One of my favourite things about York is that despite it being a smaller city, there’s always something to do! I spend most weekends in the city and never run out of things to see or do. So here are just a few of my favourite places in York:
Food & Drink
York has a great selection of independent cafes and restaurants. There’s a vintage tearoom, The Vintage Rose, behind York Minster, where my friends and I love to sit and have some tea and cake, and admire the view of the beautiful Minster. Spark is made up of old shipping containers and features numerous food stalls so it’s a great place to hang out with friends.
For me though, Shambles Food Court is my favourite place to go for food in town. There are all sorts of options, from savoury crepes to burrito bowls or Thai food. Every time you go you can have something different, plus it’s great for going with picky eaters as there’s guaranteed to be something everyone likes!
Parliament Street (in the centre of town) always seems to have something going on, from arts and crafts fairs to the Christmas Market every winter. These often have food stalls as a part of them, which are great!. Every Christmas, I like to go and browse the stalls before getting a Baileys Hot Chocolate and then picking up some food as Christmas presents for my family (usually some cheese and chilli jam!)
The Great Outdoors
York also has lots of green spaces throughout the city. My favourite is Museum Gardens, and my friends and I love taking a picnic there and enjoying the good weather in the summer (there’s also usually an ice cream van by the entrance which does great ice cream!). Dean’s Park by the Minster is also lovely, as is Rowntree Park which is just out of town, towards Bishopthorpe Road and Fulford.
Despite seeing the River Ouse every time I go into York, I didn’t seem to make the most of it until the latter part of my degree. The walk from Lendal Bridge by the river is really nice, with lots of places to stop and sit if you want to (and there’s often an ice cream van parked along the route… are you spotting a theme – I really love ice cream!). A river cruise is also great to do, especially if you have family visiting.
While a lot of these spaces sound like things you can only do in the summer, York is great all year round. Even on the coldest days in winter, you can wrap up warm, appreciate the Christmas lights, and go for a walk through the city.
As a History student, it’s unsurprising that the historical side of York is probably my favourite part of the city, and what drew me to it in the first place. Walking the City Walls should be on every student’s bucket list (plus makes for some great Instagram posts). The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in Museum Gardens are another historical spot I recommend, as is Clifford’s Tower – there’s currently renovation work happening at the Tower, with new viewing platforms set to open alongside conservation work.
As a student at a York university, you get free entry into York Minster (check the website in case this changes post-Covid-19, but this was the case pre-Covid). Whether you pay or not, the Minster is definitely worth a visit. The Gothic architecture is gorgeous, especially the stained glass windows. There’s also the Undercroft within the Minster, which has exhibits on the Minster from the Romans to the present day. The Chapter House has beautiful carvings hidden above the seats – look out for a carving of a cat chasing a mouse! You can also climb the Minster tower, although some say it’s bad luck to do this if you’re a York student; I haven’t climbed it yet, but will be once I’ve graduated!
So many museums
There are lots of museums in York, and my favourites are the National Railway Museum (free entry!), and the York Castle Museum. I love the Victorian street in the Castle Museum, especially the little shops where you can go inside and interact with the staff who work there. The Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum I know lots of people go to as a child with school, but I never did so I recommend this too – once you get to know York a bit better, you’ll recognise the names of the streets it mentions so you’ll have an even better understanding of how much York has changed!
Although I am a History student so clearly love this part of York, it isn’t just for History nerds like myself. The city’s historical aspects are beautiful, and everyone can appreciate them (even if you just admire the beautiful Shambles on your way into a Harry Potter shop!).
As you can see, there are lots to see, do, eat, and drink in York, and you’ll never run out of things to do in your free time. While you’re at university, it’s important to explore where you’re living and make sure you leave your desk to relax and recharge. York is an amazing place, and if you choose to come to York I’m sure you’ll love the city as much as I do.
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