One of the things I cannot emphasise enough about being a student at the University of York is how lucky we are to be living in the beautiful city of York. Although some prospective students worry that the campus is a long way from the city centre, that really isn’t the case – it’s a 10 minute bus ride or a gentle 20-25 minute walk to town. A lot of students (including me) cycle around, which is quick (10 mins to town), cheap and good for you! If it’s particularly windy you will rapidly build up good leg muscles, or as I like to say, thunder thighs.
So it’s worth checking out the city when you come to visit for an Open Day to get a feel for the place, and discover some of what is has to offer. If you’re coming from afar, I’d definitely recommend planning some extra time here to have a nosy around. It is a very popular destination for tourists after all, so you might as well have a bit of a holiday as well as visiting us at the uni!
With that in mind, here are five things you can do in the city whilst you’re here, whether you have an afternoon, a day or an entire weekend.
1.Visit the Minster
There’s no doubt about it, the Minster is York’s most famous landmark. It’s the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and there has been a building on the site for about 2000 years, since York’s earliest days. At the moment there’s an interactive exhibition in the Undercroft – Revealing York Minster – which is definitely worth a visit, especially as you can really see how the building developed through Roman and Viking times.
2. Wander around the city walls
If you’re not a cathedral kind of person (or if you are and you want even more history), you can have a wander around the city walls. They’ll take a couple of hours to do completely, but it’s really easy to just walk a section or two and enjoy the view of York. There’s even a cafe nestled in one of the historic “bars” (bar is the word for gate). I have spent many a happy afternoon pretending to work and drinking hot chocolate there, in the little turret of the gatehouse.
3. Refresh and refuel with a cup of tea and cake
Who doesn’t love cake? Of course, there’s the infamous Betty’s, which serves classic afternoon teas with a Yorkshire twist. However, if you’re pushed for time (and money) then there are hundreds of other lovely independent cafes to try out. From cupcakes to brownies, fancy teas to hipster coffees or just a plain old Yorkshire brew, you’ll definitely find something to quench your thirst and solve those hunger pangs. I’d recommend starting from the Shambles (the oldest high street in Britain and inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, just saying) and exploring nearby to see what takes your fancy – Fossgate, Parliament St and Church St are all good starts.
4. Check out the independent shops
In that same area, you’ll find absolutely loads of little independent shops – bookshops, bakeries, vintage shops, gift shops, music shops… you get the idea. It’s just really nice to wander around and browse, especially if it’s rainy and you want to hide inside somewhere!
5. Chill out in the Museum Gardens
If you’re getting the train and have some time to kill (or even if you’re not), you could always go to the Museum Gardens which aren’t far from the station. They’re lovely to wander around and sit in amongst the old ruins, and in good weather there’s an ice-cream van there. If it’s raining, you can shelter inside the Yorkshire Museum (after which the gardens are named).
So there we go. Five things to do out of many possible more. Everyone I know is proud to live in such a wonderful city which is right on our doorstep – come and see for yourself!