Countryside Walks and City Adventures - A Long Weekend In York
What’s the first thing you picture when you think of York? The Minster perhaps? Undeniably one of the most remarkable buildings you’ll come across.
Or maybe just the word York conjures up images of rolling green pastures and serene north English countryside?
Whatever it may be, there’s never a dull moment when exploring York and in fact, the hardest part about your visit is probably going to be fitting in what you want to do in the time you have. Well, that’s what we’re here for - to make life a little easier for you.
You can follow this itinerary step-by-step or pick and choose what really stands out and make the rest up on your own. But when you need a nudge, to do this or see that, we’re sure you’ll find something right up your street here.
Let the adventure begin
First things first, book some time off. It’ll be worth it, trust us.
Of course, if you can’t, you’re still going to have one of the best weekends in a long while exploring the streets of York, but we think slowing down and taking your time over a few days is an even better way to see the place.
Arrive on Friday when the weekend crowds are still a day away and you can beat the lines at some of the most popular attractions.
And talking about popular attractions, the York Minster has got to be up there.
We know, we know, you’ve probably read a hundred articles telling you you’ve got to visit the Minster. But a place so unique and as spectacular as this is really worth a visit.
From all over York, you’ve probably spotted parts of the Minster between buildings and towering above others. But still, nothing can prepare you for being right up close.
Intricate stonework winds its way across the whole building, only stopping in parts to make way for the stunning stained-glass windows dotted around.
When you finally make your way inside, the Minster becomes even more spectacular. Feeling adventurous? Climb the tower and be rewarded with panoramic views of York and the surrounding countryside.
The weekend begins
We couldn’t think of a better way to start the weekend off other than brunch. And when we think of brunch, only Brew & Brownie comes to mind.
Head to their café at 5 Museum Street for some of the most delicious coffee and pancakes around. If you’re more of a savoury person, the Brew Breakfast or Breakfast sandwich is sure to leave you waxing lyrical for weeks to come.
Sit in with something to eat before leaving with your hands wrapped around another hot beverage. The museum gardens are just across the road and having an easy stroll to get your weekend started is the perfect way to begin.
Roam along the city walls
Once you’re finished exploring the museum gardens, we think continuing your adventure outdoors is the best way to go.
Hop on the city walls and walk the two-mile route. Cross the River Ouse, walk under old gateways still standing, and enjoy the beautiful architecture of beautiful York.
Shambles and shopping
You might’ve heard about the Shambles and know what to expect. But if you don’t, there’s sure to be a mighty sense of déjà-vu headed your way.
You’ll be convinced you’ve been to York before until finally, the penny drops. The place is so like Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films that even magical shops have started to pop up.
If you’re a fan, you’ve got to stop off at The Potion Cauldron. You’ll think you’re in one of Professor Snape's potions classes as you're met by rows of glimmering flasks and bottles labeled with Basilisk Blood and Unicorn Essence.
Be careful of the “Poison” bottles - drinking too much of any one of these may lead to a slightly wobbly disposition and a banging headache the morning after.
With a variety of independent shops available to have a nose in, plus the Shambles Market to wander around, we’re sure that your visit to one of the most famous streets in the UK is bound to be a highlight of your trip.
A lovely dinner to enjoy
Hidden away underground near the castle walls is a truly special restaurant.
As soon as you enter Delrios, the exposed brick and fluttering candles that meet you immediately bring a sense of calmness. It’s an “Italian restaurant with a Sardinian influence” and you’ll soon be met by the friendly faces of staff and even perhaps Giovanni Delrios himself.
His heart still lies in Sardinia and he brings that influence into the kitchen. “Uncompromising on quality” and “everything cooked from scratch” - whatever you order is going to leave you wide-eyed and needing a moment to process the incredible flavors rolling across your palate.
It’s truly a wonderful way to round off the day after your adventures across the city.
Slowing down in nature
York is surrounded by absolutely beautiful countryside. Why not break up concrete paths and city life for the morning and head out on a walk?
Westfield Wood is only a few minutes’ drive away and Moorlands Woodland Nature Reserve only a short drive from there. It can be a lovely way to spend some quality time reflecting before heading back into the city for your last afternoon.
But walking is calorie-consuming work. So on your drive back, food is going to most likely be one of the main topics of discussion. Head to Spring Espresso at either 21 Lendal or 45 Fossgate for a lovely morning breakfast.
Sweet or savoury, cheesy or toasty, they’ve got all your breakfast needs covered. They won the Tripadvisor Travelers choice award for ‘Best of the Best’ in 2020, so you can be sure you're in for some very tasty food and drink.
Go extravagant with a goats cheese and pear ciabatta or pile up those pancakes high and watch the waterfall of maple syrup cascade down the sides. Or if you’re anything like us, sometimes you can’t beat a slice of good sourdough bread toasted and slathered in butter.
You’ve probably wandered a new city before. Window shopping and popping into cafes along the way, having a grand old time.
But have you ever met Guy Fawkes on your travels? Or become acquaintances with a torturer? How about coming face-to-face with a witch?
In one sense it’s probably best that you haven’t really, if you think rationally about it. But rational thinking can be boring sometimes and that’s one thing The York Dungeons isn't.
Travel through 2,000 years of York’s grizzly history meeting the names that make up the history books. A trip to the dungeons is an experience that’s going to leave you slightly spooked in all the right ways, so beware.
York’s Chocolate Story
If the only thrill you’re looking to experience is the feeling of warm cocoa smothering your tastebuds, a visit to York’s Chocolate Story is a wise choice indeed.
You’ll soon be prancing around the hallways as happy as Willy Wonka and be leaving filled with pure delight.
Make it your last stop before heading home and you’ll have a formidable snack collection for your journey back.
And inevitably at some point, that’s what you must do, get in the car and head home. After a long weekend of great food, lovely walks, and city adventure, it’s hard to leave the city. But we like to think that desire to stay a while longer is a testament to what an incredible time you’ve had.
Life is about creating memories. York invites you to do just that. It opens its arms wide and welcomes you to all it has to offer and even if you stayed a whole month exploring the place, it’d still feel like not enough time.
At some point in the future, you’ll probably see you have a few days open in the diary. Memories of chocolate scented streets and cosy, exposed brick restaurants will fill your mind, and soon those empty days in your diary will be full - ‘Trip back to York’ scribbled across them.