Offbeat things to do in York, United Kingdom
Great, so you're already there at York! Hope you are having a good time already - I mean apart from the work. You see, very few people get to be sent for official tours to such an amazing city, like York. You couldn't want more!!! And I'm here to help you out to plan things to do while you are there.
Known as Eboracum by the Romans, York is a city steeped in history dating back to Roman times. Situated by the River Ouse, it's a small city, (of course, just dimensionally) that can be covered up in a couple of days. However, with its abundance of historical sights, cultural events, round-the-year festivals and other interesting stuff, the city has a wealth of activities to offer to the unsuspecting visitor. And you are sure to witness some of the best historical structures of Europe here in this City.
The Walls of York (Source: Oliver Mallich)
The city is a convincing mix of both medieval and the modern. The famous Shambles, the narrow meandering streets in the city centre throws you back in time by quite some decades while the night scene by the River Ouse brings you back to the freshness of the present. Such a compelling contrast of time is definitely a rarity.
York is the kind of place that makes you wish if only for an instant that the Industrial Revolution never happened, and reminds us of a world before the machines. A city of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth, its medieval spider's web of narrow streets is enclosed by a magnificent circuit of 13th-century walls. The city's long history and rich heritage is woven into virtually every brick and beam; modern, tourist-oriented York with its myriad museums, restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs is a carefully maintained heir to that heritage.
York Travel Information and Travel Guide - England - Lonely Planet (Source: York Travel Information and Travel Guide - England - Lonely Planet)
While off-beat instantly teases our curiosity and interest, the regular is also sometimes a must to experience the inner soul of a place. Hence, here I've combined some of the off-beat with the regular ones to give you a complete feel of the city.
Since your stay is going to be rather long, I have also tried to put in some variety to my suggestions. It surely would be boring to see just the buildings and cathedrals during your entire stay
While most of the places I have listed here can be visited during the afternoons and evenings on weekdays as they're located very close to each other, some of the other stuff I've suggested is to be done over the weekends - I took the liberty to assume that you would get some time off from work during the weekends.
And I've left out the Yorvik Centre since you mentioned that you've already paid a visit there.
York Minster HDR (Source: Steven Zolneczko)
This very regular tourist attraction is a must-see - and that's why it became a regular stop in the first place I guess. The Minster is a mammoth Gothic cathedral. The buildings in it are centuries old and instantly exude a medieval charm.
It's located close to the York railway station. You don't have to look much to spot it and I'm sure you already must have glanced it from a distance given the fact it stands out in the York skyline.
You can take a free guided tour of the cathedral and enjoy the Choral Evensong sung by the Minster Choir (mostly on Mondays, 5.15 pm)
Click here for visiting hour and entry fee.
Evensong in York Minster (Source: Allan Engelhardt)
If the unearthly piques your curiosity like it does mine, visit the York Dungeon. This museum brings to life (quite ironically) the blood curdling history of York with gory delineations. Beware, the shows are going to be spine-chilling.
There are displays of torture and punishments including branding, boiling, beheading, roasting and drowning. Walk through a recreation of the Black Plague in York, and peer into a medieval dungeon cell. The York Dungeon is not for the faint of heart.
York Dungeon (Source: York Dungeon)
The place is a 10 minutes walk from York Station at 12 Clifford Street.
Tickets can be purchased online at their website.
From November to January the museum remains open from 11 am to 4 pm
The York Dungeon (Source: Laura Parsons)
The best views of any city are the ones that you take from the top. That's what you get exactly when you're atop the Clifford's tower - a breathtaking view of York from this archetypal medieval castle perched on a mound at the centre of the city at Tower Street. The castle has an interesting historical chronicle and was built and rebuilt over time. It's winding maze of staircases are a little strenuous to "conquer" but shouldn't daunt the enthusiastic visitor. Read more about the castle here.
Click here for timings and entry fee.
Clifford's Tower is also known as the Eye of York and is a popular site for tourists from around the world. Location Clifford's Tower stands in the centre of York as a proud symbol of the power of England's medieval kings. It is located on top of a green, grassy hill and can be seen from a distance
Clifford's Tower Reviews - Clifford's Tower, York Guide - Clifford's Tower Photos - IgoUgo (Source: Clifford's Tower Reviews - Clifford's Tower, York Guide - Clifford's Tower Photos - IgoUgo)
Clifford Tower (Source: Riaz Kanani)
Peek into the ways of business of ancient times here in this hall. Built 650 years ago, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall is still owned and used by the York Company of Merchant Adventurers. Do surely check out the Great Hall, the Undercroft (the hospital), the Chapel, the interior upholstery, the art collection to complete your tour of the hall. Audio guides come free with the entrance.
Check here for visiting hours and entry fees.
Stained glass window Merchant Adventurer's Hall #yorkvisit (Source: Karen Bryan)
This Roman bathhouse remained undiscovered till 1930. Now open to public, the bathhouse is a exemplary reflection of the roman life and times. It showcases the steam bath where the Roman soldiers and denizens visited for a bit of recreation. It also has items and artifacts from Roman times and funny anecdotes about the era.
The Roman Bath excavation was such a treat! The museum was well thought out and had fantastic details of how the Romans designed the baths. I came early in the day and the line was so long. I didn't want to wait and almost decided not to go. A nice security guard told me to come in the evening, because they stay open until 9pm. I got there at about 7pm and had the run of the place. There was hardly anyone there! And it was so beautiful at night because all the torches were lit. I loved this museum and really want to see it again.
Amazing!! Don't miss this one! - Review of Roman Baths Museum, Bath, United Kingdom - TripAdvisor (Source: Amazing!! Don't miss this one! - Review of Roman Baths Museum, Bath, United Kingdom - TripAdvisor)
The museum is located at St Sampsons Square, at the York city centre and is 1 mile from the railway station.
For more about the museum, read this travelers blog.
York Daily Photo: The Roman Bath Museum (Source: York Daily Photo: The Roman Bath Museum)
1. Take a boat ride down the Ouse River. Either hire one or sit back and relax as a cruise takes you down the river with a view of the city. Click here to book a york boat trip.
York boat trips (Source: stephen bowler)
2. Take a walk of the Shambles - Voted as the "most picturesque street in Britain" by Google, the cobbled streets of the Shambles is a marvel to the visitor. Its dotted with shops, eateries and other touristy stuff and is so narrow at places that it's almost possible for one to stand in the middle and touch the buildings at either side of the alley.
It has a name that belies its quaint medieval beauty - Shambles. But the winding York thoroughfare that attracts millions of tourists every year has been voted the most picturesque street in Britain.
The distinctive, narrow, cobbled street is lined with wooden-framed buildings, some 600 years old. They lean together in the middle with roofs that are so close they almost touch.
Shambles with its variety of shops and cafes has been voted the most picturesque street in the inaugural Google Street View awards after more than 11,000 cast their vote in February.
It's a Shambles â€“ but it's the most picturesque street in Britain | Travel | The Guardian (Source: It's a Shambles â€“ but it's the most picturesque street in Britain | Travel | The Guardian)
Check here for other walking tours of York.
The shambles, York UK (Source: L.)
3. Bicycle Tour of York - York's roads and streets are highly bike friendly. So its recommended that you do away with a four wheel and embark on a bicycle tour of the city. There are numerous bicycle rentals in York catering to tourists. Click here and here to rent out one. Don't forget to grab a map from the store.
You can take help here to plan out your route.
York is regarded as one of the country's premier cycling cities. It has an extensive network of off-road cycle paths and on-road cycle lanes for cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy.
Ample cycle parking is provided throughout the city, including several sites within the pedestrianised city centre.
Cycling - City of York Council (Source: Cycling - City of York Council)
York is quintessentially a "festival city". There are festivals lined up all year round and caters to all tastes, interests and ages. You most definitely should experience one of them while you're there. Check here for the entire list of events scheduled for this year, around Christmas and early next year. You might particularly want to check out the Ice Factor, winner of York Tourism Awards 2010!
Since you mentioned about your interest in music, you might also consider participating in the York Early Music Chirstmas Festival.
York 360Â° ~ Ice Factor Ice Rink, York (Source: York 360Â° ~ Ice Factor Ice Rink, York)
If you are looking for something to gift or when you are really worn out after a tired day at work and would like to take a light stroll of the city, visit one of its shopping hubs. York is a shopper's paradise with designer labels and high street fashions dominating the scene. You'll also find antique shops selling retro jeweleries. Click here for a list of places you might want to visit for shopping.
Three Typical Inhabitants of York (Source: Three Typical Inhabitants of York)
Trust the above information would help you make your stay in York interesting and give you some much needed respite from official work.
Please do get back if you would need more information on anything mentioned here. Also, if you need to find out a good place to dine or for weekend trips to places around York, I'm just a click away.
Waiting to hear back from you soon.
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