York is one of the most well-known cities in England, visited by tourists year round. Its ancient walls hold endless attractions which have been explored by millions of visitors. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the city, this newbie’s guide to its attractions will have you rushing to do so.
Being a newbie in any place is unnerving and worrying; having to find new places to go, and making your own mind up to what’s good and what’s not. I suppose it’s alright if you’re a child moving with your parents because you’ll mingle with children your own age at school. But it’s always a little more difficult when you’re in your 20s having to start from scratch.
I moved to York nearly two years ago and I’m still trying to figure out where’s best to go and all the cool places to hang out. It’s been a learning curve because it hasn’t been handed on a plate to me. I had to find a job, make new friends and sometimes rely heavily on their recommendations of the city.
York is a very historical city, steeped heavily in different styles of architecture from multiple centuries. Within most of these buildings are museums and attractions, most of which I have been in myself, though I still have some on my list that I need to go to. York is a city that will really benefit history lovers and you won’t be disappointed.
Jorvik Viking Centre
The Jorvik Viking Centre is my favourite attraction although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s built upon an archaeological site in Coppergate, which shows excavations of Viking buildings and artefacts that were unearthed during the 1970s. The Centre has a mechanical ride on pod that takes you slowly around a re-imaged Viking York city.
You get to experience what life was like during that particular era, complete with visuals, sounds and smells, and your very own audio assisted guided tour. It really does take you back in time. It is definitely a must go place to visit whilst in York.
Another museum I would really recommend is the Castle Museum, again it transports you back in time with a real life Victorian street and shops. It’s a great way to see and experience it all for yourself to see what Victorian York was like; you can go into shops and ask the interpreters what their job was like.
They also have a World War section, and a 1960s area with plenty of artefacts and replicated settings that you can place yourself. Depending on what time of year you go in, they have different events and activities to participate in.
If you want to know about some of the most infamous criminals of York then step inside the Castle’s dungeons and witness projected videos of actors portraying their lives and telling you their stories about their past. It’s time travelling at it’s finest.
Across the road from the Castle Museum is Clifford’s Tower which was built by the Normans in the 11th century. This attraction is best suited for photography and history lovers alike. If you don’t like heights then this probably isn’t the place for you. You get to experience a fantastic panoramic view of the city, so get them camera ready because you are guaranteed to capture some amazing photos of the city centre as you walk around the tower’s ramparts.
The Yorkshire Museum
The Yorkshire Museum is situated within the Museum gardens. The gardens have the abbey ruins, which make a great backdrop for photography lovers. Plus I would suggest having a walk around the Treasurer’s house, which is also in the museum gardens. It’s a lovely place to be in the summer time, and a nice place to have a picnic.
The Yorkshire Museum is packed full of some amazing artefacts; travel around the museum in chronological order from the dinosaurs to more recent times and you get the chance to handle some artefacts yourself with some assistance from the volunteers there. Only recommended for history lovers- for those who are easily bored with museums, this probably isn’t for you.
National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum is a stone throw away from York train station. The museum has free admission but it’s always recommended to give a small donation on entry. Children love this place, as there are plenty of activities to do, plus a train which takes them around a small track on the outside. It’s great for people who appreciate this type of classic transport and its history.
Barley Hall is a medieval hall that was found unexpectedly in the 1980s. It had been built around and covered up and it wasn’t until it was scheduled for demolition that the hidden gem was discovered. Situated in Coffee Yard, the hall has been fully restored and full of original artefacts to show you what it would have looked like when it was first built. The hall has a BBC Wolf Hall display, so it’s perfect for lovers of the show. A must see.
For anyone who visits York, you must at least go and see York Minster once in order to appreciate the scale of architecture and artistic stained glass windows. There is an admission fee however that will last for one whole year from the purchase date, so you can attended as many times as you like within that year. Christmas is a lovely time to visit the Minster as it’s fully decked out in its Christmas splendour, it really gets you into the spirit of that time of year.
The Shambles is a visitor attraction within itself; you can’t possibly visit York without taking a trip down the Shambles. Probably not the best idea to wear heels as it’s very uneven and full of cobbles. It’s perfect for photo opportunities and you can now visit one of the three Harry Potter shops: The Shop That Must Not Be Named, The Boy Wizard, and The World of Wizardry. It’s like walking down a real life Diagon Alley. It’s simply great for any Harry Potter fan, and you certainly won’t be disappointed by what you see.
Chelsea Clarke is a Midlander in her 20s and is now living in York, trying to pick her way through the city finding all the best places to be.