York Minster itself can detain you easily for half a day. It is not to be missed, crowds and all (note the ticket you purchase is actually valid for a year so break up your visits if you wish). Next the National Rail Museum (NRM), even if not a rail buff, as it fills in the gaps about British social history too. Besides these 2 ‘must visits’ there are so many Museums and sights to visit, but a couple are worth mentioning which you might overlook:
- The Bar Convent, 25 yards from Micklegate Bar is an interesting old Catholic Girls School that offers tours. It also has a nice café and does a great English Breakfast!
- About a 15 minute walk or short bus trip on the road to Acomb is a Cold War Bunker. What a contrast to the other end of the city’s history at the Minister. Here you get a taste of the fairly recent past.
- You likely will not overlook this but take tea at Bettys’s Café Tea Rooms (best in winter when its not a busy time)
My own favorite things to do:
- Walk the Walls – every time you notice something anew. Just observe the buildings and the different era’s they represent
- Eat at one of the Pub’s – try the Guy Fawkes Inn on High Petergate. (You’ll learn about ‘Gun Powder, Treason and Plot’ and the man who tried to blow up London’s Parliament)
- Watch out to see if the Market is set up, on and around Parliament Street in the center
- Stroll through the Yorkshire Museum grounds.
- Check to see what’s on at the various theaters, the Minster and at other churches. York offers an array of musical and cultural events year round
- Just get lost in the back streets – you’ll find, church yards, odd public houses, signs, rows of houses as it is after all a lived in city.
- And every so often I return to the Minster and the NRM once again!
Here is a very interesting web site about York’s multi faceted history – The History of York .
Romans - Anglo Saxons - Vikings - Normans ....
….Medieval – Tudor – Georgian – Victorian – Railways and Twentieth Century
A ‘Must See’ City in England as York has been the location of 2000 years of history.
In the interests of journalistic transparency, York is a favorite of mine. My early railway management career started here; to this day we retain a small property just a few minutes outside the Walls and within a small area you can see and visit 2,000 years of English history and get a real grasp of the key events. I think it is wonderful.
York – Finding those ‘Routes Beyond’.
First things first: York is hardly a ‘Route Beyond’ destination as it is one of the most visited cities in England (about 6.9million people in fact). It is also largely based within the Roman Walls, which contains a maze of tiny streets and squares. Frankly, at times it can get really, really busy – yet, do not despair!
In fact, like many ‘honey pot’ destinations it is not that difficult, with a bit of flexibility, to avoid the rush.
So how to enjoy a trip to York, based on my experience:
- It is simply not at all designed for cars or buses. Don’t even think about driving around it. If ever there was a walking city, York is it
- Arrive by train (yes, I know, I am bias). But truly, the Station Entrance is 25 yards from the Roman Walls and all the sights within about 20 minutes walk
- Weekends, especially in the summer are mostly very, very busy – avoid them if you can
- July and August tend to be busiest
- Whilst it is perfectly possible to have a great visit to York in the rain or winter (as so many of the sights are indoors) it is nice to stroll around and I have noticed that after 6pm from September to June the town is much quieter. The Walls are open to dusk so enjoy them then
- Similarly, if you are an early riser York is open to meander around
- If you find crowds and want a break, walk west along the River Ouse banks for a bridge or two!
York has an obvious genteel side and attraction, with its array of historic sights and cultural activities but York has always been a working town, and largely still is. It has developed around the Roman Fort, The Minster, the railway junction it became, and then things like Rowntree’s Chocolate also.
Nowadays it also has a University and other service industries and so it continues to thrive within and now outside, those magnificent Roman Walls.
York – all quiet on a beautiful spring evening!