York – Vikings and Squirrels

We started our final day in York with another sun-drenched walk into town by the river.  This walk was a lovely way to start and end each day, although we did have to watch out for cyclists occasionally blasting past.  On this particular day, we cut through the Museum Gardens.  The squirrels here are great fun, and really don’t seem too concerned about people.

Jorvik Viking Centre

Our first port of call for the day was the Jorvik Viking Centre.  This is a museum telling the story of Jorvik (as York was known in Viking times), and includes a ride through a reconstruction of the Viking city.  I’d heard about this place ever since I was a child; I remember my grandparents telling me that they had visited, and about the authentic Viking smells!  Naturally, it was always going to be on our travel itinerary for this trip.

It wasn’t exactly how I expected it, however.  The first hint of things to come was the fact that we had to queue for around 40 minutes to get inside.  Thankfully, the sun was periodically hidden behind clouds, which kept things cooler than they otherwise would have been.  There were a few guys dressed as Vikings who kept us entertained and we were able to ask them a few questions about the place.  Jorvik was actually severely damaged by flooding recently, and had to be closed as a result.  It has only just re-opened (in April this year).

Unfortunately it was so crowded inside that we did not spend much time at all in either the first exhibit (with information about excavations), or the final museum section.  There were so many people in there that we were having to jostle just to look at the various displays, which really spoiled it for me as I like to take my time to read the information and learn about the things displayed.  So while the ride through the reconstructed town was fun, this was a big disappointment.  This is not to say that Jorvik is not recommended; what I did see of the museum was very interesting, and I can hardly criticise them for being popular.  All I’m saying is that I would very much recommend that you avoid school holidays if you are able, especially if you wish to visit more famous attractions, like Jorvik, without feeling like you’re on the tube at rush hour.

York Army Museum

Thankfully, after the crowds at Jorvik, the rest of our destinations were actually pretty quiet, which was a blessing.

We visited the York Army Museum next.  This museum spans 300 years of history relating to the Royal Dragoon Guards and the Yorkshire Regiment, and includes a well presented collection passing through the Battle of Waterloo, the First and Second World Wars, into more recent times.

What I really liked about this museum was that you could handle some of the collection.  There was an instructor (ex-army himself I guess), who demonstrated and instructed me in the handling and (dry) firing of a number of firearms.

I imagine if the museum is busier, there may be a bit of a wait if you want to do this (I had to wait myself for a family before me to finish), but it certainly gives you a bit more of a feel of what you are learning about than the average museum.

Definitely a good one for young (and not so young) boys!

York Bus Tour

After a tasty lunch from a local bakery, we picked up a York City Sightseeing bus tour from the base of  Clifford’s Tower.  This was interesting, and gave us a bit more information about the city, along with some new scenery.  Can’t say that it did my sunburn any favours though; I finished the day looking like a tomato!

If you take a bus tour, you are probably best off (unlike us) starting outside the York Art Gallery (St. Leonard’s Place), as this is the ‘official’ beginning of the tour.  Though of course you can get on and off as you wish to visit places as you pass.

Also, watch your head near the racecourse as the trees may take a swipe at you!  I had to duck behind the seat in front at one point!

Fairfax House

Next up, Fairfax House; a finely restored Georgian Townhouse.  Each room has a guide who will talk you through the history of the house, answer questions and show you some of the features of interest.  It is well worth checking out if you have an interest in history, and I have to say was probably one of my favourite places we visited.

Be aware that no bags or cameras are allowed inside.  There are free lockers provided which you can use to deposit such prohibited items.

And there we have it!  A lovely anniversary and a great trip to a new city.  York is a great place, so if you are in the UK and looking for a city to visit, you can’t do much better in terms of history, architecture and chocolate.  🙂  Just avoid the school holidays!


Visit York provided me VIP Pass & York Pass but rest assured all opinions are mine. Consider to get York Pass in your future visit to York. It is a good way to keep your budget low when exploring York.

18 thoughts on “York – Vikings and Squirrels

  1. York is so pretty, and I’ve only managed to pass through by train! The places you visited sound really interesting, especially the Jorvik Viking Centre. I’ll definitely listen when you say to not go when the schoolkids are there!

    1. York is a lovely place 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  2. Looks like a wonderful day spent in York with a nice little mixture of museums, the bus tour, and a townhouse. Sometimes I enjoy simpler travel plans where you can stroll around and visit “quieter” places at your own pace. I often travel to UK but have never been to York. Will plan it the next time.

    1. I would definately recommend that you stop by York on your next trip. I often prefer simpler holidays rather than complex ones; they are much more relaxing. 🙂

  3. Now that’s a nice way to celebrate an anniversary. Congrats! I’ve only been to the New Jorvik, this one seems more chill.

    1. Thank you!

  4. Haha, squirrels are the best! They’re probably used to all the people, which is why they don’t seemed bothered. I had a lot on my college campus and it got to the point where you could easily hand feed them! Seems like you had a great day in York, it’s too bad how crowded the museum was though.

    1. Squirrels are great fun to watch! Haha… We did have a great time, despite the crowds 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  5. Squirrels are so cute! It made me think of Sri Lanka where they were so easy to photograph 😉 If I had know that I could see them in York too 😉

    1. You can find squirrels in most parts of the UK I think… I sometimes find them hard to photograph though. They tend to sit still, watch me take out my camera, and then run away just as I’m about to take the photo. Birds and insects do it as well. I’m sure it’s a game for them! Haha!

  6. Hahaha being from squirrel country (they’re everywhere in Québec!), I don’t understand people’s fascination with these furry creatures!
    It sounds like a fun day, though I also would have been a bit upset by the busy museum. Sometimes I wish they would let people in at a slower pace. And I had no idea that York comes from the Viking word Jorvik!!

    1. Thanks for the comment! I personally like squirrels because they’re entertaining to watch 😉

  7. York looks beautiful and quiet city. You have taken a very cute and natural picture of little squirrel. I would definitely take bus tour would like to see Georgian House also because I like ancient historical things.

    1. Thanks for commenting!

  8. I have a friend from York and she has been inviting me for a long time. I love squirrels and looking at your pictures, I guess I should visit her soon.

    1. Absolutely! York is a great city to visit, so I would encourage you to do so! 😀

  9. It is shame we never made it to the Jorvik Viking Centre when we visited York. My boyfriend is really interested in Viking culture. However by the sound of it, it might have been very crowded.

    1. I’m not sure when the best time to visit would be, but there are sure to be quieter times; perhaps during the autumn and winter months. As it’s indoors, winter weather won’t spoil your visit 🙂

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