York

For other places with the same name, see York (disambiguation).

York is an ancient cathedral city with a history that dates back to before Roman times. It is situated in Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, England with some of the best preserved historical buildings and structures in Europe. As of the 2001 census, the population of York was 181,000. York is frequently ranked (often vying with Manchester) the second most visited city in England after London.

York Minster

Understand

York was known as Eboracum by the Romans, who founded the fortress city on the River Ouse in the year 71. York was home first to the Ninth Legion and later the Sixth. York quickly became one of the most important cities in Roman Britain, and after 211 became the capital of the province Britannia Inferior. Constantine the Great—later responsible for making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire—was first proclaimed Emperor in the city.

Captured by the Vikings 866, the city quickly took on a new identity as Jorvik (pronounced "Yor-vik") and experienced a major urban revival as a centre of Viking trade and settlement in northern England. The Coppergate excavations of the 1970s revealed much of this Viking past.

York is a fairly small city - four days is enough to see the major sights although York is a city that reveals its charms to explorers with curiosity and patience.

York is known as England's "City of Festivals" as there are regular cultural festivals every year. The official festivals are the Viking Festival, the Festival of Angels, Early Music, Late Music, Horse Racing (the "Ebor Race Meeting"), Multicultural Food and Arts, Chinese New Year, Mystery Plays, Christmas St Nicholas' Fair, and the Food and Drink Festival. It's a romantic city for a weekend break. York is full of magic and a wonderful place to bring children!

Get in

Most travellers will arrive in York by road (car or bus) or rail from other parts of the UK or an airport.

By car

Although York is not directly on any of the main north-south motorways, the connections are reasonably good. From the south, the quickest route is probably to take the M1 northbound to junction 32, then the M18 eastbound to junction 2, the A1M northbound to junction 44 and finally the A64 eastbound to the York Outer Ring Road (A1237). Alternatively, you can take the M1 all the way to the A64, but the upper reaches of the M1 around Sheffield and Leeds can get very congested, especially in the rush hours. From the west, the A59 and the M62 provide connections from Liverpool and Manchester, and from the north the A1 and the A19 link York with Tyneside, Northumberland and south-eastern Scotland.

Driving into the city centre itself is something to avoid. Traffic congestion on the main arterial roads serving the city (especially the A19 on Bootham and the Inner Ring Road) can get very bad, especially during the rush hours and on Saturday mornings. The remodelling of some roads near bottleneck junctions to accommodate bicycle lanes has made traffic jams even worse still in recent years, and parking in the city centre is very expensive.

If you are just visiting York for the day, using a Park and Ride costs a lot less than trying to park in or near the city centre, and there are five sites dotted around the Outer Ring Road. However, the last buses from the city centre leave at around 8pm in the evenings and you are not allowed to leave your car in a Park and Ride overnight. Therefore, if you are staying overnight in York and arriving by car, make sure that your hotel offers parking before you book. If you are only visiting for the day but staying until late evening, you will need to use a city centre car park.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

York is one of the main hubs of the UK rail network, with a large range of services and destinations to choose from. The station itself is an attraction and was voted the 'nicest' station in the UK in 2007. Because of the number of lines that pass through, services tend to be frequent. Indeed it was the largest train station in the world when first built. While intercity trains can be expensive, regional services are relatively affordable. Buying tickets online a few weeks in advance can provide substantial savings on long distance tickets.

Virgin Trains East Coast operates several services from York. York is situated halfway between Edinburgh and London on the East Coast Main Line. East Coast Trains run services along this route approximately every half hour between King's Cross station in London and Edinburgh Waverley. The journey time from London is typically about 2 hours and 15 minutes, while Edinburgh is 2 hours and 30 minutes away.

Grand Central Rail operates 4 trains per day in each direction between York and London. Arriva Cross Country operates trains between York and Scotland, and across the country to Birmingham, Oxford, Reading, Bristol and the South-West.

First TransPennine Express operates service to and from Manchester, Manchester Airport, Leeds, and Huddersfield. The service runs 24 hours a day, making it possible to have a late night out elsewhere in North England, while still being able to get back to York. It runs more or less hourly during the daytime and early evening, but less frequently in the late evenings and through the night.

Other regional trains run to Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, Harrogate and Scarborough, Durham and Newcastle.

Train times can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling 08457 48 49 50 from anywhere in the UK.

By bus

National Express York operates bus service to/from York. Tickets can be purchased online, at the station, or from the Tourist Information Centre at 1 Museum Street in the city centre.

By plane

Overview

Visitors to York arriving by air have a number of options. These are essentially:

If you are arriving in the UK at one of the London airports (Heathrow (IATA: LHR), Gatwick (IATA: LGW), London City (IATA: LCY), Luton (IATA: LTN) or Stansted (IATA: STN)), your best bet is to travel to York either by road in a rental car or by train. If you take into account the time it takes to get from a London airport to King's Cross station, either way will normally take you between four and five hours from the arrivals hall to York city centre. The airports within a significantly shorter overland travelling time to York are as follows.

Leeds-Bradford International Airport (IATA: LBA) is the geographically closest airport to York, located 31 miles from the city by road, but it is also arguably the least convenient and most expensive for visitors to the city. The low-cost carriers (LCCs) Jet2 and Ryanair operate extensive services throughout Europe. KLM is currently the only legacy airline offering hub-and-spoke connections worldwide, via its three daily flights to and from Amsterdam. In light traffic, it takes about an hour by road to York using the A658 and the A59, but often the journey timeis two hours. This route can get very congested around the outskirts of Harrogate during the rush hours, and there are several villages with 30 mph speed limits along the way. York residents collecting arriving passengers should note that it costs £12 an hour if you need to park and go into the terminal building (like if the flight is delayed): you are allowed to wait at the pick-up and drop-off area for only 10 min. There is no direct public transport to York. The best way is to take the 757 bus outside the airport to Leeds and then the 743, 800, 840, 843, 844, 845, X40 or X45 to York.

Manchester Airport (IATA: MAN), 84 mi by road from York, is the UK's largest airport outside London and offers a wider choice of LCC and legacy airline services worldwide. These include direct flights from the USA operated by American, Delta, and United. By road, the journey using the M62 and the A64 takes about an hour and a half in average traffic, but if you get caught in the rush hours around Leeds and Bradford it can take a lot longer. Direct train services provide connections to York throughout the day and night (see by train above), with a typical journey time of just under two hours. It is worth booking tickets for rail connections online in advance, because 'turn up and ride' tickets are often a lot more expensive. If travelling at peak times without a reserved seat, you may have to stand for most if not all of the journey (these trains also serve commuters to Manchester and Leeds, and can get very crowded).

Doncaster-Sheffield (IATA: DSA), 41 mi by road from York - mainly serving European holiday destinations. This airport is not easily accessible by public transport. You have to take a bus to the Doncaster station.

Humberside (IATA: HUY, 48 mi) - KLM from Amsterdam and thence worldwide, some domestic flights with Eastern. Using the A1079 and the A15, the journey time to and from York is around an hour in typical traffic. This route takes you across the Humber Bridge, which is a spectacular sight in itself, but it can get congested in the rush hours. This airport is not easily accessible by public transport. You can take a bus to Hull or Grimsby stations. If KLM is offering a particularly attractive deal to Humberside, you will have access to a car and if you are staying in a southern part of York, Humberside is worth considering.

Durham-Tees Valley (IATA: MME, 47 mi) - Only year round flights are domestic commuters with Eastern plus KLM to Amsterdam and thence worldwide, most destinations are European summer resorts. The airport was formally called Teesside International until it was renamed in 2004, and the name "Teesside", "Tees-side" or "Teesside Airport" still appears on many local road signs, and on tickets and boarding passes issued outside the UK. Although air fares to Durham-Tees Valley can be on the pricey side, it is well worth considering as a starting point for visiting north-east England: as an underused regional airport, waiting and queuing times are very low. However, to recoup the lost revenue from falling passenger numbers in recent years, the airport introduced a "facility fee" of £6 per departing passenger (which must be paid before you are allowed through the security check) in December 2010. If you take the A67 eastbound from the airport through Yarm and Kirklevington and then join the A19 southbound to York, this route is hardly ever congested, even during weekday rush hours. Using public transport, a bus goes to Darlington station though there is a dedicated railway station with services to Darlington, they are very infrequent. From there, York is a 30 min train ride on the East Coast Main Line, with frequent services throughout the day.

Newcastle (IATA: NCL, 79 mi), offers a wider range of legacy services than LBA, HUY or MME, with British Airways and Emirates providing long-haul connections as well as KLM and Air France. Eastern and FlyBe for domestic. Air Transat also operate direct flights from Toronto during the summer months, though these may not continue in 2013. The journey to York by road using the A1 and the A59 takes just under two hours. Using public transport, a Newcastle Metro train takes about 45 mi from NCL to Central Station, from where York is a 70 mi ride on the East Coast Main Line, so this option is really only worth considering if you want to visit the North East as well.

The major car rental chains are available at all of these airports except Doncaster-Sheffield.

Get around

York and its surrounding villages, now parts of the City of York
York within the city walls and ring road

By foot

Some roads within the old city (i.e. within the city walls) are pedestrian precincts, closed to all cars except disabled drivers and emergency vehicles between 8:00 and 16:00, and most of the sights are only a short walk between one another. Take care walking around the city centre when the roads open to car traffic at 16:00, as the roads fill up quickly with delivery vehicles servicing local shops and businesses. The city centre is small enough to walk from one side to the other in 20 minutes.

By car

The best advice for driving in York is don't. The roads were designed for carts pulled by oxen, and the city council is actively discouraging car use through a combination of high parking charges and traffic-calming measures. If you are bringing a car to York, your best bet is to leave it in a Park and Ride, at your hotel, or if absolutely necessary, a city centre car park.

By bus

Bus services connect all the points of interest in the city but they are not cheap. If more than one person is travelling and the distance is relatively short, a taxi may well be cheaper. However, a one-day bus pass (FirstDay) costs £3.70 per person, which is worth considering if you're going to make several journeys in a day.

By bike

York is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK - there's an extensive network of cycle routes in and around the city, and most of the traffic controls have been set up to give cyclists priority. There are no significant hills in or around the city centre, which is a big help. The river path along the Ouse contains some wonderful bike routes out of the city. Also beware that police and CCTV operators take a very dim view of cycling without lights after dusk, or cycling in the city centre pedestrianised area before 17:00, and will hand out an on-the-spot £60 fine for doing so. You should be able to pick up a copy of the York Cycle Route Map for free from cycle shops, or alternatively you can find PDFs here: . Bikes are available to rent from a number of locations around the city, including the railway station.

See

Clifford's Tower

Do

York Walls - Micklegate

Walk

Visit York attractions

Other activities

Events & Festivals

There is a very full series of events in York. The most important are:

Cinemas

Buy

York comes highly recommended for its unique shops & boutiques. There's the usual range of high-street stores, but York is also a great place if you're looking for tourist tat of the highest order. Tat-central is The Shambles - the narrowest (and most crowded) street in York, with a full range of a present from York - emblazoned merchandise manufactured in the Far East. Shops in York change from year to year but the beautiful old fashioned wooden shop fronts and buildings have not changed much since they were first built.

Eat

Budget

For budget eating, try any traditional pub (though food quality may be variable).

A cafeteria in an old church facing away from Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate sells cheap good food - eat on the grass outside.

Mid-range

Splurge

For upmarket eating, try York's 'restaurant district' on Fossgate and Walmgate.

Drink

York has perhaps the most pubs per square mile of any city in the country (supposedly one for every day of the year). You shouldn't have any problem finding somewhere to get a drink. There are three key City Centre areas for Drinking depending on your taste:

An excellent map of York bars, complete with reviews, is available here:

Bars and pubs


Clubs

Sleep

Budget

If you have a car, also try the Travelodge York-Tadcaster about 5miles from the city centre on the A64. Rooms will be significantly cheaper.

Mid-range

Splurge

Learn

The University of York is constantly one of the UK's top 10 performing universities, and is one of the top 100 in the world. The departments of English and Related Literature, Chemistry, Computer Science and Psychology are particularly well regarded internationally as leading research centres.

Connect

Phone

York's area code (for landline numbers) is 01904 when dialed from within the UK or +44 1904 from outside the UK.

Internet

There are also several places that offer web and other internet access. These include:

Stay safe

Just like in every town and city York has its bad parts that are best avoided: areas that seem to keep appearing in newspaper reports! These are the outlying suburbs of Tang Hall, Bell Farm, and parts of Foxwood and Clifton but even these are relatively tame compared to similar areas in cities like Manchester or Leeds. Also try to avoid secluded cycle paths at night as it is not unknown (but still fairly rare) for robberies to take place in these parts, however this tends to be away from the main city centre.

The centre of town, however, is as civilised as everywhere else in Britain.

Take care on weekend evenings in York. Plenty of local youngsters overestimate their capacity for alcohol and the city centre can seem to be awash with lager louts, mainly over the river in the Micklegate area. If you are approached just keep on walking and they will find another victim to pester. Aim for our recommended pubs, though, and you'll find that safe socialising in the company of affable locals is still possible!

Go next

York is centrally located for the Vale of York and East and North Yorkshire, making it a great base for days out in any direction:

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 27, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.