York Like a Local: History, Culture and the Great British Pub

York Like a Local: History, Culture and the Great British Pub

York, voted Britain’s best and most beautiful city, is half way between London and Edinburgh!

It’s only two hours north of London by train.



For first-time visitors, wonder at York Minster and its Gothic architecture. Its current exterior dates from as early as the 13th century. There’s a fee to get in, but admiring from the outside is free. Nearby The Shambles (free) – a street dating from Tudor times – is one of York’s best photo opportunities.

The walk around York’s ancient city walls is 3.4km in total. You can call at some of the city’s independent coffee shops en-route; or at a pub or two!



From the Jorvik Viking Centre complete with interactive smells, to the Yorkshire Museum to the Quilt Museum, York’s got something to suit everyone’s culture vulture tastes. My favourite is the Castle Museum, which is good for children and adults alike. It’s brilliantly curated and will happily keep you occupied for a few hours. Visit the recreated Victorian streets, or lock yourself up in the old city jail.



Have a picnic or ice-cream in the Museum Gardens (home of the Yorkshire Museum), which are also home to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey (free). For a more local experience, walk five minutes south of Skeldergate Bridge along the west bank of the River Ouse to Rowntree Park – a childrens’ play area, a pond, tennis courts and a lovely library/café await.


Horse racing

For a sporting day out, check the horse-racing schedule at York Racecourse – about 1.6km south-west of the city centre.

Get dressed up, pay £20-£30 for your ticket, have a bet, hopefully back a winner, and sip champagne. It makes for a great day with friends. Though a rather pricey one if you don’t back any winners!


Go like a local (for good weather days only). Take a picnic, put your alcohol in plastic bottles, and go to the “cheap side” of the racecourse – tickets usually cost £5-£9, depending on the date. There are still plenty of places to place a bet.


Where to eat and drink

York has some great restaurants that keep the locals going back again and again. For a choice of independent restaurants close to one another, walk down Fossgate (away from the city centre) and on to Walmgate, where you’ll find everything from Indian, Thai, British, Argentinian, Italian, Polish, French and more!

York is also famed for its pubs. There are several hundred of them, many renowned for their real ales. Check out the skeleton at the bar at the haunted Golden Fleece. The Lamb and Lion Inn has a beer garden with a stunning view of both the city walls and the Minster.


Stop off for a few days to enjoy this history- and pub-rich city, and you’ll wonder why it’s not on everyone’s UK itinerary.


Travel tip shared by Julie Sykes