I’m like a moth to a flame with historical towns, so when Travelodge said how do you feel about a weekend away in York I jumped at the chance, especially as I can’t remember when the last time was when I wandered through the city, it must be at least 15 years ago.
York is a beautiful city, I love its mix of culture, shopping and restaurants, it really is a great place for a mini break – whether you are after romantic, or a few days away with friends and family, there is so much to keep you entertained. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share my seven things to do in York – perfect for a weekend away.
1. Check out the view
We were lucky that our Travelodge hotel had the most amazing view, looking out on to the Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower next to the river. But to get a marvellous 360º view of the city, you should go up to the top of Clifford’s Tower, what remains of the castle built by William the Conqueror. Be prepared for the wind, and the never-ending steps, but trust me this English Heritage site is so worth it. You can see York Minster, the river, all the gorgeous churches, the Castle Museum, and on a good weather day, you can see the Yorkshire Moors.
2. Get your shopping fix
There are two sides to shopping in York, you can wander through the maze of cobbled streets, discover cute boutiques, independent arty stores, shops filled with antiques, and adorable cafes, or you can head to all major high street names, which also includes the Disney store that made my husband and I happy, I got Dumbo to add to my collection and he loaded up on Star Wars plush toys. Yep, we are that childish!!!
Then for an adding shopping fix, you can head out to the York Designer Outlet, which is only 10 miles out of York – I believe there is a bus that goes from the city centre however we went over in the car. It has everything from Gap, Next and M&S Outlets to Calvin Klein, Jaeger and L.K. Bennett, as well as homeware pieces from Le Creuset and Home and Cook. I suggest getting there early as it does get crowded very quickly as it isn’t that big.
3. Be in awe at the gothic cathedral
I might not be religious but I’m such a fan of religious architecture, and the grandeur of York Minster, the largest medieval gothic cathedral in northern Europe will make you gasp aloud, it really is that beautiful.
It is huge, so leave yourself plenty of time to explore and soak it all in. There is so much to discover from exploring the Undercroft and learning about the history of the cathedral to climbing the central tower for views across York, as well as finding out more about medieval stained glass, becoming memorised by the Chapter House – the ceiling is incredible, and the Astronomical Clock. We were also lucky enough to hear the choir in full voice, so maybe check ahead at their events and enjoy some entertainment as well as the history of the building.
4. Taste York
When it comes to finding something to eat you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere, it will be deciding where as York has so many options just head down Fossgate and Goodramgate.
One of my favourite places to eat had to Ambiente Tapas, a local Tapas chain, which not only has an amazing menu, we couldn’t resist the paella – it was so yummy, it is also seriously cool with its stripped-back industrial feel, some of the tables are actually set into barrels. As with all tapas places be prepared to wait for your paella, it is made from scratch and is so worth the 40-minute wait, we just used the time to nibble on a tapas platter and drink some fancy cocktails.
On our second night, we went to Loch Fyne, I know we have one close by in Cambridge but we’ve never been so we thought we would give it ago, and I’m so glad we did as it really was a delicious meal. We had oysters to start, fish and chips for main, and finished the perfect date night off with a yummy chocolate and cherry pudding.
5. Get onboard
It sounds really geeky, especially coming from a fashion blogger to recommend the National Railway Museum, but I have to be honest my husband’s love of trains must be rubbing off on me. You see I got to pick most of our weekend activities as I am an OCD planner, but my husband wanted to see trains, and with its free entry I could hardly say no, and I’m so glad I didn’t.
There is so much to see, as you can imagine it is in a large warehouse, and it houses lots of steam and diesel engine trains, including the Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive, as well as historical pieces such as showing how the Royals travel on the railway, Queen Victoria’s saloon is so adorable.
It also has some great eateries, including a restaurant set out like a train carriage with cute booths, so maybe plan your journey around lunch time to take in the full experience.
6. Take in the flowers
There are so many beautiful corners of York, one of the most tranquil has to be the Museum Gardens that houses the Yorkshire Museum and York Art Gallery set in the stunning surroundings of the medieval ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. If you fancy a picnic or a sit down to catch your breath while sightseeing, or just to take some beautiful pictures then this is the place.
There are ten-acres to enjoy, with plenty of beautiful flowers, birds and butterflies, as well as art installations like this tree that has been knit bombed, and if you go on a Thursday or Saturday lunchtime you can see Yorkshire’s oldest working observatory.
7. A round-up of everything else
So I’m cheating a little, but seven wasn’t enough to show off how fantastical York is, there really is so much to see and do, perfect for families with children as there are so many museums for them to enjoy. Highlights include the York Castle Museum, it has a recreated Victorian Street, then there is the Yorkshire Museum filled with Roman and Viking artefacts, and if Vikings are your thing you can’t miss visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre.
Other cultural highlights include the charming Treasurer’s House & Garden, Fairfax House – one of the finest Georgian townhouses in England, and the York Dungeon. The city also offers great ghost walking tours, cruises down the river, and the original city walls offer a great circular walk.