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York

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For other places with the same name, see York (disambiguation).

York [1] is an ancient cathedral city with a history that dates back to before Roman times. A county in its own right, York is situated in North Yorkshire, England with some of the best preserved historical buildings and structures in Europe. As of the 2001 census, the population of York was 181,000.

York is frequently ranked (often vying with Manchester) the second most visited city in England after London, and is of course famous for giving its name to the city and state of New York in the United States.

York Minster

Understand

York was known as Eboracum by the Romans, who founded the fortress city on the River Ouse in the year 71. York was home first to the Ninth Legion and later the Sixth. York quickly became one of the most important cities in Roman Britain, and after 211 became the capital of the province Britannia Inferior. Constantine the Great—later responsible for making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire—was first proclaimed Emperor in the city.

Captured by the Vikings 866, the city quickly took on a new identity as Jorvik (pronounced "Yor-vik") and experienced a major urban revival as a centre of Viking trade and settlement in northern England. The Coppergate excavations of the 1970s revealed much of this Viking past.

York is a fairly small city - four days is enough to see the major sights although York is a city that reveals its charms to explorers with curiosity and patience.

York is known as England's "City of Festivals" as there are regular cultural festivals every year. The official festivals are the Viking Festival, the Festival of Angels, Early Music, Late Music, Horse Racing (the "Ebor Race Meeting"), Multicultural Food and Arts, Chinese New Year, Mystery Plays, Christmas St Nicholas' Fair, and the Food and Drink Festival. It's a romantic city for a weekend break. York is full of magic and a wonderful place to bring children!

Get in

Most travellers will arrive in York by road (car or bus) or rail from other parts of the UK or an airport.

By car

Although York is not directly on any of the main north-south motorways, the connections are reasonably good. From the south, the quickest route is probably to take the M1 northbound to junction 32, then the M18 eastbound to junction 2, the A1M northbound to junction 44 and finally the A64 eastbound to the York Outer Ring Road (A1237). Alternatively, you can take the M1 all the way to the A64, but the upper reaches of the M1 around Sheffield and Leeds can get very congested, especially in the rush hours. From the west, the A59 and the M62 provide connections from Liverpool and Manchester, and from the north the A1 and the A19 link York with Tyneside, Northumberland and south-eastern Scotland.

Driving into the city centre itself is something to avoid. Traffic congestion on the main arterial roads serving the city (especially the A19 on Bootham and the Inner Ring Road) can get very bad, especially during the rush hours and on Saturday mornings. The remodelling of some roads near bottleneck junctions to accommodate bicycle lanes has made traffic jams even worse still in recent years, and parking in the city centre is very expensive.

If you are just visiting York for the day, using a Park and Ride [2] costs a lot less than trying to park in or near the city centre, and there are five sites dotted around the Outer Ring Road. However, the last buses from the city centre leave at around 8pm in the evenings and you are not allowed to leave your car in a Park and Ride overnight. Therefore, if you are staying overnight in York and arriving by car, make sure that your hotel offers parking before you book. If you are only visiting for the day but staying until late evening, you will need to use a city centre car park.

By train

Wikitravel has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

York is one of the main hubs of the UK rail network, with a large range of services and destinations to choose from. The station itself is an attraction and was voted the 'nicest' station in the UK in 2007. Because of the number of lines that pass through, services tend to be frequent. Indeed it was the largest train station in the world when first built. While intercity trains can be expensive, regional services are relatively affordable. Buying tickets online a few weeks in advance can provide substantial savings on long distance tickets.

National Rail [3] operates several services from York. York is situated halfway between Edinburgh and London on the East Coast Main Line. East Coast Trains run services along this route approximately every half hour between King's Cross station in London and Edinburgh Waverley. The journey time from London is typically about 2 hours and 15 minutes, while Edinburgh is 2 hours and 30 minutes away.

Grand Central Rail [4] operates 4 trains per day in each direction between York and London. Arriva Cross Country [5] operates trains between York and Scotland, and across the country to Birmingham, Oxford, Reading, Bristol and the South-West.

First Transpennine Express [6] operates service to and from Manchester, Manchester Airport, Leeds, and Huddersfield. The service runs 24 hours a day, making it possible to have a late night out elsewhere in North England, while still being able to get back to York. It runs more or less hourly during the daytime and early evening, but less frequently in the late evenings and through the night.

Other regional trains run to Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, Harrogate and Scarborough, Durham and Newcastle.

Train times can be found on the National Rail Planner [7] or by calling 08457 48 49 50 from anywhere in the UK.

By bus

National Express [8] York operates bus service to/from York. Tickets can be purchased online, at the station, or from the Tourist Information Centre at 1 Museum Street in the city centre.

By plane

Overview

Visitors to York arriving by air have a number of options. These are essentially:

  • Enter the UK at one of the London airports and travel onwards to York overland, either by road or by rail. If your itinerary includes other parts of the UK besides the north-east, this may be the best option, because the five London airports between them have a wider range of flight options and usually lower prices than are available for direct routings into an airport closer to York.
  • If Yorkshire and/or the north-east is the main destination of your visit to the UK, fly directly into the north-east using an airport with good road connections to York, if you will be renting a car and/or are being picked up from the airport.
  • If Yorkshire and/or the north-east is the main destination of your visit to the UK, fly directly into the north-east using an airport with good public transport connections to York, if you will not have access to a car.

If you are arriving in the UK at one of the London airports (Heathrow (IATA: LHR), Gatwick (IATA: LGW), London City (IATA: LCY), Luton (IATA: LTN) or Stansted (IATA: STN)), your best bet is to travel to York either by road in a rental car or by train. If you take into account the time it takes to get from a London airport to King's Cross station, either way will normally take you between four and five hours from the arrivals hall to York city centre. The airports within a significantly shorter overland travelling time to York are as follows.

Note that no airport has a direct and fast public transport to York.

Leeds-Bradford International Airport (IATA: LBA) is the geographically closest airport to York, located 31 miles from the city by road, but it is also arguably the least convenient and most expensive for visitors to the city. The low-cost carriers (LCCs) Jet2 [9] and Ryanair [10] operate extensive services throughout Europe. KLM is currently the only legacy airline offering hub-and-spoke connections worldwide, via its three daily flights to and from Amsterdam. In light traffic, it takes about an hour by road to York using the A658 and the A59, but often the journey timeis two hours. This route can get very congested around the outskirts of Harrogate during the rush hours, and there are several villages with 30 mph speed limits along the way. York residents collecting arriving passengers should note that it costs £12 an hour if you need to park and go into the terminal building (like if the flight is delayed): you are allowed to wait at the pick-up and drop-off area for only 10 min. There is no direct public transport to York. The best way is to take the 757 bus outside the airport to Leeds and then the 743, 800, 840, 843, 844, 845, X40 or X45 to York.

Manchester Airport (IATA: MAN), 84 mi by road from York, is the UK's largest airport outside London and offers a wider choice of LCC and legacy airline services worldwide. These include direct flights from the USA operated by American, Continental and Delta. By road, the journey using the M62 and the A64 takes about an hour and a half in average traffic, but if you get caught in the rush hours around Leeds and Bradford it can take a lot longer. Train services provide connections to York throughout the day and night (see by train above), with a typical journey time of just under two hours. It is worth booking tickets for rail connections online in advance, because 'turn up and ride' tickets are often a lot more expensive and if you are travelling at peak times without a reserved seat, you may have to stand for most if not all of the journey (these trains also serve commuters to Manchester and Leeds, and can get very crowded).

Doncaster-Sheffield (IATA: DSA), 41 mi by road from York - mainly serving European holiday destinations. This airport is not easily accessible by public transport. You have to take a bus to the Doncaster station.

Humberside (IATA: HUY, 48 mi) - KLM from Amsterdam and thence worldwide. Using the A1079 and the A15, the journey time to and from York is around an hour in typical traffic. This route takes you across the Humber Bridge, which is a spectacular sight in itself, but it can get congested in the rush hours. This airport is not easily accessible by public transport. You can take a bus to Hull or Grimsby stations. If KLM is offering a particularly attractive deal to Humberside, you will have access to a car and you are staying in a southern part of York, Humberside is worth considering.

Durham-Tees Valley (IATA: MME, 47 mi) - LCCs to UK and European destinations, plus KLM to Amsterdam and thence worldwide. The airport was formally called Teesside International until it was renamed in 2004, and the name "Teesside", "Tees-side" or "Teesside Airport" still appears on many local road signs, and on tickets and boarding passes issued outside the UK. Although air fares to Durham-Tees Valley can be on the pricey side, it is well worth considering as a starting point for visiting north-east England: as an underused regional airport, waiting and queuing times are very low. However, to recoup the lost revenue from falling passenger numbers in recent years, the airport introduced a "facility fee" of £6 per departing passenger (which must be paid before you are allowed through the security check) in December 2010. If you take the A67 eastbound from the airport through Yarm and Kirklevington and then join the A19 southbound to York, this route is hardly ever congested, even during weekday rush hours. Using public transport, a bus goes to Darlington station. From there, York is a 30 min train ride on the East Coast Main Line, with frequent services throughout the day.

Newcastle (IATA: NCL, 79 mi), offers a wider range of legacy services than LBA, HUY or MME, with British Airways and Emirates providing long-haul connections as well as KLM. Air Transat also operate direct flights from Toronto during the summer months. The journey to York by road using the A1 and the A59 takes just under two hours. Using public transport, a Newcastle Metro [11] train takes about 45 mi from NCL to Central Station, from where York is a 70 mi ride on the East Coast Main Line.

The major car rental chains are available at all of these airports except Doncaster-Sheffield.

Get around

York and its surrounding villages, now parts of the City of York
York within the city walls and ring road

By foot

The roads within the old city (i.e. within the city walls) are pedestrian precincts, closed to all cars except disabled drivers and emergency vehicles between 8:00 and 16:00, and most of the sights are only a short walk between one another. Take care walking around the city centre when the roads open to car traffic at 16:00, as the roads fill up quickly with delivery vehicles servicing local shops and businesses. The city centre is small enough to walk from one side to the other in 20 minutes.

By car

The best advice for driving in York is don't. The roads were designed for carts pulled by oxen, and the city council is actively discouraging car use through a combination of high parking charges and traffic-calming measures. If you are bringing a car to York, your best bet is to leave it in a Park and Ride, at your hotel, or if absolutely necessary, a city centre car park.

By bus

Bus services [12] connect all the points of interest in the city but they are not cheap. If more than one person is travelling and the distance is relatively short, a taxi may well be cheaper. However, a one-day bus pass costs £3.70 per person, which is worth considering if you're going to make several journeys in a day.

By bike

York is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK - there's an extensive network of cycle routes in and around the city, and most of the traffic controls have been set up to give cyclists priority. There are no significant hills in or around the city centre, which is a big help. The river path along the Ouse contains some wonderful bike routes out of the city. Also beware that police and CCTV operators take a very dim view of cycling without lights after dusk, or cycling in the city centre pedestrianised area before 16:00, and will happily hand out an on-the-spot £30 fine for doing so. You should be able to pick up a copy of the York Cycle Route Map for free from cycle shops, or alternatively you can find PDFs here: [13]. Bikes are available to rent from a number of locations around the city, including the railway station.

See

Clifford's Tower
  • Battle of Fulford 1066 tour, +44 7877 781003 (), [14]. In 1066 the greatest shield wall battle in world history took place - no, not the Battle of Hastings, but in fact the Battle of Fulford, fought just outside York on the 20th September 1066, just a few weeks before Hastings. Discover the background to 1066, including the great last Viking invasion of England, and the foul deeds and bloody history surrounding the monarchy at the time. A full tour of the battlefield is given by representatives from the ibattles website, who have made a fascinating drama documentary about the battle (a copy is included free with each tour - a great memento of your visit to York or gift for a loved one). Please note the battle site is just a 5 minute drive by car from the city centre, transport can be arranged if required.
  • York Minster, +44 1904 557216, [15]. M-Sa 9AM-5PM Su noon-3:45PM. The largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, York Minster dominates the skyline & has a history of building that dates back to the 8th century at least. The one place that everybody visits. Stay for Evensong service if you can, especially if you've never been to a church service before. Adult £9.00, concession £8.00, child under 16 free.
  • JORVIK Viking Centre, +44 1904 543400 (), [16]. Daily 10AM-4PM (winter), 10AM-5PM (summer). The world famous JORVIK Viking Centre is a must-see for visitors to the city of York and is one of the the most popular visitor attractions in the UK outside London. Welcoming over 16 million visitors since 1984, JORVIK Viking Centre invites visitors to journey through the reconstruction of Viking-Age streets as they would have looked 1000 years ago. £6.25 and upwards.
  • National Railway Museum (National Railway Museum), Leeman Road, +44 870 421 4001 (), [17]. Daily 10AM-6PM. The largest railway museum in the world, responsible for the conservation and interpretation of the British national collection of historically significant railway vehicles and other artefacts. Contains an unrivalled collection of locomotives, rolling stock, railway equipment, documents and records. Free.
  • York Castle Museum, Eye of York (next to Clifford's Tower), +44 1904 687687, [18]. Daily 9:30AM-5PM. An award winning museum of everyday life with exhibitions to appeal to all ages. Exhibits include Kirkgate, a Victorian street; Half Moon Court, an Edwardian street; and costumes and toys through the ages. Built in a part of the former prison there is also an opportunity to explore the old cells and see where Dick Turpin spent his last days. Adult £8, concession £7, child free with adult.
  • Ruins of St Mary's Abbey, Museum Gardens (near Minster). A great place for a picnic.
  • King's Manor, [19]. Now part of the University of York, previously a royal headquarters,
  • Clifford's Tower, +44 1904 646940, [20]. Daily 10AM-4PM. This imposing "tower" represents the medieval castle of York, located in the centre of town, originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebellious north, then rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century. Fantastic panoramic views of York and the surrounding countryside from the top of the tower. £2.50.
  • Merchant Adventurers' Hall, Fossgate, +44 1904 654818, [21]. M-Th 9AM-5PM F-Sa 9AM-3:30PM Su noon-4PM. Built 1357-1361 and of international importance, this building is Europe's finest medieval Guildhall and scheduled as an ancient monument. Nowhere else can be seen in one building the three rooms serving the three functions of a medieval guild: business, charity and religion. Above is the superb timbered Great Hall, below is the Undercroft or Hospital and Chapel. Audi guides available. Adult £2.50.
  • Eboracum Legion Bathhouse (Roman Bath public house), St Sampson's Square, +44 1904 620455. Daily 10AM-5PM. A great venue for food, drink and entertainment - complete with a Roman period bathhouse in the cellar. One of York's oldest attractions, visitors can see the remains of ancient York, with insights into Roman military life and hygiene. Adult £2.
  • York Dungeon, [22]. Entertaining, though perhaps not for the faint hearted or for young children, there is little blood or gore, and some may find it suitable for children. Definitely worth the entrance price, however check out the pubs beforehand, as you may find 2 for 1 beer mats in the Kings Arms, a pub on the banks of the River Ouse near the Yorkboat landing (Kings Straith).
  • Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens (near Minster), [23]. Interesting, and quite good for curious children. Features displays of Roman, Viking and Medieval riches.
  • York Maze, (next to Grimston Bar park and ride so by car or bus), [24]. A very large maze (the largest in the world, they say) and it's made of maize. Give it at least a couple of hours. There are other activities, such as a mini-maze for children, and games (such as Crazy Mazey Golf). Only open during the summer months.
  • Treasurer's House, [25]. National Trust operated town house dating from Medieval times.
  • Barley Hall, Coffee Yard, off Stonegate, +44 1904 615505 (), [26]. Daily 10AM-4PM (winter), 10AM-5PM (summer). A lovingly restored Medieval townhouse, situated on Coffee Yard (an alley off Stonegate). Hidden gem. £3 and upwards.
  • DIG An Archaeological Adventure, St Saviourgate, +44 1904 615505 (), [27]. Daily 10AM-4PM (winter), 10AM-5PM (summer). At DIG you get to discover exciting archaeological artefacts from 2000 years of history hidden under the streets of York. £5 and upwards.
  • Micklegate Bar Museum, Micklegate, on the city walls, +44 1904 615505 (), [28]. Daily 10AM-4PM (winter), 11AM-3PM (summer). Visit the ancient gateway to explore the pageantry and barbaric history that has unfolded between these walls through the centuries. New for 2011: The Battle of Towton exhibition. £2.50 and upwards.

Do

York Walls - Micklegate
  • Walk around the city walls, [29]. Daily 8AM-sunset. One of the best vantage points for the medieval city of York is from the ramparts of its medieval city walls, built on Roman era foundations. About an hour's walk: if short on time or energy, the best views are conveniently from the shortest section, from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar, around the Minster (about 15 minutes). Free.
  • Discover the Snickleways. Walk the York snickelways, the famous medieval (and later) alleys and narrow streets that thread the center of the city. Try and get hold of a copy of Mark W Jones' book A walk around the Snickelways of York (ISBN 1871125723) or its hardback companion The complete Snickelways of York (ISBN 1871125049) with their quirky, hand-written descriptions. Alternatively walk downstream to the the Millennium bridge, cross and back upstream on the other bank.
  • Walking tours and ghost walks. Wonderful. There are many ghost walks that run throughout the year during the evenings. Walks normally start from 6PM onwards and last for around an hour - just look for the posters and billboards posted throughout the city centre for details and the meeting point for that evening. Walking tours free, ghost walks around £4.
  • Boat hire, [30]. Power up the River Ouse. Alternatively have someone else drive and go on a river trip. £20/hr, early in the day can be cheaper.
  • Football (York City FC), Bootham Crescent, [31]. They’re a full-time professional club, playing in Football League Division 2 and famous for giant-killing victories over Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton. Their home ground of Bootham Crescent, formerly known as KitKat Crescent, is a traditional English football ground surrounded by terraced housing. It is about 15 minutes walk from the city centre, near the hospital.
  • Rugby League (York City Knights), Huntington Stadium. York City Knights [32] are currently playing in National League 2, advertising a good standard of rugby, the Huntington stadium is about 5 minutes walk from Monks Cross shopping centre. Matchdays are usually Sunday afternoons but you are advised to check before setting out as they are usually every other week.


Events & Festivals

There is a very full series of events in York. The most important are:

  • York Races. [33] Held 6 to 8 times in the year with the key meetings in May and August.
  • Mystery Plays. [34] Medieval Passion plays, revived after the Second World War and the forum which first brought Dame Judi Dench to critical attention. Don't run every year and vary between the traditional plays acted on floats carried around the city and more formal renditions which change venues, last time being staged in the Minster.
  • York Festival of Food and Drink. [35] Late September every year. The Food element majors on Yorkshire food, while the drinks program has a world wide and wine orientated theme. The range of events is very wide with demonstrations, tastings, markets and dinners everyday for 10 days. Big 'Slow Food' / Fairtrade and other 'worthy' food element allied with lots of hands on cooking for kids.
  • Viking Festival, [36] February. A big event with a lots of appeal for children - lots of dressing up and mock fighting but backed with the serious educational purpose of the Viking Centre.
  • York Early Music Festival. Early July. World class event with very serious intent .
  • York Beer & Cider Festival [37] The Knavesmire (Tadcaster Road end) is the new venue for an expanded York Beer & Cider Festival held in September. The increased capacity means they will be able to offer up to 200 beers, 30 ciders and perries and a foreign beer bar, with wine and soft drinks also available. This is an exciting expansion for the branch which they hope will be enjoyed by people from York and beyond. There’ll be live music on the Friday and Saturday evenings as well as a good range of food from mainly local caterers and other stalls. There’ll be a large amount of seating – inside the tent if it’s wet, with some outside if the weather’s good. Children are welcome during the afternoon sessions. The festival site is less than 15 minutes from York Station and is served by regular buses (12 Woodthorpe, 4 FTR Acomb, 13/13A Copmanthorpe and the Coastliner).
  • York Festival of Traditional Dance [38] 5 - 6 September 2009 York’s own Ebor Morris, in conjunction with City of York Council and other local teams, invite a rich variety of traditional dance sides from all over the country to join in a non-competitive celebration of the diversity of ritual dancing. The Festival occupies the first weekend of September. The Saturday begins with a colourful dance procession from the Guildhall to Parliament Square, before the teams separate to dance on site, in King’s Square and St Sampson’s Square throughout the day before a final grand show in front of dignitaries. The Sunday dancing is less formal, taking place in St Sampson’s and King’s Square on the Sunday morning. Over the years we have had representatives of all the leading traditional team styles: the stick and hanky Morris of the Cotswolds, the large clog-stepping sides of the North West, the intricate weaving Yorkshire Longsword, the country-dance like East Anglian Molly, the bizarre costumes and disguises of Welsh border Morris and the swift interlacing of Northumbrian Rapper sword. This year’s Festival details are to be confirmed. We'll be inviting teams from all round England to join in this celebration of English Traditional dance, hosted by local team Ebor Morris. The two other local sides Acorn Morris & Minster strays should be in attendance, together hopefully with old favourites such as Brackley Morris from Northamptonshire.
  • A Yorkshire Celebration.* [39]2009 sees some of the world's finest performers gather at York Minster for a charitable musical celebration of the county of Yorkshire. Taking place on Saturday 10th October at 7.30PM, The King's Singers are joined by the Brighouse & Rastrick Band, David Childs (euphonium) and host Frank Renton of BBC Radio 2. All proceeds go to The Yorkshire Foundation. Contact York Minster Box Office for tickets.
  • Illuminating York 2009 Discover York in a New Light.23 October - 1 November The event is now in its fourth year and continues to showcase York as a vibrant, contemporary and creative city. The event breathes light and innovation into York's historic and urban environment, attracting visitors from far and wide. 2009 will see three exciting new commissioned art works each of which invites you to join-in and become part of the action. At the end of the day, when the park gates are locked, life continues into the night. Bright White present 'Vespertine', a captivating instillation that exposes the magnificence and brutality of nocturnal wildlife. The specially created sound track uses animal samples that are acoustically tuned to the space, creating a unique visitor experience. The latest technology allows you to explore pools of sound, which are linked to fascinating video effects. Tucked away in the grounds of King's Manor, this promises to be a real treat. KMA and Pilot Theatre present the world premier of '5Circles' a radical, imaginative, and beautiful global project. You can modify and manipulate the sound, light and content online and then visit St Sampsons Square to see your ideas projected on to the paving. Watch people and dancers playing in the space and triggering unique patterns of light - you can even join in yourself. GaiaNova provide an exciting opportunity to draw with light onto the multangular tower in Museum Gardens. Using 'Tagtools', a simple interactive drawing board, which allows you to see your drawings and doodles projected onto the walls and brought to life. International artists will also be using the tagtools at designated times to create colourful and inspiring works of art. Illuminating York is fantastic for people of all ages. Events are free.
  • St Nicholas Fair and other pre Christmas events. 2009 : 26 - 29 November The Fayre offers a range of markets specialising in gifts, crafts, and the very best in local farm produce. Outside markets move into Parliament Street, St Sampsons Square and Coppergate while York's grand medieval Guild Hall provides a home for 'Made In Yorkshire' artists and crafters from across the region. The magnificent medieval townhouse, Barley Hall, presents a special medieval market with live crafting, mulled wine and costumed traders and St William's College houses an arts and crafts market for fine hand-made items not to be found in the shops. Carol singers and buskers flock to the city to perform over the weekend to thousands of festive shoppers.
  • York Early Music Christmas Festival 2 - 8 December 2009 The 2009 Christmas Festival will run from Wednesday 2nd to Tuesday 8th December. This popular festival of Christmas entertainments includes performances by The Carnival Band; Joglaresa, the Dufay Collective, orchestral ensemble La Serenissima, Concordia with Robin Blaze & Elizabeth Kenny and Ensemble Gilles Binchois. Full programme details and tickets will be available from September 2009.To join our free mailing list, contact the NCEM at St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL telephone York (01904) 658338 or email boxoffice@ncem.co.uk Who will enjoy it? Anyone interested in listening to early music of the highest international quality; adults wishing to join with like-minded colleagues to make music together; youngsters wishing to learn more about historically informed performance; children wanting to know something of the history of the City of York and music in general.

Cinemas

  • Vue Cinemas - [40] - The city's largest multiplex, located on Clifton Moor Retail Park on the north-west outskirts of York. Access by car, or take the no.6 bus to Tesco. 0871 224 0240
  • City Screen Ltd - [41] - A new, modern cinema located just off Coney Street in the centre of York. Has a bar/cafe with a fantastic balcony overlooking the River Ouse. No private parking available. 0870 758 3219
  • Reel Cinema York - [42] - Located inside a distinctive art deco building and known for decades under its Odeon ownership, the cinema is held close to the hearts of the residents of York. Despite protests, it shut down a few years ago due to increasing competition. It has recently been bought and reopened by Reel, although many people still refer to it as the Odeon. It is located just a 10 minute walk south of the city centre on Blossom Street. It is on the bus routes 1, 4, 5, 10, 13 and the Askham Bar Park & Ride no.3. Very limited parking is available but not recommended. 01904 733633

Buy

York comes highly recommended for its unique shops & boutiques. There's the usual range of high-street stores, but York is also a great place if you're looking for tourist tat of the highest order. Tat-central is The Shambles - the narrowest (and most crowded) street in York, with a full range of a present from York - emblazoned merchandise manufactured in the Far East. Shops in York change from year to year but the beautiful old fashioned wooden shop fronts and buildings have not changed much since they were first built.

  • Gillygate and Low Petergate. There is a good range of stores apart from the standard high street, try these for some nice small shops and galleries.
  • Betty's Tearoom. Get a Fat Rascal see below.
  • Browns, Parliament Street. A local good quality department store.

Walmgate and Fossgate contain some interesting shops, including several small independent book shops and retro clothes shops.

Eat

Budget

For budget eating, try any traditional pub (though food quality may be variable).

A cafeteria in an old church facing away from Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate sells cheap good food - eat on the grass outside.

  • Hungary Horaces - Authentic working men's cafe. Greasy and tatty but the food is of a very high standard. The staff at the cafe are very friendly and may refer to you as love or flower.
  • Meltons Too - 5 minutes walk from the center in an area called Walmgate - good food in pleasant olde worlde environment.
  • Miller's [43] - Delicious fish and chip shop in Fulford, which also works as a restaurant. Reasonable prices and as good a plate's worth as you'll get in York.
  • Pizza Express, Lendal. Needs no introduction, but worth a look for the setting - a spectacular Victorian brick edifice perched on the bank of the River Ouse. Summer evenings on the terraces are pleasant, and their toilets are marble temples of Victorian excess - it's worth eating there just for the chance to use a solid brass-and-marble urinal.
  • The Golden Dragon, King Street, not far from Ouse Bridge. (Just round the corner from the famous riverside pub the King's Arms. Within falling distance of the Gallery and the Lowther.). Open till late.. Cheap and cheerful Chinese food.
  • The Spurriergate Centre on Spurriergate - a great little cafe in an old church, well worth a visit just for the architecture but the food is good and there are vegetarian options - the staff have a "godly" feel but are friendly enough.

Mid-range

  • ASK, The Assembly Rooms. Like Pizza Express, come for the setting rather than the food (which is fine, just nothing special, standard chain food). A marble-pillared Georgian assembly rooms with 40-foot ceilings and plaster cherubs. Extremely busy at weekends and tourist periods.
  • Bari's, The Shambles. Cheerfully unpretentious Italian bistro serving pizza and pasta in an authentically Italian style (overly-phallic pepper grinders and waiters adopting cod accents.) Food's not bad, it's reasonably priced, and it's pretty lively of an evening.
  • El Piano, Grape Lane, [44]. Mexican influenced vegetarian food. Very relaxed atmosphere, you can carve your name in a table for a £1 donation to Amnesty (they lend you the tools). Has toys and games lying around. If you have children, ask nicely and they'll give you a room upstairs to yourselves.
  • Old Grey Mare, [45]. A good curry place about halfway between the city walls and the YHA hostel.
  • The Lime House, Goodramgate, [46]. This restaurant has won many awards but still doesn't seem to be on the tourist radar. This is a shame, because it serves some of the most inventive, lovingly-prepared food in the city. Starters from £5, mains from £13.
  • Viceroy of India, Monkgate, 01904 622370. Always busy even in early evening, this long established Indian Restaurant is a favourite of York residents who keep returning time after time for its excellent food and friendly atmosphere. As they say - when in Rome...

Splurge

For upmarket eating, try York's 'restaurant district' on Fossgate and Walmgate.

  • Betty's Tea Rooms, 6-8 St Helen's Square, 01904 659142, [47]. Open 9AM-9PM every day.. World-famous for its nostalgic atmosphere and spectacular Swiss-Yorkshire patisserie-style catering. It is a twenties-style tea rooms complete with palm trees, aproned waitresses and piano player, and serves the kind of food that comes with the crusts cut off. The quality is superb, but it's not cheap - and be prepared for a queue at peak times, it's not unknown for potential customers to wait outside in the rain for a seat.
  • Four High Petergate, 2 - 4 Petergate, 0845 460 2020, [48]. One of the city’s finest restaurants with rooms, offering guests a delightful culinary experience and a beautiful place to stay right in the heart of York's city centre. The new venue also has the capabilities to stage weddings, tea parties and business events.
  • J Bakers Bistro Moderne, Fossgate, 01904 622688, [49]. Run by Michelin-starred chef J Baker (10 consecutive years with Michelin stars)this is regularly reviewed and acknowledged as York's best restaurant by some way. Booking is essential for evenings as there is often a waiting list but the Lunch time menu is a bargain and it is easy to get a table.
  • Little Betty's, 46 Stonegate, 01904 622865, [50]. Open Su-F 10AM-5:30PM; Sa 9AM-5:30PM. This is a smaller version of Betty's in Stonegate which doesn't get quite so busy, and serves exactly the same kind of food in a similar ambience.
  • Monty's Grill, St Peter's Grove, 0845 460 2020, [51]. An award-winning steak and seafood restaurant close to the centre of York. It is based on the concept of a Victorian chop house and specializes in serving high-quality, traditional British food.
  • The Judges Lodgings, [52]. Has the largest outside dining area in York. Its upstairs restaurant, located inside the hotel, serves freshly prepared meals, a selection of fine wines and homemade desserts. These are enjoyed amongst the splendour of guilt mirrors, antique paintings and beautiful architecture.

Drink

York has perhaps the most pubs per square mile of any city in the country (supposedly one for every day of the year). You shouldn't have any problem finding somewhere to get a drink. There are three key City Centre areas for Drinking depending on your taste:

  • Micklegate area: which includes Rougier Street: Young, loud, brash, boozy, hen & stag nights abound. Wall to wall pubs in a very small area serving a younger clientele intent on getting well oiled and having a good time until 3 - 4AM.
  • Coney Street area: Goes from St Helens Square along Coney Street turning right to the edge of Ouse Bridge. Pubs & Bars are a lot more upmarket and it takes in 3 bars on Coney St overlooking the River Ouse.
  • Goodramgate, Swinegate area: Probably the best area for those who like a mix of traditional pubs, nice continental bars and 2 good swanky modern bars for dressing to impress. The atmosphere is the most laid back in this area and has the widest age range appeal.
  • The Quarter which includes Little Stonegate & Grape Lane, houses several nice bars such as Pivo, Stonegate Yard, Bobo Lobo, Slug and Lettuce (chain bar), 1331, Wilde's & Oscar's to name but a few. Tends to be slightly more chilled out but more expensive than other areas. Still rowdy on a weekend but more relaxed during the week where salsa lessons take place in a couple of the bars. The area is sometimes referred to as the 'latin quarter' due to the nature of some of the bars and restaurants.

An excellent map of York bars, complete with reviews, is available here: [53]

Bars and pubs

  • The Ackhorne, St Martin's Lane (off Micklegate).
  • Bar 38, (Besides City Screen off Coney Street).
  • The Bedroom, Micklegate.
  • Biltmore, Swinegate. Probably the plushest upmarket bar in York and this is reflected in the clientele who don't mind paying extra for the scenery. Huge bar drinks menu comprising cocktails, premium spirits, bottled beers and wine. Usual mass produced beer brands on Draught.
  • The Blue Bell, Fossgate.. Tiny but unforgettable. Real beer. A locals' favourite.
  • The Brigantes, Micklegate.
  • The Charles XII, Heslington, right next to the University.. Cheap beer and full of students.
  • Dusk, New Street (off Coney Street). another great place for cocktails, with 2-for-1 Monday through Thursday.
  • Evil Eye, Stonegate. the best place in York for cocktails, and the south east asian food is out of this world, too! Limited capacity due to fire regulations so you may have to queue to gain entry.
  • The Hansom Cab. A Samuel Smith's pub right in the centre of town, with cheap local ales.
  • The Keystones. A Yellow Card pub beneath Monkgate Bar.
  • KoKo International Bar, Goodramgate.. Lovely relaxed bar overlooking York Minster serving 10 draught rare imported lagers & UK ales, over 200 bottled continental beers & 300 Spirits.
  • The King's Arms, (located beneath the River Ouse bridge). Another Samuel Smith's pub but a few pence dearer than the Hansom Cab. It's traditionally flooded every winter.
  • Lendal Cellars, off St. Helen's Square. Yes, it is underground.
  • The Living Room, (on the East side of the Ouse bridge).
  • The Lowther. Overlooking (and occasionally in) the River Ouse; highly recommended - try the diesel.
  • The Maltings. absolutely cracking real-ale pub close to the train station.
  • The Micklegate, (just beneath Micklegate Bar.).
  • The Minster Inn, on Marygate, close to the northern entrance to Museum Gardens. confusingly not that near the Minster at all. As it's slightly off the tourist trail, most of the people in there are local regulars, but you're guaranteed a warm welcome, some local colour and an excellent pint.
  • The Nags Head, Heworth.
  • Orgasmic, (Besides City Screen off Coney Street).
  • Pitcher and Piano, (Besides City Screen off Coney Street).
  • The Postern Gate, (beside the Travelodge on Piccadilly, overlooking the River Foss.). a J.D. Wetherspoon franchise (otherwise known as The Wetherspoon's, or simply "Spooooooooons")
  • The Priory, Micklegate. often to be found serving a well-known Irish stout at a very reasonable price.
  • The Punch Bowl, 2 locations: Stonegate and beside Micklegate Bar.. a Wetherspoons franchise
  • Roman Baths Inn, in St. Sampson's Square, in the middle of town, on top of the remains of a real Roman bath that you can visit.. Frequently has open-mic nights.
  • The Rook and Gaskill. a Tynemill pub just outside Walmgate Bar. 12 ever-rotating cask ales available.


  • The Rose and Crown. an Australian-run pub just outside Walmgate Bar, home of the Auzzie Burger.
  • Slug and Lettuce, (on the West side of the Ouse bridge (formally Capitol)).
  • The Three Legged Mare, (just a stone's throw from the Minster). a York Brewery Pub
  • The Winning Post in York, Bishopthorpe Road. Voted the pint best Lager York 2009 (keeps Head and Effervescent longer then other pubs in the City). Free event venue for new bands .
  • The Windmill, (opposite Micklegate Bar.).
  • Yates's, (on the West side of the Ouse bridge).
  • The York Brewery Pub, Tanner Row. Brewery and pub.
  • Ye Olde Starre Inn, Stonegate. the oldest pub in York, nice and cosy, with a beer garden that, just, overlooks the Minster.


Clubs

  • Club Salvation, [54].
  • KUDA, 12 Clifford Street, [55].

Sleep

  • Marmadukes Hotel, tel 0870 243 0765. St Peters Grove, [56].
  • Welburn Lodge [57] is close to Castle Howard and 13 miles from the City of York.

Budget

  • Barrington House, [58]. 4 Star Hotel from 30£. 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre, halfway between the railway station and York Racecourse. Situated in a quiet cul-de-sac, just off the main road, this Edwardian townhouse was built around 1906. Today, the house still retains many original features from that period. All of the en suite rooms are well equipped, with TVs and tea/coffee making facilities with complimentary biscuits. Breakfast is included in the price and guests can choose a full cooked English breakfast or a continental-style breakfast featuring various cereals, yoghurt, grapefruit, fruit juice and fresh fruit.
  • The Quality Hotel York, [59]. from 57£. Inexpensive compared to other hotels that are further away. Eye catching, modern design 6 story hotel, matched by stylish contemporary interiors. Very close to the city walls if you plan on walking around the city walls - a good way to see York. Also close to the shops, and if you've got heavy shopping bags, it will make a lot of difference to be close to the city center.
  • York YHA Hostel, (from 19£ ) twenty minutes' walk away from the city walls, is clean and cheap with good showers. Good family rooms for 4. Adequate breakfast is included in the price (they'll pack you a breakfast if you're leaving especially early).
  • Travelodge York Central located next to a popular Wetherspoons bar/restaurant next to the city wall and River on Piccadilly. 5-minute walk up Piccadilly to Parliament Sq in the Centre. Rooms are comfortable and private, and are pretty cheap (~£29-£60) if booked in advance online. Because of its prime location, walk-in fares are likely to exceed £80pn. Don't take the breakfast - instead go next door to the Weatherspoons, it's much better value!

If you have a car, also try the Travelodge York-Tadcaster about 5miles from the city centre on the A64. Rooms will be significantly cheaper.

  • Ibis York, [60]. Ibis York Centre hotel is a budget hotel, located at the gates of the city walls, within a short walking distance from the Train Station and the main city centre.

Mid-range

  • Knavesmire Manor - 01904 702941 [61]. Very good value hotel with indoor swimming pool with free parking, just ten minutes' walk of city centre. This hotel is the prefect venue for the York famous racecourse. All rooms are en suite with breakfast and evening meals available too. Bar available at the hotel too.
  • The Dean Court Hotel - they don't come much more central than this - it's right outside the front door of the Minster, and the city center is just streets away. An imposing Victorian pile, this Best Western hotel has recently been renovated downstairs, and now sports a contemporary 'wine bar' look that's in complete contrast to the red-brick exterior. Unfortunately the refit didn't make it past the ground floor, and the bedrooms are beginning to look somewhat tired. Food is over-the-top nouvelle cuisine style, and they've got prices to match the location. Great if you're looking for something at the heart of the city, but not particularly good value given the standard of accommodation at the moment.
  • Hotel Noir - 01904 643711 [62]. Very good value hotel within ten minutes' walk of city centre. There are 28 comfortable rooms, all en suite. Free, small car park, good breakfast and free mini-bar. Good for a short break. The road outside can be noisy, so stay in one of the rear rooms if you're a light sleeper. Lively bar as well.
  • The Monk Bar Hotel - just outside Monk Bar, on the inner ring road. Perfectly adequate unspectacular Best Western-style hotel, but beware the bedrooms at the front - they overlook the inner ring road which is exceedingly noisy during the morning and evening rush hours. Not particularly good value for money, as the accommodation is unspectacular and food could best be described as adequate.
  • Premier Travel Inn, tel 0870 990 6594, [63]. Five minutes walk from the train station. A recent conversion of older low rise buildings. Clean, with a king size double bed and excellent showers. Rooms cost £70 a night plus between £3 and £7.50 for each adult for breakfast. Good value for families as 2 kids can sleep in the same room on pull out beds, and they get breakfast for free with a paying adult.
  • Queen Anne's Guest House, [64]. Approximately 7 mins walk from Bootham Bar (near the Minster), this is a small friendly guest house with a simple Full English Breakfast awaiting you in the morning, after a refreshing sleep in one of the clean, quiet rooms with en suite. Good value for money, the key to the front door is issued on arrival ensuring you do not have to tote bags around all day.
  • Ramada Fairfield Manor Hotel, [65]. The Ramada Fairfield Manor Hotel in York is set in a recently renovated Georgian mansion in six acres of grounds.This elegant York hotel mananges to combine the calm of an 18th-century country retreat with the vibrant cultural attractions of 2000-year-old York three miles away.
  • Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel, Shipton Road, York, YO30 1XW, (+44)844/8159038 (, fax: +44 1904 670311), [66]. The 4 star Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel is an 18th century Georgian manor house set in its own grounds. It is 6 km from York Castle and the Jorvik Viking Museum.

Splurge

  • The Judges Lodgings Hotel, [67], +44 1904 638733, info@judgeslodgings.com. Housed in a grade 1 listed Georgian townhouse, the Judges Lodgings Hotel has been sympathetically renovated and now offers travellers a luxurious and historical place to relax. It has a traditional cellar bar and restaurant (also open to non-residents) and is among the best located hotels in the city centre (within the main pedestrian area of York and overlooked by York Minster). It has a small car park in the grounds. Also a venue for conferences, meetings, weddings, private dining.
  • The Royal York Hotel is located next to the Station and is the largest hotel in York as well as one of the most prestigious. Has a nice but expensive restaurant overlooking the Minster - great for an evening meal. Also has a Bar, Swimming Pool and Gym. Always ask at reception if you will hear any nose from function rooms. To be safe ask for a high-floor room.
  • The Grange Hotel, tel 01904 644744, [68]. A few minutes walk from Bootham Bar, this is one of York's premier (and most expensive) hotels. A Georgian town house, it's gone for the country-house-chic look - all deep sofas, open fires and unobtrusive service. There are three restaurants ranging from a seafood bar, through contemporary cellar bar to the full-on French silver service. Not cheap, but deeply luxurious, and a real change from the standard pre-packaged international chain hotels.
  • Lendal Tower, [69]. This newly refurbished luxury establishment will surely be one of York's main landmarks within a couple of years. The 5 star ancient property offers a range of services including guest accommodation, private butler and chef, weddings and private dining.
  • de Bretton Hospitality, [70], 0845 460 2020. de Bretton is a hospitality group that operates a range of luxury hotels and accommodation in York.


  • Park Inn, North St, Y01 6JF [71] Tel +44 1904 459988. Located in the centre of York nearby to attractions including Jorvik Viking Centre, York Minster and the National Railway Museum.

Learn

The University of York [72] is constantly one of the UK's top 10 performing universities, and is one of the top 100 in the world. The departments of English and Related Literature, Chemistry, Computer Science and Psychology are particularly well regarded internationally as leading research centres.

Contact

Phone

York's area code (for landline numbers) is 01904 when dialed from within the UK or +44 1904 from outside the UK.

Internet

There are also several places that offer web and other internet access. These include:

  • City Screen Picturehouse, 13-17 Coney Street (tucked away behind St. Martin's church - look for the iconic clock), tel 0871 704 2054, [73]Computers, printing, and wireless in the Basement Cafe. If you bring your own laptop, wireless is a pound otherwise you pay by the amount of time spent online.
  • Gateway Internet Café Bar, now situated in City Screen - above.
  • Evil Eye Lounge, 42 Stonegate, tel 01904 640002, [74]. Just as with City Screen, if you bring your own laptop wireless access is just a pound. Pay at the counter just as you walk in to get that day's access code.
  • York Central Library, Museum Street (between the river and the Minster). Ask at the enquiry desk - you'll see plenty of locals using the computers, but the staff can arrange Web access for visitors too. Opens till 8PM on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Stay safe

Just like in every town and city York has its bad parts that are best avoided: areas that seem to keep appearing in newspaper reports! These are the outlying suburbs of Tang Hall, Bell Farm, and parts of Foxwood and Clifton but even these are relatively tame compared to similar areas in cities like Manchester or Leeds. Also try to avoid secluded cycle paths at night as it is not unknown (but still fairly rare) for robberies to take place in these parts, however this tends to be away from the main city centre.

The centre of town, however, is as civilised as everywhere else in Britain.

Take care on weekend evenings in York. Plenty of local youngsters overestimate their capacity for alcohol and the city centre can seem to be awash with lager louts, mainly over the river in the Micklegate area. If you are approached just keep on walking and they will find another victim to pester. Aim for our recommended pubs, though, and you'll find that safe socialising in the company of affable locals is still possible!

Get out

York is centrally located for the Vale of York and East and North Yorkshire, making it a great base for days out in any direction:

  • Aldborough Roman Villa [75] - it`s a bit of a push to the top of the county but well worth the trouble.
  • Castle Howard [76] - one of the locations for the filming of Brideshead Revisited, this amazing stately home is a great day trip out of York. If you've got a car and go to Castle Howard its worth a look at Kirkham Priory too, just off the A64 at the top of the hill near Castle Howard. Additional local historic sites in the York area include Beningbrough Hall, Bolton Abbey, Nunnington Hall and Riveaux Abbey.
  • Yorkshire Lavender[77] - Only 3 miles from Castle Howard, Yorkshire's Award-Winning Lavender Farm & Lavender Gardens is set in a spectacular hillside farm of nearly 60 acres, within the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Leeds - biggest city in Yorkshire. Fantastic for shopping, drinking, dining, and as a base for exploring Yorkshire.
  • Northallerton - from here get a bus to the picturesque, authentic, village of Osmotherley with three great pubs and plenty of good walking.
  • The coast - Victorian Scarborough with two popular beaches and a castle, Victorian Bridlington, Filey and Whitby. Filey is a smaller and less developed resort; it is home to a brigg that can be accessed at low tide, has long stretches of beach, however has reduced facilities compared to its larger neighbours. Whitby is a popular coastal town and home to many historic sites of interest. If you are visiting the town around mealtimes try one of the fish and chip restaurants. The portions are large and the taste to die for. Mushy peas are optional! This used to be the national dish before chicken tikka massala - and in Whitby they show you why. If you are travelling the main road between Scarborough and Whitby, try making a detour into the moors on the landward side of the road. Only a couple of miles or so from the road you will be into a land of babbling brooks and comfortable pubs (most without music) where you can enjoy a quiet drink and a well-cooked meal at very reasonable cost. And the plus is it seems like another world.
  • Thirsk - small horse-racing market town. Well known as a horse racing venue, but for me its claim to fame is as the home of James Herriott. There is a museum dedicated to his (real)life and vetinary practice and is well worth making a detour to visit. It`s a "hands on" type of museum and to any fans of the books and films constitutes and couple of hours well spent. You can sit in the actual Austin 7 car that he made his visits in and can round off the visit in the museum shop. Enjoy!Afterwards a drink in a local pub and perhaps a (very) substantial lunch.




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