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Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling

York really has it all.

Ye Olde York, this lovely medieval city full of history, friendly people who step aside or stop walking when they notice you’re taking a photo, and even apologize, if they didn’t notice to step away on time. A city full of interesting sites, car-free city centre, haunted buildings and awesome ghost stories… the list goes on and on.

Ye Olde York really is a city with a small-town feeling, and that’s what I love the most!

York has a lot to offer, but we only had one day for York during our 9-day road trip in the UK. So we needed to be efficient!

I’m happy to tell you that in case you have as tight schedule as we did, one day is totally doable. Let’s have a little walk around Ye Olde York, shall we!

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

York by car: Tips for parking with a guest house recommendation!

Like many other historic cities in England, York has a car-free city centre. In case your plan is to visit York just for a day, the best and easiest option is to use Park & Ride.

Park & Ride in York

What does park and ride mean? York has 6 Park & Ride services just outside the city. On Park & Ride areas you can park your car for a very affordable fee (in 2016:£2,80 per person with 2 children under 16 years old free of charge per paying adult).

The fee includes a return ticket with a city bus between your Park & Ride station and the city centre. Buses are equipped with free WiFi, they run every 10 to 15 minutes, and they save the frustrating effort of finding a parking spot near car-free centre and paying high parking fees. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Read more about Park & Ride in York.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

Stay overnight in lovely Bronte Guesthouse

If your plan is to spend a night in York (which is highly recommended, so you’ll have more time to walk around this beautiful city) you want to stay in a traditional English bed & breakfast, right?

I can warmly recommend the lovely Bronte Guesthouse just outside the city centre gates. As we were travelling with kids, we booked an en-suite family room with full English breakfast included just for 110 pounds, which is not a bad price at all thinking of the location; You’re just a 5-minute walk away from the medieval city centre with all its attractions.

Mick and Mandy at this small but cosy family-run guesthouse were such fantastic hosts. The breakfast was delicious, the room and the beds were comfy, and besides having street parking included for the time of your visit, we got a parking permit also for the following day on the house.

I want to note that this isn’t a paid advert! We paid for our visit as any other customer, but having such a pleasant stay in Bronte Guesthouse, I have no doubts of recommending them to anyone visiting York.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

A walk through Ye Olde York—A city with a small-town feeling

You will fall in love with York even if you just walked around for a day or two. If you want to visit at least a few attractions to really get to know the city, the official sightseeing card YorkPass isn’t a bad idea.

We didn’t buy this for our super short visit, but the prices don’t seem too bad; One-day pass costs £38, 2-day £50 and 3-day pass £60 per adult for 30+ attractions (children £20 / £26 / £30).

For all sites included, please visit YorkPass website.

Free experiences in York

Walk on the city wall

A walk on the longest medieval town wall in England should be number one on your Things to do in York list. Altogether the city wall is 3,4 km long, and you can walk just a part of it, as we did due to bad weather, or do the complete round. You’ll get a nice idea of the city when looking at it from the wall, and the best of all—This experience is completely free or charge!

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog
Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

Free walking tours

There are different ways of enjoying a free walking tour in York. The most obvious one is, of course, to do it by yourself. There are also free guided walking tours starting in the front of York Minster. And of course, as in any medieval city, there are many themed walking tours, like ghost tours, available. Check out this link for inspiration.

One interesting and fun way to explore York for free is to download the York Cat Trail map and hunt for the cats appearing in buildings all over the city centre. Too bad I noticed this only a moment before we left York.

The Shambles and The Shambles Market

Being one of the most famous and the most picturesque streets in Britain, The Shambles is another must-do when visiting York. Besides the beautiful, historic buildings, today The Shambles is full of cosy cafés, little boutiques and restaurants. The street that once was a street full of butchers, a place to slaughter livestock and home to an interesting lady, Margaret Clitherow. Read more about The Shambles and its history here.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog
Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

When visiting The Shambles, make sure to pop in to The Shambles Market where you can find a wide selection of interesting items from hand crafts to origami pop-up cards, meat, cheese, clothes, bags, flowers and more. The Shambles Market is open 7 days a week starting at 7 am.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog
Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

Beautiful churches

I think you should definitely visit the magnificent York Minster, but if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, there are many beautiful churches in York that you can enter free of charge.

Haunted buildings

York is a real dream destination for ghost hunters as it is full of buildings that are said to be haunted. One of the most haunted ones is Guy Fawkes Inn, where the famous Guy Fawkes was once born, but apparently he never left…

Pretty beer gardens

You wouldn’t believe it when looking at a pub or a restaurant from the street, but many of them have beautiful, green beer gardens. Beer gardens are obviously free to enter, but a night in one might end up pretty pricey!

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

York must-sees:

York Minster

If you have time only for one attraction, I suggest it to be the magnificent York Minster.

The gothic cathedral of York is one of the finest and biggest medieval buildings in Europe. The first church built on the site was a wooden church dating back to year 627. Renewed in 670 and burned down in 741, built again, damaged again in 1069, repaired, then destroyed by the Danes in 1075, again rebuilt, and again destroyed by fire in 1127… This stunning building really has an intriguing history.

Finally the cathedral was completed, as we know it today, in 1472. Just one step in makes you speechless, it really is worth a visit. The admission fee for an adult is £10 + £5 if you want to go to the tower. Kids under 15 can enter free of charge.

Note that the admission ticket is valid for 12 months, so paying the admission fee once will give you a free entry at any time during the next year. A tour in the cathedral guided by volunteers is included to the admission fee. Also audio tours are available at the entrance.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog
Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

Clifford’s Tower

When you get to know to a new city, you want to find a place for panoramic views over the city. In York, Clifford’s Tower is your spot. Walk on the wall of the largest remaining part of York Castle that was once serving as a prison…

The entrance fee for an adult is £5,20 and £3,10 for a child between 5–15 years.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog
Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

Museums of York

No matter what’s your main area of interest, York has a museum for it. York Castle, railways, archaeology, the dark history of the city, the vikings… and even chocolate!

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

River Ouse

The beautiful River Ouse flowing through the city is a great place to spend a sunny day in York. Have a cup of coffee (or pint of beer) on one of the many terraces by the river, or just chill out on the riverbanks and enjoy the view.

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling | Live now – dream later travel blog

The reason why I didn’t include the River Ouse among the free experiences is that you have so much to choose from. The best way to enjoy the river is to go for a river cruise either during the day or, if you enjoy romantic atmosphere, in the evening with the city lights reflecting on the surface of the water.

Yup, Ye Olde York really has it all. It’s very easy to fall in love with this city with a small-town feeling.

Have you ever visited York? Do you have any other tips to share?


I have great news for you! You can now download this article for free and take it with you when you travel to Ye Olde York! Go to GPSmyCity to download (at the moment available only for iOS). If you pay a small fee to upgrade ($1.99), you will be able to use the offline map and tracker without any roaming charges. I’ll receive a few cents, and you will be able to enjoy York without getting lost and wasting money on data. Have a lovely trip!

Check out also these available articles:

A Walk through Naantali, the Sunniest Town in Finland!
How to Spend a 10-hour Spring Day as a Tourist in Turku
Four Emotive Experiences in the Restaurants of Vilnius


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Saana

The girl behind the blog is a Finnish travel and outdoor enthusiastic with a huge passion for writing and fulfilling dreams. When I'm not abroad, I'm showing you the best of beautiful Finland. My heart lies in the archipelago of Satakunta and Rauma area in the South-West of Finland.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I love this post as York is just so beautiful, and what history!

    I’m originally from Manchester in Northern England, and York isn’t that far away although, now that I live in Berlin, I haven’t been to York for at least 20 years….!

    1. Oh I really really loved York, I’m so glad to hear you liked my post. I would have loved to spend some more time in York (as well as in many other places that we rushed through), and have a deeper dive into the history—and especially the ghost stories—but unfortunately our time was limited. And the little travelers that we had with us were a bit more interested in game and toy shops rather than history… 😀

  2. This place is so beautiful. Small towns and cities have so many quirks about them, and it seems like each one has a unique story and background. Glad to see you enjoyed your time there! Thanks for sharing a bit of the adventure with us!

  3. The views and attractions really do give you that old, small village feeling. It’s almost as if you’re in another time period! Great post!

    1. Thank you, Heather, for your kind words. I truly enjoyed visiting York, and I wish to get back there soon. It’s probably the most atmospheric city I’ve ever visited in my life (and I live next to the largest coherent wooden old town in Europe!) 🙂

Make me happy; let's get chatty! :)

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