Travel Diary: 48 Hours in York, North Yorkshire

York had been on my stay-cation bucket list for quite some time and I was so excited when Stevie surprised me with a couples getaway last weekend. With so much to see and do in the beautiful, historic town, it pays to plan your trip ahead so here's how you can spend 48 hours in York in North Yorkshire. 

York is a city famed for its ancient buildings, ghosts and vikings; as well as unusual tours, thriving local shops, bars and restaurants. So whether you're a history buff, thrill-seeker, a foodie or just looking to do some expert shopping - York really has something for everyone.

Having arrived at our hotel late on the Friday, we had the entire weekend to explore and soak-up the sights. Stevie had done an amazing job of finding a really lovely 4 star hotel (Middletons - pictured above), located right in the heart of the city, with only a 6-10 minute walk to most places. With so much to see, we wasted no time in checking out these places...

The Shambles

Top of my list to see in York was, of course, The Shambles - a medieval shopping street steeped in charm. As the inspiration for the magical Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, The Shambles truly embraces York's rich history of vikings, witches and ghosts with quirky boutiques, bars and cafes. Naturally, these little streets can get incredibly busy so I'd recommend going as early as possible to really take it all in. Equally, the Shambles also looks magical in the evening. Some of its most popular tourist hot-spots include The Shop That Must Not Be Named (one of many Harry Potter shops), The Potions Cauldron and, my personal favourite, The Yorkshire Ghost Merchants.

The Yorkshire Ghost Merchants was actually one of my main reasons for wanting to visit York. I started collecting their little York Ghosts last year and, having been an obsessive follower of their Instagram ever since, I was so excited to see their store with my own eyes. The shop itself is beautiful and sells just one product - adorable handcrafted ghost figurines. Each batch of these adorable little ghosts is limited edition with no two ghosts the same. What I loved most about it was that the shop is filled with Easter eggs, scattered all around and spooky treats hidden behind paintings and cracks in the walls. I'm not sure exactly why I'm so in love with these little spooks but I just find them incredibly pleasing and am excited to have a growing collection. If you get a chance to visit the store and The Shambles, I would highly recommend it and say it's most likely to be the highlight of your trip.

Shambles, York YO1 7LZ, England
Opening times: Shops of The Shambles open at varied times but you can visit the streets any time of day or night
Admission price: The Shambles is free to visit, with the option of the guided York Ghost Walk priced at £7.50 for adults, £5 for children.

Clifford's Tower

Located just a few minutes from our hotel was one of York's most prestigious landmarks. Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Clifford’s Tower is a remaining structure of the medieval York Castle. Perched right on top of a grassy hill, the castle was once used to protect the city and was later a prison in it's final years. If you don't mind a few steps, Clifford's Tower offers some pretty amazing panoramic views of the city and we could not have asked for better weather for our visit. If you'd like to venture inside, there is an entry price but this allows you to enjoy the views from the wall, learn about its many famous inhibitors (including Dick Turpin) and brush up on your sword fighting skills. Clifford's Tower is an excellent way to spend a few hours - ideal for the family, or for you fellow history lovers.

Clifford’s Tower, Tower Street, York, YO1 9SA
Opening times: 10am - 6pm (Spring/Summer seasons) or 10am - 4pm (Autumn/Winter seasons)
Admission price: Free with an English Heritage Membership or YorkPass. Adults - £5.40, Children - £3.20, Students & Seniors - £4.90.

York Minster 

York Minster is one of the world's most loved cathedrals. Built in the 7th century, the Minster has been at the centre of Christianity in the north of England and showcases some truly stunning gothic architecture and medieval stained glass windows. York Minster is a working church but is also open to the public for general visiting seven days a week for guided tours, including that of the Crypt, Treasury and Tower. It is one of the more expensive tourist spots to visit in York but promises to be breathtaking and is truly worth a visit - even if you choose not to venture inside.

York Minster, Deangate, York YO1 7HH
Opening times: General admission from 9am - 4pm (closes for occasion events)
Admission price: Minister and Tower, Adults - £16.50, Seniors - £15.50, Children - £5, Students - £14. Minster, Adults - £11.50, Seniors - £11.50, Children - free with a paying adult.

The York Dungeon

If you have 75 mins spare and want to add a little scare to your York visit, The York Dungeon is a great way to explore 2000 years of York's dark history. Bringing together interactive characters, immersive sets and special-effects, the York Dungeon takes you on a journey through 10 live shows. Much like the London Dungeon, the attraction does include the same Guy Fawkes, The Plague and the Torturers story-lines so it is not an entirely unique experience - but it does have the addition of Vikings, Dick Turpin and the Witches which are exclusive to York. 

If you're a big fan of horror, the York Dungeon probably isn't too likely to give you much of a scare - but it's certainly a fun and immersive experience. It's ideal for groups and families though parents are advised some scenes may be frightening for young children so this is something to think about before visiting. If you're planning to the Dungeon whilst in York, be sure to book in advance as they only have a limited number of shows per day and spaces book up fast. You could also save up to 20% off your ticket price if you book online compared to booking on the door. 

The York Dungeon, 12 Clifford St, York YO1 9RD
Opening Times: 11am - 4pm Monday to Thursday, 10am - 4pm Friday to Sunday
Admission prices: Standard entry, Adults - £13.95 (online), Children - £11.95 (online). Sunday Saver ticket, Adult - £11.95 (online), Children - £9.95 (online). 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 

Another place I had wanted to visit for years was the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Living in London all my life, it seemed like a place that was just too far away to ever get to. I appreciate that it's not technically in York but, having seen it was only a short 20 minute drive from where we were staying, we decided to stop off on the way home. Besides being a great place to walk your dog, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park showcases several open-air sculptures from various renowned artists, including Damien Hirst and Alfredo Jaar; as well as some in-door exhibits and art pieces.

The park itself is a beautiful space and a great place to walk around - but be sure to wear suitable footwear as it gets super muddy. Be aware also, that quite a lot of walking is involved to get to the various sculptures and buildings and many of the exhibits are widely spread. For those with limited accessibility, there are car parks around the park so you can drive from one end to the other if necessary. Also available is a restaurant which serves a great selection of cold and hot food and gift shop.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield WF4 4JU
Opening Times: Open daily from 10am - 5pm (though some exhibitions close at 4pm)
Admission prices: Entry to the park is free - although you do have to pay for parking. The funds from this goes towards maintaining the park (£3.50 for one and a half hours)

Of course, there was plenty more to see in York and I'd love to go back and revisit some of the many museums we didn't get time to see. In particular, I've been told that the National Railway Museum is particularly impressive (even if you're not a fan of trains), as well as the Jorvik Viking Centre. The Shambles really was my favourite part of the trip and I'd say it's worth a visit alone just to see those gorgeous little crocked streets. I'd love to revisit again soon for a ghost tour too.

Well, that's it for another travel diary. Have you visited York before? What were your highlights? Which of the above would you most like to see for yourself? As always, I love reading your comments so please do share your thoughts with me below.

Until next time,



  1. My kind of place really hence why I saved your post.

    PS: Great pictures too.

  2. I love york!
    I think the shambles is one of my favourite places to visit


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