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York City Guide: where to eat, drink, shop, stay and things to do in York

Oh how I love York. One of the most charming cities I have visited in England over the years.

I am still daydreaming about cobbled alleys like The Shambles, cute boutique shops, Victorian tearooms and artisan lunch rooms, the picturesque York Minster and that’s just half of the list why I love York. I tried to be curated and listed my favorites below.

Don’t forget to visit the Fossgate Merchant Quarter where you’ll find a street full of independent shops and cafes in the centre of York with shops like the York Designer Dress Agency, coffee shops Spring Espresso, Kiosk Cafe or Cosy Time, great brunch places like Rise and the Fossgate Social for craft beer and artisan coffee, and Brew York or the Blue Bell pub for a pint or two.

If you are looking for any day trips from York: I went to Harrogate and Knaresborough but make sure to also checkout Durham, Whitby or Robin Hood’s Bay and of course the York Moorse National Park.

Stay | Coffee | Brunch & Lunch | Restaurants | Wine Bars | Shops | To Do | Day Trips

Best Boutique Hotel in York

Guesthouse Hotel No.1 York - A charming boutique hotel with 39 bedrooms all with the building’s heritage detailing and interior designer’s wonder-inspiring style. And, hey, there is a spa in the cellular of the building.

Best Coffee Shops in York

York is full with the best independent coffee shops and coffee roasters. My favourites are:

200 Degrees Coffee Shop - Independent specialty coffee roasters, purveyors of 15 distinctive coffee shops and unashamedly proud to be coffee geeks.

Bison Coffee House - is a quirky speciality coffee shop based in York that serves some of the finest single origin coffee from around the world.

La Bottega - This small family run independent Italian coffee shop is roasting coffee since 1932 Their coffee is roasted in the home of Italian coffee, Naples and with delicious brownies and panini’s this is a perfect stop to get your fix.

Coffee Culture – an independent coffee shop in York with York Emporium coffee + guest single origins + fresh food & cakes. Only a 3 min walk from York Minster.

Fossgate Social - A small, independent coffee shop and bar. Speciality coffee, craft beer and cocktails. Indie, low-lit hangout with coffee drinks, café eats & full bar, comfy seating & an outdoor patio.

Gatehouse Coffee - A quality coffeehouse situated in a unique setting within the walls of the City of York. A Warm, quirky & stone-clad coffee shop serving espresso drinks alongside baked goods & sandwiches.

Kiosk CaféA tiny little coffee shop located on Fossgate with Single origin coffee, brunch, lunch, cake, bread, pastries and fresh veg.

Partisan - A charming little coffee shop, restaurant and deli with a lovely courtyard in the back. Personally my favourite in York.

Spring EspressoArtisan coffee from award winning baristas with two locations in York, Fossgate (which is cool) and Lendal.

Teajuanas Cocina A kitchen specialising in foods from the Americas. Unique coffees, served with a big selection of Spanish doughnuts, cakes, breads & pastries.

Best Brunch & Lunch in York

Bettys Café Tea Rooms - An institute in York and surroundings. Traditional tearoom offering formal afternoon teas or casual café dining on British fare. Bettys is famous for afternoon tea, and if you want to have the best possible experience, book your table in the Imperial Room, Harrogate, or Belmont Room, York.

Brew and Brownie - Brunch, lunch & homemade cakes, washed down with speciality coffee! The locally sourced fare & house-baked sweets are served with craft coffee & tea drinks in hip digs.

Flori Bakery - A cute seasonal neighbourhood bakery with hand made pastries baked fresh all morning. Just outside the city centre. But hey, look at their Instagram ;)

La Bottega York - a small family run independent Italian coffee shop with delicious oreo, malteser, honeycomb chocolate brownie. Perfect to sit down near the window and watch people pass by.

Dyls - A quaint contemporary café & bar situated in the historic bridge Motor House on Skeldergate Bridge, overlooking the river Ouse and Clifford’s Tower. An independent, family run business in York with a passion for all things local and fresh!

Partisan - A charming little coffee shop, restaurant and deli with a lovely courtyard in the back. Personally my favourite in York.

Rise - A popular breakfast, brunch and coffee spot in York (& Preston) It’s an easy-going get-together a chance to eat out without stressing out.

Robinsons Cafe - This neighbourhood cafe run by an independent family serves Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch with delicious, homemade food.

Best Restaurants and Pubs in York

The best places to eat in York. Restaurants, Pubs or a Winebar. There are plenty of options.

YUZU Japanese Street Food & Brew York - Some things in life are just meant to be together; asian street food & craft beer from Brew York! Taking inspiration from Japanase and Korean cuisine to create incredible dishes with the biggest flavour. On the ground floor of Brew York you'll find the Tap Room, on the first floor you'll find the Bavarian-style Beer Hall, and with 40 beer taps it boasts the largest and widest selection of beers, lagers and ciders in York and the surrounding area.

Café No 8 Bistro - A small but stylish bistro found on the busy and lively Gillygate in York. With a walled garden it serves creative and traditional dishes from fixed-price set menus

The street is full of independent shops and businesses and leads right into the heart of York through one of its ancient City gates.

Restaurant Skosh - This cosy restaurant serves contemporary British cooking with an international influence with creative small plates, plus seasonal cocktails & a robust wine list. Highly recommended.

The Fat Badger York - Part of the renowned hotel, this stylish pub has an amazing view over the York Minster form their (not so secret) large beer garden. Still a great spot to enjoy Sundowners drinks and dinner. Part of more Fat Badgers, but he, sometimes that's ok.

Restaurant Root’s - Michelin-starred dining in the heart of historic York. Expect innovative cooking techniques with one-of-a-kind ingredients and exceptional service. Enjoy a gastronomic tasting menu experience inspired by the heritage of their farming and growing roots in a modern, laid-back, city center dining room. Still on my list ;)

The Best Independent Shops in York

Bronte by Moon - One of my favourite English shops. Such authentic English craftsmanship where you'll find finely crafted woolen luxury interiors & accessories made in the heart of Yorkshire. 100% natural products created with the highest ethical qualities in mind.

The Hat Shop - The English do like a hat (or two). This shop is an independent, family run business situated in the heart of the historic City of York, England and definitely worth browsing.

National Trust Gift Shop - Make sure to always support the National Trust Gift Shop if you like the countryside. Your support enables the National Trust to care for the Nature, Beauty & History of the United Kingdom. And what's not to love with a shop full of a wonderful range of products inspired by the properties and places the National Trust cares for. Also worth knowing, next door to the National Trust Gift Shop you'll find Vintage Rose and Vanilia Cafe. The square is also perfect for a book and some afternoon sun.

York Designer Dress Agency - Don't tell anyone ;) This fabulous shops sells preloved Ladies Designer Wear, labels stocked include the likes of Mulberry and Reiss. See you there ;)

Best Bookshops in York

For all you book lovers out there. When it comes to (independent) bookshops, York has got it all. From independent bookshops to chains like Waterstones and charity bookshops like Oxfam amongst other, booklovers are spoilt for choice. My three favourite ones are listed below.

Fossgate Books - Another independent bookshop with a huge range of antiquarian and second-hand books covering two floors, with towers of books from floor-to-ceiling.

The Grimoire Bookshop - Also, a stone’s throw from the historic York Minster. This antiquarian and second-hand bookshop has two floors full of books.

The Minster Gate Bookshop - In the shadow of the York Minster, you’ll find the Minster Gate Bookshop. There is an extensive stock of antiquarian and second-hand books in every nook and crook housed over five floors of a tall and narrow Georgian townhouse.

Best Winebars in York

Howl Bar & Charcuterie | York - Loved spending my birthday at Howl Bar & Charcuterie. This independent Café Bar serves craft beer and low intervention wines alongside a menu of small seasonal plates, cheeses and charcuterie. Skip the beer and drink wine.

Pairings Wine Bar - A relaxed table service wine bar with an appreciation for fine wines, beer, whisky, gin and cocktails. Offering small plates and sharing boards. It was fully booked whilst I was in York.

The Best Things To Do in York?

National Railway Museum - Pay a free visiti to this museum with an incredible collection of locomotives and other railway memorabilia.. Here you will also find the royal train. The perfect thing to do for train enthusiasts and children.

York Art Gallery - This art gallery houses an impressive collection of artworks, including paintings, ceramics, and decorative arts. I really liked it.

York Minster - This magnificent cathedral is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Climb the tower for panoramic views of the city. There is a nice park to relax with a book and a coffee.

York City Walls - York's medieval walls offer a scenic way to explore the city and provide great views of the historic architecture. Great to walk. You'll find some nice places for coffee along the way.

The Shambles - This narrow, cobbled street is lined with overhanging timber-framed buildings, creating a picturesque and atmospheric setting. It's perfect for shopping and strolling. Yes, it is touristy. Very touristy.

The Best Day Trips from York

There are so many reasons to enjoy York but there might be as many reasons also to leave York for a great day trip to other places in Yorkshire.

The Bolton Abbey, in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire is situated on larger grounds owned by the Devonshire family since 1753.

Durham is a a beautiful historic city in the North of England. Known for the prestige Durham University, this place is all pretty picturesque. The Romanesque cathedral is surrounded by winding cobbled lanes and a beautiful riverside setting.

I really enjoyed spa town Harrogate which is only a 45 minute train journey from York (watch out for the spectacular Knaresborough Viaduct). Harrogate is a charming town with interesting shops, heaps of Regency history, and some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in North Yorkshire. Go down to the Montepellier Quarter where you'll find the iconic Betty's Tearoom for a luxurious afternoon tea (prepare to queue). On your way back or to Harrogate it is worth stopping over at Knaresborough, best known for its Victorian viaduct that spans the River Nidd. Wander along the riverside, row a boat or keep walking up to the paths around the castle where you'll have the best view of the viaduct.

Leeds is a great city on your way in or out from York by train. A buzzing food scene and craft breweries that could potentially even rival London. Have you ever heard of The Golden Triangle? A term commonly used by estate agents for the area of West and North Yorkshire lying between Harrogate, York and North Leeds.

If you like country houses, Harewood House is worth a visit. Have you seen the first Downtown Abbey movie? The House was built in the 18th century and has art collections to rival the finest in Britain. Castle Howard is another 17th-century country house with extensive gardens, just half an hour from York city centre.

Picture postcard Whitby, to reach by Coastliner if you don't have a car, is Yorkshire's finest seaside town full of history. Climb the 199 steps to St Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey and visit the Magpie Café for a chippy. Five miles out of Whitby, Robin's Hood Bay is one of the prettiest villages in the United Kingdom. Enjoy the short, scenic walk from Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole (3 miles). Further down from Robin's Hood Bay you'll drive into Scarborough which is one of England's most famous seaside resort towns also famous for its annual fair.

Last but not least, the York Moors National Park. This time I didn't had the time to visit this famous National Park which makes it the best reason possible to visit again. Stay tuned, I will go back in 2023.

Are you still wondering why I love Yorkshire?

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