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Trips to York from London
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Travel / Tours / England / York
Visit York
  York Minster
  The streets of York
  City walls, gates and fortifications
  National Railway Museum
  River Ouse
  Guided tours
  Further information


York is a historic city in the northern part of the region known as Yorkshire, in north-eastern England. This page gives information about some of the things to see and do during a visit.

York: More Than a Guide
(guide book)
Publisher: Jarrold Publishing
Date: January 2004
York: The Pitkin City Guides
(guide book)
Publisher: Jarrold Publishing
Date: August 2007
York Insight Compact Guide
(guide book)
Publisher: APA Publications Pte Ltd
Date: January 2007
The York Book
(guide book)
Publisher: Blue Bridge
Date: November 2002

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York Minster was completed in 1472. It is the largest medieval Gothic church in northern Europe.

West Entrance

View from Deanery Gardens (in winter)

South Transept, including the Rose Window

Some of the interesting features inside York Minster are the stained glass windows, the wooden ceiling of the Chapter House, and the organ.
There are many beautiful stone carvings in the Minster, showing a wide range of historical, religious and symbolic characters.

Chapter House ceiling

Kings of England

York Minster: A Living Legacy
Publisher: Third Millennium Information
Date: June 2009

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As the street sign below indicates, there are many things to do in York! Most of the street names in the centre of York end with "gate": this was the Viking word meaning "street".

Many old buildings have been preserved in the city centre.

A medieval
timber-framed house

Printer's Devil
(33 Stonegate)

Box pews at Holy Trinity Church
(off Goodramgate)

There are lots of interesting shops in the narrow streets of the city centre: for example, around the Shambles, Stonegate and Petergate. Cars cannot drive in this part, so it is easy to walk around. Betty's Tea Rooms (established in 1919) is a popular place to have tea - it is located in St Helen's Square.

The Shambles: one of the popular shopping centres

Shop in Betty's Tea Rooms

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Jorvik was the name given to York by the Vikings (from Scandinavia) who invaded this area in 866 and made it their capital city. Many ancient remains have been discovered, providing a lot of information about what life was like.

The Jorvik Viking Centre (in Coppergate) is a museum which includes a ride through the street as it may have been in Viking times, when it was a busy market area. It also explains how archaeologists have used the bones and other objects found here to improve our understanding of Viking life.

Entrance to the
Jorvik Viking Centre

This image of the Viking warrior
Erik Bloodaxe inspired the museum's logo

Archaeologists found skulls here:
helping to learn about Viking life

Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
Author: John Haywood
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Date: June 1995
The Viking World
Author: James Graham-Campbell
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Publishers
Date: May 2001
The Time Team Guide to the Archaelogical Sites of Britain & Ireland
Author: Tim Taylor
Publisher: Channel 4 Books
Date: March 2005

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Clifford's Tower is the only remaining part of York Castle. There was a massacre of Jews here in 1190.

There are a series of gateways (called "bars") through which people entered the walled city. The stone figures at the top are holding stones ready to be dropped onto any enemy soldiers who approach.

Clifford's Tower

Bootham Bar: the oldest gateway

The bottom half of the Multangular Tower in Museum Gardens is the only remaining part of the Roman walls. The top half of the tower and the town walls which you can see around York were built in the Middle Ages (between the 12th and 14th centuries). The cross-shaped windows you can see below were used by archers when defending the city. You can walk along the remaining sections of the walls, for example between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar.

Multangular Tower (Museum Gardens)

A section of the city wall near York train station

Walking along the walls

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The National Railway Museum - the biggest railway museum in the world - is on Leeman Road, next to York railway station. Railways came to York in 1839. The city's location (on the main route between London and Edinburgh) made it an important transport centre.

A statue in the museum honours George Stephenson, who created the Rocket (this won a competition for locomotives in 1829, and helped trains to become a method of long-distance transportation of people and goods). Another famous train is the Mallard, which holds the record as the world's fastest steam locomotive. In 1938 it pulled 7 train carriages at a speed of 203 km/h (126 mph).

Some trains are operated on short sections of track outside the museum.

Stephenson's Rocket (1829)

George Stephenson


National Railway Museum Souvenir Guide
Publisher: Science Museum
Date: September 1999
Mallard: How the World Steam Speed Record Was Broken
Author: Don Hale
Publisher: Aurum Press
Date: April 2005

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The York Dungeon brings to life some of the more scary events from York's history, using a mixture of actors and displays. For example, learn about Margaret Clitherow who refused to change her Catholic beliefs and was killed in 1586 by having a wooden door placed over her body weighed down with heavy stones until she was crushed (you can visit her house in the Shambles, which is now a shrine). Visits to the dungeon last about 1 hour.

Entrance to the York Dungeon in Clifford Street

Margaret Clitherow

You can pose for a souvenir photo

Horrible Histories: York
Author: Terry Deary; Illustrator: Mike Phillips
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: September 2005

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The main river through York is called the Ouse. For many years the river was a major route for trading ships, but the arrival of the railways made it easier to transport goods here by train. These days the main boats on the river are for tourists. Occasionally the river floods (2000 was a particularly bad year). Some of the pubs beside the river have a sign showing how high the water has reached in the past.

The oldest bridge is the Ouse Bridge, which is believed to be at the same place that the Romans first built a bridge across the river. The newest bridge is the Millennium Bridge: this footbridge opened in 2000.

YorkBoat offers cruises starting from Lendal Bridge
or from King's Staith

Millennium footbridge

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From the 18th century York became famous for the manufacture of chocolate. Rowntree's (now owned by the Swiss company Nestlé) created many types of sweet which are popular in Britain, such as KitKats, Smarties and Fruit Pastilles. Terry's is another popular sweet manufacturer which used to be based in York: it is best known for its "chocolate orange".

Fruit Pastilles and a KitKat


Terry's Chocolate Orange

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The Jorvik Viking Festival takes place in February each year. Past events have included re-enactments of battles between Viking and Saxon soldiers, Viking market stalls, and races on the river in Viking long-ships.
In 2010 the festival is from 13-21 February 2010, with the battle re-enactment on Saturday 20 February 2010 (tickets for the battle must be pre-booked).

Demonstration of Viking fighting techniques
(c) York Archaeological Trust
Battle re-enactment

Fire display

The St Nicholas Fayre is a Christmas market that usually takes place over about 4 days at the end of November or in early December. This is one of the most popular annual events in York's calendar, attracting thousands of visitors to the city. Stalls are set up around St Sampson's Square and Parliament Street, and also indoors in buildings such as the Guildhall, St William's College (near York Minster) and Barley Hall. These sell food, crafts, Christmas decorations and seasonal gifts.
In 2009 this event was on 26-29 November 2009.

Christmas gifts and decorations are on sale

Roasted chestnuts

Hot drinks

The Festival of Angels takes place over a weekend in mid-December. There are ice sculptures on the streets around Swinegate, Back Swinegate and Grape Lane (the area of York known as The Quarter), plus food and drink stalls.
In 2009 this event was on 12-13 December 2009 from 12-6pm.

Procession of angels, starting outside York Minster

Ice sculptor at work ... and the finished sculpture

Family photo in front of a penguin ice sculpture

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For details of general walking tours of York which can be joined by individuals (no booking required), see:
- The World Tour of York:
- Yorkwalk:
- Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York:
Each of these also offers tours for private groups.

World Tour of York

Volunteer guide

Sightseeing bus tours of York are operated by these companies:
York Pullman:
York City Sightseing:

York Pullman city tour

York City Sightseeing open-top bus tour

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* Booking a tour
Anderson Tours: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours

* Visitor information
York's official tourism website:
Yorkshire Tourist Board:

York Minster:
National Railway Museum:
The York Dungeon:
Jorvik Viking Centre:
Clifford's Tower:

City guide:
Street map:

* Transportation
For train timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/TheTrainline
Direct train services from London King's Cross station to York take about 2 hours.
For coach timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/NationalExpress
Direct coach services from London's Victoria Coach Station take about 5 hours (longer if you need to change in Leeds)

* Weather forecast for York

* More photos
360 degree panoramic pictures:
360 degree panoramic picture of York Minster:

Lonely Planet verdict: York
"York's historic stature and strategic importance has left the city with a rare weight of cultural and architectural heritage. Its city walls, built during the 13th century, are among the most impressive surviving medieval fortifications in Europe. They encompass a thriving, fascinating centre with narrow medieval streets and grand Georgian townhouses. Its glory is the biscuit-coloured shock of the minster, a Gothic cathedral on an immense scale. York's magnificence attracts millions of visitors, and July and August can be crowded"
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2009
Lonely Planet England
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: March 2009
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Places in this region:
Hull: Travel/Tours/England/Hull
East Yorkshire: Travel/Tours/England/EastYorkshire
Scarborough: Travel/Tours/England/Scarborough

Cathedral cities:
Canterbury: Travel/Tours/England/Canterbury
Durham: Travel/Tours/England/Durham
Lincoln: Travel/Tours/England/Lincoln
Winchester: Travel/Tours/England/Winchester

Other topics related to this page:
Trains in the UK: Travel/Transport/Train
British food: Britain/Food
British history: Britain/History

Home page: Home

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