As a lover of history, York has always been on my list of UK places I’ve wanted to visit. When the pandemic meant that international holidays were out and UK staycations were in, I decided to jump on the opportunity to get up to York.
Some quick facts about York:
- Population: around 210,000
- Founded in: 71 AD by the Romans. After their fall, Anglo-Saxons lived there before being conquered by the Vikings who renamed it “Jorvik”, and so York got its name.
- Top touristy spots: York Minster, The Shambles, Yorkshire Museum, Betty’s Tearooms, Jorvik Viking Museum, York Railway Museum, York City Walls
- Excellent food/drink spots (there are so many but these are a few): Pairings Wine Bar, Partisan, Sapori, Brew & Brownie, Wheldrakes, Mannion & Co, The Dark Horse Espresso Bar, The Larder Club, Shambles Market
- Great day trips: Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Malton (food capital of Yorkshire), Harrogate, Yorkshire Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Haworth (birthplace of the Bronte sisters)
- Book everything that needs tickets in advance!
- Check opening times – (e.g. the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth is not open 7 days a week)
- Get the Ringo app – easiest way to pay for parking
- Get up early to experience York before the tourists – we arrived for 8am and got to have the Shambles, the Minster, and the City Walls all to ourselves!
Day 0.5: York
Coming from London, the drive to York took us about 5 hours (stops included), and could not have been easier . Just get yourself onto the M1 and drive.
Given how iconic it is to the city, we booked York Minster tickets for the afternoon. It is a beautiful building, and you can see the Doomstone there.
We then pulled up a chair at Sapori, which is a wine bar on the Shambles, and enjoyed wine and nibbles whilst watching the world go by.
Tip: If you get a lovely sunset, definitely go to York Minster. It is simply stunning.
Day 1: Day Trip to Malton, Robin Hood’s Bay & Whitby
I love a road trip. For me, there is nothing worse than coming away from a trip you’ve looked forward to for months, only to discover you missed half the good stuff!
Yorkshire is filled with gorgeous villages, towns and coastline. So if you don’t drive up, have a look at public transport or hire a car for the day and get out of the city.
We went for a loop from York to Malton to RHB to Whitby and back to York. We also chose the route that took us over the Yorkshire Dales (beautiful).
Malton – the food capital of Yorkshire, with a pretty centre. Lots of boutiques and antique shops, and some incredible food options. We ate at Lutt & Turner (incredible, highly recommend).
Robin Hood’s Bay – a picture-perfect coastal town. Gorgeous side-streets and idyllic houses, plus a long open beach and a coastal path.
Grab a drink from The Bay Hotel and listen to live performers, or go fossil hunting on RHB beach.
Whitby – a larger coastal town, Whitby is famous for its fish & chips and seaside activities and arcades. It is also overlooked by the eerily beautiful Whitby Abbey, an impressive ruin and English Heritage site.
Save your appetite for fish & chips (if only to fuel your Adventure Golf and arcade shenanigans on the pier), and then drive up to Whitby Abbey for views of Whitby and out to sea.
Day 2: York
Day 2 was a day focused on York’s food and history scenes. We got up early doors to see York without the hustle and bustle and tourists, grabbing a coffee and snack from Brew & Brownie to fuel us. It’s well worth it if you want some empty photos and prefer the quiet.
We grabbed an incredible breakfast at Partisan (book ahead, you won’t regret it), before walking the city walls and along the river, and just generally wandering and doing a bit of shopping.
Next food-stop was Betty’s Tea Room. Every time we had walked past Bettys, the queue was round the corner, so you definitely, definitely, definitely want to book this one in advance! Bettys is famous for afternoon tea, and has become an unconditional requirement of a trip to York.
Because we hadn’t booked ahead, we weren’t able to get tickets to Jorvik or the Yorkshire Museum on the day, but, keen to learn some of York’s history, we were able to buy tickets to the York Dungeons on the day. Fun and scary at the same time, it’s a lighter way to absorb the history of York.
We rounded off our foodie day with an evening at Pairings. We had intended to only be there for one quick glass, but ended up staying for 4 hours! If you love wine and charcuterie, then do not miss this one.
Day 3: Harrogate & Haworth
We planned our route home to go via Harrogate and Haworth.
Harrogate also has a Betty’s Tea Room, excellent shopping, and the gorgeous Valley Gardens.
Haworth is just lovely. A long cobbled high street with views across the valley and a fabulous mix of shops, Haworth shouldn’t be missed. If you are also a a literature-lover, then definitely visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum, and walk up to the Bronte Waterfall.