London is not only the capital of the United Kingdom, but also its largest city. Historically, London is one of the great "world cities." Although it is densely populated, London has famously retained large expanses of green parkland and open spaces, making it an attractive - as well as exciting - destination for tourists...
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The Scottish capital is the UK's favourite short break destination, having long since shed its sedate, aloof image and transformed itself into a vibrant, modern city that has preserved its elegant architectural heritage. Widely acknowledged to be one of Europe's most charming capitals, its unique appeal draws tourists from around the world...
Glasgow is located on the west coast of Scotland on the banks of the Clyde River. It is the largest city in Scotland and a centre of culture, architecture and design, as well as a sporting capital. You will find the best shopping outside of London here, alongside a range of wonderful parks and museums...
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Newcastle is located in North East England, on the north bank of the River Tyne. The loveable - if sometimes unintelligible - locals are officially called Novocastrians, although they are much better known as 'Geordies'...
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With its Harry Potter-style place names, tea shop-lined 'snickleways' and magnificent Minster, York is understandably seen as something of a medieval Disneyland, beloved of American tourists and history buffs alike. Britain's second city in medieval times, the Yorkshire capital can also boast a significant Roman and Viking heritage, making it a superb destination for those looking to travel back in time and dig up some ancient history. Whatever your reason for visiting, it's hard not to fall under the spell of this endlessly charming Northern city.
By Air: The closest airport to York is Leeds-Bradford International, located some 30 miles away. Air travelers may prefer to fly to Manchester, however, and make use of the frequent, direct Transpennine Express rail services connecting the airport with central York (journey time 1 hr, 40 mins). Manchester is the UK's 3rd biggest airport, served by a large number of airlines including Flybe, bmi, Britannia, BA, Monarch, Jet2 and Ryanair which offer flights to Manchester from London (Gatwick, Stansted, Heathrow, City), Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Aberdeen, Inverness, Plymouth, Newquay and Norwich.
By Train: York enjoys outstanding railway links, with direct services from London (2 hours' journey time), Edinburgh (2 ˝ hours), Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and the Southwest. East coast trains from London / Edinburgh are operated by GNER, while Northern Rail / Transpennine Express are the main service providers for the North of England. Virgin Trains connect the city with all areas of the country. The railway station enjoys a superb central location, just outside the ancient city gates and in sight of the splendid Minster.
By Road: York is situated midway between Edinburgh and London and within easy reach of most parts of the UK. From the north or south use the A1 to the A64 and then head east, or take the A19. The M62 or A59 are the principal routes from the west of England. From the east use the A64 or the A1079. Five park-and-ride sites are located on the edge of the city.
By Coach: National Express coach services connect Bath with all the UK's major towns and cities, offering value-for-money fares on all routes. Journey time from London is approximately 4 1/2 to 6 hours depending on the service.
February: Jorvik Viking Festival Beat the winter blues by celebrating York's Viking heritage at this 10-day historical festival that sees hundreds of Viking warriors descend on the city to demonstrate elements of their fascinating culture. Boasting an extensive programme of events at venues throughout the city, the festival treats visitors to lectures, river events, saga-telling and arts and crafts alongside full-scale battle re-enactments. Central to the festival is the internationally-renowned Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate that provides year-round access to the Viking world, allowing visitors to travel back over 1000 years and sample the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life on the very site where archeologists discovered Viking remains. Even historyphobes will be entertained!
August: Ebor Festival A highlight of the flat-racing calendar, the annual, 3-day Ebor Festival is the most prestigious of the numerous race meetings hosted at York's renowned Knavesmire course.
A day at the races will be enjoyed by all the family, with superb hospitality and entertainment guaranteed. Don your best suits and hats and, if you're lucky, you could make your break even more special by picking the winner of a Group 1 race.
No-one will go hungry in York, with a vast range of restaurants, cafes and gastro pubs catering for all tastes and budgets. Blue Bicycle is the tour guides' favourite: a fine restaurant with stylish food and a dark, sensual, seductive décor that creates a sexy ambience in keeping with this ex-brothel's former identity! Commanding impressive views of the river, the Blue Bicycle boasts a charismatic menu that centres on seafood. If money is no object, opt for The Ivy at the Grange Hotel for a truly indulgent dining experience that comes at a price.
Award-winning French cuisine combines with superb service and a timeless setting to make The Ivy a favourite haunt of the rich and famous. Located outside the city gates and as such largely undiscovered by tourists, Melton's is the choice of those in the know. Its discerning clientele belies a cheeky, unpretentious style, and the inventive modern British menu has seen it win countless awards. Buzz in Swinegate provides the cool and sophisticated option, promising authentic Japanese food in a hip, minimalist setting, while nearby Vanilla Black is the top vegetarian table. Betty's Tea Rooms are a Yorkshire institution with branches throughout the county. Be prepared to queue round the corner for a traditional (if stuffy) high tea experience and a taste of the legendary cakes and pastries. If the queues are just too long, the Early Grey Tea Rooms and Orgasmic Caf supply similar old-fashioned fare.
Legend has it that there is a pub in York for every day of the year. The city's central Stonegate area is home to the largest and liveliest of these establishments, with Oscars' Mediterranean-inspired holiday ambience drawing the biggest crowds. Nearby Kennedy's Café Bar is the hippest venue in town, boasting a rooftop terrace, basement club and VIP room alongside an exclusive, upmarket ground-floor bar that sells only the coolest alcoholic brands.
For something a little different, head to Lendal Cellars - a subterranean pub located in ancient vaults on the banks of the Ouse. One of several similar establishments, the Cellars offer drinkers a good range of beers and wines in a cosy, atmospheric setting. Ghost-hunters might like to check out the Goodramgate area's historic pubs including the 16th century Old White Swan and the supposedly haunted Snickleway Inn. For lovers of live music, the large and friendly Stone Roses Bar in King Street will not disappoint, while The Maltings is the first port-of-call for real ale drinkers.
With a vibrant student population, York promises a great night out for those looking to dance until dawn. The Gallery club jostles with its city centre neighbour Ikon & Diva for top spot in the race to attract the young and up-for-it. Each boast multiple rooms playing a diverse range of music. Ziggy's is seen as the city's principal alternative nightspot, offering the best in NU Metal and Indie, while the slightly older clubber may wish to hang out with the more sophisticated crowd in Toffs. For larger groups of visitors, the hugely popular party boat charters guarantee an unforgettable evening afloat.
Shoppers adore York's mix of big high-street names and quirky independent stores, set within the picturesque and pedestrian-friendly medieval heart of the city. Start your day with a coffee in the Shambles, then head to Stonegate, the pretty Georgian shopping thoroughfare, for world-class jewelers, gift shops and designer boutiques. The 3-storey Forever Changes is a big draw for the young, hip and stylish. Stop off at the beguiling Old Fizzwigs for a taste of times gone by in the form of old fashioned sweets, biscuits, jams and chutneys.
More of these old curiosity shops can be found in the 14th century Goodramgate area, where you will also discover a superb range of lifestyle and interior stores of which the Canopy is widely considered to be the best. Kids of all ages will want to seek out the Compendium of York among the international shoe shops and jewelers in The Quarter (Swinegate), while the attractive Coppergate Shopping Centre is home to the hugely popular Japanese Shop and its neighbour The Whiskey Shop, one of only two of its kind in the UK. No shopping trip to York would be complete without a visit to one of the city's many markets. The famous Newgate Market next to the Shambles is open every day, offering a traditional combination of fruit, vegetables, crafts, clothes and gifts.
The Romans, Vikings, Tudors and Georgians are among several civilizations to have left their mark on York's extraordinary cityscape. A mesmerizing mix of archictectural styles delights all those who take time to explore the maze of ginnels, snickets and shambles that make up the ancient city centre. Take a walk along the Roman city walls to soak up the history contained within them and survey the magnificent architecture. The soaring medieval Minster that dominates the skyline dates from the 12th century and is the largest Gothic church in the country.
The cathedral complex, including its Foundations Museum and Central Tower, is open daily, attracting two million visitors each year. Other essential York city attractions include the aforementioned Jorvik Viking Centre, The Yorkshire Museum, Clifford's Tower, The York Castle Museum and The National Railway Museum, the largest of its kind in the world, where visitors come face to face with the record-breakers and history-makers of the railway world including Mallard, the world's fastest steam engine, and the Hogwarts Express train made famous in the Harry Potter films. Cruise the Ouse in a YorkBoat for an alternative view of the city, accompanied by an engaging local commentary.
Energetic youngsters and their fun-loving parents will all enjoy Water World at the Monks Cross Leisure Park with its exciting flume rides, wave machines and bubble pools, while older kids might prefer to dive into York's grim and bloody past at The Dungeon - billed as 'the North's most chillingly famous horror attraction', where 2000 years of gruesome history come to life.