May 2, 2013 by talkaboutyork
York. Before January 2012 I’d never set foot in the place. After one whirlwind visit however, we decided to move here, swapping country life for city living. And it was the best decision we ever made.
York is just a two hour train trip from London or Edinburgh making it the perfect place for a romantic weekend mini break. You’ll be hard pressed to fit everything you want to do in one weekend, but here’s how to do it:
Arrive late Friday afternoon and check into your accommodation. For convenience, you might want to try the Cedar Court Grand Hotel (pricey) or Royal York Hotel (reasonable), both of which are right next to the station. But there are countless B&Bs and small hotels dotted around the city. Try www.visityork.org for suggestions.
Bags dropped, head to Lendal Bridge landing and catch one of the York Boat Cruises. They run every 30 minutes or so and cost £7.50 a ticket. The trip lasts about 45 minutes and give a commentary to introduce you to this beautiful city. You could alternatively catch the early evening cruise that leaves at 7.30 from Kings Staith landing.
Hop off at Kings Staith on the return and have a drink on the promenade outside the Kings Arms, the pub famous for being flooded. Then amble into town for dinner. For a quirky hide-away, try Trembling Madness, a pub on stonegate that looks like The Three Broomsticks out of Harry Potter. It offers excellent pub food for very reasonable prices. Alternatively, if you’re curry fans, try Mumbai Lounge on Fossgate or if you prefer something a bit more trendy with cocktails, try The Living Room just over the bridge from the Kings Arms.
On Saturday morning, pop into the Perky Peacock on Lendal Bridge for some of the best coffee in York. Get to the entrance of the Museum Gardens for 10.30 to pick up a guided Essential York walk. No need to book, just turn up. Price is £6 an adult and is worth every penny. Your guide will tell you all sorts of fascinating insights that you would otherwise walk right past – like where Henry VIII went to the loo! The walks last two hours and will take you past the Minster and most of the cobbled streets that make York famous like The Shambles. You can grab a bite to eat from Newgate Market or if the walk ends back at Museum Gardens, try Mannion & Co, a fab deli/bistro with delights like posh fish finger sandwiches and enormous meringues.
Once you’re suitably revived, hit the shops! York is filled with gorgeous little shops that you can spend hours browsing in. Some of my favourites are the Yorkshire Soap Company on Blake Street, Wild Hart Gifts and Mulberry Hall on Stonegate. End with a reviving drink at the outside bar at Cityscreen Picturehouse overlooking the river or in the walled garden of the Lamb & Lion on High Petergate overlooking the Minster and City Walls.
For a delicious dinner, be sure to book in advance a downstairs booth at the infamous Blue Bicycle on Fossgate, which was once a brothel. The romantic booths were where the ladies of the night plied their wares. If you still have energy for a bit of dancing, try The Biltmore, Esperanza (part of Lucia’s) or Bobo Lobos.
On Sunday, walk the city walls going from Lendal Bridge and ending up at Cliffords Tower. Go into the Castle Museum next to Clifford’s Tower for a fantastic collection of social and York-based history including a completely recreated Victorian street. End your time in York with an afternoon tea at the infamous Bettys on St Helen’s square. It’s worth booking a table for afternoon tea on weekends to avoid the queue.
And that is your whistlestop tour of York – a heady combination of ancient history, shopping, fine dining and romance. You may just end up wanting to move here!