York is a charming little city in the north east of England, full of history and culture. If you’re heading to the UK on your travels it’s a great place to stop for a day or two, ideally situated between London and Edinburgh. Unfortunately it is one of the most expensive cities in the north of the country, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed on a budget. Here are some top tips to help you enjoy York for less than $25 a day.
The closest airport is Leeds Bradford (LBA), a fifty minute drive away, but if you’re already in the country it’s best to get a train or bus. There are direct trains from London and most other major cities across Great Britain, and if you book a week or two in advance you can get a great deal. If it’s more of a last minute decision to head to York, getting a bus will probably work out cheaper, though it will be a little more time consuming.
As I have lived in York for nearly my whole life, I have never had to worry too much about finding a place to stay. Having looked in to accommodation options for this post, I have discovered it is unfortunately rather expensive. The cheapest hostel I’ve been able to find comes in at £15 ($25.15), so if you really want to do this for less than $25 a day it’s going to have to be Couchsurfing.
Once you’ve made it to York everything you could need is within easy walking distance. Most trains and buses will take you straight to the railway station, and from there all the major attractions are within a fifteen minute walk at most. If you do want to get out into the suburbs though, I would recommend getting your hands on a bicycle. York is a very flat town making it one of the best places in the country to enjoy a bike ride, so much so that it has even won awards for being a cycling city.
If you’re after a small bite for lunch the place to be is Mr Sandwich on The Shambles. While I was a little saddened to find that the prices had recently shot up from £1 ($1.70) to £1.25 ($2.10), it is still one of the best deals you can get in town. You can literally have any sandwich on the expansive menu, or even create your own combo of ingredients, for just £1.25. That should keep you going for a little while.
When it comes to dinner, you’re best to eat early, with a number of restaurants offering ‘early bird’ discounts. Rustique, a French bistro that actually has two premises in York on Castlegate and Lendal, offers two courses for £13 ($21.80) if you eat before 7pm. Another of my favourites is Il Paradiso Del Cibo, an authentic little Itallian on Walmgate, where pizzas start from £7 ($11.80). This price is available all day, but to guarantee a table you will need to book in advance.
The beauty of York comes from the array of historical buildings and architectural wonders which you can wander around and enjoy for free. Despite the number of years I’ve lived in York and the number of times I’ve walked down the same streets, I can still spend hours just walking around the town and admiring the architecture and views. Some of the best spots for this are Stonegate, Petergate and The Shambles, but I’m sure whichever street you wander down you’ll discover something beautiful.
Another great way to pass the time and soak up the city’s atmosphere for free is to check out the green spaces. Head to the Museum Gardens to discover the ruins of an old abbey, Rowntree’s Park to admire the lake and watch the ducks swimming by, or simply take a walk along the banks of one of the city’s two rivers.
York also has an abundance of museums to explore, including Clifford’s Tower, The Jorvik Centre, The Castle Museum and The National Railway Museum. Only the last of these is free for visitors, but all are free or heavily discounted for locals. If you’re staying with a Couchsurfing host it’s always worth asking if they have a resident’s card you could borrow for the day.
About the author:
Catherine has lived in York for most of her life, but is currently making preparations to leave the city and travel the world indefinitely. You can follow her journey from the workplace to the world on . As well as tips and tricks for preparing for long term travel, you can find out more about her hometown and read stories from different destinations she has visited in the past. You can also follow Catherine on Pinterest.