York is one of the most historically rich cities in the United Kingdom, life can be traced back to the 7th Century which means it is full of gorgeous period buildings and interesting historical facts to match. There’s so much to see and do in the city that you really can spend a couple of days here, so let’s pack your itinerary with how we spent 24 hours in the historic city of York.

Sightseeing in York

Take a wander down The Shambles, where you’ll want to look above walking down this narrow street with overhanging timber-framed buildings, once known as The Great Flesh Shambles (probably from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels) – this was the word for the shelves butchers used to display their meat for sale on. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into Diagon Alley as J.K. Rowling used The Shambles as inspiration when creating this now-famous street. 

The Shambles | Visit York | How to spend 24 hours in York | Staycation Travel Guide | Elle Blonde Luxury Lifestyle Destination Blog

Not too far from The Shambles, you’ll see York Minster. One of the largest Cathedrals of its kind in Northern Europe this is the Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York and is simply stunning. Originally erected in the 7th century, you are able to book tickets to visit the Minister (and join in service). Tickets can be found here. 

If you’re looking for a Museum in York, then head to The National Railway Museum (part of the Science Museum Group) to discover the story and history of rail transport in Britain. Get up close with the locomotives around the turntable. Admission is completely free, however, donations are welcome.

If you really want to get a sense of historic York then we highly recommend a trip to The York Dungeon*. The Dungeon depicts important periods across 2000 years of history using actor-led shows and special effects.

The York Dungeon | Visit York | How to spend 24 hours in York | Staycation Travel Guide | Elle Blonde Luxury Lifestyle Destination Blog

The 11 lives shows bring together a blood-curdling scare-fest with comedy in this 75-minute immersive experience. Come face-to-face with characters from the past including Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin. Be prepared for some audience participation as you make your way through the Dungeon, with putrid smells that transport you back to events like the bubonic plague, and the local alehouse. 

Pre-book tickets to The Dungeon here.

Hotels in York

York is full of places to stay from global hotel chains like Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo to independent hotels and b&bs like the York Aparthotel and The Grand Hotel. I highly recommend a stay at The Principal Hotel as the interiors are gorgeous.

There are plenty of central locations in York to suit all budgets and preferences. You can check out the best hotels in York on Booking.com below.


Bars and Restaurants in York

York is a culinary haven too with plenty of places to dine. From tourist’s favourite, Betty’s which claim that no trip to York is complete without a trip to Betty’s. With beautiful interiors and delicious cakes queues often wrap around the corner with visitors waiting for their Betty’s fill. 

There are also plenty of bars and pubs that line the riverbanks and during the Summer the terraces are bustling with hen and stag parties in York. With the Guy Fawkes Inn, Tank & Paddle, Bobo Loco, Jalou, Kuda York, House of The Trembling Madness, Vudu Lounge and Revolution York to name a few there’s plenty of cocktails, craft ales and more to be found. With many of the bars and clubs located in historic buildings, there’s plenty of places to enjoy day or night drinking. 

If you’re looking for restaurants in York there are also some top quality spots with some of the most hailed eateries including; Buongiorno, The Block, skosh, Pairings Wine Bar and The Blue Barbakan to name but a few.

We particularly enjoy a late lunch at independently owned The Cut & Craft if we’re not staying overnight and just visiting for the day. On this 24 hour trip to York, we headed to The Principal Hotel’s restaurant; The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace* for dinner. 

Arriving early we were warmly greeted by the maître d’ before being shown to our table. We opted for the house merlot (£20) as we perused the menu. For starters, we opted for Popcorn Chicken with Smokey Honey (£4.50) and Tarragon and lime tiger prawns, carrot and soy remoulade (£9). The service was impeccable and the wait staff were extremely attentive. Our starters were served quickly and were both freshly served and packed full of flavour.

For our main courses, we chose the Double 4oz R&J Butchers beef burger, Maida Vale cheese and sweet chilli relish in a pretzel bun, chunky chips (£16.50) and 8oz hanger steak served with chips, vine-on tomatoes, Portobello mushroom and red wine jus (£16.50). The main courses were again served promptly, the hanger steak (my favourite cut of steak) was a little too tough for my liking, the chips were delicious though as were the mushrooms. The burger was jam-packed and oozed with cheese, the patties were really flavoursome too and this came highly recommended.

We shared dessert which was Warm chocolate and hazelnut brownie, chocolate crumble, blood orange sorbet (£6.95) which was our favourite course. The brownie was absolutely delicious and paired perfectly with the sorbet to create a chocolate orange fusion without being too heavy. It was the perfect sharing size too. 

The Principal Visit York | How to spend 24 hours in York | Staycation Travel Guide | Elle Blonde Luxury Lifestyle Destination Blog

We enjoyed our meal at The Principal’s Refectory Kitchen & Terrace and felt that the pricing was extremely reasonable given the central location and location inside the hotel. With that said, it wasn’t our favourite meal we’ve had in York however a really great place to go for an intimate, romantic meal. The Principal is located directly next to the train station and a 5-minute walk from The York Dungeon so is in an exceptionally desirable location. 

Have you visited York? What were your highlights? I’d love to know in the comment box below. As always if you’ve found this article helpful we’d love you to share it with friends and family and across social media.

The York Dungeon | Visit York | How to spend 24 hours in York | Staycation Travel Guide | Elle Blonde Luxury Lifestyle Destination Blog


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