1 Day itinerary in York
In these post-pandemic times I’m sure a lot of us will be exploring our home country more, either day tripping or a staycation. York is a lovely city to explore, and perfect for a daytrip or weekend away from London.
I first went to York on a hen-do - don’t worry – the below information is nothing to do with the hen-do! Surprise surprise I didn’t see much, but from the blurry glimpse I can remember between bars, it struck me as somewhere I needed to come back to properly to visit! Hence I took a full day trip soon after to see the sights (sober).
With the 200 mile journey taking around 2 hours – 2 hours 20 mins from London Kings Cross to York, the journey is surprisingly quick. Trains leave on average every half an hour, there’s no changing needed and if your lucky you can bag yourself a cheap seat if your booking 8-10 weeks in advance.
Here’s how to spend the day in York.
I left London Kings Cross early (stopping by Platform 9 ¾ of course!) and arrived in York around 10am. The station is just over the river from the main town about a 5 minute walk away.
The early start got us hungry and York has plenty of hearty Northern food to keep you full! On route into the city centre we past Brew & Brownie Bakeshop which enticed us from its window with some amazing looking chocolate orange doughnuts. We stopped for pastries and coffee to fuel up before the day of sightseeing.
Needing some exercise to walk off that breakfast, we set off to walk the York City Walls. These medieval walls circle the whole city in an interesting 3.4km / 2 mile route, which takes around 2 hours. Built in the 13th century to protect the city, the elevated walls have some great viewpoints over the city. It’s a great way to get your bearings and see what York has to offer, all whilst standing on something over 700 years old! The 4 original gates are also still intact, in fact the whole structure makes it the most complete example of medieval walls in England.
The natural ending point to our walk around the walls was at Clifford’s Tower. This 13th century tower is all that remains of the original York Castle, which was built by Wiliam the Conqueror and sits proudly on top of a steep hill. It’s seen its fair share of blood and glory in it’s time, and is a good view point out to the moors.
What could be more York than a Yorkshire Pudding? We stopped at the The York Roast Co. for lunch, we had seen queues out of the shop all day, so had to know what the fuss was about. The York Roast Co. is home to the ‘famed’ Yorky Pud, a wrap made out of Yorkshire Pudding, and stuffed with all the ingredients you would normally find on a roast dinner plate – pork/turkey/beef with roasted veg, stuffing, gravy and sauce. Wow, was it good and surely is the dish to eat when in York!
The afternoon was spent wandering down The Shambles, a quintessentially British cobbled lane full of interesting shops and cute pubs. It very much resembles Diagon Alley with its wonky inns and narrow, uneven cobbled pavement. The street used to be full of butchers shops and was mentioned in the Doomsday book making it one of the oldest medieval street in Europe. Nowadays you’ll find quirky shops, historic pubs and even wizarding shops (yes, you read that right!)
York Minister is a beautiful, grand and historic cathedral. It’s beauty can be seen clearly poking out from York’s skyline, but inside is even more impressive and expansive. Visiting at Christmas time, my friend recommended me to visit York Minister in the evening for the ‘Evensong’. This is where I made a bit of a mistake… I thought Evensong was some sort of jolly Christmas carol singing, but it turned out to be a serious service where the choir sings following the order of Evensong in the Book of Common Prayer.
The singing was beautiful, kind of chilling and very atmospheric as the cathedral was lit with candles. I felt like a bit of a fraud in there listing to prayer so I made an early exit. That said, it was a great opportunity to see the inside of the Minister (for free!).
York has a host of interesting pubs to visit. My favourite was the The House of Trembling Madness for its cozy atmosphere and medieval beam ceiling. We found a tiny spot right up by the bar, which has a great selection of cider, beer and gin. The bartenders know their stuff too so ask for a recommendation if you don’t know what to drink! Then there was The Golden Fleece, York’s most haunted pub. We went in here for a very quick drink and I have to say if ghosts were going to haunt anywhere it would be here – it was creepy! Also check out Ye Olde Starre Inne (the oldest pub) or any of the other numerous pubs you come across in the historic centre.
Visiting at Christmas, a Christmas market was set up in the main square with food stalls, so we opted a street food dinner before catching our train back home to London. We got back into London around 11pm, a super long day but we had seen so many of the sights!