Sometimes one of the best ways to unwind is by spending time with the person you know best: yourself! Whether you’d like to enjoy an uninterrupted dinner, take a refreshing walk along the city walls or indulge in a spot of retail therapy, here are some of the best places to go on a solo date in York.

York Minster Refectory

With outdoor seating that offers an enviable view of York Minster, the Minster Refectory is just the place for a sophisticated solo date. This brasserie-style restaurant is housed in an old school and serves modern British dishes made with seasonal local produce. The refectory’s current menu was developed by Joshua Brimmell and Andrew Pern, of The Star Inn The City, and it features delicious breakfasts like poached smoked haddock or Yorkshire rarebit on a toasted sourdough crumpet. Later in the day, you can dine à la carte and choose from summery dishes such as a chickpea ‘panisse’ with a spring salad, cashew cream and black olive caramel, or house-cured ‘sugar pit’ belly bacon, accompanied by celeriac fondant, confit egg yolk, smoked apple and a puffed pork ‘quaver’.

Treasurer’s House

Sure to delight art and history buffs, this ‘house of contradictions’ in Minster Yard once belonged to Frank Green, an Edwardian man of taste who filled it with his eclectic collection of art, furniture and clocks. Green left the house to the National Trust with the condition that it be kept exactly as he intended. He wanted visitors to view his home by appointment, and it can still only be seen today on a guided tour. Once you’ve admired the beautiful rooms on display, you can then relax in the house’s colourful award-winning garden or visit its café, which serves sandwiches, toasties, cakes and the National Trust Scone Blogger’s favourite ever scone.

York City Walls

If you’d like to get some fresh air while seeing all of York’s sights, a walk along the city’s mediaeval walls is a must. The clearly-signposted City Walls Trail is free to follow and opens from 8:30am-dusk every day. You can get onto the walls from many different locations, including the four main ‘bars’ (Bootham, Monk, Walmgate and Micklegate) and three minor gateways. You can then follow a 3.4km route that runs a ring around the heart of the city, allowing you to take in views of Clifford’s Tower, the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and, of course, York Minster. You could even take a break on your way around to have a picnic in the Museum Gardens or to grab an iced coffee from SOPHiE by Lendal Bridge.

North South

This independent café and bar on Bootham is the perfect breakfast spot. Before you set out to explore the city, you can kick start your solo date here with crisp ciabatta filled with thick-cut local bacon and house tomato chutney, or smashed avocado on toast with chickpeas and lime. If you’re stopping for lunch instead, North South offers a selection of tasty toasties including its own take on American classic The Reuben with pastrami, emmental and dill pickles. To drink, there are beers from local breweries like Vocation, Brass Castle, PLAY BREW CO and Brew York, along with wines, cocktails or freshly brewed coffee. The café has a modern yet cosy interior and a laid back atmosphere.

York Art Gallery

Residing in an impressive sandstone-fronted building, York Art Gallery is home to a huge collection of paintings, works on paper and 20th century studio pottery, which can be seen alongside exciting temporary exhibits from some of the biggest names in the art world. Until September, Monet’s famous Water Lily Pond is on display here in a show that marks the 200th anniversary of the National Gallery. Other new works include a ‘Wall of Women’, celebrating female artists working with clay, and Grayson Perry’s Entrance to the Forest, which the gallery has on long term loan. If you’d like to indulge in some lunch while you’re here, Sketch at York Art Gallery serves freshly prepared food made using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The gallery also has a shop where you can pick up an arty treat for yourself.

Shambles Market

If you love street food or browsing handmade crafts and gifts, a trip to the Shambles Market should be part of your solo date plan. Located just off The Shambles shopping street, the open air market is held seven days a week from 9am-5pm and it features all kinds of different and interesting stalls, providing you with a chance to support small business and discover things that can’t be bought elsewhere. You’ll currently find hot sauces from The Heat Lab here, along with felted gifts and DIY felting kits from Felted Yarns, vegan soaps and candles from Janurelle and Italian leather purses and handbags from Bags of Style. Traders in the Shambles Food Court include Los Moros North African kitchen, Goldees Bagels, Smokehouse Burritos and the Thai NANA Noodle Bar.

The Ghost Quest

If you’re up for a spooky challenge, York’s Ghost Quest is a great way to see the city while testing your puzzle solving skills. All you need is yourself and a smartphone – once you’ve signed up on the Openworld Quests website, you’re ready to go. The experience starts on Stonegate and takes around two hours, although you’re free to stop whenever you like to grab a coffee or admire the sights. You’ll meet fifteen ghosts that haunt the city and will need to use strategy, creativity and logic to answer the riddles and win a delicious prize at the end.

The Cat’s Whiskers

You might be solo but you certainly won’t be lonely at The Cat’s Whiskers. This award-winning café on Goodramgate is home to a group of fabulous felines who’d love to have your attention for an hour or so. The rescue cats here like to doze in sunny spots and play with their toys and guests, but they also have their own private space into which they can retreat. The Cat’s Whiskers charges an entry fee but you don’t have to buy food or drink if you just want to pet the kitties. If you do fancy a snack, however, the café serves hot drinks and cakes from the White Cherry Bakery, including chunky chocolate brownies, rocky road and traditional carrot cake, with gluten-free and vegan options available too.

The Antiques Centre York

Tucked away in an elegant Georgian townhouse on Stonegate, the Antiques Centre is brimming with thousands of unique treasures, jewellery and collectibles from more than 120 different dealers. You’ll find items dating back to the world wars and other military memorabilia here, as well as ceramics, glass and charming vintage toys. The five storey building also houses Molly’s Tea Rooms, where you can tuck into paninis, homemade cakes and cream teas, or try retro ice creams such as a knickerbocker glory, Eton mess or banana split.

Images- @northsouthyork, @shamblesmarketyork, @ghostquestyork