12 things to see and do in York - Gorgeous Cottages
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12 things to see and do in York

Stonegate York

York has always been one of my favourite cities to visit as there is just so much history held within its famous city walls.  Add to that the largest gothic cathedral in Europe, a choice of fabulous tea rooms, plenty of activities for kids and some stylish cocktails bars and we think that York really does have something for everyone.

Lendal Tower - York

If you fancy a trip to the city try the stylish Pear Tree House or the historic Lendal Tower. Both are very central with outside space and stunning views.

#01 Jorvik Attractions


As you may already know ‘Jorvik’ is the old Viking name for York and the original Jorvik Centre celebrates the old Viking heritage of this city transporting visitors back in time with some of the sights (and smells) that you would have seen around 1,000 years ago. The Jorvik Centre is currently closed for refurbishment but will be opening once again in Spring 2017.


The Jorvik Group have added more attractions in recent years including Richard III and Henry VII experiences. Based in Micklegate and Monkbar gates in the Historic City Walls, they tell the story of the War of the Roses from the opposing points of views of these two main players. Kids will love a ‘Horrible Histories’ section with all the most gruesome bits!

#02 A day at the races

York Races

A visit to York Racecourse is the perfect chance to dress up in your finery (personally I love a hair fascinator), drink a glass or two of something chilled and have a little bit of a flutter on the horses.
Highlights of the Racing Calendar include The John Smith’s Cup (usually the second week in July), the Music Showcase Weekend at the end of July and the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in October.

#03 York Minster

York Minster

This stunning York Minster is one of the most easily recognisable buildings in the city and well worth at least one visit. It’s the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe and as well as viewing the stunning architecture and stained glass, you can also climb the central tower to get one of the best views in the city.

There are a number of fun trails for children to follow and the newly launched Undercroft will take visitors through 2,000 years of York history with interactive chambers and ancient artefacts.

#04 York Dungeon

York Dungeons

A great option for kids is the York Dungeon which explores the more gruesome parts of York’s history through live interactive shows. Highlights include Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot (Mr Fawkes was actually born in York in 1570) and Vengeance of the Vikings!

#05 York Chocolate Story

chocolate story

York has a fantastic heritage of making chocolate (items like Kit Kat, Smarties and Aero were all developed in York) and you’ll find lots of chocolate shops within the city. York Chocolate Story is dedicated to all things chocolate and has an exhibition, shop and café on-site. You’ll learn some of the history of York’s love affair with chocolate and can then sample some of the delicious products.

#06 Bettys Tea Room

Bettys York

You’ll be spoilt for choice if you fancy a spot of tea and cake in York as there are plenty of tea rooms to be found amongst the cobbled streets. Bettys is the most famous tea room in town and the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea is an experience worthy of royalty. The delicate sandwiches and cakes are served in the Art Deco styled Belmont Room (designed by the people behind the Queen Mary).

#07 National Railway Museum

National Railway Museum

The UKs largest railway museum is host to around 100 locomatives plus there are lots more trains, engines and other rolling stock to see. It covers around 300 years of history and there are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep kids entertained. Highlights include a simulator of the Mallard which allows visitors to experience the sights and smells of travelling on the world’s fastest steam locomotive.

#08 Clifford’s Tower

Cliffords Tower

The largest remaining part of York Castle, the Norman built Clifford’s Tower was once the centre of government for the North of England. The stone tower you can see today was originally built in the 13th century (after the previous 11th century wooden tower was destroyed in 1190) and really characterises the colourful past of this historic city.

#09 York City Walls

York City Walls

York is famous for its city walls which are around 3.4 km long and are the most complete example of medieval bar walls you will find today. Access the walls at any of the 4 major gates – Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate – and then walk along them for some great views of the city. Look out for the brass pavement markings (containing a tower with battlements) which show the route between the wall walks.

#10 Shopping at The Shambles

Image courtesy of VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett

Image courtesy of VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett

York is full of some great independent shops and we thoroughly recommend taking the time to explore the many gems within its many cobbled streets and courtyards. One street that is well worth a special visit is The Shambles. This narrow medieval street is one of the best preserved in Europe and it’s 15th century buildings (which at some points almost touch in the middle) are now home to a variety of jewellers, cafes, antique shops, and independent boutiques.

#11 York River Cruise

York River Boat

One of the most relaxing ways to see York is to travel along the River Ouse by boat. The on-board commentary will tell you some of the interesting facts about this city and you can also take in some of the scenery en-route. Sightseeing cruises depart daily from both King’s Staith and Lendal Bridge and evening cruises are also available.

#12 Cocktail Time!

Evil Eye Lounge

York has a great selection of bars whether you are in the mood for a bit of daytime drinking or fancy painting the town red. For a bit of fun try Evil Eye on Stonegate or if you prefer a hip Shoreditch style vibe then Fossgate is the place to be – look out for The Hop and The Fossgate Social. For quality and sophistication, try either Sotano on Little Stonegate or head to the bar at The Grand Hotel and Spa.

The Grand Hotel and Spa

Properties available for short breaks in York include Pear Tree House which has views of the city walls from its private patio and Lendal Tower apartment which is housed within the historic Grade I listed tower and has a breathtaking roof terrace.

To book your cottage in York call the Gorgeous Cottages team on 0844 736 6276 or e-mail info@gorgeouscottages.com.

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