York may be one of the more ‘obvious’ destinations to visit in Yorkshire, but there’s a reason it’s so well-loved – not only by tourists, but locals, too. Offering an experience of a bygone time that can’t be found anywhere else, the Viking city retains much of its medieval heritage, with tons of unique things to see. Without further ado, here’s our guide to the very best things to do in York.
Things to do in York: by day
Grab a coffee at Gatehouse Coffee
A unique way to start the day in York, Gatehouse Coffee is a fantastic spot for a morning brew. Located within Walmgate Bar, the Church-run coffee shop boasts a stunning stone-walled interior with a cosy atmosphere and great selection of hot drinks to boot. Find it at Walmgate Bar, Walmgate, York YO10 2UB.
Take a stroll along the River Ouse
While it might not be the Seine, there’s something special about the River Ouse. Stretching throughout the middle of the city, the idyllic river has a number of waterside paths that you can stroll down – the perfect way to spend a morning in the historic city.
Potter along The Shambles and Shambles Market
Arguably one of the most famous tourist attracts in York, The Shambles is worth a visit every single time. You may potter through it for two minutes or twenty-five – either way, there’s a certain serotonin boost that comes along with the peculiar architecture of the famous cobbled street.
If you’re in it for the long haul, be sure to browse the array of curious gift shops and independents who call the Shambles home, including our friends at The Potion’s Cauldron.
Take in the architecture at York Minster
A stop off at the Minster is a given when visiting York – even if you don’t go inside. Boasting impeccable architecture that dates right back to the 1200’s, the historic building is simply awe-inspiring, the say the least.
Experience Afternoon Tea at Bettys
Bettys has become a Yorkshire institution over the years, so it should come as absolutely no surprise to see it on this list. Located on the bustling St Helen’s Square, guests can watch the world go by while enjoying the team room’s array of fine cakes, bakes and hot drinks, with plenty of Fat Rascals on offer if you really want to get into the Yorkshire spirit.
If you’re looking for gifts, Bettys is definitely the place to be, with tons of artisan chocolates and cakes available to take away. Find them at Bettys, 6-8 St. Helen’s Square, York, YO1 8QP.
Take a stroll around the City Walls
York’s historic city walls still stand today, providing a great walkway for guests to enjoy. The elevated circular route provides stunning views of the city, taking guests round famous sights such as Monk Bar, the Minster, and the River Ouse.
Step into a Van Gogh painting at the new immersive exhibition
Taking place at York St Mary’s Church until March 31st 2022, the Van Gogh Immersive Experience brings to life the artist’s most famous paintings for the first time in the city, allowing art enthusiasts to experience the works in a whole new way. Step inside and become completely immersed in Gogh’s iconic brush strokes, while taking in the impressive projections that have been taking the city by storm since earlier this month. Get tickets here.
Things to do in York: by night
Cocktails at Impossible
Impossible might be fairly new on the bar scene in York, but it’s sure worth a visit if cocktails are your thing. Located near Bettys on St Helen’s Square, the opulent cocktail bar sits within the old Terry’s building, and boasts plenty of nods to the chocolate orange heroes we all know and love.
Offering a sense of theatre with everything that they do, guests can enjoy afternoon tea, delectable British dishes and Instagrammable cocktails when visiting Impossible, with both a tearoom and ‘wonderbar’ to enjoy when visiting. Impossible, 3 St. Helen’s Square, York, YO1 8QN.
Dinner by the river at The Star Inn The City
Run by Michelin-star chef Andrew Pern, The Star Inn The City sits right on the river by Lendal Bridge, offering stunning waterside views for guests to enjoy.
Serving up a menu of Yorkshire-inspired dishes, guests can dine on perfectly presented plates designed by Pern himself, expanding further on his acclaimed offering that can be found down the road at The Star Inn At Harome. The unique restaurant is perfect for a special date night or occasion, with plenty of seasonally-changing dishes to try out. The Star Inn The City, Museum St, York, YO1 7DR.
Visit Thor’s Tipi
Now a York institution, Thor’s Tipi not only pops up at Christmas, but in the summer, too, offering varying experiences for visitors to enjoy.
In the wintertime, expect cosy alpine-themed tipis with mulled wine, hot chocolates and beers, while, in the summer, guests can expect their Sól Ást offering, which consists of an open tipi, Ibiza vibes and plenty of summery cocktails. Find them seasonally at the Principal Hotel.
Try locally brewed beers at Brew York
Consider yourself quite the beer fan? Brew York’s popular beer hall is the perfect spot to try out something new, with around 40 beers on tap to try and make your way through. It’s perfect for those who are well acquainted with craft beers, and there’s even a fantastic street food offering to enjoy, too. Currently, Brew York has partnered with the cult favourite Yuzu Street Food, serving delicious Asian-inspired dishes from their friendly, open-kitchen. Brew York, Unit 5, Enterprise Complex, Walmgate, York, YO1 9TT.
Catch a show at the stunning York Theatre Royal
An underrated part of history in York, York Theatre Royal dates all the way back to the 1700s, with much of its original features still in tact.
Take in the breathtaking opera-style architecture inside, while catching one of the theatre’s many mesmerising shows – most of which hail from the iconic West End in London. Get tickets here.
Singalong to live music at The Hop
The Hop, located on Fossgate, has done a fantastic job of making it the perfect venue to visit all day long – with a cosy, traditional bar serving real ales up front, and a bright and airy pizza restaurant at the back.
Constantly busy thanks to he delicious wood-fired pizzas, the venue transforms in the evening, with live music and a huge range of drinks to enjoy by nightfall. The Hop, 11-12 Fossgate, York, YO1 9TA.
Our top restaurant recommendations:
- The Market Cat
- Rattle Owl
- York Roast Co
- The Whippet Inn
- Zaap Thai Street Food
- Cafe No. 8
- Grays Court
- The Star Inn The City
- The Ivy
Our top bar recommendations:
- Evil Eye
- House of Trembling Madness
- Brew York
- Cave du Cochon
- Malmaison Sora Sky Bar
- Spark: York
Our top pub recommendations:
- The Lamb & Lion
- The Market Cat
- The Golden Fleece
- The Guy Fawkes Inn
- Ye Olde Starre Inne
[Featured image: Unsplash]
Read more: 7 Of The Best Pubs In York City Centre You Need To Try