Britain's best-preserved medieval city
Step inside the medieval city walls of York and experience one of Britain's most impressive towns. Home to over 2000 years of colourful history, a vibrant arts scene and a pub for every night of the year, York is a heady mix of past and present.
There are plenty of things to see in York as it is a city with such a vibrant history. At JORVIK Viking Centre you can transport yourself back 1000 years and explore a Viking-era settlement, while at the York Museum you’ll find collections dating back to the prehistoric era. And don’t miss the amazing York Minster – one of Britain’s most magnificent cathedrals. If you’re with a loved one, visit the 'Heart of Yorkshire' window. Legend has it that loved-up couples who kiss under the window will stay together forever.
Prepare to have your taste buds tickled at York Food and Drink Festival, the UK’s biggest culinary festival which takes place in the city every September. You absolutely mustn’t miss the mouth-watering cakes at the world-famous Betty’s Tea Rooms, and for a pint with a difference, head to Ye Olde Starre Inne - York's oldest licensed pub – or The Golden Fleece – the most haunted pub in the city.
York’s vibrant arts scene brings together the classic and contemporary, celebrating the greats and the up-and-comers alike. The awe-inspiring Orb at York Minster is a treasure house of stained glass, showcasing some of world’s most important medieval art. And walk into the beautiful York St. Mary’s and you’re in for a surprise – this medieval church is now a contemporary visual arts venue, and home of the internationally acclaimed York Early Music Festival.
York is home to some of the prettiest shopping streets in Britain. The cobbled Shambles is York’s oldest street and an attraction in its own right, but be sure to check out its boutiques too. The history continues at Stonegate, where gift shops, jewellers and antiques shops occupy the medieval buildings. Fancy something a little more modern? Head to York Designer Outlet, where you’ll find designers like Paul Smith and The Kooples at up to 60% off.
Legend has it that York has 365 pubs – one for every day (or night) of the year – so you won’t be short of places to stop for a pint. Later, head to the Micklegate Quarter, which is famous for its pubs and bars, or the Riverside, which is great on summer nights. If you’re looking for live music, you’ll catch the big names at York Barbican Centre, or anything from indie to metal at bars like Fibbers or The Basement.
Kids will love watching history come alive at JORVIK Viking Centre, and if they’re feeling brave, take them on a thrill-filled journey through York’s murky past at York Dungeons. Locomotive lovers won’t want to miss the National Railway Museum where they can experience the sounds and sights of the world’s railway legends. And for a truly a-mazing day out, test your sense of direction at York Maze.
The Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Georgians and Edwardians have all left their distinctive mark on York. All of that history has earned York the title of a British Heritage City, and its historic sites aren’t to be missed. Take a walk around the beautifully preserved City Walls, which have been protecting the city since Roman times, or climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower also known as York Castle. Originally built by William the Conqueror, the tower played a crucial role in the control of northern England. Today, it offers incredible panoramic views of the city.
York is regarded as one of Britain’s premier cycling cities, and in 2014 it’s set to host Stage 2 of the Tour de France. The Tour will pass iconic sites like York Minster and the City Walls, and if you fancy following in the footsteps of the pros, just hop on a bike and follow the extensive network of off-road cycle paths and on-road cycle lanes around the city. If you’d rather be a spectator, head to York Racecourse where you’ll see some of the country’s leading jockeys and horses competing.