In early August we were lucky enough to spend a weeks holiday staying at a friends house (a vicarage no less) on the outskirts of the city of York, which is the traditional county town of Yorkshire. I absolutely fell in love with the place and considering I no longer consider myself a townie, having lived in the countryside for the last eight years, I think this is a bit of a feat and therefore I wanted to share just a few of the reasons why I think York is a fabulous place to take a city break, or in fact, to set up home.
1. There is so much history
The skyline is dominated by the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster. It is absolutely stunning with gorgeous stained glass and working bell towers. It seems to have been preserved really well and is humongous in stature, being the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. If you wish to view it as a tourist there is a charge, or you can go along and enjoy one of the daily services without having to pay. It is also quite fun that there is a walking ghost tour from outside the Minster each evening at 7.30pm.
|People meeting outside for the evening ghost tour|
|A bit of family fun!|
2. You can walk the walls
Talking of history, York has more miles of intact city walls than any other English city and you can go up and walk the walls to get amazing views of the city. We walked just a small portion, closest to the cathedral, entering at Michelgate Bar but it was lovely. There are four bars (or gatehouses) in the walls and they split the portions of the wall around the city. I'm definitely going back to explore more in the future.
3. It's right on the river
The River Ouse runs right through the city and it's a great place to take a walk or go for an Alfresco drink as there are loads of pubs and restaurants situated along it. There are also lots of pleasure cruises and you can hire boats, so it is a great part of the city.
4. There are shops galore
There is everything you need in York. There are masses of shops but I liked that it still felt manageable to walk around and you can easily find what you need. It's not just big chain stores that you find in the city either, there are plenty of streets like Bootham, Stonegate and the Shambles where you can find independent stores selling great gifts and treats.
5. Everything is easy to get to
The town centre is really easy to walk around and there are excellent roads leading out of the city if you want to travel further afield. The coastal towns of Scarborough, Filey or Bridlington are only about an hour away and you can get to London on the train in just over 2.5 hours. Yorkshire is full of big towns that have everything you need, like Leeds which is just 40 minutes by car or about an hour by train.
|On our visit to Scarborough|
6. It's a big city in the countryside
York has a lovely feel to it, with wide-open spaces and lots of greenery. As you go into the outskirts there is lots of parkland and countryside, so you can easily feel as if you're getting away from it all. There are also plenty of stately homes like Castle Howard or the National Trust Beningborough Hall close by.
7. It's Instagramable
There seems to be so much in the city that is beautiful and made to have photos taken of it. My teenage girls were in heaven capturing images of floral fronted shops and gorgeous chandeliers in shops and restaurants. There are even cafes with floral door arrangements and rooms especially styled for taking selfies.
8. Have you seen the Shambles?
It's like looking at Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films and it's believed to be the inspiration, with its narrow path and overhanging medical buildings. When we visited in the day it was super busy but it was much quieter in the evening and we had a pleasant stroll down there. On the corner is The Shop That Must Not Be Named which is the original wizarding emporium and a must-visit for all Harry Potter fans.
9. There's always somewhere new to eat or drink
To go along with all the shops, there are also tons of places to eat and drink. In fact, there are over 365 pubs in the city. There is a whole variety of places to eat from independent cafes, street retailers, traditional pubs and luxurious restaurants and tea rooms.