Two Days in York – how to make the most of your short visit to this ancient city

Posted on 18th January 2019

If you’re putting together the itinerary for your holiday to the UK, or just planning a short visit to Yorkshire, you’ll want to make the most of whatever time you have.
Here’s a fantastic way to get the most out of two days in York, giving you chance to combine city sightseeing, museum visits and a few local luxuries, while also visiting some of the spectacular scenery and awe-inspiring destinations in the fantastic Yorkshire countryside that surrounds the city itself.

Day 1: ‘York & Yorkshire in a day’: a full-day sightseeing tour with Grand Yorkshire

Book yourself onto ‘York & Yorkshire in a day’, an extended full-day tour that combines both a York walking tour and a Yorkshire countryside and coastline driving tour. The morning walking tour gives you an unbeatable insight into the history of ancient York while introducing you to many of the best places to see on Day 2.

You’ll get an overview of many of the city’s top attractions, allowing you to pick out which of them you’d like to visit in more depth on a more leisurely independent tour the following day.

On the walking tour you’ll visit the Shambles, discover the best and most picturesque section of York’s medieval city walls, learn about the Roman, Viking, Medieval and Victorian history of York and have time to visit York Minster.

You’ll then board a minibus for an afternoon and early evening tour to the Yorkshire countryside and coastline. The driving tour makes numerous stops, including Rievaulx Abbey, the North York Moors National Park, the fishing village of Staithes and the iconic coastal town of Whitby. You’ll have time for fish and chips at the Magpie Café and can visit Harry Potter’s ‘Hogsmeade Station’ and the filming location of Heartbeat on a visit to Goathland.

Returning to York at approximately 8pm, you’ll be ready for a rest after a comprehensive but exhilarating day.

 

Day 2: York at leisure

Begin the day with a light breakfast, before heading out to the Jorvik Viking Centre (getting there before the long queues and many school parties arrive) – book in advance to avoid having to wait at all (www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk). Follow that up by climbing Clifford’s Tower (www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/cliffords-tower-york/), then visit the Castle Museum (www.yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk/) for a fascinating look at York’s varied history. Walk across to Piccadilly for brunch at the Merchant Adventurers Hall, the UK’s oldest medieval guild hall (www.merchantshallyork.org/), before taking a stroll across town to the National Railway Museum (www.railwaymuseum.org.uk), the world’s oldest and biggest railway museum. Catch the road train back from the railway museum to York Minster and take the opportunity (if you don’t mind heights and confined spaces) to climb the cathedral’s Central Tower (www.yorkminster.org).

As late afternoon approaches it’s time for a trip to Betty’s Tearoom (www.bettys.co.uk/cafe-tea-rooms/our-locations/bettys-york) for the world’s best Afternoon Tea. Indulge your taste buds with sandwiches, pastries and cakes (you probably won’t need anything else to eat for the rest of the day!).

Finally, pop into the oddly named “House of Trembling Madness” on Stonegate for a local beer in the atmospheric setting of this Tudor-loft pub, or visit The Star Inn the City to try a York Gin (www.yorkgin.com) & Tonic. York’s only gin distillery produces a fantastic London Dry Gin as well as a delicious “Roman Fruits” Gin and a truly unique Cocoa Gin that was inspired by the chocolate-producing history of the city. York Gin’s selection box is a great souvenir or gift to take home!

Alternatives to consider:

  • Steam Trains, Whitby & the Moors” – explore the North York Moors, spend lunchtime in Whitby and travel back across the Moors on a steam train
  • Yorkshire Dales & Fountains Abbey” – discover Europe’s largest monastic ruin, Fountains Abbey, and spend the afternoon amongst some of England’s most iconic and inspiring scenery in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • The Bloody Tour of York” – take an evening tour with award-winning storyteller ‘Mad Alice’ and learn about some of York’s more gruesome history

Save a bit of money:

  • Book more than one tour with Grand Yorkshire and you’ll enjoy a 15% discount on your second tour (and each subsequent booking after that)
  • Get a York Pass – you can save yourself a small fortune on entrance fees for York attractions with a York Pass. Visit www.YorkPass.com for further details
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