An Insider’s Guide to York

Friday 31st March, 2023 by hs-admin

The beautiful city of York is an eclectic mix of history and culture. Blending old with modern day perfectly, you’ll find stylish boutiques lining historic cobbled streets, trendy bars within Georgian architecture and York Minster sitting amongst bustling cafes.

With more attractions per square mile than any other destination in the UK, believe us – you won’t get bored of things to do in York! With something for everyone, it’s the perfect place for family holidays or getaways with friends. Where to start? Let’s head to the Shambles…

The Shambles

Known for its butchers’ shops in Medieval times, the Shambles is a charming street in the centre of York which is packed with history. Once named ‘The Great Flesh Shambles’, the street was home to over 25 different butchers in the late 1800s. You won’t find any butchers on the street today but you can still see hints of its famous past – meat-hooks dangle outside of shop fronts and there are shelves which once displayed meat on the walls.

Today, the Shambles is Europe’s most visited street. Timber buildings dating back to the 13th Century soar above the narrow, cobbled street. Small paths, known as snickelways, lead off in different directions. It’s easy to see how it helped to inspire Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter franchise. You’ll find Shambles Market open daily between the Shambles and Parliament Street where you can pick up interesting tidbits and goodies.

As you stroll along the Shambles, you’ll discover a wonderful mix of independent retailers. It is home to an artisan bakery, a renowned chocolatiers, a Harry Potter themed store (aptly called ‘The Shop That Shall Not Be Named‘), jewellery boutiques, a coin and stamp dealer, and much more! You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different time as you venture through the long street. If you’re looking for a bite to eat and a beer, stop by Ye Old Shambles Tavern.

York Minster

York Minster provides a striking backdrop across the York skyline. Work began on the build in the 12th century when gothic architecture emerged. Since then, it has become one of the largest of its kind in North Europe standing at 72 metres high. The West Window features a heart design which is known as The Heart of Yorkshire. The Great East Window was finished in 1408 and is the largest medieval stained glass in the world!

York Minster was one of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK in 2022! According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, it was within the top 50 attractions of the year!


York is packed with attractions! You’ll certainly have your pick of things to do.

Take a trip to Leeman Road and you’ll find the impressive National Railway Museum, which is home to an amazing collection of iconic locomotives and engineering firsts. View the world’s fastest locomotive and Queen Victoria’s favourite saloon. Hop on board the Japanese bullet train or peruse the intriguing railway objects in the Great Hall. Best of all – entry to the National Railway Museum is completely free!

Head to the Yorkshire Museum to explore some of the finest collections of geological and archaeological finds. As York was founded by the ancient Romans, you’ll find an amazing collection of Roman artefacts, including genuine Roman mosaic floors you can walk on and the marble head of Constantine the Great.

Take a trip to Clifford Street and you’ll wind up at The York Dungeon. You’ll be fully immersed in the dark 2000 year history of York as you follow the live shows through the dungeon. You’ll meet key characters from York’s past including Guy Fawkes, Vikings and Dick Turpin. Perfect for children and adults alike, this attraction will have you in fits of giggles one moment and screaming with fear the next!


Visit one of the UK’s best regional galleries and discover outstanding ceramic art. York Art Gallery was shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year and the European Museum of the Year so you’re in for a treat! Following a huge development in 2015, the gallery now hosts three exhibition spaces on the ground floor and four on the first floor. See works by L.S. Lowry, Turner and Hockney to name a few. Enjoy local food from Sketch by Origen at the gallery or relax in the brand new garden area which recently opened to the public.

Head to Rainbows Ceramics if you fancy being creative yourself. You’ll find the studio in Bootham, just a short two minute walk from York Minster. Here you can create your own masterpiece from a vast selection of ceramics and paints. Great fun for all ages, Rainbow Ceramics provides hours of activity! Once your item is complete, it will be ready to collect in one week once it has been glazed and fired. Alternatively, they can pop it in the post or keep hold of it for as long as you need.

The Countryside & Coast

Step outside of the centre and you’ll uncover a haven of woodland and moorland all within 20 miles of York. Discover the enchanting North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. Lose track of time in the beautiful landscape – walk, cycle, climb, run, hike, play. Up for a challenge? Attempt the Yorkshire Three Peaks by climbing some of the highest peaks in England (Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent).

If you want sea air and the sound of waves, head to the North Yorkshire Coast where you’ll find stunning villages and towns packed with golden beaches, cosy pubs and charming bistros. Stumble across hidden gems such as Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes.

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