York is one of my favourite places. I have managed to make it a tradition to go back and visit every year at this time of year. October, just before or on Halloween. In fact I seem to know it so well that tourists often ask me for directions and I know the answer about 8/10 times.
Something I always look forward to but was unable to go to this year due to being busy during this time is Illuminating York. This is a wonderful yearly event where local artists showcase their work by projecting them onto the beautiful historical buildings, including York Minister. It is incredibly magical and I am sad to be missing it this year. I really encourage you to visit this year if you can! It is between the 26th - 29th October. You can find out more about this by visiting their website here. Tip: wrap up warm when going as all Illuminations are outside as they take place on the facade of buildings.
I have listed below my favourite spots that I always visit if I can when I am in York.
- The Shambles - A Harry Potter / Diagon Alley style cobble alleyway full of shops and wonky houses - A must for Harry Potter fans!
- The Early Grey Tea Rooms - Located on The Shambles, a very sweet wonky and quirky old tea room with floors and stairs like a maze to really set you back in time! Tea and cake is a must!!
- Fudge Kitchen - Literally what it says on the tin. A place located in the heart of York roun the corner from York Minister, where you can buy hand-made fudge and watch them make it. The best bit is... that they always have tasters!! :)
- Betty's Tea Rooms - Main one in St Helen's Square is the most famous, expect queues from about 10:30/11am, but don't worry too much, the average 30 minute waiting time is worth it for the experience I promise! The other one is on Stonegate just down the road as is much smaller. With the same menu all you really need to think about it the type of atmosphere you want. The main one is grand, with many different themed rooms and right on the main road, it's busy and loud with a really fun atmosphere. The Stonegate one is crooked and quirky, perfect for those Harry Potter lovers that want a more authentic building experience and a slightly quieter atmosphere. Expect queues at both however.
- York Minister - I vowed one day to host a party here... or have some sort of wonderful event with friends and family. It is STUNNING. Probably my favourite Minister in England. People often underestimate the vastness of this building as it is tucked away in a courtyard of some smaller alleyways.
- Guy Fawkes Inn - A great place to stay if you book far enough in advance especially on a weekend, just a 1 minute walk from York Minister. If you can't stay there, then book dinner as it is the coolest old pub with pub food to warm the soul. Rooms lit by candlelight with dark wood walls and an eery feel! I definite Halloween must!
- Lamb & Lion Inn - Another super sweet Inn and restaurant as a great alternative to Guy Fawkes Inn. Another cosy little place with fireplace at the ready!
- Waterstones - A bit mainstream you may be thinking... but this particular Waterstones bookstore is one of my favourites since it feels cosy and is one of my favourite spots to work or chill for a nice hot cup of white hot chocolate.
- The Imaginarium - Now I am a SUCKER for places like this. Almost as if you are stepping into a shop that should belong in a fantasy novel, like Harry Potter... full of wonderful and weird things, candles, cards, gifts of all sorts. It even has a Christmas room in the back for all you Christmas fanatics such as myself. Go on - treat yourself! :)
- Lucky Days - A cute little cafe right on one of the main roads in York, a great spot for lunch or tea and cake. Tip: go upstairs to the second or third floor, it's much cosier with sofas, and board games. I spent about 3 hours here just working until I got kicked out, otherwise who knows how long I would have been there for!
- Ghost Tours! - Since York is known for being one of the most haunted cities in the UK, there are plenty of Ghost tours to go on. Made for adults and kids... they shouldn't rattle your boots too much. It is a lot of fun to do with a group of friends or as a couple so you can protect each other from the Ghosts... Ha! I'm not gonna lie, I made sure I was always in the centre of the group. :p I am a bit of a scaredy cat though even though I love these things. A total winner for Halloween fun!
- Jorvik Viking Centre - I remember coming here on a school trip when I was really young and I am still feel like a kid again when I come here. You learn about the history of York by going on a ride that takes you through the very beginning of York's history, with authentic smells from that day... some more pleasant than others. I'm still really such a kid at heart. These things make me so happy.
I hope you get to visit York one day. The history is rich and the architecture is unbelievably magical in every way. I always feel like I'm in a movie... basically how I want to live my life... Mary Poppins, Oliver Twist, Harry Potter... sigh. Sometimes I feel like I was meant for another time period. Hey ho.