Day Trips from Manchester Sightseeing: Medieval York, the Cathedral and Vikings

26th March 2019
City walls with York Minster in the distance © Visit Britain, Diana

City walls with York Minster in the distance © Visit Britain, Diana Jarvis

The walled city of York has a history as long and diverse as any other in the UK. It is one of the country’s most iconic destinations. With the winding, cobbled streets of the city centre, the spectacular York Minster and the jaunty buildings of Shambles, York is a great day out.

Once we arrived in York we hopped-on the sightseeing bus right outside of the station, The route circles the city and is a great way to orientate yourself when you arrive. We hopped-off at Clifford’s Tower, the last remaining remnant of York Castle, where there is unparalleled views of the city from the walls.

From here we headed into the city centre along the winding streets, making our first trip up Shambles. It is one of the oldest and best preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe and, allegedly, was the inspiration for Diagon Alley from Harry Potter (hence the Harry Potter themed gift shops located on the street). The top windows of the buildings are so close together that a person leaning out of one window could shake hands with someone leaning out of the opposite window.

The Minster was just a short walk from here. York Minster is the second most important church in the Church of England, after Canterbury Cathedral. It was built 900 years ago with construction taking nearly 250 years. It is one of Western Europe’s most beautiful churches with one of the finest collections of medieval stained glass in the world. Free guided tours leave every 30 minutes.

Home of the Yorkshire Pudding Wrap!

After the Minster it was time for lunch. You are spoilt for choice with where to eat in York. The city has a vibrant food and drink scene. There are Yorkshire Pudding wraps (basically a roast dinner burrito), traditional British pub fayre and a street food market selling global cuisine, amongst others. Every dietary preference is catered for.

We used the break for lunchtime to study our York Pass guidebook and work out what we wanted to do in the afternoon. There’s so much to see that you have to be selective. We opted for the Roman Baths, a humble museum beneath a pub showcasing the remains of a Roman bath house, and Fairfax House, which is a model Georgian home with an unparalleled collection of period furniture and was one of the best parts of the trip. Before heading back to the station we visited Jorvik, one of York’s most popular attractions. They have recreated a Viking village modelled on the finds of an archaeological dig that uncovered the remains of York’s Viking precursor – Jorvik.

We just about had time to call into York Brewery to sample their locally-brewed ales before catching the train back to Manchester. It was a  busy but fulfilling day out. A day trip to York is highly recommended!

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Written by: Dan Bridges

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