For a spring day out, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the beautiful city often referred to as the capital of the North. Rich in history and culture, there’s plenty for everyone to see and do.
York is a magical city, one of the most historic in Britain, with a unique atmosphere present everywhere. It is a compact city – small but perfectly formed – with many attractions inside the city walls, and history and architecture awaiting you round every corner.
York was the capital of the Roman Empire’s northern territories from 71 AD, named ‘Eboracum’, before the Vikings captured the town in 866, renaming in ‘Jorvik’, from which ‘York’ is derived. The viking influence is still evident in many of the street names in York, such as Stonegate, Swinegate, Goodramgate and Micklegate, the word ‘gate’ meaning ‘street’.
If you only have a day in the city, there are a few ‘must do’ things. A walk around the city walls allows you to not only get a real feel for the city’s history, but also gives wonderful views of the city and smaller glimpses into areas normally hidden from the usual paths. Along the walls, tucked away in a couple of the Bars, the original gates to the city, are small museums which provide more detailed information and stories about York’s battle history.
The main tourist attraction in the city is York Minster, built between 1220 and 1470. It is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and well worth a visit. A climb up the tower gives amazing views across the city, and in the basement of the minster is a museum showing how the building was constructed on the site of a Norman church.
If the weather holds out, a gentle meander through the Yorkshire Museum gardens is very pleasant, with access to the riverside path from the gardens, as well as some delightful ruins, and of course the museum itself.
A few hours spent indoors might be needed if the spring weather turns, in which case there are numerous good museums, as well as shops and galleries. If history is your thing, a couple of hours spent in the Castle museum, Clifford’s Tower, Merchant Adventures Hall or Fairfax House should satisfy. A walk through the pedestrianised area in the city centre offers a wealth of options for refreshments, from cosy cafes and old pubs to restaurant chains and riverside bars.
For those needing to entertain young family members, you can’t go wrong with a visit to York Dungeons or the Jorvik Viking museum. There is also the Railway museum (free admission), or a boat trip on the river.
There are also plenty of walks and tours to suit everyone, from ghost walks, the Abbot Tours of Ancient York, or a more leisurely ride on a tour bus.
Interesting York facts
Within the city walls it is still legal to shoot a scotsman with a bow and arrow.
Guy Fawkes lived in York, on Stonegate.
York is one of the most haunted cities in England.
Highwayman Dick Turpin was jailed in York dungeons, and hanged on the Knavesmire in 1739.