Making the Most of 1-Day in York, England

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”

Lord Byron

I feel like the theme of this trip was “we’ll sleep when we’re dead!” (I had this written on the itinerary in several places). Every morning we had an early start and a late end. After a great visit in Edinburgh, we drove four hours to York, England. I had originally heard about the cute town of York from a colleague who is from outside of London. He said it was a cute and historic town with medieval city walls, and he was so right. After looking into the little town, I was super excited to visit! There was so much to do in such a short period of time (the second theme of this trip)!

A map of the York attractions

The first thing on the York Itinerary was a Self-Drive Boat Cruise tour at 11:30am so we had to be sure we got there in time, and most importantly we needed snacks! This was probably what I looked forward to most when planning our trip, right under my tea party in London of course. I was so excited to pack a little picnic and cruise along the river.

A street entering York near the Coppergate Shopping Centre.

Near the boat ramp there are a few parking options at St George’s Field Car Park: YO10 4AB and Castle Car Park: YO1 9SA that are a short walk away. We ended up parking right across from Clifford’s Tower. Which was a great location where we could easily walk to everything. We didn’t get to York with enough time to get snacks from Shambles Market before the boat cruise, so we stopped in a supermarket, to grab some sandwiches and snacks.

With more than enough food we made our way to the boat ramp where we picked up our little red boat. The cruise was £35 for 1-hour, and required you bring a £40 cash for a damage deposit. We were provided a map of where we were permitted to drive the boat, accompanied with pictures of the bridges where we had to turn around. It was such a fun and relaxing afternoon. If you do not want to drive yourself, the City Cruises York has a few other tours on the river that you can take, such as a dinner tour or afternoon tea.

After docking the boat, we walked up to Clifford’s Tower on our way to Shambles Market. The Tower is pretty neat, you can pay about £6 to go inside, but we felt that we could see all that we needed from the front area so we chose to keep it moving. Once we arrived in the market, you could feel the old charm of the town, each little street was lined with shops and cafes as cute as the next, and the market was complete with booths with food from all over!

We almost missed the opportunity to climb the tower of York Minster because we had to go check in to the Bed and Breakfast- but I am so glad we were able to squeeze in! We walked in about five minutes after the last tickets were sold, and Andrew was able to convince them to sell us tickets! We ran to the starting point to be able to climb the tower before closing time! It was so worth it! Once you get through a few flights of teeny-tiny staircases the views are incredible, and seeing the city from the highest point is one of my favorite things to do in new cities! If you just want to visit the Minster it is £11.50 for adults, but I highly suggest you pay £16.50 to climb the tower and take in the city views.

After climbing the York Minster we walked to the St. Mary’s Abbey and Gardens, with ice cream in hand. The abbey was built in 1088 and all that is left are ruins, surrounded by gardens. There is also a museum, but it was closed when we visited the abbey. The gardens are huge, with free admission, that you could get lost in. At every turn there are people reading, picnicking, playing games, and relaxing. A nice place to unwind at the end of the day.

Where to eat:

Besides eating as much as you physically can at the Shambles Market, you MUST go to The Botanist and eat their famous hanging kebobs. There are several locations in England, so this will make it easier to eat here when you visit. Their Garlic Chicken Kebob was literally the best chicken I have ever had. The kebob come out piping hot hanging over fries, with a garlic butter sauce on the side that you pour over the chicken that cascades down the chicken and lands on the fries…I am drooling…I might be looking at flights to York to just eat this chicken. We also shared a gin punch bowl which was refreshing and delicious.

Where to Stay:

We stayed in a quaint Bed and Breakfast, Barbican House, across the street from the city walls. The check in process was easy, except the parking was very limited and the host insisted on parking the car, along with the other guests simultaneously. We opted to have the full English Breakfast the next morning (we completed a form with our order the night before) and it was definitely worth it- the hosts took great pride in their presentation, cooking, and service. Andrew and I woke up early to walk the city walls prior to breakfast and our departure. Along the walls you could look down the streets at the more residential area of York and dream of moving there and having tea in your sun-room…well, at least I was dreaming of it!

Things still on the list:

If you find yourself in London and want to experience a cute English Town, I highly suggest a visit to York, it is a four hour drive to London, but there are trains that take about 2 hours which may be a good option! I believe we got a full experience of York with this itinerary, but I think we could have spent another day and would have been very happy!

Which English towns are on your list when you visit London? Is there anywhere that you would recommend us visit to balance the city-life of London? On that note, the next (and last) stop of our two-week UK and Ireland trek is London!

I am looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

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