for this are very long and as I’d been previosuly I decided not to wait. To avoid queues try going early and gain entrance as soon as it opens. The Chocolate story has a pre-booking system so you can go in and sign up to a tour, if it’s a particulary busy day and you’re unable to make it into the next group you may be asked to come back at a later time. Everything else though, we were able to go straight in with no wait time at all.
York’s Chocolate Story
We headed to York’s Chocolate Story pretty much as soon as we got to York… I’m a chocoholic and so it was a must-see for me. We learnt about the origin of chocolate as well as the history of Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Cravens all of which started in York! The tour was really fun and lasted around an hour which was the perfect amont of time. We got to taste various chocolates (Lloyd doesn’t eat dairy and there were a few vegans on the tour, they catered to everyone without hesitation which was great to see.) At the end of the tour you get to make your own chocolate lollies which was a fantastic end to the experience. York’s Chcolate Story is included within the York Pass however I would advise pre-booking your time slot as it can get very busy!
York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York, YO1 7LD
The oldest street in York! A narrow street of mostly timber buildings that date back as far as the 13th Century. The street was originally home to butchers, with each shop specialising in a different meat. While the street is still home to a butcher, the rest of the street is now filled with a bright mix of mostly independent retailers. It’s like stepping back in time and for those of you that are Harry Potter fans, you’ll love it! Not only does it bare a striking resemblance to the fictional ‘Diagon Alley’ but it’s also home to a number of Harry Potter themed stores. A trip to the Shambles is a must for any visit to York. York continually tops polls as a beautiful city, to live work and visit. When it does, it is the Shambles that is featured on the accompanying photographs.
City Cruises York
Another activity that is included in the York Pass and one I have done countless times before on previous visits to York is City Cruises. Cruising along the beautiful River Ouse, you’re guided through the history of York whilst seeing the city from a different prespective. The on board team are all extremely friendly and knowledgable and it’s the perfect activity to do after a busy morning of exploring. You can sit back, relax and simply take in the scenery surrounding you. The cruises depart throughtout the day from both the King’s Staith Landing and the Lendal Bridge Landing.
The York Minster still remains the tallest building in York itself. With it being so close to where we were staying there was no doubt that we wanted to go in and see the architecture up close. The building truly is stunning, dating back to the 1400’s the wealth of history is unparelled. We used our York Pass to gain entry and to also take advantage of one of the tours. The Minster’s Central Tower is the highest point in York and offers unbeatable, panoramic views of the city… so we climbed it. 275 steps to the top, it’s definitely not for the faint hearted as it’s quite physically challenging but it’s fun non-the-less.
York Minster, Deangate, York, YO1 7HH
So this was by far our favourite activity. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good but the entire experience was brilliant start to finish. Again, using our York Pass we gained entrance to the final tour of the day at 5pm and it lasted just under 75 minutes. The York Dungeon is a 75-minute journey into more than 2000 years of York’s darkest history, bringing together iconic character sincluding Vikings, Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes! Immersive sets and thrilling special-effects in a unique and exciting actor led experience that you see, hear, feel and smell.
The York Dungeon 12 Clifford Street York YO1 9RD
Museum of York
Wherever I venture on my travels I always try to go to the local museum. To research and discover more about the history and culture of the place I’m visiting. York was no exception and with the Museum Gardens being a top tourist spot as well I thought it was the perfect chance to soak up some sun before heading into the museum itself. From the age of the dinosaur to Vikings and Romans, all the way up to York’s modern history the museum covers it all. I even walked with the dinosaurs and fed them whilst having a go on the new Virtual Reality station.
Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York, YO1 7FR
– Where To Eat –
York is literally surrounded by delicious eateries, be it the street vendors and markets or a la carte restaurants. Whatever your tastebuds are tinging for, York can deliver! Having only been there for a couple of days we weren’t able to try everything but what we did try – we loved! I’ve also included a few places that although we didn’t manage to head to ourselves have been highly recommended by locals!
Betty’s Tea Room
The famous Betty’s is a must for any first time visitors. Be prepared to wait – it’s one of the most popular restaurants in York but the traditional teas and cakes along with 5 star service is totally worth it!
St. Helens Square York YO1 8QP
Shambles Food Market
Lloyd and I are both big food market fans so the shambles was the perfect place to grab some homemade cuisine. A wide selection of sweet and savory from all over the world. I personally recommend the crepes as they were soooo tasty!
5 Silver St, York YO1 8RY
A chain restaurant yes, BUT I’m including it because you get a free meal when you have a York Pass so off we went to claim out pasta and pizza… delicious!
The Grand Assembly Rooms, Blake St, York YO1 8QG
My favourite meal of the trip. Not only was the food excellent but the staff were so attentive. We had a mix of starters and mains with a few cocktails and each and every dish was cooked to perfection.
2-4 Little Stonegate, York YO1 8AX
The York Roast Co.
Home of the Yorkshire pudding wrap… enough said really.
78 Low Petergate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 7HZ
A cocktail bar with an edge. The most alcohol I think I’ve ever seen in one place and a huge gin collection! I’m a gin girl through and through so this was the ideal pace for a late night tipple!
42 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
House Of Trembling Madness
Another great place for drinks, a more relaxed vibe again with a large selection of beers, spirits and cocktails.
48 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
So there we are, yet another travel guide done and dusted. I hope you enjoyed my take on York. It really is such a wonderful city and I will definitely be heading there again to visit more of the attractions. It’s a place that every age will love and if you do go I really would 100% recommend getting one of the York Passes as this was a huge time saver AND money saver for us. If you have any top tips for York do let me know and I’ll be sure to try them out next time I’m there. A big thank you once again to the team at VisitYork for organising our trip and allowing us to experience the best the city has to offer. It was a lovely few days so if you’re looking for a UK get away… York it is!