York Stories and Tips

Tips and Hints

Gargoyle on Stonegate Photo, York, England

* Get a York Pass, this allows you entry into different attractions for a reduced rate and makes it better value for money. You will make substantial savings if you plan to visit a range of different places.

* Shopping in York is such a great experience. There is every kind of shop you could want - from antique and book dealers in Micklegate, high street shops and famous names in the Coppergate Centre, speciality shops and designer fashion in Swinegate and in the Stonegate Market they have great fresh produce. There are lots of unique shops and boutiques, but equally plenty of touristy shops selling souvenirs. The Shambles has lots of shops selling exactly this type of merchandise. The shops everywhere are beautiful with lovely old fashioned wooden shop fronts. The buildings have not changed much since they were first built.

* York, despite being very historical, is also extremely cosmopolitan and very lively with lots of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. They say there is a bar here for every day of the year! These range from traditional historic timber framed pubs tucked away in ancient alleyways and squares, to really trendy places along the banks of the River Ouse.

* You do not need a car in York. If possible, leave it and take a train (as we did) or a bus to the station just outside the city walls. Most of the centre of York is traffic free. Driving into the city centre is a nightmare - lots of congestion on roads around the city, especially at rush hour and on Saturday mornings. Parking is not easy and very expensive, particularly at weekends and during the peak summer months. The Park and Ride bus option is reasonably priced.

* Walk wherever you can - you will see so much more that way. Definitely walk at least part of the 2 miles of city walls. Walking the whole way round takes about 2 hours. You can walk the walls every day between 8am and sunset. This is where you get the best views of York. The walls are medieval but were built on Roman foundations. The best views are from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar around the Minster. This section only takes about 15 minutes and is ideal if you do not want to walk the whole way round.

* The train station in York is a lovely Victorian building. It was voted the "nicest" station in 2007. There are lots of arrivals and departures and it is one of the main hubs of the UK rail network. There are a large range of services and destinations to choose from. It is easy to find your way around, and on our visit, trains were on time. We bought our tickets online a few weeks in advance - this offered some really good savings.

* Explore the "Snickleways" - these are the famous medieval alleyways and narrow streets in the centre of the city. They provide short cuts across the city centre. They tend not to be on maps so often you will not be sure where you are going to end up. In York though, this can be a nice surprise.

* In July and August there are throngs of tourists choking the narrow streets and really long queues to get into the Minster. April, May, June and September are less crowded. We visited in September, there were lots of people, but not as bad as the summer months and we did not have to queue for the Minster.

* Throughout the streets the buildings are decorated with gargoyles and other things. Look at the little devil on 33 Stonegate - this meant a printer worked here. Stonegate is full of interesting gargoyles.

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