Check in to your chosen accommodation. We recommend boutique hotels, self-catering properties and bed and breakfasts that we truly believe are the best across a range of budgets. They’re all in fabulous, central locations, and close to many of our favourite restaurants and cafes. After you have settled in, take a stroll through the museum gardens, (weather permitting), and stop for a coffee/tea and snack at Brew and Brownie (opposite the Museum Gardens) then enjoy the evensong (normally sung at 17:45) at York Minster. This is a great way to experience the magnificent Minster and you don’t need to purchase a ticket to do that!
Why not begin your first evening in York at a characterful pub? Or perhaps a wine bar? For a more intimate venue, we suggest either Cochon Cave or Sotano. Click here to view our top picks for pubs and bars in York.
York has some stunning restaurants for a romantic dinner. Amongst our favourites are Le Cochon Aveugle (French), Skosh (British/Asian influences), The Whippet Inn (adults only) and Bistro No 8 (modern British).
We suggest you book ahead of your trip as many of our top picks have bookings weeks in advance.
No visit to York is complete without a walk around the medieval walls, the most complete city walls in all of England. Start your walk from Monkgate Bar and walk towards Micklegate Bar. This is known as the North corner and is the only corner where you can walk the trail all on the walls. This section takes in views of the iconic Minster. View these very informative and engaging vodcasts, The Minster, Bootham Bar and The Treasurer’s House to Monkgate.
All that walking makes you hungry so it’s time to enjoy another great meal. There are so many great options for lunch and if you’re like us, you prefer something a bit lighter but still somewhere you can sit down, relax and soak up the atmosphere. We recommend a great selection of places for lunch that can take you on a culinary journey across the globe or if you’d rather, just stay in Britain.
SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR FOR COUPLES
All sights and shops mentioned within this walking tour are listed in the google map below
After lunch, we think you will enjoy exploring many of York’s beautiful medieval streets and our favourite independent shops. We’ve included a map below with our suggested walking route.
Begin at Constantine the Great’s statue at York Minster. Walk past the stone masons yard so you can view the Minster’s magnificent East window, the largest expanse of medieval glass in the country. It has just undergone a £12 million pound renovation and is truly a sight to behold.
There’s a charming garden overlooking St Williams College a lovely example of a timber-framed medieval building, and rather delicious cup cakes at Crumb’s Cupcakery!
Via left at the Minster and turn right at Ogleforth. You will notice the entrance to The Treasurer’s House and a bit further on, Gray’s Court Hotel. Continue along Ogleforth, passing The York Brewery apartments on your right onto Goodramgate.
Turn right and stroll up Goodramgate, taking the left fork until you reach the entrance to Holy Trinity Church (entered via an 18th century archway), giving you a glimpse of medieval York behind a busy street. It’s one of York’s hidden delights. It dates from the 15th century and has some magnificent stained glass. The box pews are truly unique. The secluded churchyard has benches to sit down and enjoy the peaceful surrounds.
Exit via Hornpot Lane onto Low Petergate. Turn right and stroll up this street, passing Mr Ps Curious Tavern on your left (one of our favourite lunchtime haunts).
Turn left at Grape Lane, and then take the secret alleyway – Coffee Yard down on your right. You will pass Barley Hall. This medieval treasure has now been fully restored to its full original glory. Peek into the medieval dining room as you walk through the narrow archway.
You will come out on Stonegate, arguably York’s prettiest street. Pop in to ‘little’ Betty’s for a fat rascal to take-away (so nice with an afternoon cup of tea) or better yet, see if there’s a table upstairs to enjoy one in-house. Other favourite haunts on Stonegate include The House of Trembling Madness and The Evil Eye Lounge. Off Stonegate, you will notice many ‘snickelways’, a narrow passage between buildings. Venture down a few, such as the one next to Ye Olde Starre Inne and at numbers 23 + 35….rumour has it, some are haunted.
You will arrive at St Helen’s Square at the bottom of Stonegate (essentially the centre point in York). You’re likely to enjoy some street artists here. Betty’s Tearoom takes pride of place in the square in a stunning art nouveau building.
Take a right onto Blake Street and pop into one of our favourite independent shops, The Imaginarium. Owned by the Yorkshire Soap Company next door, it’s full of wonderfully curious gifts. Retrace your footsteps, turning right onto St Helen’s Square. Straight ahead is The Mansion House Recently restored, it’s a wonderful example of Georgian splendour in York. Behind The Mansion House is the equally impressive 15th century York GuildHall, often overlooked by visitors. Access is via the arch next to the Mansion House but it’s worth noting it’s not always open to the public but worth viewing if possible.
If coffee calls, you can’t go wrong at Spring Espresso just around the corner on Lendal. It’s also hard to pass up on their vegan flapjacks.
Turn back and walk past St Helen’s Square again but continue along Lendal which becomes Coney St. You will find a good selection of shops along here including Lush on your right, selling fresh, handmade cosmetics, Waterstones (it’s actually deceptively large), Monsoon, for women’s clothing, Holland and Barrett for health foods and many other shops worth browsing.
If you feel like seeing a film, CityScreen in on the river side, just near the double-sided clock. It’s a lovely, boutique cinema with very comfortable seats and showing a great range of both mainstream and art house films. If you need to use the bathroom, they’re down the stairs in the basement!
At the end of Coney Street, continue up Tower Street turning left onto Castlegate. You will arrive at Fairfax House.
One of the finest Georgian townhouses in England, Fairfax House transports you to 18th century city life in York. Originally a winter residence for Viscount Fairfax and his daughter Anne, it’s a charming city centre property to wander through. Audio tours are available and there are excellent guides dotted throughout the house. A beautiful collection of furniture donated by Noel Terry of chocolate fame brings the townhouse to life.
Around the corner is Clifford’s Tower. One of the main surviving features of York castle, Clifford’s Tower sits proudly on a small hill overlooking the River Ouse.
Time to head to one of our favourite cafes to relax for a bit. From Clifford’s Tower, cross the car park towards the River Foss and follow the path around to Picaddily. Cross the road and walk down Merchantgate. Turn left and walk up Fossgate until you reach Fossgate Social. This is a lovely café for coffee, cocktails, and light snacks. During summer, there’s a lovely outdoor courtyard and it’s also dog-friendly. They normally have a very good range of vegan offerings too. If full, other great options are Kiosk and Spring Espresso across the road.
Pop into Give the Dog a bone for quirky gifts.
Continue up Fossgate and cross over to the Shambles. York’s most famous medieval street housing stunning timber framed buildings dating back to the 14th century. The Shambles was a street of butchers and houses, many with slaughterhouses at the back. We recommend a few shops on The Shambles worth browsing.
Walk back to your hotel.
After a delicious breakfast, we think you will enjoy a visit to York’s Art Gallery. York Art Gallery reopened its doors in 2015 after extensive refurbishments. It really is a lovely gallery and we think you will appreciate its architecture as well as its collections. Spend some time viewing the exhibits inside then head out the back where there’s an artists garden and edible garden that leads to the Museum Gardens.
Check out our recommendations for lunch. Maybe you will be in the mood for fabulous steak at The Whippet Inn, Polish dumplings or a more casual/healthy lunch at Filmore and Union.
A few suggestions for your final afternoon:
If shopping is your thing, check out our favourite independents
Perhaps you will be in the mood for a lavish afternoon tea?
Or maybe a pampering couples spa treatment?
Enjoy your final evening in York in one of our favourite restaurants.