York is a charming historic city lying serenely in North Yorkshire, England. I had never heard of York before moving to the UK for my Master’s Degree, but the moment I got to see its ancient walls and hear its locals speak with a particularly cute Yorkshire accent, I was instantly hooked. My first day trip to York was more than pleasant and here are the things I did during my limited time in this beautiful city.
Wander around York’s Old Town
For once, let yourself get lost in York! The best time I had in this lovely city was perhaps when I decided to just wander aimlessly around the York’s Old Town. I popped into pastry shops that smelled wonderfully of freshly-baked Yorkshire pies. I pinned my face onto glass windows of candy stores, trying to imagine the heavenly sweetness of chocolate fudge running down my throat. I grabbed a stuffed bear holding the flag of England, thinking of myself as one of the innocent and idealistic tourists who had bought many more souvenirs than they could possibly carry home. Wandering around York’s Old Town is like letting myself be a child again. It’s a sweet feeling you should also experience next time you’re here.
Visit the must-see York Minster
I never had the chance to enter York Minster and admire the amazing interior it had. However, the imposing sight of it alone left me in awe even when standing outside. If you have time, I highly recommend buying an entrance ticket (which is valid for 12 months and includes a guided tour!) to come inside York Minster and learn more about its extraordinary history.
Be surprised at the National Railway Museum
Children and adults alike will surely enjoy this special museum in York. At the National Railway Museum, you will find a wide variety of trains and locomotives that show the remarkable development of the railway industry for the past 300 years. I was particularly blown away by the train which was used in World War II for transporting injured soldiers. A well-designed 3D effect turned on the moment I climbed into the train, surrounding me with figures of busy nurses, injured soldiers and surreal sounds of pain like I had been standing right on that train 70 years ago. What an impressive display!
Walk along the York City Walls
Want to take photos of York’s best views from above? Simply climb up the striking York City Walls and take a walk! First built in Roman times, York City Walls nowadays feature the well-preserved longest medieval town walls in England, running at 3.4 kilometers. As I slowly counted my steps along the walls, my imagination flew back hundreds of years ago to the time when soldiers marched solemnly along this path. The York City Walls gave me not only amazing views of the city, but also a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for the extraordinary history that Yorkshire as well as England had been through.
Find peace at York Museum Gardens
After a tiring walk along the York City Walls, it’s time to find haven under the shades of trees at York Museum Gardens. This green area consists of several beautiful botanic gardens, a variety of flora and fauna, striking Roman ruins as well as a selection of medieval buildings such as St. Mary’s Abbey church, St. Mary’s Lodge and the Yorkshire Museum. Being one of the locals’ favorite meeting places, York Museum Gardens also win every visitor’s heart with their soothing ambience of peace and tranquility.
Tip: There’s no toilet in the garden area, so make sure you either get it all done prior to your visit or mark down the location of the nearest public toilet at Bootham Bar (De Grey House Exhibition Square).
Chill out by the river banks
York lies where the two rivers Foss and Ouse meets, giving the city picturesque sceneries along the river banks. If it’s a warm sunny day, I highly recommend sitting at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the river, ordering a local type of beer and beholding sunset falling over the tourist boats passing by. There’s no better way to fully experience the vibes of this city.
Pay a visit to York Art Gallery
I was neither ignorant nor over-enthusiastic about art, so with only 8 hours in York to spare, I decided initially to keep York Art Gallery on the waiting list. Nonetheless, upon walking past the gallery’s building for the first time, I suddenly felt a strong urge to come inside.
The gallery was larger than I’d imagined it would be and held a nice collection of artworks including watercolors, drawings and pottery dated back to the 14th century. I was interested to join some workshops and events here as well but could not due to the limited time of my trip. Next time you’re here, don’t forget to check out the list of upcoming events and get to know more about the artistic side of this historic city!
Another day trip to York? Why not!
After 8 valuable hours in York, I got on the bus back home feeling half melancholic and half content. Despite my wish for more time to explore the other attractions in this city (for instance Jorvik Viking Centre and York’s Chocolate Story), I was glad the trip was over soon so that the feeling of “Hey, I have to come back!” still lingered and kicked in my stomach all the way home. To be honest, the feeling remains until today. So if you’re wavering between going and not going to York during your time in the UK, remember that there are still people like me who, after their first trip to York has long passed, still maintain some hope that their next visit to this charming city will come as soon as possible.
Come to York and you won’t regret it!