On my recent trip to Manchester, England for a collaboration with VisitBritain, Visit Manchester, Virgin Atlantic, and Travel Mindset, I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in York. Located about a 1 1/4-hour train ride from Manchester’s Victoria Station, it was the ideal escape for a night.
Upon boarding the train, the rain started to pour down — it couldn’t have been better timing. As the train wound its way through the countryside, passing rolling green hills speckled with bright wildflowers, I couldn’t help but savor each moment. Trains have always been one of my favorite ways to travel and what better place to do it than England? The time whipped by. Before I knew it, I was in York.
This particular weekend, the horse races were in town. I watched as couples, groups of friends, and families descended upon the city center dressed perfectly in their suits and colorful dresses — I couldn’t stop gazing. I made my way to The Principal York Hotel where I was booked in for the night, conveniently located footsteps outside the train station. I left my suitcase, took only my camera, and made my way by foot into the heart of the city.
Founded by the Romans, the historic city walls surround the heart of York. With the confluence of the River Ouse and Foss, the heart of York seems to sit high above the river. In the distance, I spotted the famous York Minster — it towers majestically over the buildings. I stopped into the Visitor Information Centre to get situated and made my way for lunch.
It was a bit later than the normal time for lunch when I walked into Gusto. I nearly had the place to myself and started chatting with the server who had a wealth of local knowledge. I had a quick bite and realized that I had acquired a few materials that would require me to go back to the hotel to drop off. My server offered to let me store my bag at the restaurant to save me a trip, and it was that moment that set the tone for the day.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing what I love best: exploring with comfort and curiosity. I climbed to the top of the York Minster’s towers to get oriented and take in the views. I made my way through the historic timber-framed buildings on The Shambles, all the while feeling like I was in a scene of a movie. I popped into the Yorkshire Museum and the JORVIK Viking Centre to learn of the Viking’s prominent history.
Later in the afternoon, I stopped into Mannion & Co for a cup of hot tea and a scone while the rain passed through town. It felt like a storybook — this was everything I was hoping for and more in Northern England. With summer in full force, it meant I had until 9pm for daylight. I returned back to Gusto to pick up my things, enjoyed an Aperol Spritz with the team there who so kindly welcomed me in earlier — we chatted about the World Cup, which restaurants I couldn’t miss in York, and chuckled about everything and anything. It was time to return to the hotel to freshen up before the night would start.
After a quick change, I made my way back to the heart of the city. As per the recommendation of the team at Gusto, I had my heart set on walking the outer wall that began at Bootham Bar. As I made my way onto the walls of the city, the bells of York Minster rang out. The golden light poured over the green, manicured lawns and rooftops of the houses that lined the walls. It couldn’t have been a more perfect moment. I worked my way around the wall, eyeing the beautiful estates and homes, making note of my dream homes. I ended on the other side of the town and thought, “What better place to end the day but on the river’s edge?”
I spent a few good moments enjoying the energy of the locals and visitors in the outdoor terrace. The river flowed under these beautifully arched bridges — it couldn’t have been more idyllic. At that point, my hunger was in full force so I popped into a brasserie for a quick bite (though I wish I would have made the jaunt back over to Cafe No. 8 Bistro for dinner). Filled up, I made my return to the hotel.
As I crossed over the River Ouse one last time, I paused to soak in the view. The sun was setting over the brick walls and roofs, geese floated down the river, and I snapped one last photo of this fairytale city of York.
24 Hours in York, England Guide
- The Principal York
- Mannion & Co
- Cafe No. 8 Bistro
- Burr Coffee
- York Minster
- The Shambles
- City wall
- Yorkshire Museum
- JORVIK Viking Centre
- The Shop That Must Not Be Named
- Buy The York Pass (1, 2, or 3-day, available at the Visitor Information Centre) to get free entry into over 30 attractions in the city.
- York hosts an array of festival throughout the year, head to Visit York to book your adventure.
- Getting there: Thanks to its central location in Northern England, Manchester is the perfect base begin your trip to York. Trains run direct from Manchester Victoria Station at least four times an hour.