YORK: TRAVEL GUIDE
Situated in the North East of England is the walled Roman city of York. Named one of the most beautiful locations in the UK, making the trek up north from my home in Oxfordshire seemed utterly worth it. York had been on my UK bucket list for the last few years since hearing about how beautiful the city was from multiple publications and blogs, and it definitely did not disappoint.The rows of ornate red brick buildings with the York Minster towering above, mixed with the chirpy and chatty locals really made my few days here memorable, and I would love to revisit when possible.
Although I visited in the heart of summer the classic English weather prevailed and I was met with rain and clouds for the majority of my stay, which I was happy to put up with, however I would suggest bringing a raincoat and some warmer clothes all year round. Whether you're visiting York for its beautiful architecture, lively city vibe or long history of ghosts, there is something for everyone. My trip was only 3 nights, but it was the perfect amount for a taster of the best things to do in the city.
Like I mentioned in my East Sussex blog post, England definitely isn't the cheapest option, however in a big city like York you do have a variety of options for a range of budgets. The prices were definitely not as expensive as London, and typically you'll find northern prices to be a little more manageable. The most expensive part of my time in York were the activities, however in saying that I never paid more than £17 for an activity, which is cheaper than places like Barcelona (read my Barcelona and Valencia blog post here).
A good range for York (and I'm sure most other spots in the North), would be between £45 - £75 per day. You could probably get away with less, especially if you kept food and activities to a minimum, however this is for a comfortable midrange trip. York has a good range of accommodation and food options that can help accommodate to a tighter budget, which we will get into later!
During my time in York I stayed in two different accommodation options, the first part of my trip was in collaboration with Travelodge (check out my Travelodge £100 challenge Tiktok video here). The room was quiet, comfortable and only cost £29, so although it's basic, it definitely works well for getting out and being productive.
Check out the Travelodge I stayed in in York!
For the remaining 2 nights I stayed in Astor Hostel, located on the other side of the city. The hostel felt incredibly homely, with friendly, accommodating staff and had everything you would need during your stay. My only minor downside to Astor was the location, which was around 20 - 25 minutes walking outside the centre of York, however I didn't mind the walk and it was very straightforward to get into the heart of the city. For 2 nights I paid £33 in an 8 bed dorm - you can book your stay here. Astor Hostels also have several locations across the UK and in London, too!
If you're looking to stay at Astor (or other hostels across the UK and Europe), I recommend checking out Hostelpass and their Hostel Card, which gives you up to 20% off their partnered hostels. You can purchase your Hostel Card here for only £19.99!
The city itself is small enough to walk around easily, so transport within the walls of York isn't necessary. Getting to and from York is also very straight forward as it sits on several major train lines and bus routes. The train from London takes between 2 to 2 and a half hours and can range in price depending on the time of year, I paid £80 return from Reading (changing over in London). For rail transport I definitely recommend investing in a railcard, I have a 16 - 25 (year old) railcard and it saves me around 1/3 of the ticket price each journey. A railcard costs £30 for a year. You can buy one here.
The bus would be a cheaper alternative to the train, however would take closer to 6 - 7 hours. National Express or Megabus are the two main options you can choose from, with National Express between priced at £14 - £26 each way from London.
PRESETS COLLECTIONS USED IN THIS POST:
The Shambles is arguably the most famous street in York, with tourists, namely Harry Potter fans, flocking to see the oddly shaped houses and themed shops. The fictional Diagon Alley from the franchise supposedly took some inspiration from this iconic street, and you can definitely spot the resemblance from the Harry Potter world.
The Shambles used to be an old butchers street, and is still one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. These days you can find rows of Harry Potter merchandise shops, tea houses, coffee shops, bakeries and things of that nature, and as you can imagine during the days and the summer months this small alley becomes packed with people window shopping. To get the full experience you can even pop into 'A Shop that Shall not be Named' and pick up your first ever Ollivander's wand.
If you're hoping to capture the street with no one else on it, then the morning is going to be your best bet. During my visit I went in the early morning, around 6:30/7am, and barely saw anyone else down the street apart from the cleaners.
GHOST BUS TOUR
York is notoriously known for its ghost stories and twisted past, with countless locations in the city being noted as being haunted. There is a long list of infamous names associated with York, however most famously, Guy Fawkes, who grew up and went to school in the city. It seemed very fitting that I went on a ghost bus tour during my time, and I was not disappointed.
The tour was run by The Ghost Bus Tours, who also run ghost tours in London and Edinburgh. The tickets are £16 per person and the experience lasts a little over an hour. The tour is hosted in a real 1960's Routemaster bus, which has been decked out with a 'spooky' 1920's/1930's interior, including velvet curtains, lamps with tasseled lamp shades and dimmed lighting. As you enter the bus you are greeted by the host, who is your guide for the ride, he ensures that the tour has a tasteful mix of comedy and horror, making it a lot less scary than I anticipated, however it was still amazing nevertheless.
Book your York Ghost bus tour here
BETTY'S TEA ROOMS
Betty's is a famous location in York that is raved about by locals and tourists alike. In fact it's so popular that I couldn't get a table, twice. Each time I went to visit, there were queues out the door and down the street, so I never got an opportunity to try it for myself. Although I couldn't try it myself I thought it would be best to mention it as it is a must try option when you visit York.
YORK CITY BAR WALLS
Since the Roman times York has been surrounded by its City Walls as a final line of defence. These walls are now among the most intact in England and you can walk around the entire city using the Bar Walls. The walk is around 2.5km long, however you can hop on or hop off at several points along the circuit.
Walking along the walls allows you to see the city from a wide variety of viewpoints, making for a great photo opportunity. I visited different spots of the City Walls throughout different points in the day and it was never overly crowded at all, which is probably for the best seeing as large parts of the wall has a straight drop down of 2 - 5 meters and no railing on one side.
The Walls are free to walk around, however they are gated off at night, so plan your visit from 8:30am - 9pm.
York Minster is among the largest Cathedrals in Northern Europe and took centuries to complete, before finally being finished in 1472. The Minster is impressive from all angles and can be spotted from across the majority on the city. Wandering around the outside gives you an opportunity to examine the exquisite early English Gothic style architecture, however I would recommend also visiting the interior of the Cathedral.
Tickets cost £12 for an adult and £9 for a student, and you have to pre purchase tickets online with an allocated time slot. The interior of the Cathedral is just as grand as the exterior, and takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to walk through the entirety, including visiting the crypt beneath.
You can purchase your York Minster tickets here
These botanical gardens sit beside the river Ouse and are the perfect place to come and relax. The gardens cover an area of 10 acres and are home to a number of ruins, including St Mary's Abbey. During the warmer months you can find little food and drink vans parked throughout the park, as well as plenty of seating, so of course it's a wonderful spot to visit when in York.
The Golden Fleece is not only the most haunted pub in York but is one of the most haunted pubs in the whole of the UK. With a notable 5 ghosts that haunt the halls, the Golden Fleece is a pub and hotel which you need to visit. While I wasn’t brave enough to spend time in one of their hotel rooms I did visit for dinner.
The menu is very classically British with staples like fish and chips, burgers, steaks, and so on, so there is a range of options for you to choose from. Surprisingly they had some vegan options - I opted for the vegan ‘no steak’ pie, which was made from soy mince and served with mash, peas and gravy.
The whole experience felt classically British and the Golden Fleece is definitely worth a visit, although don’t expect to see any spooky behaviour while dining. You can book your room/dinner reservation here!
VAN GOGH IMMSERSIVE EXPERIENCE
The Van Gogh Immersive Experience is a 4D wonderland all about Van Gogh and his work. You can find these exhibitions in York, Leister and London (although I believe the London experience is run by a different company). The tickets cost £13 per person and gives you access to the 4D experience, which is definitely surreal. 'Starry Night' deck chairs are scattered around the interior of St Mary's Church, where the exhibition takes place, so you can sit and enjoy the projectors play moving versions of Van Gogh's work.
I spent close to 40 minutes sitting and soaking in the art, and I was surprised with how much I actually enjoyed the exhibition. There is also an additional VR experience you can partake in, which is £3 extra on top of the ticket price. You get given a headset to wear and it shows a much more interactive walk through of the world of Van Gogh's life and work, although watch out - it can make you quite dizzy.
RIVER FOSS PHOTO SPOT
One of my followers let me know about this beautiful little photo spot down by the banks of the river Foss. This little cove makes you feel like you've stepped into a European village, and is a great spot for photos. To find this spot on maps, it's easiest to type in 'Black Horse Passage', then follow the path down to 'Wesley Place'. From there you'll see a small set of steps that lead down to the riverside.
At the bottom of this blog post I've included a map of all my recommendations, including the location of this spot!
I discovered Plush Cafe on my explore feed and knew I had to make the visit. The cafe is designed to be a picture perfect haven for Instagram, with each room meticulously designed with different themes and an extensive menu of ‘grammable’ food. The staff offer you a choice of which room you would like to sit in - the neon room, garden room or bohemian room. I opted for the garden room, which consisted of tables with swings, walls covered in flowers, vines and an archway of colourful garlands. I went for their ‘Balance your Chakra’ smoothie bowl, and while the food didn’t blow me away it was a really unique and fun experience.
THE CORNISH BAKERY
There is nothing more quintessentially British than a classic pasty. The Cornish Bakery have locations all over England, and they serve a range of delicious pasties and baked good that are great for on the go, not to mention they are affordable!
NEED A MAP OF WHERE I WENT?
HERE YOU GO!