Last weekend, we were invited to York as part of a collaboration with London North Eastern Railway. We’ve never been to York, but have always wanted to visit to check out the old cobbled streets and whimsical shops. We’re going to be writing a separate post about our journey, but I thought I’d share what we got up to during our – albeit short – weekend in the city.
York is around 5 hours from Brighton by car, but by train it’s 3 hours from London’s Kings Cross. It’s known for being the birthplace of Guy Fawkes and having some of the oldest streets in England. The city is bursting with history and culture, and if you happen to be doing a project on Tudor Houses like we did a few weeks ago then this is your place for research!
For our visit, we travelled from London King’s Cross; getting the 10am train and arriving in York by 1:15pm. The journey was seamless. So much so that we’re still asking ourselves why we haven’t done it sooner. The train arrived right in the city centre too, which meant we were able to tour the city a little as to walked to our hotel.
As soon as we arrived it felt like we’d immediately been taken back in time. Walking past dozens of Tudor houses, as well as the iconic York Minster, our eyes very rarely left the upward position! On the way to our hotel, we walked over the River Ouse across historic bridges and read endless blue plaques.
After checking into our hotel, we got changed and then went straight back out for a proper browse before finding somewhere to eat.
It goes without saying that The Shambles is exactly how you would expect it; bursting with energy. Whilst it is incredibly busy on a Saturday, with queues outside the more popular shops, there’s still plenty to explore down alleyways and narrow streets. One accidental left hand turn resulted in us finding a huge food market in the middle of a square that seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was full to the brim with independent food vendors and market stalls. It smelt amazing!
Walking around the streets, it’s very evident that York is a very culturally diverse city. Not only did we find a number of LGBTQ-owned shops and cafes, but as an LGBTQ family we felt very safe. A highlight of our visit was finding Portal Book Shop; an independent, LGBTQ-owned bookshop! Recommended to us by our friend Jacob, this bookshop sells a variety of LGBTQ-themed books; ranging from science fiction to children’s books, and is also home to the Lunar Cafe which is situated upstairs!
After spending an afternoon exploring, we then decided to rest our legs and find somewhere for dinner. We voted on checking out Solita after passing it a few hours before. Situated in an old Tudor building, Solita is a Bar & Grill and serves a variety of burgers and loaded fries, as well as hot dogs, wings and steaks. They also had a number of Vegan and Veggie options! We were lucky enough to be sat in their loft space which just added to the historic ambience of the city.
After properly resting, as well as checking out some of their bar games, we then finished off our day with an evening walk through the city back to our hotel. In comparison to other cities we’ve explored at night, York is different. Whilst it’s alive with pub-goers, we felt incredibly safe and often let T run ahead of us. It didn’t appear to be rowdy (like Brighton can be!) and everyone was really considerate when T walked past. The city had a different, and sometimes calmer, feel at night despite the number of party people out and about.
The next morning, after making the most out of the hotel breakfast, we then spent the remainder of the morning, before needing to catch our train home, exploring the city walls which was a complete first for us!
Dating back to Roman times, the York City Walls were built the same time as York Minster and remain in surprisingly good condition (although can be very slippery when wet!). Offering incredible views of the city, the wall spans across 2 miles and allows you to join and exit them at different parts of the city. We started our tour around the area of the train station and walked to Clifford’s Tower (York Castle) before exiting to get back to our hotel to grab our bags.
You can travel in any direction, but if you’re interested in seeing particular sights you can check out a map here. I honestly couldn’t believe the visit was free!
In what felt like no time at all we were back on the train and heading back to Sussex, but not before noting down a number of places we’d like to visit upon our return. Places like York Castle & Museum, the Railway Museum and Jorvik Viking Centre and Museum, not to mention a number of foodie places! I never knew York was a food haven!
York is a beautiful city and one we will no doubt visit again. Travelling by train has certainly made the city – as well as more northern parks of England – more accessible. It’s also given us food for thought when exploring the UK!
Have you been to York? Do you have any recommendations on places to visit? Let us know!