Just over a week ago I headed to York for a long weekend with Visit York jumping on a train from London late Friday morning and heading back late Sunday afternoon. I’m going to be honest I had no real concept of how far north York was considering the train ride from London was less than two hours but it’s nestled just above Leeds on the North East Railway Line. According to my mum I’d been to York once before as a kid but I have no recollection of this.
I had most of Friday afternoon to myself to explore as Luke was heading up later in the day and then two full days for us both to explore. We were given York Passes for the period of our trip which helped us to cram as many activities within our trip as possible. I’ll be doing a full itinary in a couple of weeks but until then here are just some of the best things in York you can experience:
Get a city overview from the Hop On Hop Off bus tour
Anyone whose read my blog before will know that I am a huge fan of hop-on, hop-off bus tours as I think it gives you one of the best overviews of a city. The York city route is around an hour long and if you’re lucky enough you might get a live guide on board which makes the experience even more interesting. Drive around and see the old Chocolate Works, catch glimpses of most of the city wall and York’s famous racetrack alongside all the delights within the city centre itself.
Explore the York Castle Museum
This museum was an absolute highlight of my trip and allows you to explore 400 years of York’s past. You can take a trip back to Victorian York to the recreated Kirkgate street, enter prison cells that once held highway man Dirk Turpin and find out more about the swinging 60’s in York from the music to the fashion. There is so much to see in this museum you could go multiple times and keep finding something new. If you’re heading there before 29 April 2019 you’ll get a chance to glimpse a touring Vivienne Westwood shoe collection. 2018 celebrates the museum’s 80th anniversary with special activities.
Wonder at the York Minster
York Minster towers above much of York and can be seen from all over the city but did you know that the Minsters Great East Window is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the whole of the UK?! For the past six years the window has been undergoing maintenance to preserve it and in May 2018 it was unveiled to the public for the first time in a decade. Check out the new state of the art attraction housed in the chambers under the Minster called ‘Revealing York Minster in the Under croft’.
Get a road train down to the Railway Museum
For the most conveniant route down to the National Railway Museum you can get the Road Train from next to York Minster to take you straight there while soaking up some of the beautiful scenery around you. Even if you’re not an avid locomotive fan the museum is incredibly interesting where you can see exhibitions such as Mallard, the world’s fastest steam engine and get a glimpse into Royal travel.
Check out Viking life at the Jorvik Centre
During the time of the Viking’s York was known as Jorvik and the centre is the best place to gain a real understanding of what the city was like at the time. The centres improved ride experience gives you the chance to be transported back in time over 1,000 years to get an understanding of how the people of York at the time would have lived, worked and looked.
Try some of York’s famous chocolate at The Chocolate Story
Most other cities in the UK were built on industries such as coal, steel or wool, but York was built on chocolate. Both Rowntree’s who make perhaps some of the biggest names in chocolate (Kit Kat, Aero, Yorkie and Polo’s to name a few) and Terry’s were founded in York with the former still operating in the city under the Nestle brand. At The Chocolate Story you can discover more about the history of chocolate in York and how it’s made and developed with a fully guided tour of the three floors inclusive of plenty of chocolate samples.
Catch A Shakespeare Show at The Rose Theatre
If you’re lucky enough to be heading to York in August make sure you grab tickets to see a Shakespearean show at the pop up Rose Theatre which is the first Globe pop up to appear in Europe. You can catch Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet to name a few but it’s not around for long. I am pretty gutted that we didn’t book tickets to see anything while we were in York as it’s a once in a lifetime chance.
Shop at the Designer Outlet
Just ten minutes from the city centre sits York’s Designer Outlet centre with a large number of shops all with products up to 60% reduced. If you need a little time out from the culture and want to go do a bit of retail therapy there’s no better place for it. There’s over 120 brands so something for everyone.