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Top things to do on a spa break in York

Explore this beautiful city, rich in history and architecture.

York is widely renowned as an extremely beautiful city, rich in history and architecture. It has grown up around its cathedral and is a popular university town, founded by the Romans and making a name for itself across the ages. Spa breaks in York and the surrounding area are only enhanced by the location and the variety of things to do. So turn your getaway into more of a holiday, and include a little sightseeing amongst your activities. Here are some of the top things to do on a spa break in York.

York city walls

Walk along the city walls

A walled city since the time of the Romans, York still has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. Built for defence, they have stood the test of time, aged more than 700 years and counting. One of the most charming ways to explore is by strolling along the circular walk that is on top of the Walls, which is marked out by small brass pavement studs.


Climb to Clifford’s Tower

Just about the only bit of York Castle that remains is Clifford’s Tower, which offers the most beautiful views over Old York. The castle was built by William the Conqueror and was both a prison and a royal mint in its day. It’s impressive just to look at, while from the top you can see as far as the North York Moors.


Cruise down the Ouse

The River Ouse runs through the city and is a picturesque feature, traversed by bridges. It’s lovely to walk along it, but you can also hop on one of the regular boat tours to take in city views from the water. There are even early evening cruises at sunset complete with a fully stocked bar.


Visit York Minster

York Minster is the city’s awe-inspiring cathedral. The site has been in existence since the 7th century, although the magnificent structure you see today was built between 1220 and 1472, taking 250 years to complete. The architecture and mediaeval stained-glass windows are all definitely worth a visit, while guests also love the view from the top - the highest point in the city - where you might spot a peregrine falcon nesting. Just wear comfy shoes as it’s 275 steps to reach those great heights!


Head to the chocolate factory

There’s a rich chocolatey history in York - this has been the home of many beloved confectionary brands including Terry’s and Rowntree’s. These days you can go on city tours to track the history of chocolate in the city, including curious facts about everything from the Chocolate Orange to the Kit Kat. You might even try your hand at chocolate lolly making - a treat for families and hen parties alike.


Go to the Shambles

The Shambles is one of York's most famous landmarks. A preserved mediaeval shopping street, it’s like stepping onto the set of Harry Potter. In fact, it is believed to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley. Cobbled streets and wonky buildings now house pretty shops and charming cafes in lieu of the butchers of the 14th century, but most shop fronts have been restored to highlight their heritage. It’s also a lovely place to shop for gifts.


Take in a show at the Grand Opera House

From live music to comedy and musicals, those seeking a night out will delight in the Grade II listed theatre, the Grand Opera House. Lovingly restored in the ‘80s, it has a full programme of events to choose from - a lovely addition to a spa day or break.


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