ONCE the northern capital of medieval England, the historic city of York has a quieter reputation today.
But it is packed with modern bars and its cultural scene boasts art that would not be out of place in London and Manchester.
Make time for a leisurely stroll along the charming Riverside of York[/caption]
This mix of old and new make it the perfect place for a weekend break — with or without the kids.
If you are keen to get a feel for the place, the hop-on, hop-off open-top bus tour will give you 24 hours to travel around and absorb some of York’s rich heritage.
Kick off your history lesson at the Jorvik Viking Centre, a museum offering a glimpse of what the city was like more than 1,000 years ago.
Famous York Minster cathedral is your next must-see. Its stunning 600-year-old Great East Window is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the country.
You know you’ve arrived somewhere special when you pass through the medieval gate of York[/caption]
Visit the basement to see the building’s foundations and learn how it was built — and about the billion-pound effort to save it from collapse.
The city walls date back to Roman times and most are still intact, marking a route for the perfect panoramic stroll.
See for miles from the 11th-century Clifford’s Tower, a former keep for the king and his servants.
Then soak up more recent history at York Castle Museum, with its £1.7million exhibition marking a century since World War One.
If you find yourself on Stonegate, you could pop into the city’s oldest pub – Ye Olde Starre Inne – for a refreshing beverage or two[/caption]
Alternatively, take a trip down into the fascinating Cold War bunker, randomly placed in the middle of a housing estate and the only one of its kind left in the UK.
We stayed at the family-run Mount Royale Hotel, a five-minute stroll from the city centre.
The friendly and welcoming staff, stunning Victorian-style rooms and delicious breakfasts made it perfect for our short stay.
The garden room at the back made for some beautiful morning views, too.
For food-lovers, York has plenty to tickle the taste buds. There are cute cafes offering rich coffees and afternoon teas.
Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms is the obvious choice for layers of scones, tiny cucumber sandwiches and posh decor to make you feel fancy.
But be sure to book, as the queue is regularly out of the door.
Chocolate addicts should head to York’s Chocolate Story for a mouthwatering journey explaining how some of the UK’s best-loved confections came about.
The Shambles – inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books – is one of the city’s must-visit[/caption]
York is where Rowntree developed the KitKat and Terry’s produced its Chocolate Orange.
There are plenty of samples to munch on as you walk around and it features a Women & Confectionery exhibition running until the end of the year.
As for booze, York has a saying: “The streets are gates, the gates are bars and the bars are pubs.”
Many claim to be the city’s oldest and most haunted — but all offer plenty of thirst-quenching bevvies.
The minimalist exterior of the Jorvik Viking City doesn’t hint at the wonderfully authentic experience within[/caption]
Ale lovers keen for something with a twist should try the House Of Trembling Madness pub for a seriously strong pint.
Its peanut butter-and-banana porter was a highlight. You can also sink shots of the world’s strongest beers here too. Before you go, take a peek in the downstairs shop, with more than 900 tipples you can take home.
For dinner, head to The Star Inn The City for a gorgeous view of the park in a cosy, romantic setting.
Don’t leave without trying its incredible locally sourced rump of lamb with blue Wensleydale and celeriac gratin.
Walk back up Stonegate to funky, Moroccan-themed bar Evil Eye for post-dinner cocktails.
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When you have finally made your mind up from the huge menu, take your drinks upstairs to the lounge, where you can kick off your shoes and collapse on to a four-poster bed.
When you have fully recovered, take a Sunday afternoon stroll and browse the tiny shops on cobbled street the Shambles, the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
York may be one of England’s oldest cities, but it always has something new for you to do.