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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.

City of York Sign

 

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 in York

 

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.

As far as service it’s right up there, from the minute you set foot through the door the staff are brilliant, so caring, efficient and always smiling. We will be returning in February!

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Hotel Indigo York Reviews

Sarah,

Lincoln

A lovely hotel within walking distance to the centre of York. Very friendly, helpful staff on reception, bar area and dining room. The rooms were immaculately clean and well presented. The bed was absolutely huge and was extremely comfortable. The hotel has a modern, funky feel to it and was very welcoming. The breakfast was superb . Would definitely stay here again.


John,

Southport

<p>Conveniently positioned within easy walking distance of the city and Minster. This was our third visit so obviously we’re fans. That said although the previous visits were excellent this time the stay was even better. On check in we were given a complimentary upgrade to a superior room as IHG elite members. The room was spacious, clean and well furnished. Large TV. Massive comfortable bed with high quality bedding. Complimentary snacks with fresh milk and the bonus of a Nespresso coffee machine complete with six “pods”. Decent sized bathroom which was clean and well stocked with quality toiletries. Breakfast on both mornings was excellent. Wide choice of hot and cold items. Plenty of quality juices and smoothies. Service excellent even when busy nothing seems rushed. Very highly recommended.</p>


Christine,

London

Excellent hotel. Rooms very nice and extremely clean and quiet. Friendly staff both at reception and restaurant. Breakfast had fantastic choice. Location was really good lots of nice bars and restaurants just minutes away. Short walk to the Shambles and they offered parking just 2 minutes away for a small daily charge. Would definitely stay again. 5 Stars.


Julie,

Perth, Australia

We have found that it’s the little things that make a huge difference when you’re travelling. They’ve nailed the little things here! You’re always warmly greeted when you pass reception. Comfortable bed, soft towels, immaculate room and free chocolate in the fridge! Breakfast is delicious and finally a coffee I enjoyed. Location is fabulous and parking was easy. Well done to the Team at Hotel Indigo.


Carol,

Norwich

We stayed at the Indigo for my birthday recently. It was very modern with quirky room features. The breakfast was world class - such a great variety of treats, including a good selection of gluten and dairy free food. The staff were very helpful and attentive.


Mark,

Milton Keynes

Stayed for 2 nights, very good quality modern hotel with good sized rooms and breakfast. Cold buffet and hot food freshly cooked to order . Great location within a 5/10 minute walk of York center. Would highly recommend.


Ian,

Bandbury

<p>My partner, daughter and I stayed for 3 nights on a city break in April 2018. The room was great, Fresh milk in the complimentary mini fridge, fantastic big bed, really really clean, excellent room service and thick black out curtains. The service was excellent from all the staff at all times - reception staff were helpful and friendly, nothing was too much trouble. The breakfast was also fantastic, so much choice on offer and again, nothing was too much trouble. The hotel is really well located for the city. It was excellent value for money and we would definitely stay there again. Absolutely 10/10 all round.</p>


Brian,

South Ayrshire

This is a nice hotel in a quiet area of York, but still within easy walking distance of the city centre / shambles walls etc. Lovely continental breakfast and a quiet bar area. Ideal if you want a bit of peace in a busy city.


Susan,

London

Stayed one night in this hotel ,was very impressed. A warm welcome on arrival from the receptionist and the room was ready ahead of check in time. The room was lovely, very luxurious with lots of nice touche. Biscuits, chocolate and drinks in fridge. Very close to main town and York Minster. Had a lovely evening meal in the hotel restaurant, very reasonable priced and a nice breakfast in the morning before leaving. Would definitely stay here again.


Poppy,

Letchworth

Lovely hotel close to York centre and near all the main sites. Within 5 minutes walk to the Shambles. Excellent staff and facilities. On arrival complimentary mini treats in room due to it being my Birthday. Complimentary water and chocolate and biscuits in room together with tea making facilities. Made the 2 night stay in York most enjoyable. Would definitely stay there again and recommend.


Dale,

Greater Manchester

We had a very pleasant stay on a Saturday night when visiting York. The hotel is only a few minutes walk from the Shambles and central York area. The staff were all good and friendly with good check in service and also in the bar. The breakfast choice and service was also very good. The room and the hotel was decorated very well. We stay here again if staying in York.

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