Luxury holidays in York

It may have once been second only to London in terms of size and prestige, but it’s now a surprisingly intimate place, in which all its major sights are easily within walking distance of each other. That’s not to say it’s easily navigable – the town planning is straight out of the Middle Ages, and crooked lanes, labyrinthine backstreets and higgledy-piggedly houses bent double with age seem designed to confuse and frustrate the tourists turning maps this way and that in the Shambles or outside the Minster. At the heart of almost every seminal period of English social and political life – the Viking invasion, the Wars of the Roses, the Reformation – York oozes history like AJP Taylor on a particularly hot day, but that’s not to say it’s backward-looking. There’s shopping, restaurants and cultural life that would put many larger cities to shame.

When to go

Other than 1 August, when Yorkshire Day celebrates all things white rose, avoid coming to York in summer, when tourists from all over the world throng its narrow streets. Go in autumn, when dark evenings lend themselves to guided ghost walks amid the bowed houses and crooked alleys – and atmospheric pubs are particularly inviting.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Leeds Bradford International Airport (www.lbia.co.uk) is around an hour away from York | and carries flights from a wide variety of airports in the UK and Europe. It also offers direct flights to and from New York and Miami. There are good rail connections from the airport into York.
  • Trains

    The National Express East Coast train (www.nationalexpresseastcoast.com) from London King's Cross to York takes a little over two hours. Edinburgh is two and a half hours from York by train. Northern Rail Lines (www.northernrail.org) can take you from York into the North Yorkshire Moors or into the Yorkshire Dales.
  • Automobiles

    From the South | take the M1 right up to its end | and join the A1(M). Come off onto the A59 and follow signs into central York. From the North | the A1(M) leads you from Edinburgh to within a few miles of York. You won’t need to hire a car in York itself – everything’s very walkable and public transport is excellent – but if you want to get out to the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside | then wheels are essential.
  • Taxis

    There are taxi ranks all over the city centre – with the largest one on St Saviourgate. Call Ace Taxis (01904 638888) or Yorcabs (01904 646424) if you want to book a cab.