Top York's landmarks
If you're planning to travel to the historic and culturally rich north of England, you already know there are many places to visit in York. The variety of York tourist attractions on offer let tourists with myriad interests, whether it be visiting castles, discovering museums, strolling along rivers or reveling in gardens — or any combination of the above — explore the city's history. Try these destinations on your York sightseeing tours.
The Gothic-style medieval cathedral of York Minster is an imposing building that dates back to the 13th century. The church has stained glass windows, art chambers beneath the building and 2,000-year-old artifacts still in use today. Visitors can climb 275 steps of the Central Tower to experience expansive panoramas of the city and up-close views of the church's gargoyles.
Located between River Ousse and River Foss, Clifford's Tower offers beautiful views of Old York from the top of the imposing edifice on a hill. The tower is what remains from York Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror. The tower was built from 1245 to 1272 in a four-lobed design and was named after Roger de Clifford, the leader of the Lancastrian party, who was executed here in 1322.
One of the most popular York attractions is called The Shambles — an area dating back to the 14th century and lined with timber-framed houses and buildings. It is argued to be one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world, and it was once home to the neighbourhood butchers. Now the street is well known for its restaurants, tearooms and shops, along with the Snickelways, small streets and foot paths that connect the city.
You can spend an entire day at the variety of quaint shops here. Take a look at The Shop That Must Not Be Named, at 30 Shambles, for a variety of Harry Potter themed items including collectable wands. Zatchels at 18 Shambles is home to British leather handbags and satchels. If you have a sweet tooth or are traveling with little ones, be sure to stop in at The Shambles Sweet Shop, located at 5 Shambles, where there are more than 300 items to choose from. If you are feeling hungry, stop by Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe at 45 Shambles, which serves traditional pork pies. Another restaurant to try is The Golden Fleece, located at 16 Pavement.
Just a half an hour's drive from York, the stately Castle Howard awaits visitors on 1,000 acres of woodland. Considered one of Britain's finest stately homes, the family-owned castle has welcomed visitors for 300 years. The estate offers four places to eat, including the Castle Howard Boathouse Cafe, and various gift shops. Castle Howard has been used for many film and television shows, including Death Comes to Pemberley. The castle also has a wide collection of paintings, furnishings and carvings.
York City Walls
Dating from the 14th century, this is one of the many scenic York landmarks you should definitely visit. The city walls encircle the historic centre of York, and you can walk on them to take in the beautiful views of York. The complete trip around the city takes about two hours and is about 2 miles. You can talk the walk independently or with the company of a tour guide. Four original gates still stand. The walls are situated well above the city so they afford great views of York and are a perfect spot for deep conversations.
York Railway Station
At the National Railway Museum, you can learn about railway history and see more than 300 vehicles in a collection of locomotives and carriages. Plus, entrance to the museum is free. The trains date from 1820 to today and include ambulance trains; Mallard, the world's fastest steam engine; and the Duchess of Hamilton, the only bullet train outside of Japan. For those who enjoy history and trains, this is the perfect place to visit.
Jorvik Viking Centre
York has a rich Viking history, and the Jorvik Viking Centre is the culmination of a five-year excavation project that began in 1976. The work proved that York was an important Viking trading hub. The centre lets visitors experience what life was like in York during the Viking years, starting in 866 AD when the Vikings invaded. The centre has reconstructions of Viking homes and is host to reenactments. Rustique, a nearby French bistro at 28 Castlegate, brings you back to modern times for a relaxing meal.
Yorkshire Museum and Gardens
The Yorkshire Museum is set in a 10-acre garden with the River Ousse to its south. The landscape comprises botanical gardens, Roman ruins and a medieval church, St. Mary's Abbey, which contains some contemporary art. The Yorkshire Museum houses natural and geological treasures, including the 1,000-year-old Cawood Sword, the best known preserved Viking weapon. The York Observatory has a telescope built in 1850 by York man Thomas Cooke, who also built the largest telescope in the world at the time. The gardens also house a well-known local eatery, The Star Inn the City.
Yorkshire Wolds Way
Yorkshire Wolds Way is a 79-mile trail that presents an amazing landscape of dry chalk valleys and ancient villages. If you are seeking some peace and quiet from the city centre, take refuge here. National Trail Partnership recommends about five to six days to complete the full route from Hessle to Filey, but you can walk just parts of it or start from Filey and travel to Hessle. You won't be disappointed in visiting such a peaceful and serene place.
Whether you are looking for history via medieval churches, walls or castles, or you prefer to explore the natural beauty of the area, you'll find it at these landmarks in York. Organise your days to shop and walk, or just head out and go without a plan.