Travel Postcard: 48 hours in York, England

YORK, England (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore York, England’s best-preserved historical city? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge give tips on how to make the best of a short stay.

Houses in Colenso Street, York are reflected as abstract patterns in flood water from the River Ouse November 4, 2000. REUTERS/Dan Chung

York has always held a reputation for being a stronghold of tradition, both in terms of its architecture and its demographic. One of the best ways to enjoy the city today is by wining and dining, with legends that tell of its 365 bars: one for every night of the year.


7 p.m. Watch the sun go down sitting on the outside balcony at the York City Screen Bar. Whet your appetite with a bottle of wine and some grilled goat’s cheese on walnut bread whilst overlooking the river Ouse ebbing gently through the centre of the city.

8.30 p.m. Evil Eye on Stonegate is the perfect place to soak up the Friday night buzz of York. Dreadlocked bartenders will serve up any cocktail you could possibly wish for, and the Thai food will blow your taste buds away.


10 a.m. With more miles intact than any other city in England, the York walls are one of the most attractive ways to see the city. Start at any one of the four ‘bars’, medieval-built entry points to the city, and follow the stone path past the Minster and Deanery Gardens. The entire 2.5 mile circuit normally takes about two hours. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and admire the ancient stonework dating back nearly a millennium.

1 p.m. Bettys teahouse is an incredibly popular place to stop for a cup of something very English and a tray or two of buttered scones. Located in the heart of York in St Helen’s Square, the interior is inspired by the art deco elegance of the original Queen Mary. If this isn’t quite to your taste, just down Lendal lies the delectable Declare delicatessen. Try the artichoke hearts and salami in a brown seeded bun.

2 p.m. Meander through the cobbled streets of the Shambles, a network of pedestrianized alleyways and roads lined with one-off boutiques and antique haunts. Of particular note is the Minster Gate Bookshop, a charmingly cramped shop with stairs winding up through several floors of literary genres. Or for clothes, Selkie, on Low Petergate, is a gorgeous vintage bazaar set over three floors of an old Georgian townhouse.

4 p.m. The Minster is the centerpiece of York, and worth a visit above anything else. A stunning testimony to aesthetic achievement in the so-called ‘Dark Ages’, the building reaches 60 meters (66 yards) high, and can be scaled for unrivalled views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Look out for the medieval sculptures of England’s first kings.

8 p.m. Escape the rowdy drunken crowds that roam the streets by slipping into Nineteen, a secluded gem located on Grape Lane. Formerly a 15th century brothel (on what was formerly known as Grope Lane), the small restaurant offers a small menu, but packs a punch with every dish.


11 a.m. The city’s Viking roots can be explored at the Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate (Jorvik is the city’s name in old Norse). Enthusiastic staff lead you onto a mechanical ride which takes you around a reconstruction of the original archaeological site, at which prince Charles deigned to give a helping hand back in the 1970s. A warrior’s skeleton demonstrates the fatal effects of battle and the damage that early sword fight inflicted.

2 p.m. Stop for lunch at The Olive Tree on Tower Street. The delicious and good value set menu can be enjoyed whilst you look out at Clifford’s Tower, the only example of a quatrefoil (four-leaved) shaped keep in England, standing tall and magnificent surrounded by daffodils.

4 p.m. Wander over to the Yorkshire Museum and its Gardens, and pass the afternoon relaxing amongst the medieval ruins scattered over its 10 acres. The Common Pear tree by the river is supposed to be the oldest in the area.

7 p.m. Have dinner at J. Bakers on Fossgate (‘gate’, by the way, is old Norse for street). Don’t go too hungry, but expect absolutely delicious classic food with a modern twist, perfectly presented.

10 p.m. Finish the weekend with some drinks at Blue Fly on New Street. The kind of place you would walk past without noticing during the day, this quirky hideout quickly morphs into a vibrant bar-come-club once the sun sets.

Reporting by Venetia Rainey, editing by Paul Casciato