York: the Sober Student’s Guide

So you’ve just arrived in York – congratulations, you are currently in one of the most beautiful (and ancient) cities of the North. With so much to see and do here, it can be hard to get your head around where to begin, which is why I have devised an (extremely amateur) photographic student guide to York. Whilst I could write extensively about the nightlife and the best places to drink, it seems appropriate to first take a non-alcoholic perspective on things (this also avoids using any shameful night-out photos.)

Here are some of the top sights to see, the best places to eat, and memorable experiences you may enjoy during your time here.


York has a fantastic variety of places to eat: if you’re on a student budget or on the go try Bagel Nash (10% off for students), The York Roast Company, or The Cambridge Hot Sausage Company.

The annual York Food Festival is a must-do for any foodies or ale fans, or even if you just want to get a head start buying Christmas presents! 10/10 would recommend the crispy duck wrap stall despite being a newly converted vegetarian.

Speaking of Christmas…

It’s freezing cold, dark at 4pm, and you’re missing summer… bummer right? Wrong. The York Christmas Markets are a magical experience that get you in the mood for winter: think hot sausages, warm doughnuts, and a warming mulled wine.

There’s also a tipi tent with a fire and a bar where you can sit and listen to music. In my first year, I sat in this tipi with my now house-mate and best friend. We planned to travel together and a year later we did it! Seriously, the Christmas markets are where dreams are made.

P.S. for Christmas enthusiasts, there’s an all-year Christmas shop called Käthe Wohlfahrt. It sells the most beautiful festive decorations I’ve ever seen.

Experiences without spending

There’s plenty to do in York that doesn’t empty your wallet. Walking around the old city walls is a fun way to get to know the city without getting lost. Just remember to pack a raincoat as weather can change quickly (see ominous grey cloud below.)

York students can get into the Minster for free with student ID, so you can explore the church history of York to your heart’s content. (Even if you aren’t particularly interested in history, the statues make for great photo captions.) But beware: superstition claims that you can’t go up the Minster tower until after graduation or you won’t graduate!

I’m certainly not risking it…

Other attractions include the cool ancient ruins behind King’s Manor and the Millennium bridge if you’re ever passing by ALDI. Plus, of course, the Shambles, or Diagon Alley as Harry Potter fans may call it.

Speaking truthfully

Honestly, all of these experiences are what make York such a fantastic place to be a student. But what really makes it is the times you don’t plan too much. Say yes to the 6am walk by the river, remove your headphones and follow your own curiosity. Take the time to explore each street and make this city your own. It will always be your home from home.

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Hi, I'm Lucy, a 3rd Year History student.

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