Last Updated on January 28, 2024

I love city life. From the differences in commuting on a weekday versus a weekend and the never-ending hustle and bustle, I thrive on the vibe. Sometimes, however, city life can get overwhelming, and when it does, I escape to the countryside.

A train ride to clear my head and a weekend of wandering walks is my ideal.

Needing to slow down my pace a bit from London, I booked a train ticket to York, England. Only a two-hour journey from Kings Cross station in central London, York makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

After enjoying my relaxing train ride, I exited the station and grabbed a taxi to the hotel. York is very walkable, but I needed to figure out my location and had a small suitcase along, so the cab was the easiest option. As the taxi drove through the narrow streets and I caught my first glimpse of York, I knew I would enjoy a window shop and a wander here.

Exploring York

York Minster.
York Minster. Photo by Erin Jones

Within 10 minutes, I arrived at my hotel. I chose Hotel Indigo as I love the boutique feel of these properties along with their reasonable rates. The hotel was only a 10-minute walk from The Shambles, making it centrally located from which to explore.

My room had a cozy feel with a comfy armchair for relaxing after a day of exploration. Although the room was moderately sized, it was chic, modern and well-designed.

York is one of England’s oldest cities, and it’s done an amazing job of maintaining its architecture. The Shambles, one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the city, is one of its gems with narrow, picturesque streets, and overhanging timber-framed buildings. It was made famous by the Harry Potter films depicting the magical atmosphere of Diagon Alley.

Global Potter Mania means it can get busy during the day. For the best photo opportunities, go early or once the shops have closed. You’ll manage to get fantastic pictures and be able to meander down the street at your own pace without bumping into people.

Continuing my stroll through this fascinating city, I ended up at York Minster. The church is magnificent from the outside, a testament to stunning Gothic architecture, its pointed spires reaching to the skies.

Although I couldn’t make my way inside for a tour on this visit, I enjoyed the cathedral’s outdoor courtyard with a bit of green space for visitors to enjoy.

Many talented singers reside in York, and you’ll find buskers throughout the city. Musical show tunes are their genre of choice, and it’s so much fun seeing people singing or dancing along to the music.

Venturing Out to Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey outside York, England.
Fountains Abbey outside York, England. Photo by Erin Jones.

The following day, I decided to venture out of the city of York and take a lovely bus ride to Fountains Abbey, an English heritage site in Yorkshire, well worth the trip. Wide-open green spaces and small villages with wildflowers lining the roads were my views along the route.

Fountains Abbey is a historic Cistercian monastery located in North Yorkshire and one of the largest and best-preserved abbey ruins in the country; it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Visitors can join a tour group by coach, but the local bus service is easy to use as well. Just be sure to keep an eye on the timing for when the buses return to York, as on the weekend, it only runs every two to three hours and you don’t want to miss the last bus.

I paid my entry fee at the visitors’ centre and from there, it was a 10-minute walk down a paved path to the Abbey itself. Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by a group of monks who had been expelled from the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary’s in York. The Abbey is a majestic site built in the Gothic architectural style and expanded over the centuries, reaching its peak in the 15th century.  

I couldn’t get over the arches reaching towards the heavens creating a dramatic sight.

The grounds surrounding the Abbey are stunning with tree-lined pathways perfect for an English walk. You can easily spend an entire day on the property surrounding the Abbey, which host other buildings including the church, cloister, chapter house, and dormitory.

Fountains Hall, located near the Abbey dating back to the 17th century, is an elegant country estate to enjoy. After a lovely day of exploring this entire historic area, I took the bus back to York and prepared for a well-deserved good night’s sleep.

Discovering York’s Delightful Market

On my final day in York, I headed to a local market. York is known for its vibrant markets dating back to medieval times, and one of the most popular is the Shambles Market near the historic Shambles street.

From crafts, jewelry, flowers, clothing and produce, to a myriad of food stalls, it was the most fun and ideal way to wrap up my trip to York before returning to London.

My thoughts on the train ride back were that this wouldn’t be my last visit to York as there is so much more to do and see in what I believe to be one of the prettiest places in England.

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