York’s tightly packed city centre is one of Europe’s largest pedestrianised zones, making a shopping spree a real pleasure. Dip into tiny artisan chocolate and vintage jewellery shops along the 600-year-old Shambles, a winding cobbled street dotted with ‘snickelways’ (alleys). Board a speedy shuttle bus to join local bargain hunters just outside the city for York Designer Outlet’s tempting discounts. Stroll along the Roman road of Coney Street, where high-street names fill one of York’s main shopping streets.
Cosy up in compact centuries-old pubs around Stonegate for a pint of real ale. Keep your eyes peeled for ghosts, though: some of York’s oldest pubs are said to be haunted. For a relaxing evening, hop on board a river cruise to glide peacefully down the Ouse as your guide points out Roman and medieval landmarks along the water’s edge. Taste some of the city’s culture, from live bands in pubs to classical performances at the Grand Opera House or York Theatre Royal.
Hearty produce from Yorkshire’s sea and soil means a top-quality dining scene. Head to York’s historic streets around the Shambles for a classic English afternoon tea. The dainty clink of china and buzz of conversation are the perfect accompaniments to a steaming pot of Yorkshire tea and buttery scones. For fresh seafood head to Fossgate and Walmgate, a city centre street originally famed for its medieval fish market. Now it’s the destination of choice for fashionable locals enjoying world cuisines.
Marvel at the intricate stained-glass panels of the tennis-court sized Great East Window in York Minster. You can’t miss northern Europe’s largest medieval cathedral as it soars above the city’s rooftops. Walk over the glass floor at Jorvik Viking Centre to get a good look at the remains of 1,000-year-old timbers. Thanks to clever animatronics, kids can meet Old Norse-speaking citizens. Climb the grassy mound topped by sturdy fortress Clifford’s Tower, where Henry VIII once displayed his enemies’ bodies. Thankfully the tower is more popular now for its sweeping city views.