York England

Last updated 8th June 2017

Why go?

The city of York looks and feels very much as it would have done in medieval times. Dominated by the enormous Norman minster, parts of which date back to the 11th century, this old walled town is a glorious higgledy-piggledy jumble of streets with names such as The Shambles and Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.

This all-pervading atmosphere of Middle-Age Britain is heaven for any children who have ever fancied themselves as knights or highwaymen, but York is so much more than a days-of-yore theme park.


The city is home to York Castle Museum – in which you can visit the cell where notorious robber Dick Turpin was held before he was hung on nearby Knavesmire in 1739 – and Jorvik Viking Centre, an interactive experience to show what life was like when the city was ruled by Eric Bloodaxe in the 10th century.

Children will also be pestering you to take them to the National Railway Museum, where 300 years of rail travel are showcased through all the gleaming engines and carriages any wide-eyed devotee of Thomas & Friends or Chuggington could possibly imagine.

The city is also an excellent base for excursions out to Yorkshire’s other child-friendly highlights. The atmospheric harbour town of Whitby and Staithes (where hit CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat is filmed) are just a short drive away to the northeast. And an hour’s drive from York there is an essential visit for art lovers – the enormous Salt’s Mill gallery in Saltaire.

Shopping: For those who prefer to live in the present, the city is one of the finest shopping destinations in the north, and there are plenty of exclusive boutiques and hip homeware stores for parents to browse.

The lowdown

How to get there: Situated midway between Edinburgh and London, York is just 20 minutes’ drive from the M1/M62 motorway network. Alternatively, you can travel from London Kings Cross to York by train.

Travel time: The drive from London to York takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. The train from London Kings Cross to York takes just 2 hours.

Where to stay: Located in the Mount district, a welcome retreat just outside the bustling city centre, Hotel du Vin & Bistro York (01904 557350) offers stylish accommodation in a Grade II-listed former orphanage that dates to the early 19th-century. Family rooms; from £139 per night.