City life – a student’s guide

Despite its perceived reputation as being a quiet city, York is actually full of life. It is a vibrant city that has lots to offer, particularly for students. With so many hidden gems scattered around the city centre, it’s hard to know where to start! So welcome to your student guide to York, here to help you make the most of your time in one of the prettiest cities in England.


Ask Italian at the Assembly Rooms

As a student in York, there really is no excuse to be falling into the beans on toast or pasta every night student stereotype! From Thai tapas to Yorkshire pudding wraps (because where else but Yorkshire could you have your classic roast dinner out of a Yorkshire pudding wrap?!), I guarantee there’s something for everyone. My favourite food places in York include Stonegate Yard. It’s the most charming pub with perhaps the best steak and ale pie I’ve ever tasted. If you’re looking for a side of class with your meal, the ASK Italian interior, with its high ceilings and chandeliers, will be right up your street. The Cosy Club on Fossgate provides a touch of quirky historical ambience you just can’t get anywhere else.

There is a range of different cuisines too; Barbakan serves up traditional Polish food (I would definitely recommend the pierogi, also known as Polish dumplings). If it’s a curry you’re craving, Coconut Lagoon is the way to go, serving up delicious dishes that allow me to forget how much I miss my own mum’s cooking! York is also full of the cutest cafes, all perfect for that aesthetic Instagram post you’ve been waiting for. Brew & Brownie is a firm favourite of mine. It even has a bakeshop right next door to take away your favourite sweet treats!

Yummy food.



If you’re not quite into the clubbing vibe but still want a good night out on the town, York is full of bars and pubs. Aside from the fact that York (supposedly) has a pub for every day of the year, there are also a number of bars to try.

Evil Eye, with its eccentric décor, is popular amongst students. Dusk is also a good shout if ambiguously described cocktail menus and warm vibrant atmospheres are your cup of tea! Turtle Bay is another favourite of mine; with its abundance of soft fairy lights, chilled reggae vibe and happy hour every day, what more could you want?!


Spark:York is quite different from anything mentioned above, anything else in the city for that matter, hence I felt it needed its own category. Essentially it is renovated shipping containers, but it is so much more. A very rustic interior, with lots of independent stalls selling street food and drinks. It also hosts various events, such as film screenings in conjunction with local charities, and “quingo”, part quiz, part bingo. Spark is definitely something unique to York and adds a touch of originality to the city.

The Shambles

The Shambles
The Shambles

The infamous street said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, is the most visited street in Europe. For those hardcore Potterheads, this street might just be the dream. The Shambles is home to The Shop That Must Not Be Named, selling all kinds of Harry Potter paraphernalia.

It’s a cute cobbled street in the heart of York that a student simply cannot miss visiting. The Shambles Market Food Court is also worth a visit. It serves up a range of cuisines including Thai, North African and Levantine and Italian.

Things to do

York Minster
York Minster

York is a city full of culture and history, with various attractions and museums. York’s Chocolate Story will take you through the history of the chocolate industry in York. It will also teach you how to taste chocolate like an expert (and honestly, who doesn’t love chocolate?).

York Minster is the grand, Gothic highlight of the city, and definitely worth a visit. The lights show they put on during November is one not to miss! If you’re into ghosts and ghouls, the York Dungeon is definitely worth checking out. They also offer ghost bus tours and ghost walks.

Perhaps it’s history you’re passionate about, in which case the JORVIK Viking Centre is the place for you. If art is your thing, then York Art Gallery is the place to be. It has various exhibitions showcasing all different styles of art. The York Museums Trust card is discounted for students, so you can get a taste of this culturally historic city without spending all your student loan!

City life in York has so much to offer; after living here for only a year, I myself haven’t even scratched the surface on what’s available. I would definitely encourage students to perhaps branch out of their comfort zone and make the most of everything York has to offer.