Whoever it is that asks me where they should visit in the UK, my answer always includes York. Taking about two hours by train from London, I bet you will see, just within a day, how this medieval city has cast a spell over me (and you too by the end of the day). My first visit to York was in June 2012 with my uni friends. I had so many sweet memories then that I had to take my mum to share them with her during her visit in April 2016. As the city has managed to keep its medieval look superbly, the four-year gap seemed non-existent: it stayed as pretty as it always has been.
Among a countless number of things to do, here are my Must-Do’s in York. They are all possible on foot!
The Shambles: the Medieval Street…just like a Film Set!
My absolutely favourite place in York is the Shambles! This street still has traditional buildings left, where wooden beams had been used. You can definitely feel going back to the 14th century walking under the buildings. Even newer buildings coordinate well with the historic architecture, contributing to the atmospheric walk.
As the name of the street says, it wouldn’t necessarily have been the nicest alley to stroll back in medieval times. It had lots of butchers here where the sellers would have hung the meats on hooks and presented them on shelves. The record that until 1872 there were 25 butchers left allows us to imagine an atmosphere back then… quite different from what we can experience now. From a meat market to shops for little cute stuff – what a change!
The picture above shows a rather empty street; but that was because of the rain and after-business hours. During the day you may well encounter hoards of people looking around and shopping at the little cute shops!
York City Walls
The majority of walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago still remain in York. It is said that about 150 years ago the top of some of these walls were rebuilt for public paths. The whole walk is around 3.4km long, taking about 2 hours. This allows you to see the lovely city in various directions with elevation. It felt similar to walking along Seoul Fortress Walls, but was still interesting with a different view.
Depending on which trail you take, you can see York Minster in the distance too.
York Minster and its Tower
If the scene of York from the City Walls was not high enough for you, you should consider going up to the tower of York Minster. 275 of spiral steps will bring you city’s tallest view. As of March 2017, the admission fee is £15 for adults (£14 for seniors and students). With the ticket you can walk up to the tower as well as look around the inside of York Minster. Kids should be at least 8 to climb the tower, paying £5 up to the age of 16.
I climbed the tower once in 2012, and I remember it was tougher than I thought for it being spiral. You can have a quick rest in the middle though, at the spot where the photo above was taken. York Minster represents the typical Gothic style, which flourished in the medieval age. As the ticket for the tower does include York Minster sightseeing, you might as well have a closer look of the building. More information for the visit: https://yorkminster.org/visit/plan-your-visit/#opening-times
Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms
If you are a fan of Afternoon Tea/Cream Tea, do not miss Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms. Outside London, you are likely to get better value when it comes to eating out – the afternoon tea set at Bettys was more reasonably priced than London’s, let alone it being popular for its taste. I went there for both trips and I didn’t regret it at all! More information for the visit: https://www.bettys.co.uk/cafe-tea-rooms