York: Best Kept Secrets Revealed

Everyone who comes to York can’t help but be stunned by the variety of shops on offer. Of course, the usual high street suspects make an appearance, but it’s the independent shops which are far more worth a visit. The vintage scene in York is rapidly growing, and Purple Haze, Deep and Vintage Emporium cater for such tastes. For those magpies out there, Palenque offers a gorgeous array of unique, contemporary jewellery. Be warned, you may find yourself being dragged out by your fed-up companions (I was). Bookworms: head straight to Minster Gate Bookshop. On a street formerly named Bookland Lane, this is your one-stop-shop for antiquarian and second-hand books, spilling out of all five floors of this Georgian town house. No trip is complete with popping into Vom Fass or Demi John. Both offer a unique array of spirits, whiskies and wines. Don’t be afraid to ask for a taste, the assistants are more than willing to offer advice and let you try these awesome, and sometimes questionable, liquors! Allow a decent amount of time as you will be spending more time in here than you anticipated; the tasting can become pretty addictive.

Of course, a little dose of history won’t go amiss. If you desperately want to visit the York Dungeons or Jorvik and you’re on a bit of a budget, download some vouchers from the Visit York website, they’ll save you a wad of cash. Four just £4 you can get into Clifford’s Tower, one of York’s most popular attractions. The climb may be tough for the escalator generation, but the view over the whole city is worth the effort. Walking the walls is completely free and is a great way to see the city and soak up a bit of history on the way. You could check out the Roman baths which have been preserved in a pub’s basement. For the child in you, there are even Roman helmets and chest plates to try out for size. Yet, no trip would be complete without joining a Ghost Walk in the most haunted city in Britain (This ‘most haunted’ theme will crop up from time to time). Famous throughout York, numerous walks are held covering different areas of the city. Even for the biggest doubter, they are a good way to pass the first part of an evening. If the stories are not enough to convince you, then the enthusiasm of the narrator will. I’m sorry, Dad, but these guys far out-do your zealous German accent when reading me The Witches as a kid.

York is not a place for the stuffy history-love who can’t get enough of castles and cathedrals. Instead, it is flourishing into a vibrant city with great nightlife and enough bars to satisfy every taste and budget. You can waste away the day shopping, wandering and discovering, but still have plenty to look forward to in the evening. It’s small enough to walk around without the use of public transport, but if needs must, hop onto the tour bus which stops off at various interest points. Alternatively, rest those aching feet and take in the sights from the open top. This is one of the most varied and intriguing cities, and you won’t find friendlier people, or a more buzzing atmosphere.

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