A top five tour of York


As the London 2012 Olympic flame makes its way through Yorkshire, we explore the historic walled city of York and bring you our top five things to see and do from Vikings to all-day chocolate breakfasts…


York Minster
Thrusting up from York’s maze of ancient streets are the three muscular towers of York Minster, the largest Gothic building in Britain. The cathedral you see today was begun in 1220, took around 250 years to finish and is now widely considered to be one of Europe’s finest medieval buildings. Highlights here include some of the oldest and most beautiful stained-glass windows in Britain (the East Window is the largest area of medieval stained glass in a single window in the world) and the crypt containing some of the original 11th-century church.

But it’s the heady 275-step hike to the top of the Central Tower that’s the real show stopper here. Catch your breath and take in the gargoyle’s-eye view of Yorkshire spread out below just as breathless visitors have done for the last 600 years.

Did you know?
York Minster has its own Police Force – one of only two cathedrals in the world to do so.

York Minster

Jorvik Viking Centre
Buckle up for a rollicking journey back through time to the days when raiders from the north had colonised 10th-century York. See, hear and even smell a Viking settlement complete with blacksmith, bedrooms and a historically accurate Viking toilet. Jorvik Viking Centre is a fine mix of history and fun that brings some of the astonishingly-well preserved objects excavated from beneath the city to life. If you fancy a more hands-on approach to history, don’t miss DIG, the attraction that lets you play archaeologist.

Did you know?
York was first captured by a Viking army in 866.

Jorvik Viking Festival

National Railway Museum
The awesome scale, slick lines and steam-powered appeal of the locomotives housed at the National Railway Museum are enough to turn even the coolest observer into a fervent trainspotter. The vast treasures in the cavernous halls include the only Bullet Train outside Japan, Queen Victoria’s ‘Palace on wheels’ and the achingly beautiful Duchess of Hamilton, a 1930s art deco triumph of design and engineering.

Did you know?
The National Railway Museum collection includes a lock of Robert Stephenson’s hair.

National Railway Museum

You’ve climbed the Central Tower of York Minster, you’ve been wowed by the steam behemoths at the National Railway Museum and you may even have seen a genuine Viking lavatory. So by now you’ve probably earned a cup of tea. And the place to have it has to be Bettys, a Yorkshire institution serving delicious pastries, cakes and restorative tea in gorgeous surroundings since the 1930s. Decked out by the same craftsmen who fitted out the Queen Mary ocean liner, a cup of tea here is a luxurious experience not to be missed.

Did you know?
The mirror in the basement is signed by World War II airmen who were stationed nearby. You can still make out many of the names today.


Chocolate – York’s Sweet Story
York’s newest attraction is also its sweetest. Chocolate has been made in the city for 300 years and York was once home to not one but two of the world’s big chocolate brands – Rowntree’s and Terry’s. Iconic chocs from Aero to Smarties and the mighty Kit Kat began life here so it’s a fine place to learn about the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. At Chocolate  York’s Sweet Story you’ll taste your way through chocolate history, discover generations of confectionery secrets and end your tour in the Chocolate Bar to enjoy such extravagances as an All Day Chocolate Breakfast and an Ultimate Chocolate Fondue.

Did you know?
For the Johnny Depp film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, York’s Nestle Rowntree factory produced 1,000s of chocolate bars.


For more information on York check out the Visit York website.

Image credits: Jorvik Viking Festival © alh1 on flickr, National Railway Museum © p_a_h on flickr

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6 Responses to “A top five tour of York”

  1. Giovy
    June 20, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    I visited York last summer and I appreciated a lot of things about that city.
    First of alla, Yorvik Museum is something that cannot be loose! :)

  2. Janice
    June 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    On a clear day, you can see the White Horse at Kilburn from the top of York Minster! Also, the abbey ruins in York are very much an understated attraction. I also enjoyed the free walking tour that started at City Art Gallery in Exhibition Square. Our tour was led by a very fun, friendly and knowledgeable guide from the Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York.

  3. Bernd Ziruss
    July 11, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    My visit at the Railway Museum was much too short. What a great place to see!

  4. Marion McHale
    August 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I used to live in YORK and it is definitely one of the most beautiful City’s in the world with lots of beautiful ancient buildings situated in cobbled streets with lots of shops and quaint pubs. The Roman Baths is something not to be missed.

  5. Frederick Amakye Ansah
    September 1, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    hoping to be one of the top five tour of Yorkshire!

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