York is one of those historic cities that brings you to a halt. When you take in the sheer scale of the York Minster cathedral, with its Gothic spires and gargoyles, and the seemingly endless medieval streets that wind around the center of a picturesque walled city, it's easy to feel like you're walking in a fairytale.
There’s far more to York than looks, however. It’s got boutique shopping, fine food, brilliant bars, and traditional pubs—it’s also home to a Viking archaeological dig and museum. Here’s what I recommend you do in York if you have three days to explore it.
York is dry as far as England goes. Take a coat in winter—it gets chilly.
If you only have time for one thing, make it York Minster cathedral to experience its dizzying architecture.
As soon as you arrive in York, you’re going to want something to eat. It’s the Yorkshire way. Head to a roast dinner takeaway shop for a Yorkshire pudding wrap—it's a traditional roast dinner you can eat on the go.
Then, learn about York's gory history while getting to know the city. Set off on a ghost bus tour or take a walking tour with a costumed guide and learn York's darkest secrets. While you’re in the mood, visit York Dungeon, for more history and horror.
Now you know the dark side of York, walk around the Bar Walls and take in views of the city from up high. Refresh with a pot of tea and a toasted teacake or Fat Rascal (a type of scone) at Betty’s Tearoom. Then visit York Minster and climb its tower.
As evening falls, ride a boat on River Ouse to see the York skyline and sunset. Then, pop into one of York’s independent restaurants for dinner—try Ambiente or the Rattle Owl. Finish with a pint of beer at a local pub.
If you’re a beer fan, hop on a tour of the local York breweries before you go. If you’d rather spend your last day more peacefully, take a self-guided audio tour around the back streets and hidden gems of York and learn about its Viking and Roman past.
For fresh air, take off to the Yorkshire Dales. A British national park, the Dales is an area of wild and rugged limestone landscape, carved by ice age glaciers and now home to many rare species of flora and fauna, including the red squirrel.