England’s ancient city of York is one of the UK’s and even Europe‘s most romantic destinations. Full of charming cobbled streets and a stunning Gothic cathedral, York is the birthplace of W. H. Auden, who famously penned poems about love. So why is this English destination such an inspiration for lovers? Find out in this essential guide to all the most romantic things to do in York for couples.
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Founded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago, York is located on the attractive River Ouse. Its picturesque lanes and traditional English pubs are towered over by a medieval castle and its famous cathedral. If that wasn’t enough for a romantic break, York also has a rich local history of chocolate-making, providing the perfect excuse to taste this famous aphrodisiac to your heart’s delight.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about planning romantic getaways in York and find out why a visit to this city promises eternal love.
This is the most romantic way to travel to York
The most timelessly elegant way to travel to York is by train, arriving into the city’s wonderful Victorian railway station. Railways are an important part of York’s heritage and the city has the world’s largest railway museum, which attracts almost a million visitors and year and even hosts weddings.
During your trip to York, why not explore the sweeping Yorkshire Moors on a romantic local tour by steam train?
We took a direct train from London to York on the Grand Central Railway, which takes around two hours. You can sit back and watch the green English countryside fly by, as you sip a cup of tea or a glass of wine en route to your romantic UK break.
Check out the latest times and prices of trains to York.
Where to find the most romantic York accommodation
A perfect option for romantic breaks in York is the historic Grays Court, which is highly rated by couples. The rooms have antique furniture – some with four-poster beds – and all overlook either the peaceful gardens or the nearby York Minster. A must-try is the 9-course tasting menu at its award-winning restaurant, as well as the afternoon cream teas. Find out the latest availability and prices here.
Perhaps you are looking for one of the romantic hotels in York with a hot tub. For a real escape, try the Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, located two miles outside of the city. This 17th-century manor house is set in 20 acres of landscaped grounds. Its spa is the ideal place for couples to relax after a day of sightseeing. If you prefer to stay in York city centre, head to The Grand Hotel & Spa. You will love the stylish rooms of this five-star Edwardian hotel, as well as its luxury spa and swimming pool.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to a five-star hotel, check out The Lawrance Luxury Aparthotel. These are individually designed, serviced apartments in a traditional courtyard a few minutes’ walk from York train station. Each air-conditioned apartment has incredibly comfortable beds, a lounge area with high tech devices, and kitchens with cool appliances.
Alternatively, check out the The Old Mill, a stylish retro space with contemporary touches in the heart of York’s historic centre. This exceptional one-bedroom apartment has everything you need. It is perfect for a couple wanting a comfortable and convenient place to stay in York.
Wherever you choose to stay, book early, as hotels in York can sell out quickly, especially at busy times for romantic breaks such as Valentine’s Day.
Browse and book the best selection of romantic hotels and apartments in York.
How to find your way around York
York is a city built for exploring on foot. You can stroll hand-in-hand with your loved one, as you browse the historic shops, restaurants and pubs.
If you’re arriving in York without a fixed plan and you’re looking for tips and a map, make sure you pass by Visit York’s excellent visitor information centre. A short walk from the station, it’s located on 1 Museum Street.
Gain access to 25 top York attractions with the convenient York City Pass.
The most romantic things to do in York for couples
In York, romantic things to do are in abundance. You’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s definitely more to explore here than you could discover in a day, so take a weekend break in York or even longer. That said, the historic centre of York is compact and you can easily get around on foot.
Seal your love in the magical York Minster
As well as wandering through the city’s winding streets, a visit to the beautiful and imposing York Minster is a must. Dating back to the 7th century, this majestic Gothic masterpiece is impressive, both inside and out. Plus, it’s one of the most romantic places in York.
Legend has it, if a couple kisses under its Heart of Yorkshire window, they will stay together forever.
Discover the secrets of York Minster on this two-hour tour of York’s top sights, which includes the entrance fee to the cathedral.
Take a walk around the prettiest parts of York
The Shambles is York’s most famous street. Dating back to the 14th century, it is one of the city’s many pretty places to go for a walk.
Its unusual name comes from an old English term for an open-air slaughterhouse or meat market. Centuries ago, this street was full of butcher shops, but they have long since closed. However, many of the original overhanging timber-framed buildings remain.
Today, the Shambles is a quaint little lane to stroll along and pick up a souvenir or two of your time in York.
Discover the best of York on foot on this top-rated walking tour.
Indulge in York’s Chocolate Story
Why is York the sweetest place for a romantic break? Because it is the birthplace of many of the world’s best loved chocolate bars, including KitKats.
From Rowntrees to Terry’s, York has a proud history of chocolate making, with 19th century family-run factories becoming booming 21st century businesses. You can learn the full history at York’s Chocolate Story.
Here, couples with a sweet tooth can learn the global history of chocolate production while tasting delicious samples and even decorating your own chocolate treat. 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.
Reserve your spot on the fascinating guided tour of York’s Chocolate Story.
Hold on to your loved one at York Dungeon
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. You may even be invited to take part. This is black comedy at its darkest and best.
Save time and book your tickets to York Dungeon in advance.
Discover York’s dramatic Viking history (and a beautiful view of the city)
The characterful Clifford’s Tower dates back to the Norman period. Constructed as part of York Castle on the orders of William the Conqueror, when he arrived in this Viking capital, the building has a tumultuous history, which is brought to life by entertaining actors.
Inside, you can climb the spiral staircases to view a picturesque panorama over the city.
Book your tickets to Clifford’s Tower, as well as many more York attractions with the convenient city pass.
Explore York’s vast archives of Valentine’s cards
Also on the site of York Castle is the Castle Museum, which houses one of the UK’s largest collections of Valentine’s cards.
There are over a thousand cards in these archives, including the earliest dated and printed Valentine’s card, which was sent in 1797.
Why not spend a romantic afternoon browsing these historic love letters?
Reserve your tickets to see the Valentine’s card collection at York’s Castle Museum.
Spend an evening in a romantic setting
The romance of York is only heightened after the sun goes down. The city is pretty at night and it is an atmospheric time to experience its ancient streets. On an evening walking tour with a local guide you can learn York’s hidden secrets and discover a side of the city that you don’t see during the day.
Wandering over the picturesque Ouse Bridge, you can see the riverside bars and restaurants light up in the evenings. Why not enjoy a pleasant evening walk or even a cruise along the River Ouse.
With so many restaurants in York, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to dine in style – we loved Akbars Indian restaurant.
Book your romantic post-dinner evening cruise on the River Ouse with music, an on-board bar and a complimentary glass of prosecco each.
Afterwards, if you’re in the mood for more fun, you can head to one of York’s many bars and clubs to dance the night away. We particularly liked the friendly crowd at Kennedy’s Bar.
So come to York and you will definitely fall in love. Kiss your loved one in this beautiful city and – who knows – it could last a lifetime.
Next up, discover the most romantic things to do in Bruges, Belgium.