Tightening the purse strings in York

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Posted by Sarah

I think York is a beautiful city but – like anywhere really – it can be pretty expensive to see all of its main attractions. York Minster, an absolutely stunning Gothic cathedral in the centre of the city, is really worth visiting but costs nearly ten pounds for an adult entry if you want to see all of it. Other major attractions cost almost as much, including the famous Jorvik Viking Centre, the York Dungeons and the York Maze (a maze made of maize!) so seeing all of them in a weekend could really stretch your budget, especially if you’re travelling with family or a large group of friends.

Thankfully, there are still loads of ways to appreciate York’s history and culture without paying much at all. My personal favourite York attraction is the (free) National Railway Museum, which is near the train station. I love wandering around through its warren of retired locomotives (which include the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard), railway equipment and olden day signs. Since I’m not much taller than five foot, some of the wheels are almost as big as me – now that’s definitely going to instil wonder in smaller children. Better still, its gift shop sometimes has some great bargains – I bought a pack of ten beautiful retro postcards in there once for just one pound.

I also really love wandering round its ancient streets – the Shambles is the famous one but the streets surrounding it are just as intriguing – and its crumbling city walls. Of course, exploring the city centre doesn’t cost a thing! If you’re Scottish though, make sure you don’t carry a bow and arrow with you – it’s still legal to shoot a Scotsman within the city walls if they’ve one on their back :).

York’s pretty easy to get to on the train wherever you live, since it’s only two and a half hours away from London and Edinburgh, and about an hour and a half from Manchester. But if you do decide to drive your car to town, make sure you make full use of having personal transport at your disposal and visit the very impressive Castle Howard, which is just half an hour’s drive from the city. If you’re anything like me, you’ll adore the ITV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, which was filmed here and it’s truly glorious in real life. There’s a number of free outdoor guided tours too, so you’ll get to bask in its splendour without ever reaching into your pocket.

And if there’s anything left in your wallet at the end of your short break in York, don’t forget to sample a tipple or two in one of its many great bars and tea rooms. Betty’s is a local favourite for tea and cakes, but I love spending time in Evil Eye on Stonegate – they have some great cocktails and their (reasonably-priced) Sunday roasts are to die for.

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