York is a charming city in Northern England. According to George VI, this city is the founder of the country’s history. In York, you shall find extant Medieval streets that keep secrets of the Anglo-Saxon kings, Normans, Vikings, and even Romans. Since that ancient times up to the industrial revolution, York had been the second city in England after London. Today, it yields to other industrial cities. However, it’s still on the list of must-visit places for tourists in England. York with its small white houses, streets that are no wider than a chariot, family shops, extraordinary museums, surrounded by castles and Medieval fortresses is an extremely hospitable and safe city. Its central historical part has an unbelievable atmosphere! Since ancient times, this part of the city has been filled with plenty of tea shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Daniel Defoe himself called this place “plenty of great companies and good families”.
Administrative-territorial division of York
Attractions in York
The walls of the northern capital of England hide more than sixty museums, churches, historical buildings, and castles. You need to devote at least 3-4 days to see everything. We recommend you to start with the symbol of the city, York Minster. There’s even no need to create a special route. Even if you simply wander along these narrow Medieval streets, you shall see the main attractions of York, and learn the history of the Angles, Vikings, and Normans.
Historical tour around York
In the VII-VIII centuries, the Christianity of Northern England was conceived in York. It became a large religious as well as educational and scientific center. However, the Dutch Vikings invaded the city in 866. It turned into the capital of the state and received a new name - Jorvik. The Vikings’ domination ended after the Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings in 1066. Then, the Northmen destroyed the stone walls of the trading capital of the North. Three years after that, William the Conqueror who was known for his cruelty and violence arranged a punitive operation in the city for the insubordination of the local citizens. It went down in history as the “Harrying of the North”.
In its lifetime, the city saw many periods of decays and prosperity. York survived the massacre of its Jewish inhabitants, the Wars of the Roses, epidemics, conspiracies, rebellions that resulted in the economic decline and a reduction of population. The period of golden age happened during the epoch of the Late Middle Ages and the reign of Elizabeth I.
The name of York was mentioned for the first time in the historic work in the XIII century. At the same time, York became the residential center for the English elite. The industrial revolution stimulated the building of railways. It ensured a new turn in the development and prosperity of the city.
Today, York is proud of its status as the oldest European city and a tourist center. Over 3 million tourists visit it annually.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit York
All the fans of delicious food must come here in September. The gastronomic Festival of Food and Drink is held annually. York is famous not only for its attractions but also for the renowned ham steaks in Madeira sauce. Moreover, the National Book Fair, one of the best ones in Great Britain, is also held every year in September in York. Here you can sell or buy ancient books.
In summer, many tourists come here to attend the famous York Maze situated not far from the city. Every year, a new maze is created on a maize field that is 10 times bigger than a football field. You never know the route of the maze, it’s different every time. The city also invites everyone to attend the Early Music festival in July.
You can rent a bike to have a tour around the city when the weather is dry. It’s a convenient way to get around York. Besides, it offers all the necessary infrastructure: parking lots, bicycle lanes, rental centers, and maps of routes online. However, keep in mind, that it’s also forbidden to ride a bicycle in the center of the city from 8 AM to 4 PM. And don’t forget to turn on the illumination when it’s getting dark. Otherwise, you can easily get a penalty.
Plan your trip to England (and York, of course) in advance. You will require some additional time to register and get a UK visa. You can fill in the application form at the website of gov.uk, and bring the documents to the UK visa application center at the British Embassy.
You can get to York from the railway station or airport by bus. If you arrive at the railway station, you can take a bus on Rougier Street. In case you arrive at the Leeds Bradford Airport, look for a bus tour called “Leeds - Bradford”.
If you are traveling by car, the parking lots are located in the center or nearby such highways as А-64, А-19, А-1079, and А-166. You can also park your vehicle by the city walls. Hotels typically also offer parking lots, but not all of them.
You shall find a tourist information center at the railway station. There, you can get all the necessary information, purchase a ticket for public transport and an A York Pass (a special card for visiting various attractions).
The central part of the city becomes a pedestrian zone from 8 AM to 4 PM. Emergency and government transport and vehicles for disabled people are the only exceptions. It is fair to say that this is even beneficial for tourists. The historical center of the city is not that big and it’s better to explore its ancient streets on foot, without any vehicles around you.
Accommodation in York can fit any budget and taste: luxury boutique-hotels in historical buildings; Bed&Breakfast options in Bootham, 10 minutes from the center; or budget options in the networks on international hotels such as Travelodge, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Novotel, Quality Hotel.
It is allowed to smoke in the city only in the specially designed places. Be ready to pay 30 euros if you violate this rule.
10 must-do things in York
- Come to York by train. You will arrive at the station that was built in 1839, opened in 1877 and is still working. Don’t rush to your hotel right away. Visit the largest National Railway Museum in the world. There you can see the renowned locomotive “Flying Scotsman” and plenty of other fascinating objects.
- Admire the beauty and elegance of York Minster. It’s the main symbol of the city and the largest Gothic architectural construction in England. It stores a diversity of cultural and historical values and half of the Medieval stained glass in England. It works all week. Besides visiting the main building of the cathedral, you can also explore its dungeon, crypts, attend the house of canons, and ascend to the top of the central tower.
- Climb York City Walls located along the River Ouse. The walls spread for 3.5 kilometers. They keep the Medieval history that you literally touch. The city has the remains of the wall and gates that date to the XIV century together with fragments of the Norman works.
- Come to York to visit the festival. Jorvik is the biggest festival of the Vikings in Europe and its held every February. The historical camps and staged combat operations will dive you into the atmosphere of that epoch. You can even try on a costume and become a Viking yourself.
- Shop till you drop! Shopping in York in unique. Head to such shops as Stonegate and Shambles to purchase extraordinary stamps and collectible coins. If you are interested in something else, ask for the special prospect for shopping lovers called “5 Routes to Shopping” at any tourist information office.
- Taste York’s chocolate. Forget about Swiss chocolate! The headquarters and some manufactures of Rowntrees, Kitkat, Smarties, and Aero are located in York. Don’t even hesitate to visit the Chocolate Story museum and shop. There, you shall learn the history of chocolate in York and buy something delicious.
- Visit some of the most interesting museums: the Jorvik Viking Center, Treasurer's House, Richard III Experience, Micklegate Bar Museum, York Art Gallery, Yorkshire Museum, Merchant Adventurers Hall, and the Fairfax House.
- See the whole city spread before your eyes. You have not seen York if you have not climbed Clifford’s Tower or York Castle that was built back in the XIII century.
- Enjoy nature. In York, don’t forget to take a ride along its beautiful River Ouse in any type of water transport. Moreover, explore numerous parks on both sides of its banks. The York Museum Gardens is the most popular and loved place both among locals and guests.
- Arrange a gastronomic tour. You won’t have trouble finding a place to eat in this Medieval city. York offers more than three hundred restaurants that will treat you to the dishes of European cuisine: from traditional English to the exquisite French one.