York - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to York


From the remains of a Viking settlement discovered deep beneath Coppergate Street, to the medieval wall surrounding the old city and the splendour of Castle Howard (the setting for TV's Brideshead Revisited), York is a city steeped in history.

Founded in the year 71, York is located at the convergence of the Ouse and Foss rivers and was thus a strategic Northern hub, passing through the hands of the Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans respectively. The varied history of the city is evident in its magnificent architecture - from Viking ruins and the walled city to York's most imposing building, the Minster. Northern Europe's largest Gothic Cathedral, the Minster took more than 250 years to complete, and is an impressive structure surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Other popular attractions in the city include the fascinating Jorvik Viking Centre, the York Maze, the York Dungeons and the Shambles, one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cobbled streets. The Shambles area is well worth an afternoon stroll, with its winding narrow lanes, picturesque buildings and quaint shops. Alternatively, a more 'other worldly' way to experience this historic area is on the York Ghost Hunt - a fun and fascinating tour that operates rain or shine through the city streets, in search of York's more illusive residents.

This is not just a city of history, however, and the presence of York University means that it is a lively mix of the old and the new. There are plenty of shops, bars, clubs and restaurants and weary travellers in York can spend their afternoon in one of the city's excellent tea rooms or coffee shops, while the evenings offer West End-style shows at North England prices, or some good English pub grub.

Information & Facts


Typical of the United Kingdom, York's climate is highly changeable. The summer months (June to September) are usually sunny and mild, though mornings can also be cloudy and damp. Summer temperatures usually range from 64-70°F (18-21°C), with temperatures dropping to around 52°F (11°C) at night. November to January are the coldest, wettest months and although snowfall is minimal, days can be frosty. A popular time to travel to York is in the spring (March to May), when the weather is mild and the flowers are in bloom.

Getting Around

As York is highly pedestrianised, the best way to take in all the sights and sounds of the city is on foot. Many travellers also choose to hire a car, and there are plenty of major car rental agencies around, but taxis, buses and trains are all reliable and readily available. Parking tends to be expensive, and the streets can be confusing for new arrivals. There are about 20 bus routes, and the city is separated into zones, with the cost of the journey varying accordingly. Off-peak day passes are available. Hiring a bicycle is also a good option for exploring the city, as it is accommodating towards cyclists.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

Award-winning Castle Howard is one of York's most striking attractions. Home to the Howard family for over 300 years, the Castle took 100 years to build, outliving several architects, craftsmen and three earls, to become the setting for the popular TV series, Brideshead Revisited. The spectacular estate comprises of acres of farmland and exquisite gardens, while the interior is a treasure trove of paintings, furniture, sculptures and more. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour, but historical costumed guides are available to answer questions and share information about the history of the house, the Howard family and the collections. Regular guided tours are also available and the Castle frequently plays host to a range of exhibitions, lectures, events and dinners. The Castle also has a gift shop, cafés and a plant centre.

Set on a 'Viking Dig' archaeological site, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a fascinating exploration of the Viking presence in York over 1,000 years ago. Between 1976 and 1981, the York Archaeological Trust excavated thousands of Viking era objects, including wooden houses, alleyways and fence lines, all part of the ancient centre of Viking power in England, Jorvik. Shortly after, the centre opened its doors and swiftly became a popular tourist attraction in the city. With over 800 items on display, informative exhibits, reconstructions of the excavated Viking village (including authentic smells and sounds!) and 'Viking' guides, the centre offers visitors the chance to experience what life was like in 975AD. A highly popular event is the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in February, where Vikings roam the streets of York once more. Enjoy weaponry displays, hands-on activities (including shield building and excavating), re-enactments of Viking boat burials, guided walks, an evening of ancient tales and songs, and more.

Not for the faint-hearted, the York Dungeons present a fascinating journey back in time and visitors are guaranteed a ghoulish, grisly experience that will be hard to forget. From the plague-riddled streets of 14th century York, to the Labyrinth of the Lost and its ghostly Lost Roman Legion, adventures with the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin, to the Pit of Despair, Witch Trials, and the real Viking story, visitors can certainly expect the unexpected. Be tried and convicted in the Judgement of Sinners trials, witness hangings and marvel at the life-like waxworks on display. The tour is not recommended for those with a nervous disposition or weak stomach and children must be accompanied by an adult.

For over 1,000 years, York Minster has been a principal place of worship for the York area. The largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, this impressive building is open to the public and visitors can enjoy the peace and beauty of the interior of the church and its many stained glass windows, including the well-known Rose window, and marvel at the fascinating ancient remains beneath the church in the Undercroft and spectacular views from the top of the tower 275 steps up. Audio tours are available. York Minster also has its own gift shop, as well as a restaurant/café.

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