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Top Five Things To Do In York

York is the kind of place that always stays with you. I went on holiday there as a child and the memories I have of that visit are very fond ones. I remember feeling entranced by the beautiful storybook architecture and being intrigued by York’s magical feel.

York City

I lived in Yorkshire a few years ago, and one of the highlights of my time there was getting to revisit York as an adult. On returning, I felt the same excitement I did as a child – it was still just as lovely, and still just as intriguing. For anyone debating whether to visit York or not, I heartily recommend that you do go, and once you get there, here are some suggestions about how to make the most of your time:

1. Explore by foot

York is the perfect example of a walking city and the best way to experience it is by meandering through its winding, narrow streets. There are numerous local attractions to visit, including the redeveloped York Art Gallery, which will reopen in Summer 2015 with a new Centre of Ceramic Art. This centre will showcase works from York Museum Trust’s impressive collection of ceramics, including more than 5,000 examples of British Studio Ceramics, the largest collection in the world. The star pieces on display will include works by artists including Bernard Leach, Felicity Aylieff and Pablo Picasso.

York’s illustrious Theatre Royal is also undergoing a major refurbishment in 2015, which will be the first major change to the theatre since the architect Patrick Gwynne’s famous 1967 extension. Following the refurbishment, there will be a new main entrance with level access and the currently under used Georgian staircase will be opened up to make it easier for audiences to access the main auditorium. The theatre is continuing to operate as normal during this redevelopment, and its exceptionally well -produced shows in historic surroundings will leave you wanting more.

As well as enabling you to experience the best of York’s cultural activities, walking by foot is also the only way you can really see the imposing historical walls up close, and the best means of investigating the quirky shops and boutiques of world famous shopping street, The Shambles, which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter Books. By foot you will also get to see many of York’s traditional pubs, as well as its attractive parks and wonderful riverside views.

2. Have a proper cup of Tea at Betty’s Tearooms

If there’s one thing Yorkshire’s famous for, it’s tea, and when visiting York there’s only one place to drink it – Betty’s Tearooms. These Tearooms are something of an institution in York, and are popular with tourists and locals alike. The Tearooms serve a great selection of delicious food and offer a traditional Afternoon Tea [it’s best to book this in advance]. It is also possible to purchase boxes of tea, and whilst these boxes may be a little on the expensive side, they make great souvenirs, since the tea is of high quality and is very flavourful.

3. Be awed by York Minster

York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. It does cost £10 to get in [although if you purchase a York pass you will be able to get in for free at over 30 York attractions], but it’s a price worth paying just to marvel at its timeless design. Once inside, you will get a chance to visit the Undercroft, which is a new attraction consisting of interactive chambers beneath York Minster itself, which detail the Cathedral’s unique and colourful history. It is also possible to attend one of the cathedral’s many services, and listen to its beautifully skilled choir. Visitors can also do one of several trails around the church, including the Pilgrim Trail, where you can walk in the footsteps of the pilgrims who have visited York Minster for over 800 years.

4. Scare yourself silly with a ghost tour

York has so much history that it’s small wonder that the International Ghost Research Foundation announced in 2002 that it is officially the most haunted city in Europe. If you revel in stories of gloom and gore, then why not embark on one of York’s many ghost tours? There are a variety of tours to choose from, ranging from the Ghost Hunt tour, which claims it will take ‘your emotions from horror to hilarity’ to the York Ghost Walk Experience, which promises to take you to the ‘forbidden tower’ located in the City Walls. Whatever you choose, be prepared to be genuinely scared – York’s dark streets and alleyways certainly will trigger the imagination at night.

5. Indulge your chocolate cravings at York’s Chocolate Story

Did you know that a lot of famous British chocolate brands such as Terry’s and Rowntree originated in Yorkshire? York’s Chocolate Story explores the history of these renowned brands in an interesting and entertaining way. Not only that, but the chocolatiers at York’s Chocolate Story will teach you how to make chocolate of your own, as well as teach you how to taste chocolate like an expert. There is of course the opportunity to buy some great tasting chocolate after you’ve finished learning about it, which is the best part!

Now that I’ve whetted your appetite by telling you the best things to do and see in York, I also want to suggest the best place for you to stay during your time in this fantastic city. The newly opened Safestay York hostel is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity. It’s a fun, affordable and vibrant place to stay, located in Micklegate House, one of York’s most famous residences. It’s decorated in a quirky and unusual fashion, and blends original Georgian features with contemporary touches. Don’t be surprised if you feel like a bit like Alice in Wonderland when you stay as you walk past numerous interesting pieces of furniture, including a stag’s head [whose name is Mr Waldorf], bowler hat lamps or oversized armchairs!

Safestay York has everything a traveller could want, from free wi-fi and luggage storage, 24-hour laundry service, a bar, a computer room, complimentary breakfast and indivudual curtains around each bed for privacy. Safestay York is also in a very central location, right within the city walls, making it the perfect base to check out some of my suggestions! Have a great time in this terrific city!


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