To get a more intimate experience than the all-encompassing hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour, there are a variety of options, from cycling the city to walking the walls, or you can find a specific subject to focus on. A few popular and personable choices are the fun yet spooky ghost tour, the mouth-wateringly educational York Chocolate Story and the informatively boozy York Brewery tour. To feed the chocolate and beer addictions even more deliciously, visit traditional experts Monk Bar Chocolatiers on the Shambles and modern ale-makers Brew York at their impressive taproom.
A great way to discover local culture is to enter independent areas, which in York is easy to do without venturing far. Within the centre are a few hotspots: Fossgate, known as the city’s main independent street, is now thriving more than ever, filled with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, including, respectively, Botanic, Kiosk, Fossgate Social and Ambiente. The equally central Goodramgate is a top charity shop crawl, as well as home to some super specialists such as Earworm Records, Rafi’s Spicebox, Goji’s Vegetarian Cafe and Humpit Hummus Bar.
Between York Minster and York City football ground, a bustling scene has emerged as the Fifth Quarter on Bootham and Gillygate. Here, you will find the good time Gillygate pub amongst creative outlets of art, design, sound and spirituality. A stroll further out, but still within a mile of the centre, is a street renowned for its community spirit and independent heart: Bishopthorpe Road is a bunting lined row of loveliness, featuring traditional butchers, bakers and happiness makers, plus modern ethical ideals at shops like The Bishy Weigh and Bare Organic.
So now you know where to go, you’ll probably want more than day to get around it all. In which case, where in York do you stay? As with all major cities, the choices are many, from the budget chains through airbnbers to luxury hotels. Interesting options are on and near Walmgate: the comfortable and classy Hotel Indigo and the characterful micro boutique Parisi Hotel. Other fun stays are offered at historic oddities like the epic Judges Court and above the wonderfully wonky House of Trembling Madness.
We hope this guide helps. As Jarvis Cocker once told us all, “everybody hates a tourist, especially one who thinks its all such a laugh”. Well, now you can have all the fun of a visitor, with all the love of a local.