1. Go for a walk round the city walls
Perhaps a bit of a cliché but definitely worth it to orientate yourself in a new city and get some stunning views of York and its surroundings. Dating back to Roman times, the best thing about the walls is that you can start at any point of the city’s historical perimeter as the walls are not complete and have handy gaps and gatehouses allowing you to ascend and descend as you wish. This also means that if you’re getting tired you can divert into the city centre for a coffee at one of the many independently run cafés. Brew and Brownie or Coffee Culture come highly recommended.
2. Go try free fudge taster
Perhaps after working up a wee appetite strolling round the city walls you may wish to visit The Fudge Kitchen on Low Petergate. Here you can often try several different flavours as a free sample (especially if they think you’re going to buy a slab at the end of it) plus they always have someone making fresh fudge in their open kitchen. It’s worth putting your head in just for the incredible smell.
3. Sit on the river for a drink
My two favourite places to sip on a lager or cider by the river on a sunny evening are The Kings Arms or Dyls Cafe Bar. Both have great seating areas, the latter rather smaller than the first, but both have great views of the river. It’s a good way to spend the day catching up on freshers’ week gossip with your new housemates.
4. Walk/run along the river
If you’re feeling a little more active and haven’t drunk your weight in alcohol twice over already, but still want that river view, why not speed things up a little and take a stroll/jog along the Ouse? If you start at Dyls on Skeldergate Bridge you can go left or right, the former a slightly more countrified route while the latter has you ending near Museum Gardens, which is well worth a visit if you have the time!
5. Go shopping
York is a great city for shopping, especially window shopping – first years shouldn’t be counting the pennies just yet – so maybe make the most of those shiny new student loans and buy yourself some hip, but cheap and comfy shoes for clubbing that can get ruined. Stonegate is a relaxed vibe then along onto Coney street passed Betty’s Tea Room and left down to Spurriergate is your bigger shopping area. However, you have to take a wander down the Shambles, one of York’s oldest medieval streets, which for all you Harry Potter fans, inspired Diagon Alley – you can see why.
6. Have a hungover brunch at Brew and Brownie
Formally mentioned, Brew and Brownie is an independent boutique café that has a great reputation and often has you waiting 10/15 minutes for a table on Saturday mornings! Mid-week, however, should be no problem to find a cosy corner in this petite coffee house and order a classy fry up or their famous American pancake stacks with a choice of toppings from maple syrup and bacon to blueberry with banana. You can thank me later…
7. Go visit the Minster
Finished at Brew and Brownie and need to stretch your legs after a scrumptious pastry? Head right along to the Minster, which is none other than the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, now there’s one for the old stat book. If you are genuinely interested in history and/or architecture, the Minster is quite something to behold a sight not to be missed.
8. Go and scout out the charity shops
Make sure you find out where Goodramgate is prior to your first society Wednesday themed social. (If you come across Wagamamas on the way you’re going in the right direction, and obviously pop in for a quick yaki soba or maybe you’re a katsu curry person?) The reason being that along this street is a row of four or five charity shops that will come in handy when assembling cheap fancy dress. If you weren’t aware, there is no Primark in York. Yes, you heard right, there’s no Primark in York.
9. Visit museum gardens
Beautiful spot for a stroll or a picnic if you’re feeling particularly romantic. In the northern part of the city, Museum Gardens consists of 10 acres worth of botanic gardens, which lies next to the Ouse. There are some impressive ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, and one of my friends actually got engaged there last year, so you get the idea.
10. Climb up Clifford’s Tower
Finally, seeing as you’re most likely going to be piling on the calories in the first two weeks, probably as a result of some excessive drinking, you might as well burn some of them off by climbing up the steps of Clifford’s Tower. Well worth it for the views and tradition has it that in many sports circles to become initiated one has to roll down the banks of the tower stark naked, so you may want to make a mental note of where the walls are at the bottom.