We found ourselves with an extra day in the north and decided to hop on the train to York. It was just about an hour train ride and the train station puts you very close to York’s downtown. Before leaving the Newcastle station, we booked a table at The Star Inn the City for a traditional Sunday roast lunch.
After lunch we wondered around the tidy and pretty museum garden right next to the restaurant and saw the ancient ruins of old parts of York.
York Museum Gardens
Garden Entry Fee: Free
Museum Entry Fee: £7.50 for adults
The York Museum Gardens are set in the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. The grounds are beautifully kept and on a sunny Sunday afternoon there were lots of folks enjoying a walk among the flowers or lounging on blankets on the grass.
The Yorkshire Museum was opened in 1830 and is housed in a Georgian building with five galleries and lots of natural light. In July 2017, they had an exhibit on the Vikings that looked really interesting.
After exploring the ruins and gardens, we walked to York Minster. We didn’t think we had enough time to walk around the church before closing and it isn’t the cheapest entrance fee. So we stepped into the much smaller and peaceful catholic church of St. Wilfrid’s. We love old churches. They have the most wonderful feeling of quiet and calm in the midst of bustling cities that make them wonderful escapes if only for a few minutes.
Entry Fee: £15 for adults
York Minster has a long and complex history reaching back to AD 180 and the beginnings of ancient Christianity in Yorkshire. The imposing cathedral we see today is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Construction began in 1220 and was finished in 1250. York Minster survived the English Reformation and looting that happened under Elizabeth I.
Today you can climb the Central Tower and enjoy a stunning view of York, visit the Undercroft which has been transformed into a museum-like space displaying archaeological findings from the area as well historic artifacts, and learn more about the interesting history of York Minster on a guided tour.
Entry Fee: Free
Much smaller than York Minster, the current St. Wilfrid’s was begun in 1862 and was completed in 1864. The style is gothic revival and was designed by Yorkshire architect, George Goldie. When it was built it was considered, “one of the most perfectly finished Catholic Churches in England, rich in sculpture, stained glass and fittings“. I love the arched wooden ceiling and murals that are done in an illuminated style that gives a warmth to the whole space.
Tip: Most places in York open at 10am and close at 5pm even during the week.
Just before we headed back to the train station, we stumbled into a part of town called The Shambles. It is a street of topsy-turvy shops that feels a lot like Diagon Alley. (So much so that there is a new addition to the street, The Shop That Must Not Be Named!) There are lots of little chocolate shops, a tea room, and a really lovely vintage store/cafe. Unfortunately, we got to the street as most things were closing up.
If you’re in the area York can make a really nice daytrip. There are lots of good restaurants, plenty of history and churches, and The Shambles offers unique shopping. Just make sure you arrive early enough in the day to enjoy this charming town!