York is a place of history that has seen civilisations for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence implies that people settle in the region before 7000 BC, which means that York has been part of our history for around 10,000 years. For anybody planning a weekend getaway, the historical path is the first thing that comes to mind.
However, this may not be the best way of keeping your mind open when you explore the legendary Shambles or take a selfie in front of York Minster.
York is a place where people have been living for millennia, and, as such, if you want to discover the real York you need to make sure you can schedule a getaway that embraces all the many experiences of their lives. Step away from the museum tours and dive directly into the authentic culture of the Chocolate City.
Embrace your ancestors
York has had many names. Founded in 71 AD by the Romans, it was called Eboracum – the place of the yew trees. But it’s only with the Norse conquered the city that the name was changed in Jórvík. It doesn’t take long to realise that the current name of the city has been inspired by the Viking language, even if you’re not a trained linguist.
Of course, you can find a variety of historic walls and artefacts in town and the local museums, but if you want to experience the true history of the city, you need to find things to do in York that bring you closer to your ancestors. Take a look at the axe throwing centre at the Hilt, that revive Viking skills and some of their best food too.
Granted, you’re unlikely to become a Viking warrior overnight, but you’re certainly going to feel your Nordic genes reconnecting to the past during the experience!
There is such a thing as the perfect afternoon tea
Despite the many battles for power and revolts that tore the city apart, there’s something undeniably posh and Victorian about York. And, while you may not be ready to swap your combat boots and jeans for a Victorian dress and a corset, you might enjoy some of the delicious treats of the time, aka the afternoon tea.
York does afternoon teas like no one else, and it’s the perfect thing to do during your Yorkshire weekend. For a slightly boozy treat, head to The Grand hotel where you’ll enjoy a feast for the eyes and the tummy. If you don’t mind queueing, though, you need to try Bettys’s afternoon tea in town.
The place is an institution that has been around for over 100 years and serves scrumptious food with a variety of brew.
For planned visits: Enjoy the film festival
If you are planning, it’s a good idea to visit York in November, during the Aesthetica Short Film Festival. The film festival is held every year over a long weekend and gathers some of the most creative minds in the world. Unlike Cannes or Hollywood, everyone can present their creations.
For a moment, York becomes the global capital of creativity and gives everyone a chance to express their ideas and visions. More importantly, as a visitor, you get to watch short films in some of the most beautiful building in town. Consider it a peek behind the scenes in York and into the brain of creative film-makers.
A fast-paced visit that blows your mind
It’s always hard to experience a town in its entirety when you’re a visitor. More often than not, you only get to see a few spots you’ve previously noticed, such as the Shambles or the gorgeous Chocolate Story. But what it feels to live and be in York is a different story.
Some might say it’s impossible to get a feeling of what life is here in a couple of days. But you can gain an overview of what brings the town together with a playful, exploratory puzzle. Challenge yourself to a Viking puzzle at the heart of the city to get to see another side of the people here!
Hop on the steam train
Last but not least, York used to be a busy railway centre. As a result, you can still catch a steam train to head to Scarborough for the day. The steam train experience runs on Thursdays in summer and uses some of the oldest steam engines in the world. You can explore why York was a popular city in the 19th and the early 20th centuries.
York is a must-see place. But don’t let it become a tour of the museum and historical spots in town when you can, for a moment, live life like a local. Whether you choose to be a Viking or to indulge in a Victorian afternoon treat, there is so much to love.
Besides, you can turn it into a creative opportunity to explore other people’s visions and thoughts about the town and existence in general. Enriching is the word that comes to mind when you visit York.
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