My guide to a perfect day out in York

Looking for a city break this summer? Promising beauty, numerous tourist-havens, alongside quaint backstreets, York is a crowd pleaser for all ages. Collated here are my four steps to create your perfect day out in York.

My guide to a perfect day out in York

Start the day with… Castle Howard


Ineffable architecture and a blend of art - from Renaissance to Rococo and back again - comes at a price. Castle Howard, which is independently owned, is more costly than a National Trust day out, but offers a more unique experience. 

The Howard family, eponymous creators of this magnificent manor house, mausoleum and folly, still reside in the East Wing. Visitors see the West Wing and central part of the house, as well as the rolling, daffodil-filled estate. Crepuscular hallways are guarded by 17th century Greek mythical paintings, fire damaged from the 1940s haze. 

If you’re staying at York for a few days, it’s definitely worth spending a whole day here. If not, a quick coffee at the cafe and couple of camera-ops at the lake will be just right.

Next up… Perambulate the ancient city walls

York denizens have been scaling these masonry feats for centuries. Built originally to protect the city from enemy siege, these walls now provide the perfect circular walking route. 

Pick up by the river and finish at the minster, perhaps with lunch in between at one of the cafes. Perry Peacock, housed in one of the turrets attached to the crenellations, offers sandwiches and soup. 

Afterwards… Wander through York minster


This place just goes on. And on. Strolling the perimeter is seemingly endless, a feeling that’s mirrored inside too. 

Escape the miasma of city fumes by spending an hour or so relaxing in the sumptuous medieval beauty. You could attend one of the Holy Communion services offered throughout the day, head down into the subfusc crypt, or rest on one of the benches and enjoy interactive commentaries on the gigantic stained glass windows. 

The stained glass panels each tell a different Biblical narratives; cerulean blue, vermillion and emerald are effervescent and photogenic. Religious or not, the minster makes for an Instagram-haven.

To round off… dinner at El Piano


Whether you choose a ‘fizz of the day’, build your own burger or share a platter, I promise each dish will be ephemeral. 

Housed in a two storey building, several rooms offer tables that were filled with families, students and couples. The environment is cosy and welcoming, the menu is adaptable, and the food is delicious. A vegetarian’s heaven.

Header image courtesy of Pedro Serrano. 

First image courtesy of Jack Cousin. 

Second image courtesy of Colin Grant. 

Third image courtesy of Nick Amoscato. 


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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  • Kayt Button

    On 25 April 2018, 08:54 Kayt Button commented:

    Oh Sienna!! Now I want to go!! Sounds like a great way to spend a few days to get the full benefits. I love the photos too. I have never been to Castle Howard and didn't know it wasn't owned by the National Trust so now I am intrigued. Keep up the good work!

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