York is an unassuming walled city at first glance, but behind its walls lies a unique bustling hub of life rich in heritage. Located in North Yorkshire, England, it takes roughly two hours by train from London but even closer is Leeds (20-25 minutes). So here’s my take on this fascinating city and what you can do in 3 days.
A Weekend in York
Upon arrival, enjoy an early evening cruise along the river on Yorkboat (7.30 pm). It lasts one hour and if it leaves you feeling peckish, you may complement this with a fish-based dinner. Head to Loch Fyne (on Foss Bridge) where you can get your taste buds tingling with fresh and genuine fish specialities – I had a creamy haddock chowder to start with and crab for mains.
On Saturday morning catch the 8.30 bus to Castle Howard to visit the location where Brideshead Revisited was filmed. The bus arrives at 10am so you can spend one hour walking around the grounds until the house opens at 11am. The house takes an hour to go around, and don’t forget the chapel that features in the film.
Check the website before visiting as Castle Howard is popular with weddings – on the day I visited, there was a wedding so the last entrance was at 3pm. You can take the 180 bus which Stephensons of Easingwold, a private company, operates purposefully for Castle Howard. It leaves from Piccadilly and the return ticket (£8) offers a discount for an entry ticket to Castle Howard.
Once you’re back in York centre, get lost in the Shambles – you can also stop for lunch at a pub or try out one of the ethnic cuisines (I found this hole-in-the-wall place that served a lovely lamb tagine and refreshing homemade lemonade). In the afternoon you could go shopping as all the main high street stores (bar Primark) are a stone’s throw away from one another. For designer wear try TK Maxx or higher-end stores such as L.K. Bennett, Reiss, and the Mulberry factory shop. For an entertaining Saturday night out, see what’s on at the York Theatre Royal or The Grand Opera House. If you’re not partial to plays or such shows, then there’s always the cinema or a filling meal and pint of ale at one of the many pubs.
On a Sunday morning enjoy a peaceful walk around the gardens like the locals do and savour an English breakfast (Yates does one at a mere £2.65). If you are an adherent of the faith, you can attend the 10am choir-sung mass at the Minster. While you are there, listening to the hymns in Latin, you can also take in the magnificent surroundings of the Minster (N.B. during Mass, you don’t have to pay; however bear in mind that you won’t be allowed to wander around). While strolling in the romantic and narrow streets cluttered with shops selling bespoke items, keep an eye out for the places that serve Sunday roast and tuck in some nicely cooked roast complete with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and generous helpings of gravy.
Before catching the train or plane, round up your visit to York with a stop at the National Rail Museum – it is open till 6pm on Sunday and it will get you in the mood for a train journey…Bon Voyage!