Here is why you need to visit the charming city of York
York is not one of those really well-known, touristy cities in the UK that you hear about all the time, but once you visit it will leave a lasting impression on you in a big way.
I fell in love with York and would love to go back to spend more time there.
We got into York around 2 p.m. and the weather wasn’t looking too good. The day had been overcast and chilly throughout the better part and there were still some grey clouds lingering.
We only had this one afternoon to spend in York before catching a train to Edinburgh Scotland the next morning. I wasn’t sure if the weather was going to hold out for us in order to see all of the places we had on our itinerary or not.
After checking into the apartment we found on Airbnb we headed out to see the city. *Side Note- We loved this beautiful apartment!
I would highly recommend staying at this Airbnb apartment titled, “Amazing View of York Minster” which is hosted by Anna. She was so welcoming; meeting us at the apartment and showing us through it.
The apartment is located right on the Foss River. It was beautifully decorated, bright and airy, very clean, and nicely stocked. She even left chocolates on our pillows!
Our Airbnb was located just outside of York’s city walls. York is a medieval town with a wall built around it. At each of the four corners there is an entrance called a “bar”. This is where we entered the city and from here headed straight to the York Minster cathedral.
I don’t think I have ever been inside as many cathedrals as we went to in Great Britain. They are all beautiful, with sweeping arches, long grand naves, tall pillars and beautiful woodwork.
Look at the detail on the outside of the Cathedral here.
We were able to go see the under croft of the cathedral, which was really interesting. It gave the history and showed where the original one stood compared to today’s building.
My favorite part of our visit at the York Minster, was having the opportunity to climb the tower for the amazing views of the city. The red roofs are such a stark difference from any of the cities in the US.
Notice the wall to the left side of the photo? This is the city wall the surrounds the center of town and used to protect the city of York back in the early 1400’s.
Not everyone will want to pay to climb the 275 steep and spiraling stairs just for a view of the city, but I loved it! Let me warn you though, you do need to be prepared for this climb.
Here are some tips from my personal experience-
- If you aren’t in the best physical shape be sure to stay towards the back of the group when first entering (giving your ticket to the lady), otherwise you will feel pushed to keep climbing at a faster pace than you may want. There aren’t any places to step aside and let someone pass, so you have to just keep going no matter how tired you get.
- If you don’t like heights or small tight spaces you will not want to do this climb. The vertical ascent/descent is in a small winding staircase.
- Don’t carry any bags or heavy items that will bulk you down and make your climb that much more difficult. Trust me, I carried my over-the-shoulder bag that had my wallet, cosmetics, bottled water, and etc. in it plus my heavy DSLR camera around my neck. Trying to hold both and still navigate the small space was quite the mistake! If you can leave any non-essentials with someone not making the climb, or at home, you will be better off.
- Dress appropriately. To get to the top you must climb up a tight, winding staircase that feels like it’s going straight up. The stairs are small so wear comfortable walking shoes and definitely not high heels. Also, don’t wear layers of clothing. The climb itself will get a good sweat going but then when you add 20 extra bodies, all climbing at once, in that small confined space the temperature rises dramatically. I started the climb out with a jacket and scarf on and by the time we got to the top I wanted nothing more than to strip down just to cool off. I doubt the guard up there would have appreciated that, but thankfully there was a nice cool breeze blowing that helped cool me off quickly.
Even though the climb wasn’t easy I would definitely do it again just to see that view.
After visiting the Minster we walked a few blocks to the center of town. All along the way there are fun shops, restaurants and cafes to stop and check out.
Because we were short on time we bee-lined it straight to the York Chocolate Story.
We were too late to catch a tour but we did stop into their shop to buy some yummy and interesting flavored chocolate. They make a variety of flavors including; Key Lime White Chocolate, Cinnamon-Chile Chocolate and a Peach & Lavender White Chocolate, among others. My favorite that we purchased was the Peach & Lavender with White Chocolate, yummmm!
From there we headed over to see “The Shambles”, an old street in York with overhanging timber-framed buildings dating as far back as the fourteenth century. This small street is the best preserved medieval street in the world. Currently they hold quaint shops and businesses.
We started wandering the maze of streets throughout York when it started to rain.
Soon it turned into a downpour and we started searching for a shop that sold umbrellas. We didn’t want to walk the 1/2 mile back home in the pouring rain!
Anna had told us about a delicious place to have dinner, so we ducked in out of the rain to eat at Ambiente Tapas. We were so happy that she suggested this restaurant. I had never eaten tapas before but was hooked from the first bite.
If you’ve never heard of tapas it is Spanish style appetizers, combined to make a meal. At Ambiente their tapas are inspired by the traditional Spanish ‘Tabancos” and influence from tastes & flavors from around the world.
After waiting out the rain, we started making our way back to our apartment. We stopped off at the corner “bar”, where we entered the city walls, and made the climb up to take a short walk along the wall. Had there been more time we could have walked the entire 3.4 kilometers around the city upon the walls.
We wished we had more than just this one afternoon here in York because there is so much more to see and do. I know that I will be planning another trip back sometime in the future.
For now, I will have to leave you with just this much information and hope that it inspires you to put York on your bucket list.
For more England travel tips and itineraries read this post on 8 Reasons to Visit the City of Bath
Until Next Time…….Travel On!
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