Without hesitation my favourite UK city is York! I never tire of walking it’s historic streets and wandering through it little ginnels with overhanging houses! I love the architecture and combination of eras that so seamlessly sit together and I love walking its walls. Generally though, I just enjoy the feeling I have when I am there – whatever the weather!
York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historic cities. The Romans knew it as Eboracum. To the Saxons it was Eoforwick. The Vikings – who came as invaders but stayed on it’s settlements – Called it Jorvik! It’s more recent history (and the one that draws me back time and time again) is seen in the Minster and medieval architecture, the georgian town houses lining its streets, and Victorian railway station!
Whether you are a history buff, a foodie or a family wanting to learn more about York and have a fun day out – York has something for everyone. And, every now and then, we like to be tourists on our own turf and reignite the love we have for that place. York is bursting with amazing places to take kids to and on Saturday we had the opportunity to hop around York using the York pass and take in more of what this splendid City that is in the heart of Yorkshire has to offer.
WHAT IS THE YORK PASS?
In a nutshell, the York pass is York’s official sightseeing pass. It caught my eye when I was looking for things to do as a family that would enable us to pay once but do lots (or repeat visits) for that one payment (so as to save money at what can quickly become an expensive time of year). I was excited when they invited us along to see how it works and we quickly realised that the York pass is a fantastic way to fill a couple of days with amazing things for all the family (as well as dinner included) and save a lot in the process.
York Pass is convenient and easy to use, and is available as an instant mobile download on your smartphone. It starts at £45/adult and £30/child for a 24 hour pass, and depending on what you want to do, there are options right up to a 6 day York and beyond pass – ideal for lots of wonderful places to the kids through a whole week of summer (or other school holidays) in North Yorkshire (think castle Howard, York Maze etc). It includes a Free guidebook and 24 hour York City Sightseeing bus ticket (which we would have used if the weather hadn’t have been so dire!). And new for 2019 – a pasta or pizza at ASK Italian (T&Cs apply). Plus discount vouchers for ghost walks, evening river cruises, taxis and car hire.
So here’s what we got up to in a day in York with the York pass!
1 – JORVIK
Our first stop had to be Jorvik. Because, even after all of the visits we have had to York, we have never actually being to Jorvik (scandal I know!).
I didn’t really know what to expect with it and yet quickly discovered that it wasn’t anything like I thought either. The kids loved the experience as you make your way downstairs to walk over the remains of the archaeological dig of 1976-81 that revealed the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-Age city of Jorvik as it stood nearly 1,000 years ago. These incredible discoveries enabled JORVIK Viking Centre to be built on the very site where the excavations had taken place, creating a groundbreaking visitor experience where you take a journey through the reconstruction of Viking-Age streets and experience life as it would have been in 10th century York.
It was pretty fascinating and the kids loved the whole experience! At the end is a small museum where you can get up close with all of the things they dug up from the vikings – From immaculately preserved shoes and pots, to Jewellery and even skeletons! It was most definitely worth a visit and all of the staff in costume bring it to life!
2 – CLIFFORDS TOWER
Our next stop on our adventure was Clifford’s tower – the “castle” that captures everyone’s eye when you enter York. Built in 1245-72 (with original ground dating back to 1068) it offers stunning panoramic views over Old York.
Old castles or castle towers like this one, are ideal for igniting the kids imaginations and giving them a step into history. They loved climbing the spiral stone staircases to the top, wandering round and admiring the views/pretending to fire arrows at invaders (other tourists – awks!). They then took full advantage of the dressing up and wooden swords downstairs in the tower – reenacting a medieval battle as bystanders looked on!
We didn’t spend too long at cliffords tower, but loved that with the York Pass we didn’t feel a need to as it offered us an insight before moving on to the next exciting experience.
3 – THE SHAMBLES
Not technically part of the pass, but we couldn’t come to York and not walk up the shambles. For those not familiar with York, this is probably one of the most exciting parts of York and filled with keen tourists photographing the leaning medieval houses and little English shops. Here the kids commented how much it felt like Diagon Alley from Harry potter, and I think the many “Wizard” shops that have taken home there, they too have felt the same. We wandered through here on our way to York’s Chocolate story – our next exciting experience!
4 – YORK’S CHOCOLATE STORY
We love York’s Chocolate story since visiting a couple of years ago. And another visit with our York Pass didn’t disappoint! I love hearing about the sweet side of this city and feeling proud of all of the world renown chocolate and confectionary that was created right here in Yorkshire. I enjoy hearing of the women involved and being shocked at the crazy kit kat flavours available around the world.
The experience takes you on a history tour of chocolate world wide and how it evolved right here in York – looking at all of our faves. There are plenty of free samples and the kids favourite part – an opportunity to make your own chocolate lollies to take home!
5 – A BOAT RIDE
A river cruise with City Cruises York felt weird in monsoon weather, but was also a great opportunity to dry off under deck and so this was our next experience! It was pretty to go up the river Ouse and hear more about the use of the river through York’s history. The kids loved the fun of being on a big boat and I enjoyed a new view of the city as we passed under old bridges and behind old buildings! We mostly enjoyed putting our feet up and enjoying the ride after so much walking and standing around the city!
6 – ASK ITALIAN
By 4.30pm we were little scratty, hungry drowned rats and so made our way to Ask Italian for a delicious pizza tea! One of the bonuses for me about the York Pass is that included in it is a free meal each – a selection of pizza or pasta for adults and a full kids meal for the kids! Anyone that eats out as a family will know how expensive this could quickly become, but I love that you can have all of these wonderful experiences together around the city, as well as a lovely dinner in what is quite possibly the prettiest restaurant I have been to. Ask York has incredible interiors and architecture, as well as great service – a tasty treat to round off a wonderful day!
If it hadn’t have been raining so much we would have also have liked to have taken a ride on the open top sightseeing bus and go visit the cold war bunker too. I was hoping to fit in the York castle museum which looks brilliant, but that will have to wait for another day (we are ambitious sightseers!). We bypassed Fairfax house as we went last year, but that, as well as some of the other historic houses in York that we have also been to are all well worth a visit too! Also if we didn’t have our Village show on the sunday (which I was singing at with our choir) then we would have totally used the York and beyond passes to either go to Castle howard or Eden camp – both of which are up there on our must sees this year!
Either way, we had a brilliant day in York and learnt that investing in a York pass; be it for 24 hours or several days, is such a quick way to see things and opens up so many attractions for some fun family time or a date! I commented to Nathan that it would be great to get and have a night away – visit some other museums we are yet to discover, go to York Dungeons (also included) and have a meal out and a boat ride – how wonderful for only £45 each!
However way you use it, you will be spoilt for choice on places to go and things to see and do and will be amazed at the savings you make! Another wet but glorious day in York!
*We received the York pass complimentary for the purpose of this review! All thoughts and images are my own!