A couple of weekends ago, before the announcement of the dreaded second lockdown, me and Jack visited York. It was my first ever time visiting this beautiful, historic city and I was so excited to experience the cobbled streets and interesting architecture I’d heard so much about!
I have put together this blog post outlining all the great things we managed to fit in over an October weekend. Most of my recommendations may be on the spooky side, but what do you expect when visiting the city of one thousand ghosts?
Where to stay
This was actually also our first time staying in a YHA (Youth Hostels Association) and we were pretty impressed. The cost of a room is really reasonable and the facilities were clean and tidy. We had a twin room (bunk beds!) with an en suite and it had everything we needed.
Another added bonus of the YHA York is that it has a restaurant area where you can order meals and drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. We put our pre-order in for breakfast and we also had our dinner there before heading out on a ghost walk.
All in all, I would stay here again for sure. The hostel is located about a 25 minute walk from York Minster, so if you’re not keen on walking, perhaps give this place a miss. We loved taking different routes into the city, including walking through a beautiful park so it was ideal for us!
Where to eat
Betty’s Tea Room
No trip to York would be complete without visiting Betty’s Tea Room, or so we were told by everyone who knew we were going to York. Betty’s is nice and the surroundings and decor is really grand and beautiful in the Belmont Room.
My Google review of Betty’s Tea Room:
I really enjoyed my visit to Betty’s. This was my first visit to York and first visit to Betty’s. I’d been told that no trip to York was complete without visiting Betty’s for an afternoon tea so I promptly booked our table.
The afternoon tea was so delicious. Everything tastes amazing. I think my favourite was the cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, they just tasted so fresh. My partner was really grateful that they changed his salmon for another ham sandwich, as he doesn’t eat fish. The Belmont room is really beautiful and we felt very comfortable eating there.
The staff were really attentive and friendly. The only negative I would have to say is that we did feel quite rushed. The hostess told us as soon as we arrived that we had 1 hour 15 minutes to eat our afternoon tea and leave. The afternoon tea was served almost as soon as we sat down so we didn’t feel like we had much time to settle once we arrived. My partner was also going to order another coffee after we’d eaten, but our bill came to the table before our cake stand was taken away, and we hadn’t even asked for it.
It just would’ve been nice to have felt a bit more relaxed and not hurried.
The York Roast Co.
I one hundred percent recommend The York Roast Co! This is my kind of eating and I LOVE Yorkshire puddings. When in York…
The price here is really reasonable. We did have to wait a little while to be served but it’s a very popular place. The wait was worth it and we managed to get a table upstairs. I ordered a beef Yorkshire pudding wrap with horseradish and Jack had the turkey yorky wrap and then we shared a side of roast potatoes. It was so filling and kept us going all day. The food we tried was really delicious and I’m just sad we don’t live closer for home delivery!
My Must-Have Souvenir!
No trip to The Shambles would be complete without stopping by The York Ghost Merchants. This is the last remaining ghost merchant in the UK and all of the ghosts are made above the little shop on The Shambles. We waited quite a while to go in, as the queue was long and they were operating only one household/bubble in the shop at a time. This was great, as it meant you had the whole shop to yourself once it was your turn!
We bought ourselves an orange phantom which was a special edition for Halloween 2020. This is a really special souvenir and we love him so much. Check out The York Ghost Merchants’ website and social media, but when you find yourself in York next, go and give a ghost a good home.
Visiting Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik Viking Centre took around half an hour and we were quite disappointed by this. The history that you’re told as you go around on the little ride is really interesting. My favourite part was that two of the Viking animatronics were based off of two skeletons they found while excavating the area. (Don’t worry, the skeletons aren’t inside them. This isn’t House of Wax!)
We decided that although our ticket is valid for a year to go back and visit again, we wouldn’t bother as there didn’t feel like much to see. If you have children, they would love this as they’ve made the attraction very fun and family friendly!
York Minster is honestly stunning.
The cathedral is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe, and it is so grand and beautiful inside. We found out some interesting ghost stories about the Minster and the surrounding area on The Original Ghost Walk of York on the Saturday night before we visited, which gave an insight to the darker history of the York.
On our visit to York Minster, there was an exhibition in the Chapter House, which featured some really amazing artifacts including playbills from the 18th Century for plays addressing racial injustice of the time. There are also newspapers and books on display from female bookbinders in York history. If you like architecture and history, you should definitely make the visit to York Minster. The cathedral is just astounding and the ceiling of the Chapter House is incredible.
- Embrace the spookiness! York is supposedly the most haunted city in the UK and the people of York are very proud of this. So go on a ghost walk, have a drink at the most haunted pub and stroll around the eerie streets of York late at night!
- Due to Covid-19 measures and the fact that most of York’s buildings are small and higgledy-piggledy prepare to do some waiting. We found York to be a very busy place, be prepared to queue up outside to get into shops.
- York is a very walkable city but it is quite big and spread out, especially if you’re not 100% sure of where you’re going. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes!
The Original Ghost Walk of York
We went on The Original Ghost Walk of York and it was without a doubt the best ghost walk I have ever been on. The tour guide was very funny and very knowledgeable. Learning more about York’s dark history was fascinating, including where The Shambles got the name, what happened to Dick Turpin and why The Golden Fleece is the most haunted pub in York. If you’re staying the night in York, I recommend booking tickets to this tour and going along, it’s great fun!
The Guy Fawkes Inn and The Golden Fleece Pub
The Guy Fawkes Inn was the birthplace of Guy Fawkes himself and he is said to haunt the upstairs rooms of the Inn come the 5th November! We stopped in for a drink (they do a great cup of tea!) and admired the surroundings. They really embrace the Guy Fawkes-ness of the building and you can even have your photo taken in a cloak and hat to match Guy’s himself!
The Golden Fleece pub, as I’ve already mentioned, is the most haunted pub in York. If you’re aiming to pop in for a drink please make sure you book to avoid being disappointed! We stayed for quite a while on Sunday morning and the place does have a really spooky vibe to it. There were a few cold spots around where we sat and Jack caught a couple of orbs on a photo he took of me. The staff are really friendly and are more than happy to talk about the ghostly goings on. Don’t believe me? Give them a visit and see for yourself!
All in all, we really loved York and we’re hoping to go back for day trip to visit York’s Chocolate Story at some point in the future. In the meantime, we’re staying safe and hope you are too!
Our next adventure: Oxford, Date TBC.
Until next time,