Top Ten Cities No 6: York

My Criteria:


  • Attractive location, lots of parks, green spaces and a water attraction
  • The central historical area can be enjoyed on foot
  • Activities include historic sights, outdoor entertainment and museums
  • Transportation is fun and convenient
  • Lots of coffee shops, pubs and culturally interesting food



I’ve visited York a number of times in years gone by.  It is a fun, attractive, almost 1,000 year old city manageable in one day, although a few days would be more fun! In one day you could see the highlights and leave it desiring to return again. York meets all of my criteria beginning with its attractive location in the heart of one of England’s largest counties, Yorkshire.  Yorkshire is full of many delights including my No. 3, Whitby.

The Ancient City Walls

Since I’m a history buff and a lover of castles, the ancient city walls delighted me the first time I saw York.  Although not all of the center is surrounded as it once was, nevertheless, “To this day, substantial portions of the walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England.”  In many places the walls spring up out of well kept lawns giving it a park like appearance.  


These walls are from different time periods of the city’s history and could be a subject of exploration.  The walls are punctuated by gates, called ‘bars’, including Bootham, Walmgate, Monk, Micklegate, Fishergate and Victoria.

Over two miles of the city walls are walkable.  I have never had time to do this, but in the right weather it would be a pleasurable day’s ramble.


The River Ouse




Running through York the River Ouse is a wonderful water attraction and there are boats a plenty available for a lovely cruise.  I once enjoyed a relaxing trip down river to Bishopthorpe Palace, the home of the Archbishop of York. I did not have a chance to explore the palace itself, but one day perhaps!  If you are curious about the current archbishop and Anglicanism then follow this link.


Exploring York by walking the walls is one of the best ways to begin.  The other highlights are the narrow city streets with lots of engaging shops, the Minster Gothic Cathedral, the Yorvic Viking Museum and the National Railway Museum.


I visited the train museum once and although I’m not a train fanatic I did enjoy exploring it.  If trains are your thing then check it out!

However, the Yorvic Viking Museum was absolutely fascinating for me.  I got to go back in time!  And there I could actually SMELL the way the Vikings lived!  Yuck?  Well it was quite memorable.  The museum brings the past to life so that you can see, hear and yes, smell it.  No tasting though, which is probably for the best.  It is built on the site of the first Viking settlement.

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After you return to the present you can examine the relics which archeologists used to reenact the museum’s famous ride. It is the most interesting museum of its type I have ever visited. Sadly, there have been recent floods and they have had to close to make repairs until 2017.  But you can enjoy the story of museum here and now with this link:


Being such an ancient city you are right to imagine that there are many narrow, cobblestone lanes.  Not only is this so but they also have a funny name.  They are called ‘snickleways.’

“A warren of passageways and alleys woven throughout the historic city center, York’s famous Snickelways have long been the beating heart of the city and one of its most charming assets – dozens of narrow winding streets, lined with medieval buildings and paved with timeworn cobblestones. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Snickelways take their name from the local term ‘Snicket’, meaning alleyway, and range in size from tiny, narrow passageways to long, meandering streets, linking together the city’s main shopping streets, markets and attractions.


Today, exploring York’s Snickelways is a popular pastime of visitors to the city and by far the most famous is The Shambles, a remarkably preserved medieval shopping street that dates back to as early as 1086. Once voted ‘Britain’s most picturesque street’, The Shambles is lined with 15th-century buildings, cleverly built to slant towards each other, casting shade over the shop fronts below (a technique employed by the butcher’s shops to keep the meat out of the sun). Today the timber frames, gabled windows and old fashioned shop signs remain, but the butcher’s stores have long been replaced by antique shops, cafés and boutiques.”

Tea & Coffee Shops/Pubs

Those winding lanes are fun and if you get worn out or lost there are countless coffee shops, tea shops with more types of tea than you can count, and real-ale pubs to stop in and put your feet up!   branch-york-bettys-main

York Minster

Once you’ve recovered your energy the Minster is a must see.  Whether church history is of any interest to you or not, the architecture, the stained glass craftsmanship, the 2,000-year-old-relics and the Roman foundation are well worthy of exploration.

“The gothic cathedral in York is one of the great masterpieces of the medieval age. Built over a period of almost 250 years from the early 13th Century to the 15th Century, the York Minster Cathedral formed the religious center of the English monarchy in the north since the reign of Plantagenet Kings John and Henry III (see Gloucester Cathedral). Walter de Gray was named Archbishop of York in 1215 and decreed the building of a cathedral in the north to rival that of Canterbury in the south and construction of the great church was begun in 1220. A Norman chapel stood on the site of an earlier church which had seen the invasion of the Vikings. The cathedral, commonly referred to as York Minster, though officially the Cathedral and Metropolitan Church of St Peter in York, is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe after Germany’s Cologne Dom, remains the seat of the second highest office in the Church of England and an active center of worship.”

I should warn you that when you walk around inside it is so huge that you can get lost!  Another thing to be ware of is getting a sore neck by trying to look up at all of the roof bosses.  Unknown-15


Instead of looking up, look for one of the mirrors which are provided so that you can see them by looking down.  It would take years to begin to take in all that is there at the Minster!  I was overwhelmed the last time I was there.


Morris Dancers and Youtube Overview

I will finish this No. 6 city with a clip about another thing that captured my attention the last time I visited York.  It was the first time I saw Morris Dancers.  You may have heard of them, but whether they are new to you or old hat you’ll enjoy this last link which also contains lots of views of York nicely dated too.



About perigrinatia

World traveler, Primary and ESL teacher, emerging writer
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3 Responses to Top Ten Cities No 6: York

  1. Gay Walker says:

    Hi cousin Roxanne! Imagine my surprise to find your fantastic travel blog. I thoroughly enjoyed your York entry — and look forward to reading the others. I lived in South Yorkshire (Sheffield) for three years and agree about the wonders of Yorkshire. My 24-year-old nephew Jonah was visiting us in Tennessee recently, and he reminded me that we visited the Jorvik Viking Centre in York when he was 6 years old. He even remembers the smell. Look forward to being a regular reader of your blog! Gay (Majure Walker)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. perigrinatia says:

    Dear Gay! So great to hear from you! How did you come across my BLOG? Thanks so much for all of your comments. Much appreciated. I do hope that you enjoy the other posts. I’m working on Dublin right now. What are your favorite cities?


  3. Elizabeth Rogers says:

    I have been to York. Didn’t see the Viking museum and I know I would have loved that. Description of the streets is how I remembered it.

    Liked by 1 person

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