With everything from Viking history to designer shopping, York has more attractions per square mile than any other UK city, says Laura Shepherd.

Centrally located in the UK (but just two hours on the train from London), what lies within York’s ancient city walls will easily keep you busy for a full weekend. And it doesn’t matter what time of year you visit the city, but the cosy pubs lying off York’s cobbled streets are particularly alluring in winter.

This is a feature from Issue 7 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

Friday lunchtime

A stone’s throw away from the train station and with impressive views of the city, the Principle Hotel comfortably mixes traditional and modern touches across its range of beautiful rooms and suites. Check in and dump those bags. Serving classic British dishes, The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace is on site so you can refuel without having to move.

Friday afternoon

A short stroll across the River Ouse take you to York Museum Gardens, a lovely space to unwind after a journey. They are set amongst the atmospheric medieval ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and are free to visit and are open every day.

Get your bearings at the must-see York Minster. This beautiful gothic building crafted in stone and stained glass is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals and one of Europe’s largest. Follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers through underground chambers transformed with audiovisual and interactive galleries to discover the stories from a fascinating 1,000 year history. For panoramic views of the city and surrounding country side, climb the 275 steps to the top of the Minster.

Head down to York’s most famous and most photographed street, the Shambles. The crooked old buildings are in touching distance of each other so you can wander leisurely between lovely boutiques, quirky shops, and cosy cafés.  The Shambles was apparently the inspiration behind J.K Rowling’s Diagon Alley, and if you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll soon see why.

Friday evening

If all the shopping has worked up an appetite, stroll back towards the river and the Star Inn the City, which has a beautiful open plan terrace looking over the Ouse and a seasonal Yorkshire-sourced menu. Alternatively, The Ivy on St Helen’s Square is a glamourous treat, especially if you’re with your girlfriends, serving great food in a sophisticated but cosy setting.

Saturday morning

Head to York’s Chocolate Story and unwrap the history of this delicious treat in a 90-minute guided tour. You’ll learn some fun facts about the creation of York’s greatest chocolate products, including chocolate oranges and Kit Kats, and hear the stories behind the city’s famous sweet-making families – Terry’s, Craven’s, and Rowntree’s. You’ll be pleased to hear that you  get to taste along the way and even create your very own chocolate lolly. 

Head to Coppergate and one of York’s most loved attractions, the Jorvik Viking Centre. Travel back in time on a chairlift through Viking-age streets to experience the sights the sounds, and even the smells of York over 1,000 years ago. 

Saturday afternoon

York has many great spots for afternoon tea but Betty’s is so good you should book ahead. It serves a traditional afternoon tea all day, every day, but the bookable option serves the scrumptious selection of sandwiches, scones, and cakes in the beautiful Belmont Room. Betty’s also has treats to take away in its bakery. Try a fat Rascal, a cross between a scone and a cake.

Saturday evening

Wine and dine at The Rise Restaurant in the city’s only five star hotel, The Grand, York. Expect modern British cuisine in a luxurious setting with an open kitchen and a heated garden terrace.

For your night cap, drop in to the Evil Eye Lounge. this quirky bar has a Guinness World Record for offering the most varieties of gin commercially available (1,028) and has a great gift shop too. 

Sunday Morning

Named one of the ‘best breakfast places in the UK’, at the Pig and Pastry on Bishopthorpe Road (‘Bishy Road’ as the locals call is) has a fantastic choice of breakfast bowls, brunches, and sandwiches, all made from regional ingredients. Try the BAFTA (a bacon, avocado, feta, tomato, and aoli sandwich). Brew and Brownie on Museum Street serves delicious breakfasts and has a bake shop so you can grab a tasty treat for the journey home.

Last but not least, walk the city walls for the perfect end to your weekend, The full circle takes about two hours, but it’s worth it for the amazing city views.

Girl About Travel Club

This feature comes to you via the Girl About Travel Club. Free to join, this all-female members’ club and travel concierge service empowers women to dream, plan and book amazing holidays that can’t be googled. Run by travel industry experts, Girl About is a network of women sharing reviews and recommendations and offers unbiased advice, travel guides, itineraries, offers and discounts. Charitable Travel is the official partner of Girl About, meaning members can seamlessly book incredible holidays via the club – and of course give money to their favourite charity.
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This is a feature from Issue 7 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.