The ancient walled city of York has been crowned European Tourism City of the Year, and the safest UK city to visit. Yet the city’s long has seen more than its fair share of action since it was founded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago.
It succumbed to a Viking invasion and drove them out almost 100 years later. It was the site of rebellions following the Norman conquest of England and a prolonged siege. Even Guy Fawkes, who famously attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, was born here.
Around the turn of the 20th century, York was a major railway hub, supporting the distribution of its well-known chocolate manufacturing brands, Rowntrees and Terry’s.
All this inspires almost 7 million visitors a year to explore its charming cobbled streets, medieval castle, Gothic cathedral, family-friendly museums.
Start at Visit York’s excellent visitor information center on 1 Museum Street, a short walk from the station to pick up a map of the city.
Buffs will love Clifford’s Tower. Constructed as part of York Castle, on the orders of William the Conqueror. Climb the spiral staircases for a panoramic view over the city and enjoy animated talks from actors, who bring its tumultuous to life.
The highly entertaining York Dungeons are a treat for fans. A talented cast of theatrical actors guides you on an interactive 75-minute walking tour, delving into over two thousand years of real-life horrible happenings in the city, with more than a hint of black comedy. Tickets start at £16.95 and online discounts are available.
Grab your walking shoes and follow the curve of York’s winding, cobbled streets, dominated by the imposing York Minster Cathedral. Its well-preserved medieval walls are a popular two and a half-mile walk.
York’s most famous street is The Shambles, which dates back to the 14th century. Formerly an open-air slaughterhouse or meat market, the butcher shops have long since closed on this quaint medieval lane, to be replaced with souvenir stores, boutiques, and tea rooms. Outside of the city walls, the River Ouse offers picturesque walking opportunities.
If you are a fan of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, then York is your spiritual home because the city is the proud birthplace of many of the world’s best-loved chocolate.
Rowntree’s Cocoa Works, now part of Nestlé, ran the company with his philanthropist brother Joseph.
Another family-run chocolate manufacturer was Terry’s of York, creator of the famously spherical chocolate orange treat and the All Gold selection box.
Chocolate lovers should head straight for York’s Chocolate Story for an opportunity to taste the good stuff while learning it’s presented by passionate guides and high-quality interactive productions.