Close to the sweeping moors where Cathy and Heathcliff played out their love affair in Wuthering Heights sits the ancient walled city of York. Founded by the Romans in 71 AD, it’s a city with charming cobbled streets, a medieval castle and cozy pubs, watched over by a towering Gothic cathedral. If you’re planning a romantic break in York, you’ll find plenty to fall in love with. For quaint cobbled streets, fascinating history and chocolate, read on for your guide to a wonderful weekend in York.
The most timelessly elegant way to travel to York must be by rail, sipping a cup of tea or glass of wine, as the green English countryside sweeps by. With the opportunity to sit back and read a book, catch up on your correspondence with the complimentary WiFi or chat with your loved one, it certainly beats sitting for hours in traffic on the grey motorways.
We took a train from London to York on the Grand Central Railway, which offers a smooth, direct route that takes around two hours. We were lucky enough to travel first class, and with comfortably wide seats and attentive, friendly service offering unlimited tea and biscuits, the time just flew by.
If you’re travelling from London for your romantic break in York, Grand Central offers tickets from Kings Cross from a tiny £13.60, if you plan well ahead. First class upgrades cost from £15.00 each way.
Railways are also an important part of York’s heritage. The city boasts a stunning Victorian railway station and the world’s largest railway museum, . Here at the National Railway Museum, you can see steam train like the one below, or even hold your wedding on its platform. Further afield, train fans can explore the North Yorkshire Moors, made famous by Wuthering Heights, with a highly romantic steam railway journey.
If like us you’re arriving in York without a fixed plan and you’re looking for good tips and a map, make sure you stop at Visit York’s excellent visitor information centre. A short walk from the station, it’s located on 1 Museum Street and is easy to find. Here, their affable and professional staff will advise you to ensure you make the most of your trip. There are also plenty of brochures to browse through to find information and tips to explore this marvellous city.
As well as wandering through the city’s winding streets, a visit to the beautiful and imposing York Minster is a must. This majestic Gothic masterpiece is vast and impressive both inside and out.
Legend has it, if a couple kisses under its Heart of Yorkshire window, they will stay together forever…
York is a city built for exploring on foot, arm in arm with your love, as you peruse the historic shops, restaurants and pubs.
Shambles is York’s most famous street and dates back to the 14th century. Its name comes from an old term for an open-air slaughterhouse or meat market, though its numerous butcher shops have long since closed. Lined with overhanging timber-framed buildings, it is now a quaint little road to pick up a souvenir or two.
Wandering over the picturesque Ouse Bridge, you can see the riverside bars and restaurants light up in the evenings.
Another recommended stop is the small but characterful Clifford’s Tower, which dates back to the Norman period. It was constructed as part of York Castle on the orders of William the Conqueror, to make his mark when he arrived in this Viking capital. After a tumultuous history, York Castle was used as a jail and prison until 1929.
If you are prepared for a fright, you can squeeze your lover’s hand at the highly entertaining York Dungeon.
This a 75-minute walking tour delves into over 2000 years of York’s horrible, bloody history. A talented cast of theatrical actors guide you – in the guise of some of York’s most notorious citizens – into a dozen multi-sensory, atmospheric scenarios from the city’s real events. Be warned, you will be invited to take part! It’s black comedy at its darkest and best.
So why is York the sweetest place for a romantic break? You may not know, but it is the birthplace of many of the world’s best loved chocolate bars, including the UK’s favourite KitKat. From Nestlé (formerly Rowntrees) to Terry’s, York has a proud history of chocolate making, with family-run factories becoming booming businesses.
At York’s Chocolate Story, couples with a sweet tooth will have numerous opportunities to taste some delicious samples, as well as learning the history of chocolate making, from its origins in South America to the chocolate bars we know and love today. High-quality interactive productions bring everything to life and you feel like you get to know the famous chocolate-making families of York across the generations.
You even get the chance to create and decorate your own giant chocolate lolly to take home! You can watch chocolates being handmade by chocolatiers, eat some more and ask the experts any question you may have ever had about the sweet stuff. Just don’t mention Belgian chocolate!
I’ve only scratched the surface of what makes York a sweet place for a romantic break. There are picturesque walks along the River Ouse to be enjoyed if the weather is fine. And with so many pubs, bars and restaurants, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to dine in style (Akbars) or dance the night away (Kennedys).
So come to York, fall in love and – who knows – kiss your Valentine under a certain window and it could last a lifetime.
Have you been to York? What are your favourite romantic things to do in the city?