How to spend 48 hours in York – and bring back great memories with personalised gifts

Spend 48 hours in York

I have fond memories of York.

My first trip away from my parents was in York while on a week-long Year 6 trip. I remember feeling scared at York Dungeon, intrigued in the JORVIK Viking Centre, wowed by York Minster, and infatuated with my very first crush (you know who you are… Adam). I also managed to bring back some great personalised gifts for the family, which summed up my time in York beautifully.

Thinking back 25 years (feel free to do the math), I am pretty sure life has changed in York somewhat. So, with the help of some York lovers – and locals – and, of course, my treasured memories, below you will find some ways to spend a very packed 48 hours in York – and I’ve listed places where you can find great personalised gifts for the friends and family too, so the memories live on forever.

Happy birthday Thornton truffles

“There’s so much to do in and around York and the park and ride makes it so easy. If you want to go on the outskirts, the Air Museum is fantastic value.” Leyla Brooke, This Day I Love

Walk the Walls

York walls

(Image taken from www.yorkwalls.org.uk)

Founded in AD 71, York’s City Centre is surrounded by historic walls, and you can access the 3.4-kilometre wall trail (the longest medieval town wall in England) by foot throughout the year. Completing the circuit will take around two hours and there are five main bars or gateways, one Victorian gateway, one postern (small gateway) and 45 towers.

York Walls

(Image taken from http://www.yorkwalls.org.UK)

“York is surrounded by walls that protected the castle that is still standing today. You can walk around them. It’s pretty cool and very, very old.” Kirsty, The Money Saving Mum

York walls

(Image taken from https://www.visityork.org)

“Wander. It’s a beautiful city to walk around – as long as the weather is good!” Karen, Twice Microwaved Tea

Visit York Minster

York Minister

York Minster is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe. It took a whopping 250 years to build and if you climb to the top of the Central Tower you will be greeted with amazing views that span over the entire town. You can stop off at the gift shop (although you won’t find personalised gifts) and bring back a magnet – or an Archbishop of York!

“Visit York Minster! It’s such a beautiful building, inside and out.” Jennifer, My Mummy’s pennies

“Walk down The Shambles and around the Bar Walls, visit the Railway Museum or Clifford’s Tower, there’s so much to see and do. I love the place where I was born.” Louise, My Three and Me

“The train museum is great for all the family and free. Cathedral was fab too, well worth walking up lots of stairs to see the view from the roof.” Sam, Mummy Market

Head over to National Railway Museum with your Future Engineers

National Railway Museum

(Image taken from https://www.visityork.org/)

The National Railway Museum is part of the Science Museum group and features a whole load of activities and locomotive fun for train lovers. Discover the intricate details of railway history at the Museum’s Exhibition, and then journey back in time to the golden age of steam with a ride behind a steam locomotive. The Railway Museum is also a great place for budding future engineers who can unleash their scientist brain at The Railway Museum’s biggest ever Future Engineers event during October half term. When you’re done, head to the gift shop and bring back a souvenir for your troubles.

“The Train Museum is amazing, definitely worth a couple of hours.” Emma, The Cheshire Wife

Discover the return of the Vikings at the JORVIK Viking Centre

JORVIK Viking Centre

(Image taken from https://www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk)

JORVIK Viking Centre sticks out the most for me, even though it has been 25 years since I last visited. Although completely re-imagined, the world famous and award-winning JORVIK Viking Centre still hosts the most famous and astounding discoveries of modern archaeology. During 1976 to 1981, the York Archaeological Trust revealed a Viking-Age city of houses, workshops and backyards as they stood nearly 1,000 years ago, so you can experience life as it would have been during 10th century York. Travel around the reconstruction of the city, which is based on actual archaeological evidence found during the Coppergate excavation and discover the culture, through animatronics characters, ancient languages and innovative touch screen displays. There’s so much to do, you’ll need a good few hours for this visit! And, there are loads of great gifts that you can bring back for friends and family at the gift shop!

“Don’t miss out on a trip to the JORVIK Centre! Oh, and Yorkshire Pudding wrap is a must! 😋” Lisa, That British Betty

Down the road you’ll find Thorntons, where you can stop off and buy some lovely personalised gifts, like Alphabet Truffles or even a Personalised Afternoon Tea Giftset (I’m adding this to my Gift List!)

Merry Christmas Truffles THorntons
Truffles thorntons

“York has a long association with chocolate and had two chocolate factories here until a few years ago. We had both Terry’s of York and Rowntree’s of York – you can still smell the chocolate being made when you drive past the big Nestle factory. To learn more (and to experience it first-hand!) you can visit York’s Chocolate Story right in York City Centre,” Nikki, Yorkshire Wonders

Be prepared to be scared at York Dungeon

York Dungeon

(Image taken from https://www.thedungeons.com/york/en/)

Even though it was 25 years ago, I still remember York Dungeon clearly – that’s how freaked I was by all the wax figures and the screaming and moaning. I still remember the fake blood and the scared faces.

Fast forward to 2018 and York Dungeon has completely transformed. The technology has made the experience scarier, with real actors and more frightening props. There are tons more shows to watch and events to take part in too.

“Me and the husband went to York dungeons which was brilliant and then York Chocolate Story where we tried cocoa beans. Then we went for a walk up the shambles.” Gemma, Yorkshire Mum of 4

“York Dungeon is a great place to visit if you have older children. York is closely associated with Guy Fawkes as he was born there.” Jo, A Rose-Tinted World

Enter if you dare!

Get in some exercise and climb Clifford’s Tower

“If you are feeling fit, you can climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower, which is opposite the Castle Museum.” Jo, A Rose-Tinted World

Clifford's Tower

(Image taken from https://www.yorkmix.com/)

You can find stunning panoramic views over Old York at the top of Clifford’s Tower, but it is a bit of climb! It is almost all that remains of York Castle which was built by William the Conqueror and it has served as a prison and a royal mint during its time. Take the tour by scaling the steep steps of the ancient mount and then enter the forebuilding of the castle. Climb right to the top where you can find an open-air wall walk. Then bring out your camera and take some pretty amazing shots over the city of York. When you’re done, head to the shop and find some awesome gifts that you can personalise when you get home.

“Betty’s Tea Room! Walk through the old cobbled streets and along the walls.” Michaela, Adventures of a Yorkshire Mum

Visit the Castle Museum

“The Castle Museum is fantastic, they have a complete replica of Victorian Street and it’s so atmospheric!” Kate, Ever After with Kids

Castle Museum

(The Eye of York, York Castle Museum – Image taken from https://www.visityork.org)

The Castle Museum, which is currently celebrating its 80th year, has quite a history! Its first opening was on 23 April (St. George’s Day) in 1938 and was founded by Dr John Lamplugh Kirk, a doctor from Pickering. Its recreated Victorian Street is now world-famous, and more than 32 million people have graced the museum since then. The Castle Museum displays objects organised in chronological and typographical order, which is what Dr Kirk wanted the focus of the museum to be. The aim was to transport people back in time to during the First World War and beyond. Make sure to check out the Exhibitions online before you head off.

Go on a River Cruise down the River Ouse

“Cruise up the Ouse!” Joanne, Kids Day Out Reviews

River cruise down river Ouse

(Thanks to Joanne for the image of York Boat taken from https://kidsdaysoutreviews.co.uk/york-boat-york-north-yorkshire/)

When you’re in York, you’ve got to take advantage of the Rive Ouse and cruise along the river, escaping the city rush and admiring the scenery from the comfort of a Yorkboat. In AD 71, the Romans built a fortress around the River Ouse, which you can now navigate via the Yorkboat. As you cruise along, you can take in the amazing history of York from a live commentary that is delivered by a local. Spy where the Saxons fought the Vikings in 1066, where monks entertained their guests and where witches were ducked in the Middle Ages. Then grab a drink from the bar and rest up!

“Go on a river cruise, lovely way to spend an hour.” Lindsay, Newcastle Family Life

Stop off for a great bite to eat at Pizza Express

“For food go to the Pizza Express on Museum Street. Absolutely stunning Victorian building!” https://busymumlifestyle.co.uk

Pizza Express York

(Pizza Express, York River House – Image taken from https://www.visityork.org/)

Based on Lendal Bridge and overlooking the River House in the heart of York City, York River House recently re-opened as a beautiful Victorian style restaurant, inspired by all the fantastic scenery surrounding the building. Even the toilets have been carefully restored to reflect the building’s Victorian past! Enjoy the setting as you tuck into your pizza!

Visit the Thorntons Cafe for something sweet

A visit to the Thorntons Café house in the McAuthurGlen York Designer Outlet is a must. There’s no better way to put your feet up after a busy day of hitting the shops than by enjoying an indulgent hot chocolate and sweet treat. There’s something for everyone there, as the cafe serves a range of warming teas and coffees, as well as offering a full patisserie, confectionary and cake selection. There will definitely be something you can take home to enjoy at a later date as a reminder of your experience.

Thornton's Cafe York

“Visit the fudge shop next. You get to watch them make it and sample warm fudge. Then if you are a bit thirsty, pop a few doors down to the shop that sells flavoured vodka and gin and try a few out. The Teddy bear shop is pretty awesome too.” Jade, Jades Long Journey

Check into the Fudge Kitchen where you can watch a demonstration of the famous fudge being made. Personalise your experience with up to 20 handmade fudge flavours from the counter or build your own box of either Whipping Cream Fudge, Butter Fudge, Drinking Fudge or personalised Hampers stocked full of fudge!

Head to the quirky bars at night time

York Bars at Night

(Circles Café and Gin Bar – Image taken from https://www.visityork.org/)

“Drink cocktails! York is filled with so many quirky bars that you’ll be spoilt for choice! If Gin is your tipple, then ‘Evil Eye’ is my personal recommendation. I’m not that much of a gin lover and even I was impressed! ” Becky, Mommy and Rory

If the weather is nice, take a rest from your sightseeing at one of the quaint coffee shops, eateries or bars. Or you can head to Circles Café and Gin Bar which encompasses all three and has a garden area over the River Ouse, with great views of York!

“Eat at the Dean Court Hotel near the stunning Minster or go on a brewery tour with Brewtown Tours,” Sophie, Mama Mei and Yorkshire Families

Sleep in style at one of York’s many hotels

York Hotels

(Dean Court York – Image taken from https://www.visityork.org/

When you’ve had a long day, check in at one of the many hotels or B&Bs around York. The 4-Star Dean Court Hotel, which is situated just by York Minster, boasts superior services and amenities and 40 unique individual bedrooms, so you can relax in style after your long day around York. Family Rooms can be booked for up to 5 people and there is a charge of £18.40 per night to use the car park. Guests can leave their cars up to 10pm on the day of departure so you have more time to enjoy York City before you head home.

As you can see with what York City has to offer, you can pack in a lot in 48 hours. We are definitely going to be booking in a full 48 hours during half term, so the boys can relive what I enjoyed all those years ago.

How to spend 48 hours in York - and bring back great memories with personalised gifts #york #personalisedgifts #familyholidays #48hours

*Collaborative feature psost*

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Leyla Preston (564 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 6. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked! You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/