*We were provided with York passes for the duration of our stay
alongside a complimentary hotel stay but all thoughts
and opinions are my own
At the beginning of August me and Luke headed to York for a long weekend courtesy of Visit York. Although I had visited the city as a kid I didn’t remember anything so I had the whole city to explore, and I wanted to make the most of our weekend there. I headed up to York Friday morning with Luke joining me later that day after work, and then we left on Sunday evening so it’s an easy weekend break to take. Here’s my 2 and a half day itinerary for a quick trip to the city of York.
I took the train straight from London’s Kings Cross at 10am and arrived in the city just before midday which is so quick considering how far North the city is compared to the capital. Once you’ve arrived take a left out of the station and walk towards the city centre where 10 minutes later you’ll reach the Visit York Centre where you can pick up city passes for the weekend and you can book onto any tours you may want to do. If you buy a pass you’ll save money over the weekend and it’s a one off payment for you.
As soon as you have your passes head a few doors down to Bailey’s to grab some lunch at 12.30pm. If you’re like me chances are you won’t have had a proper breakfast and instead will have just snacked on the train so this is your time to get something solid like a jacket potato, omelette or a cheeky cream and jam scone if you want to push the boat out.
Once you’re refuelled head towards the towering York Minster which is one of the centre points of the city.
You’ll reach the main entrance around 1pm and your York Pass will give you free access inside to marvel at the beautiful architecture and see the UK’s largest expanse of medieval stained glass which is seriously impressive. The glass was unveiled to the public in it’s entirety in May 2018 after undergoing six years of maintenance work. You can head downstairs to check out the state of the art attraction called ‘Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft’ and for just a few pounds more you can choose to climb the tower for extensive views out over York.
At 2pm start heading out of the Minster down the Shambles streets towards the York Castle Museum which will be your next stop. On the way make sure you stop at the Fudge Kitchen for some sweet treat supplies which make a perfect bedtime snack when you’re back at your hotel. At around 2.30pm you should reach the Castle Museum which is again included within your York Pass.
The Castle Museum was one of my favourite things in York as there’s so much to explore over 400 years of York’s past. There’s a recreated Kirkgate street where you can enter shops and see how life was in Victorian York, you can find out more about the swinging 60’s from music to fashion and as the building was an old prison so you can walk into real prison cells and find out the stories of the people who were put in there such as highway man Dirk Turpin. There’s currently a touring Vivienne Westwood shoe collection which is there until 29th April 2019.
Once you’ve spent a few hours at the museum head over to Clifford’s Tower opposite the museum at 4.30pm to climb to the top for views over York and to find out some of the history of the castle and it’s surroundings. Again this is also included in your York Pass and is a great bit of exercise climbing those stairs. By 5pm chances are you’ll be pretty tired so head over to your hotel to check in and have a little relax. The Hotel Du Vin is a great base for your trip and is just 15-20 minute walk from the York city centre. Need more convincing? Check out my post about the hotel here.
At 6.30pm take a slow walk through the city centre as the attractions are closed and really take in the scenery before arriving at Cut and Chase for dinner.
After breakfast at the hotel start off your day at 9.30am by walking around the road to The Mount stop on the hop on hop off bus tour which is also included in your York Pass. This will give you a really great overview of the city and takes around an hour to complete, with plenty of stops showing the old Chocolate Works, the famous racetrack and glimpses of the City Wall. Once you’re off the bus tour head over to The Chocolate Story to book tickets for a tour later that day, your York Pass will allow you to book for anytime later the same day. Tours book up pretty quickly so you’ll want to get in early to grab a spot, and it means you can bypass the queue when you come back.
Talk a walk down the Shambles and pop into some of the independent shops on your way from York homemade goods to three Harry Potter stores which always seem to have a queue outside. At 11.45am make your way to the river to pick up a City Cruise at midday which will take you along the River Ouse and show you a different side to the city.
Once you’re off at 1pm head to York Roast Co on the corner by the Chocolate Story for a lunchtime break consisting of traditionally British food. There always seems to be a queue at lunchtime but don’t be put off as it moves quickly and it’s worth the wait. You can grab a giant Yorkshire pudding with potatoes, vegetables and various meat or a veggie option, or opt for a sandwich or wrap to keep you going for the afternoon.
At 2.30pm head over to The Chocolate Story to start your tour and find out more about the industry which built up York; chocolate. Both Terry’s and Rowntree’s were founded in York with the later still operating in the city under the Nestle brand and it’s amazing how many iconic chocolates are made here including Kit Kat, Polo’s, Smarties, Yorkie and Aero, to name just a few. During your tour there’s plenty of history about both York chocolate and the history of the chocolate along with samples galore. Near the end of your tour you’ll have the chance to make your own chocolate lolly and munch on some freshly made filled chocolates.
As if you hadn’t had enough chocolate make a stop in the Chocolate Story cafe after your tour at 3.30pm and have one of their iconic hot chocolates. Present your York Pass and you’ll get a cool 25% off as well. Your final attraction of the day will be the Yorkshire Museum around 4pm which is also free with your York Pass. There’s so much to see including a genuine Roman mosaic floor you can walk on, the Middlesbrough meteorite which is four and a half billion years old and new for 2018 ‘Yorkshire’s Jurassic World’.
For your final evening in the city there’s so much to choose from how about enjoying a burger at Speilburger before catching a movie at the amazing Everyman Cinema which is genuinely one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had (and just across the road from your hotel). If you want a bit more culture go to the Royal Theatre to catch a show or indulge in a nice dinner.
After breakfast leave your hotel around 9am to start your walk to the Jorvik Centre which opens at 10. The Jorvik Centre always has quite a long queue especially Friday’s and weekends so it’s worth getting there for opening to experience the Viking glory. Inside there’s an improved ride experience which transports you back to show you what it was like in Viking York and how the people would have lived, worked and looked.
By 11am you’ll be done with the Jorvik Centre so head round the corner to the Dungeons (both things included in your York Pass) and find out some of the gruesome tales of the darker side of York including Guy Fawkes story as he went to school in York. Once you’ve scared yourself enough at the Dungeon’s head to Sutler’s bar for a lunchtime G&T and choose from their 100+ gin collection which is all categorised by flavours such as citrus, spicy, dry etc.
Once you’ve had a drink talk a walk around the city centre to Wildwood for a 1.30pm sit down lunch which will keep you going for your journey back later that day.
Once you’re done walk off some of the food and head to the York Brewery at 3pm on the way to your hotel and find out how beer is made while sampling some of your own. After this it’s time to walk back to collect your bags from the hotel which is just 5 minutes away and then head back towards the train station for your return journey. We left York around 5pm and were back in London before 7pm which meant we got back to the flat at a reasonable hour.