Insider York – what to see and do, where to eat and shop

Marauding Vikings, super-fast steam trains and a bona fide medieval street. York will bowl you over with its history and beauty.

Wander ancient cobbled streets lined with super shops. Explore the history of the railways. Experience life in the days of the Vikings – sights, sounds and not-too-pleasant smells. 

Sound good? Jump right in with our guide to the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in York

Need inspiration? What to see

Need inspiration? What to see

Stunning, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring. The Gothic towers of York’s magnificent minister demand respect.  

And they really are something.

Completed in 1472, the Norman minster is known as one of the UK’s great historical buildings. 

But to really get the wow-factor you need to get up close and personal. Climb the 275 steps to the top of the tower. Your feet may hurt, but what about that view? 

Get a nostril full of Viking York at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Noisy, violent and not very nice – the Vikings invaded York in 866. Wander down a recreated Viking street – sights, sounds and smells – or walk over the remains of 1,000-year-old Viking homes.

All aboard. Mind the gap. Full steam ahead. From steam trains powered by coal and sooty-faced firemen to super-fast Japanese bullet trains. The National Railway Museum tells the story of the railways. Trainspotters will adore it, others will enjoy it, and kids – well, they’ll love it.

What to see:

  • Mallard: Super-fast Mallard became the fastest steam train ever in the 1930s and still it hasn’t been beaten. That’s what we call staying power.
  • Replica Rocket: Where it all began. Pretty much the first steam locomotive engine. Incredibly important. Hugely innovative. But don’t ask for the Wi-Fi password. 

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: Atmospheric cellar setting with bare brick walls. Check. Mood lighting. Check. Tasty home-cooked food. Check. Family-run Italian Delrio’s does the kind of pasta and homemade pizza that’ll have your date swooning. Pan fried scallops wrapped in pancetta, linguine tossed with seafood. You get the picture.  

A light lunch: Go veggie at Goji – a café creating vegan and vegetarian food that’ll make your tastebuds sing just as much as a chuck steak gourmet burger. Get to grips with a quinoa and sweet potato burger, a wrap stuffed with butternut squash, lemon and goat’s cheese or dive into a pile of homemade houmous.

International: Your palate will work overtime with the intense Indonesian flavours at Krakatoa. Spicy, piquant, tangy and hot – there’s no wonder the restaurant is named after a volcanic island! Not everything’s hot though. The menu has plenty of milder dishes too – just check the chilli rating.  We love the sate udang bali – prawn satay marinated in Balinese spices.

Street food: York is a real hotspot for foodie farmers’ markets – bringing together the best of God’s Own Country. Lovingly handmade breads, perfect pastries, tangy pickles and succulent sausages from locally-reared pigs, our mouths are watering just thinking about it. The date for your diary is the last Friday of the month.


Retail therapy - where to shop

High street heaven

If you like the high street, you’ll love Coney Street. All the usual suspects are present and correct, from Next and Mango to Boots and Waterstones.

Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares

Step onto the extremely pretty and fantastically named Shambles for a glimpse of medieval York – minus the pungent smells.

Think narrow cobbled lanes, buildings which lean perilously into the street, almost touching one another, and quirky gift shops.

It didn’t earn the title of Britain’s most picturesque street for nothing. 
1 store to check out:

  • Monkbar Chocolatiers: Forget the diet. Caramel hearts, Bucks Fizz truffles, Turkish delight. All handcrafted on the premises – the heavenly smell will smack you square in the face.

Label lovers - designer shopping

York Designer Outlet: Find Paul Smith suits, Hobbs dresses, old school Adidas trainers, Ralph Lauren sweaters and a heap more designer gear just a short bus ride from York city centre. They’re all cheaper too (it’s an outlet).

Low Petergate: This street dates back to Roman times. But these days it’s all about super shops. From classic fashion at Reiss to designer duds for your little folk at Noa Noa.

Hidden York

The Phoenix Inn: Real ale, fine wine and no TV blaring out the latest Premier League fixtures or games machines bleeping in the background. Everything you want from a traditional, independent pub. In the summer, sup your pint in the beer garden looking out onto the city walls. Perfection. 

Stanley & RamonaSitting in this relatively recent addition to the York coffee scene is a bit like relaxing in your best pal’s living room. If your mate knew how to knock up one of the best lattes you’ve ever tasted that is. The perfect place for music buffs – customers are encouraged to take in their own 10-track playlists.

Enjoy your trip to York.