I had never thought of visiting York. My trips to the UK have always been all about London. But we wanted to break up our drive from Edinburgh to London, so we chose to have three nights in York – and I’m so glad we did.
Our visit coincided with New Year’s Eve, and I wish I could say we did something exciting. But instead we watched Millionaire Matchmaker and went to bed early. One notable thing about British New Year’s Eve celebrations is that people are allowed to let off their own fireworks. We were woken at midnight to a 360 degree fireworks display that seemed to never end.
Most of our time was spent strolling through the streets of York looking in shops and trying not to slip over. York has cold winters and the streets were covered in ice!
Walk The Shambles
The best way to see York is on foot, and you’ll spend hours walking around and looking at all the old buildings and checking out the shops. Right in the middle of it all is The Shambles, a narrow old street with overhanging timber buildings that date back to the fourteenth century. Once you’ve looked through the shops and sat in a tea room in The Shambles you’ll be ready to see what else York has to offer.
If you like a laugh, this is for you. Jorvik is a Viking museum that tells the history of York, or Jorvik as it was known back in the day. My mum insisted we go here, probably imagining that it was filled with Viking treasure. Instead you go on a 10 minute ride through a reimagined Jorvik filled with creepy moving wax figures. This is followed by a dark and disappointing museum that was very crowded when we visited. Only visit if this is part of a multi-attraction pass and if you like terrible rides.
York’s most famous attraction is York Minster, an absolutely massive cathedral. It is the seat of the Archbishop Of York, if you’re into that sort of thing. It was quite late in the day when we went in so we just had a quick look inside, but you can take tours and climb all the way to the top of the tower. Entry starts at £10.
National Railway Museum
I can’t say I’m a trainspotter, but my mum remembered visiting the Railway Museum years ago when she visited York with my dad. We ended up catching a tiny little kid’s “train” to get there, which drove through the streets of York. Luckily we were partially obscured behind some plastic sheets. The museum itself was actually quite interesting, and there is a huge display of old royal trains. It’s all set up really well, and kids would love it. Entry is free.
Take A Drive To Helmsley
By the strangest of coincidences one of my old friends was staying in the nearby town of Helmsley. This old market town is about a 45 minute drive from York. We ended up driving through the most amazing scenery – although it was probably typically English countryside! We also passed through the gates and walls of Castle Howard, where Brideshead Revisited was filmed. Helmsley is a cute and old fashioned town filled with tea rooms and beautiful old buildings.
In York we stayed at The Tannery Apartment, a two bedroom apartment within walking distance to all of York’s attractions. It had a kitchen, two bathrooms and comfortable lounge area. There’s also free parking if you have a car, and Waitrose is a two minute walk.
If you want a good coffee (to Australian and New Zealand standards) try Spring Espresso on Fossgate.