My York Favourites

Moving to a new city can be daunting. What’s the city like? What is there to do in your spare time? Where do you start? To try and answer these questions, I’m going to run through my favourite things to do whilst studying in the city of York.


Whether you’re going out with your family or friends, or tired of home cooking and takeout, there are going to be times when you want to treat yourself to some great food. Luckily, York really delivers in this regard.

Many of the restaurants in the city offer student discounts and all types of food are packed in and around the city walls. My personal favourites are:

  • Pavement Vaults which is great for burgers and ribs
  • Rustique for high-quality French food
  • Everest Gurkha which does great Nepalese food. This proved to be a nice change from supermarket curries.

The latter is also a good example of a student discount being offered, many chains also do this so your night out need not be too expensive.

Pubs and Bars

Apparently, there are 365 pubs in York, one for each day of the year (you might have to go to your favourite twice in 2020). Not that you’re going to go to all of them though. If you’re like me, you’ll pick your favourites by the end of the first year and try to drag people to them as many times as possible.

There’s a good variety of bars in the city, but my top picks are:

  • The Hop for live music, specialist beers, and authentic pizzas.
  • House of the Trembling Madness for a great atmosphere and any alcohol that you could ever want (it has a store that will make you feel like a kid in a candy store).
  • Evil Eye is great for gins and live music.

So much variety

To say that York is just a city of restaurants and bars would be completely misleading. There are many more things to do in York that do not fall into one of the former categories.

The city walls

The must-do activity for me is the York Walls. Hundreds of years of history can be found all over the two-hour walk (can be faster if, unlike me, you have to stop to appreciate and take photos of everything). I recommend starting from the train station, then you can stop midway at Gatehouse, a café built into the walls (and for me, the best café in the city). Walking along the walls is also free to do which is every student’s dream.

York city walls
York city walls


Museums are also something that many tourists enjoy visiting when they’re in the city but museums are great for students as well. The York Museums Trust (YMT) card is discounted for students and allows you to save on every trip you make.

There are some great museums in the city: York’s Chocolate Story takes you through the history of the city’s chocolate industry, the infamous York Dungeons delve into the gorier parts of the city’s history. But by far my favourite is the York Castle Museum and more specifically the Victorian street. Clifford’s Tower also peers over the museum which is one of the more scenic buildings in the city.


The other thing I want to mention is one of the more interesting buildings in the city which is Spark:York. My attempts to put this into any of the categories above failed as Spark:York is different to anything else in this. It is a space that sells food, drinks, and clothes, and each shop is placed inside an old shipping container. It is definitely one of the more creative and interesting things to see and be in in the city.

My York Favourites - Spark:York

There is so much to write about when writing a guide to the city of York. I have only been able to scratch the surface. When I came here, I had no idea of what I would want to spend my spare time doing but luckily York has everything and anything. My advice is to try as much as you can, in or out of your comfort zone. Only then you will get a true perspective of what York has to offer.

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I’m Alex and I’m a 2nd Year Politics and Philosophy student. Before coming to York, I had heard how great university life was meant to be, but I never had expected it to be as fun as it has been.

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