THE historic city of York with its cobbled streets and wonky Tudor houses seems to have a plaque on every corner and a Roman ruin under every building.

But don’t be fooled. Just because this place has nearly 2,000 years of history doesn’t mean it’s just old and tired. In fact, it can also be quite the opposite.

GettyThe historic city of York with its cobbled streets and wonky Tudor houses seems to have a plaque on every corner[/caption]

Jorvik Viking CentreJust because this place has nearly 2,000 years of history doesn’t mean it’s just old and tired[/caption]

Its ye olde streets are a vibrant blend of old and new — there’s a ghost shop on one corner, an Instagrammable doughnut store on the other and a medieval cathedral bang in the middle.

All this is enveloped by an ancient wall stretching for just over two miles around the city centre.

Many visitors walk the wall’s trail, which is free to access on foot, but the most fun way to get a taste of this city’s history is on a cycling tour.

We’d booked on to a two-hour one guided by our friendly host Cecil, who helped us set up our bikes before we whizzed off — taking in impressive architecture and parkland in equal measure.



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The ten-kilometre loop is a great way to see the landmarks and, with plenty of stops, it’s achievable for most fitness levels.

Even the rain couldn’t dampen Cecil’s spirit as he happily chattered about everything from the history of the wall to how chocolate put York on the map — it was once crammed with factories churning out the sweet treat and is home to the Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Whipped tofu

Indeed, that’s the other big draw of the city — food. And not just chocolate.

York boasts quaint cafés on seemingly every street, although perhaps the most famous is Betty’s — a quintessentially British tea room that serves dainty cakes on bone-china plates and tea in silver pots.

But not every cafe and restaurant is sticking to tradition.

Vegan restaurants have popped up all over the city — including Dog’s Nose, a plant-based Mexican joint that serves tofu burritos and mushroom tacos.

Or there’s Doe Bakehouse’s droolworthy display of vegan doughnuts which sell out each day.

The Malmaison hotel, our home for two nights, also has Sora Skybar on the seventh floor, offering up Asian fusion tapas with a decent selection for vegans and veggies.

With a view of York sprawling out down below us, my husband and I chowed down on Kentucky fried cauliflower and cabbage with black garlic, truffle and whipped tofu.

And in between all the eating, there is plenty in the city to keep you busy.

This summer, York has seen the arrival of Thor’s Tipi and Yuzu Street Food on Parliament Street and the YO1 Beach Club — open until September 4.

INSTAGRAMYork has its own rollerskating rink[/caption]

GettyPerhaps the most famous cafe is Betty’s — a quintessentially British tea room[/caption]

It also has its own rollerskating rink, plus a vintage carousel and funfair games.

Of course, if you do want to take a trip back in time, it’s easy to do so and any history buff can spend their days forgetting the modern world when they’re steeped in the city’s eclectic history.

The York Minster cathedral, completed in 1472 after more than 200 years of work, is a magnificent site to behold with its famous rose window and unique stonework.

And if you want to go back even further in time, the Jorvik Viking Centre delves into the lives of the invaders who made York their home in 866AD.

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There’s a good reason people gush about York when you tell them you’re visiting for a long weekend — it really is the perfect mix of new and old.

They’re more than likely also pretty damned jealous of all the good grub you’ll be enjoying.


STAYING THERE: Malmaison York has doubles from £101 a night. See

OUT & ABOUT: Cycle tours of the city cost from £26 per adult, £13 per child. See

Entry to the Jorvik Viking Centre is £13.50 per adult, £9.50 per child and £39 for a family of four. Under-fives go free. See

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