Earlier this month, my mum and I packed our bags and hopped on a train to the beautiful, historical city of York. Our trip was courtesy of Visit York, who kindly put together a welcome pack bursting with ideas for how we could best spend our two nights in the city.
York is not all that far from us, by car you can reach the city in just under two hours and the train takes a similar amount of time. We both couldn’t wait to spend a festive weekend here, I already know York is a gorgeous city but it’s even more stunning when lit up at Christmas time.
Location: York, England
Length of Stay: 2 Nights
Vital Info: Book attractions in advance if possible
Where to Stay
There are a number of fabulous hotels dotted around York, and with the city being very walkable it isn’t too hard trying to pick one. We were conveniently located just a 5-10 minute walk from the train station at the Park Inn by Radisson. Situated along the River Ouse, the hotel is modern, clean and very centrally located. Our room had a stunning view over the river with the York Minster in the distance.
What to Do
There is so, so much to see and do in York, you certainly won’t be stuck filling your time here….
A ghost bus tour is one of those things you definitely wouldn’t usually consider unless on holiday. Before we went, I had a few people recommend a ghost tour and as it was so cold I quite fancied the idea of the bus. It’s best to book in advance as we nabbed the last couple of seats on ours. The original 1960s Routemaster bus departs outside of the York train station (it’s hard to miss…) and takes you on a two hour ghost tour of York. The tour is very entertaining and among the gruesome tales there’s plenty of comedy. The host we had was great and it’s quite an interactive experience, definitely one to add to your York itinerary.
The Shambles is one of the best preserved medieval streets in the world! It truly feels like you’re strolling around Diagon Alley, even more so with the addition of a few Harry Potter themed shops. This old shopping street was even mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, it’s hard to imagine isn’t it! Nowadays, The Shambles is home to a number of boutiques selling everything from jewellery, to antiques and Gryffindor memorabilia. When we first walked down The Shambles on Friday night there was a snow machine creating a faux blizzard which made the experience even more magical! Not to be missed…
I’ve been to the London Dungeons a few times so I sort of knew what to expect from the York Dungeon and I wasn’t disappointed. For someone who is really into horror and gore (moi), York is actually a great place to visit. The actor-led shows depict the history of York spanning some 2000 years. I have to admit, I spent most of the time ducking and diving from the actors because it involves a fair amount of audience participation, something that terrifies me! Luckily, I escaped.
On Saturday morning the sun was out and it was a lovely bright and crisp winters day. We decided to take a stroll over to the stunning York Minster which really was breathtaking. Dating back to medieval terms, this beautiful Cathedral features 14th and 15th century stained glass, stonework and tombs. The sheer size of York Minster is mind-blowing and it’s full of fascinating history, if you’re feeling brave you can even climb 270 odd steps to the top for the best view of the city. We were lucky enough to visit at a time when the choir were rehearsing their performance and it was a real treat!
York Castle Museum
After our visit to York Minster, we wandered down to the award-winning York Castle Museum which is home to an impressive recreation of a Victorian street complete with actors. There’s often different exhibitions on, at the moment there’s a fabulous collection of Vivienne Westwood’s shoes so it’s well worth checking out and a nice way to spend an hour.
We didn’t drink a pint, but we did stop for a breather in one of Yorks many pubs! Some of them are even said to be haunted, which I would’t be surprised out given York’s fantastically gruesome history. Be sure to pop by the Guy Fawkes Inn, the birthplace of the man himself.
Where to Eat
Being vegan, I always tend to do a little pre-trip research to suss out the best places to head to for planted-based friendly food. The Happy Cow app always has my back, and I discovered a few gems in York for vegans. My absolute favourite place for vegan food in York was Goji Cafe which was the only strictly vegetarian eatery I came across, their vegan cake was to die for! We also enjoyed a tempeh sandwich for breakfast at Partisan which was full of interesting art, oh and not forgetting a seitan I devoured at Source. Yum!
For a fun-packed city break, I can’t recommend York enough! Our days were filled with plenty to do and it was extra special visiting at Christmas time with the festive markets, lights and fake snow. We didn’t even get to tick off everything on our list due to timing, so a return trip is needed in order to visit the JORVIK Viking Centre (the queue was huge!), Betty’s Tea Room Vegan Afternoon Tea (launch in March) and the York Art Gallery.
I would love to make this a yearly festive tradition! Thank you so much to Visit York who kindly hosted our stay, we had an absolute blast.
Find out what’s on in York next year, and why not make York your next city break?