The train from London to York is like a Tardis. Step on in twenty-first-century London, then off again two hours later and around 1,000 years lighter in medieval Britain. Wonky timber houses teeter over cobbled streets, a gothic cathedral fills every square inch of skyline, and ancient walls separate the city from the countryside beyond. Factor in a growing food scene and more pubs than days of the year, and now’s the time to book those tickets.
A perfect day in York
Don cobble-friendly footwear and walk around York’s car-free, historic centre. The Old Quarter is the place to start. Get lost in a web of alleys and lanes – ‘snickelways’ and ‘ginnels’ in these parts – then come up for air in York Museum Gardens.
Once you’ve taken in the epic exterior of York Minster – the biggest gothic cathedral north of the Alps – climb its tower for vertigo-inducing views. Then follow the two-hour walk around York City Walls to see the city in widescreen.
Stroll along the Shambles. Yes, this slimline street and former slaughterhouse is a tourist trap. Yes, it’s on the front of every guidebook going. But yes, it’s every ounce as atmospheric as you’d hope from one of Britain’s prettiest ancient streets – especially at sunset.
Forget sea views. In York you want to book yourself a bed with Minster views. Draper’s Flat is above the National Trust’s shop, right in the heart of the city and in the shadow of York’s enormous cathedral. Inside this first-floor hideaway it’s all plush and modern but outside it’s as picture-perfect as half-timbered medieval buildings come. Spend your stay in your PJs admiring the world-class vista from your room, or wander the winding, cobbled alleyways of the city centre. Don’t forget to pop into nearby Treasurer’s House (another National Trust gem) with its peaceful and pretty garden out back. From £452 for three nights.