Hidden York: 13 Unusual Things to do Beyond the Tourist Hotspots - Hotel Indigo York

Hidden York: 13 Unusual Things to do Beyond the Tourist Hotspots

Known for its Roman walls, historic museums and the oldest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, York has plenty of tourist hotspots. But what about the lesser-known gems? In this blog, our York hotel helps you discover another side of the city with 13 hidden delights.

1. Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate

Blink and you’ll miss this one! The shortest street in York is nestled just next to the far better-known Shambles. It is said to mean “nothing at all” in Middle English and provides a great photo op.

Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate

2. The Astronomical Clock

If you’re exploring the better-known Minster, keep your eyes peeled for this hidden treasure inside. Embedded in the north transept, the Astronomical Clock depicts the movement of the sun and stars around York.

York Minster

3. War Memorial Gardens

You can be forgiven for missing these quaint gardens, tucked away behind a coach stop next to the train station. The Portland stone memorial offers a quiet place for reflection, overlooking the Ouse river.

Cat Trial in York

4. The Cat Trail

Don’t forget to look up while you’re wandering around. There are a number of hidden cat statues dotted around York city centre. We’ll give you a clue, the first can be found near the Cat Gallery on Low Petergate.

Cat Trial

5. Thor’s Tipi

You’ll have to time your visit well for this one! Open in the summer months, Thor’s Tipi is an open-air bar & restaurant and offers food, drinks and relaxing spaces to lounge. Find it in The Principal Hotel gardens, every summer.

Thors Tipi York

(Photo Credit: Thor’s Tipi)

6. York Art Gallery Sculpture Garden

Wander around the back of York Museum Gardens and you’ll discover an exhibit that was installed in 2019. Nestled in the gardens’ greenery, you will find vast metal sculptures crafted by talented artists.

York Museum Gardens

7. Rowntree Park

A walk down the river will lead you to Rowntree Park: home to stunning gardens, a quaint café and even skate ramps and tennis courts. The perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the high street.

Rowntree Park York

(Photo Credit: Jorvik)

8. Millennium Bridge

After leaving Rowntree Park, don’t forget to get a photo on Millennium Bridge, overlooking the River Ouse. This contemporary structure is even more aesthetically pleasing at night – it lights up in a broad spectrum of colours!

Millenium Bridge

9. Route 65

If you’re an avid cyclist, consider exploring York on the Route 65 trail. This picturesque cycle route takes you along the River Ouse with plenty of tourist sights to take in on the way.

River Ouse in York

10. Homestead Park

Heading out of town? As you make your way north, pop into Homestead Park. Located in Clifton, York this beautiful 14-acre garden provides the perfect dog-walking or picnic spot. As well as the formal gardens, it also has two play areas for the little ones.

Homestead Park York

11. The Cold War Bunker

If you’re a self-confessed history buff, you’ll love this – the York Cold War Bunker is a real underground bunker located just outside of the city in Acomb. Discover what life was like during this period of political tension and uncover the secret history of Britain’s Cold War.

Cold War Bunker

12. York University

The University of York enjoys national prestige thanks to its Russell Group status. What’s more, it’s a beautiful campus that is free for the public to walk around. Marvel at the gorgeous gardens in ‘the quiet place’ or look over Europe’s largest plastic-bottomed lake from Central Hall!

University of York

(Photo credit: University of York, Facebook)

13. The Buddha Statue

If you are heading to the York campus, make sure you find the hidden Buddha statue between Vanbrugh and Derwent Colleges. The statue was donated by Elizabeth Cooper, whose father was the inspiration behind the university’s library.

Buddha Statue

After a busy day uncovering all of York’s hidden gems, sit back and relax at our hotel in York.

Food & Drink in York

Sip on local gin, craft ales, familiar favourites, and creative cocktails at No.88 Walmgate. Pair with one of our delicious Rustic Pizzas.

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We proudly stand in the historic neighbourhood of Walmgate, just a short walk from all the city has to offer.

At one point Walmgate had 20 pubs on the street, today it is a cool mix of independent restaurants, bars and shops and continues to Fossgate – which boasts even more independent shops, delis, bars and restaurants. Walmgate Bar proudly stands at the end of the road. It is the only existing bar in York with a Barbican and forms part of the York City Walls walk.

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York Hotel's Chocolate Story

Discover the history of chocolate, how to make it and how to taste it like an expert at the York’s Chocolate Story.

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Hotel Indigo York's Latest Special Offers

Chocolate Package

Sweet dreams are made of this! Enjoy an indulgent stay in York and explore the city’s confectionary history. Snack on a complimentary box of chocolates, and wake up to a full English breakfast.

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