York – Walls of the City – To Keep Them Out or Keep You In?

Once Upon A Time some English cities wanted to keep the visitors out. Starting during the Roman’s tour of Britain in the early years of the last century – the building of fortified walls around towns was really quite a trend. Now these structures and monuments are integral to attracting the modern day visitor – supply a host of restaurants, shops and hotels and the walls can keep your tourists inside to experience the ancient and modern.


One of the best-known of these walled cities is York, and October marks the anniversary of my trip last year where I walked the walls by day and walked the ghost walk by night.  I’m now thinking of returning this year and staying for a little longer to make the most of everything the city has to offer an enthusiastic visitor. I’ve spent some time researching some of the best attractions and sights this historic city has to offer and thought I would share them!

Where to Stay

Firstly you need accommodation. The city of York is quite compact and easily accessible by foot, so it’s a good idea to stay somewhere central that boasts the beautiful views of historical architecture that the area has to offer.

The local Novotel Hotel has unbeatable views over the river Foss and sits alongside the ancient city walls, so you’ve got history and charm right on your doorstep. The public walkway between the hotel and the river also makes for a peaceful evening stroll.

Now that you’ve got somewhere to stay, arm yourself with a map and camera and let’s get started!

The Shambles

The character, history and charm of York is apparent everywhere in the city and this street; “The Shambles” is a narrow collection of shops and other buildings which seem to lean across to their neighbours on the other side of the cobbled walkway. Beautifully preserved, as a mix of medieval architecture and an injection of modern retail therapy, this video takes you for a walk into the street mentioned in Doomsday Book:


The Story of Chocolate

If visiting with the kids, then something involving chocolate is bound to be popular, isn’t it? Kids like chocolate – and we sometimes have to put up with the odd hardship to ensure the rest of the family has a good time. York’s Chocolate Story is guided tour format, now with hands on activities where the kids can make and decorate their own confectionary. What happens to it next is up to you!

The Theatre

After an afternoon enduring a chocolate-covered activity, the evening offers the chance for grown-ups to enjoy the nightlife of York. The Grand Opera House is not actually all that grand-looking, originally being built as two separate buildings, but now plays host to a wide variety of touring productions and one-off shows.

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Image: Wikipedia (licence)

Looking at October this year, there are performances that sound ideal for the grown-ups; ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ and ‘Seussical The Musical’, being two!  If you’re looking for a night out for the whole family, November sees a musical recreation of Peter Pan which the kids will love.