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Few cities can rival York for history, personality and, believe it or not, ghost hunters. The city’s crumbling medieval walls encircle a pretty riverside spot with over a thousand years of heritage, but there’s always something new to discover down one of the city’s cobbled side streets. To inspire your next visit, we’ve asked our local insiders to recommend some of the places you shouldn’t miss during a weekend in York.
With a mention in the Domesday Book and – rumour has it – the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, the Shambles wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy tale. The shopping haven is also photographer’s dream with its Tudor-style beamed houses jutting out over a zig-zag of stony streets. Ghost hunters won’t want to miss picking up a spooky souvenir at the York Ghost Merchants, but you’ll also find an excellent array of artisanal tea shops and quirky clothing stores here, too. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
It’s almost impossible to visit York without seeing the Minster; the towering medieval cathedral is the largest of its kind in Europe. Its detailed spires poke out above all other buildings, but arguably the best view is if you approach it from the Shambles. Inside, spend a quiet few moments exploring the ancient stones of the crypt, then splash an extra £5 to pant your way up the central tower’s 275 steps for unrivalled views of the whole city. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
For a taste of more recent history, head to this perfectly preserved Cold War bunker that was only decommissioned in 1991. Now a museum, the semi-subterranean bunker was originally built to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. It’s run on a tour-only basis by an army of enthusiastic volunteers who talk you through what life would have been like had a nuclear missile struck. A chilling reminder of what could have been. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
Ever wondered what a Viking’s house smelt like? Head to the Jorvik Centre on Coppergate to find out. Following the discovery of the remains of a Viking settlement in the 1970s, the Jorvik Centre was established to vividly recreate life in the 10th century using (almost) all five senses. It’s a must-visit for anyone with even the faintest interest in Vikings – and its gruesome details and ride attraction make it a fun-packed day out for younger archaeologists, too. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush