What to do and where to go on a weekend in York

York has to be one of my favourite places to visit. It’s bustling with visitors but you can also find yourself away from people on quiet cobbled streets. After a recent visit which confirmed my love for the city, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite places in the form of an ‘everything you need to know for a great weekend in York’ guide. 

Things to do

There’s so much to do in York that it’s pretty much impossible to do it all in a dozen trips never mind just one. But between museums, landmarks and pretty walks it’s quite easy to pick and choose a few things to during your trip. Here are a few options, stuff that costs money and also some freebies.

The Castle Museum is a great place to start when it comes to museums. There’s so much to see but it makes for a great morning. The museum takes you through York’s history and even has a recreation of a Victorian street which is seriously cute. If you end up going in December then you will get to see it all dressed up for Christmas, a real treat!

Chocolate lovers should really think about visiting York’s Chocolate Story. A bit of a Cadbury World vibe, this tour takes you through the city’s sweet history and at the end you can enjoy some delicious chocolate. What’s not to love?!

If you want to have a cheeky look in York Minster then you can do so without paying but I would really recommend buying tickets to walk round the place and especially go up the tower. Not only is it a really interesting, historic building but the views from the top of the tower are really great.

If you’ve spent enough money on fun activities and delicious food (more on that later) there are still plenty of things to do that don’t cost a penny. The walls that surround York are great for a little wander around. You can spot a few sights along the way and it looks like quite a scenic walk.

If you need a picture for your Instagram then The Shambles is where you should go. An old street in the centre, it has everything you want in a cute cobbled street. The main draw are the overhanging buildings that are pretty gravity defying. A must see! 

You may have to pay to go to the Yorkshire Museum but it’s free to have a wander around the gardens. I had a fleeting visit as we walked through post-amazing meal and what I saw of it was very nice and it would make a lovely little walk.

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Places to eat

There are so many food options in York it’s actually excessive but it means that there are plenty of places for whatever you fancy. Now I haven’t been to all these places but after researching some solid options ahead of my recent trip, these are the top dogs in my eyes and restaurants I’d like to go to.

Roots: The best meal I’ve ever had. Literally. It’s basically delicious sharing plates of unusual ingredients that are just amazing. It’s been set up by Tommy Banks of Great British Menu fame and is an experience that won’t disappoint. For example, we had a piece of beetroot cooked in beef fat which tasted like a delicious piece of beef. There was also a perfect little apple cake. For £55 each you get 10 plates, this includes your bread and two desserts, and for a restaurant with an amazing experience I don’t think that’s bad at all.

La Vecchia Scuola: Totally delicious. There are so many Italian places to eat in York that it took us a while to decide on one but after trawling TripAdvisor we settled on this one. Extensive menu in a really cute setting it was a lovely way to start our trip. I would 100% go back. A couple of the other restaurants we looked at were Gusto and D’Vine.

The York Roast Co: A Yorkshire pudding wrap is 100% on my bucket list and after following them on Twitter, I am desperate to give this place a go. It didn’t slot into the schedule this time but hopefully my next trip will feature some gravy goodness.

Bettys: An absolute staple of any York trip, Bettys is literally life. An actual institution, it’s a must visit. An olde worlde tearoom with cakes, pastries, soups, sandwiches and more. When you go (not it, when), try one of the rostis. There are a few different types but all seriously delicious. Cake-wise, the vanilla slice is always an amazing option.

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Where to stay

Because York is so close to where I live (about an hour by car), I’ve only stayed over a couple of times. But there are plenty of options for where to make your bed on an evening. I definitely recommend going for somewhere in the centre. Sounds obvious I know but if you can get a place within walking distance of York centre then you’re winning because the shops, restaurants and things to do are all very close to each other. There are a few hotels which are good, like the Park Inn by Radisson, but there are also some amazing Air Bnbs to choose from. During our latest trip we stayed in a cottage by York Minster and it was in the perfect place. So I’d recommend having a look around because you will find a total gem!

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Other things to note

Now when we went, filming for upcoming BBC drama Gentleman Jack (which I’m seriously looking forward to because part of it was filmed near where I live) was happening outside York Minster. I can’t promise that this will be occurring if you plan to visit but if you spot any then definitely take a peek because it was really interesting and exciting to watch!

If you’re looking to bag a few bargains then York Designer Outlet is where you should head. There are so many shops and a lot of them tend to do cracking discounts if you bulk buy. Places you can visit are Yankee Candle, the Body Shop, Cadbury and there are loads more.

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