York ranks as one of the UK's best city breaks. Easily navigated on-foot, York contains a tightly packed host of historic attractions spanning various periods including Viking, Roman, Medieval, Georgian and Victorian. Barcelona has its Sagrada and Edinburgh its castle, whilst York has its iconic medieval York Minster, easily one of the world's most architecturally impressive cathedrals. Add to this a host of award winning art galleries and museums, York ghost tours galore, scenic riverboat trips along the River Ouse which cuts through this historic city and some of the best shopping, chic bars and restaurant choice in the country and you have a recipe for a fun packed UK city break or York weekend break!
York blends its historic, cultural and tourist attractions well. Alongside cutting edge history and art museums, take a ride on the Yorkshire Wheel for spectacular views of the city or visit fun family attractions such as the York Dungeon. York has a choice of city bus sightseeing tours - always a good starter to get your bearings.
Like all the best city breaks, York is easily explored on-foot although it's easy to hook into more leisurely explorations of York like Riverboat trips or York city bus sightseeing tours (see webguides right for details). Weekend breaks in York are particularly popular, but York is a city that demands much more than two days. Iconic York Minster, easily one of the world's greatest cathedrals evolved into the Minster you see today from 1215 to 1472. What better way to start your tour of York than the city's spectacular Minster. Just to the west of the Minster at Exhibition Square sits the city's main tourist information point and a cluster of museums including the acclaimed Yorkshire Museum and Gardens and York Art Gallery. The York Theatre Royal is also here and down by the river pick-up the Yorkboat for boat trips along the River Ouse.
To the south of York Minster, York Castle Museum, Clifford's Tower and award winning Jorvik Viking Centre form another York city centre hub of attractions. On the western edge of the city you'll find more York attractions around York Railway Station including the National Railway Museum and the new Yorkshire Wheel taking you high up for spectacular views of York. York offers a choice of good viewing points to get your bearings - the Yorkshire Wheel, atop of Clifford's Tower (a 104 step climb) or take the challenging climb up York Minster's 275 steps.
York Tourist Information Centre, De Grey Rooms, Exhibition Square York YO1 2HB. Tel. 01904 550099. Open Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 5pm/6pm during peak Summer months. Sundays 10am to 4pm/5pm in peak Summer. With such a huge choice of attractions, well worth picking up (either on-line via the York Pass weblink right or at York tourist information centre) is the York Pass. With the York Pass you get free entry to 28 favourite York attractions and an extra bonus is you don't have to cram them all in - the Pass lasts for a full year! Also with the York Pass you receive numerous discounts in York bars, restaurants and in York shops.
Find further York tourism information at York Railway Station, York YO1 7HB. Guided walking tours around York are available, see the walking tours York webguide right for details. Alternatively opt for one of the award winning York Ghost tours!
There's been a York Minster as far back as 627AD, although back then it was a small wooden church used to baptise the Anglo Saxon King Edwin of Northumbria. The spectacular York Minster you see today essentially evolved over around 250 years from 1215 to 1472 (read the full history via the York Minster webguide right). An architectural marvel both inside and out, York Minster's Great East Window is the largest example of Medieval glass surviving in England.
From the intricate gothic carvings of the Chapter House to one of the world's best feasts of stained glass, any visit to York Minster demands several hours. An excellent Minster Shop and cafe is on-site, with guided tours available and ever changing exhibitions. A climb up York Minster's tower steps (all 275 of them) is not to be missed. Along the way you'll note the medieval pinnacles and gargoyles, then on the Minster rooftops be amazed by the spectacular views of the city of York and beyond to Kilburn and the Yorkshire Wolds.
Comprehensive information on York Minster, including history, opening times and what to see is available via the website or contact York Minster Visitors Dept, St Williams College, College St, York YO1 7JF. Tel. (00 44) (0)1904 557216.
York Castle Museum started life as a prison, and indeed some of the building's prison history is given due attention in exhibits. This includes exhibits on the museum's most famous prisoner Dick Turpin who was eventually hanged in 1739. Named after the former York Castle built by William the Conqueror which once stood here, York Castle Museum is a superb family attraction, with numerous recreated Victorian and Georgian rooms and a huge display of historic every day items derived from the collection of North Yorkshire country doctor John Kirk. Adjacent to York Castle Museum sits what remains of York's medieval castle - Clifford's Tower. It's impossible to imagine a more violent history to a historic building than Clifford's Tower which has served as prison and site for displaying the dead bodies of uprising leaders. Particularly gruesome in its history is the murder of a large number of Jewish residents of York within its walls. A cold war bunker is also on the site. See the English Heritage webguide for details. Many visitors climb to the elevated top of Clifford's Tower for spectacular views of York city centre.
York's choice of both historic sights and exciting museums is outstanding. A number of medieval buildings are scattered around the city including St Mary's medieval church and medieval townhouse Barley Hall off Stonegate. Checkout the Exploring York self guided walking tours with trail choices including Medieval Churches, Minster Close, Roman York and The Walls exploring the 2 mile expanse of York's medieval walls come Victorian Promenade. These trails guide you through the many different facet's of York's history from Viking Jorvik to Roman Eboracum, to Medieval, Georgian and Victorian York. Two museums not to be missed in York, both of which are especially good for children, are the Jorvik Viking Centre and the National Railway Museum. Jorvik is actually situated on an archaeological site in York where remains of the original Jorvik viking city have been found. It's free admission to the world's largest railway museums here in York!
You've an endless list of award winning York Museums and York Art Galleries. For a thorough archaeological insight into York and Yorkshire through the various historical periods head for the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens. The remains of the medieval St Mary's Abbey are on the lower floors here. It's free admission into York's superb main Art Gallery on Exhibition Square. Here you've wide ranging work from Dutch Masters to Hockney and Lowry. The city boasts a huge choice of smaller museums (see webguides right), and new additions such as the Quilt Museum & Gallery (open as of Summer 2008).