York is an ancient city in Yorkshire which has experienced and been influenced by many centuries of history. This makes for a city centre that is full of quirks and different architectural styles. York is a great place just to walk the streets because it’s so beautiful and a wonderful place to photograph so check out these 8 prettiest streets in this extraordinary city and be transported through time.
1. The Shambles
The Shambles is undoubtedly one of the prettiest streets in York and it could be argued within the whole of England! It’s one of the best preserved medieval streets in the world and coming early in the morning without any other tourists for distraction makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time expecting someone to call out asking what wares you’re after today!
The higgledy piggledy buildings and cobbled path are really what makes this street so unique to look at on first glance (and make for a great photo shot). BUT look closer and you’ll notice even more details that add to its intrigue. Notice the dip in the middle of the path, this was where shop keepers would wash away their waste (imagine the smell 😬). Notice the hooks in the walls and the benches on the windows where butchers would hang out their produce for their customers to view.
For the Romans, Fossgate was the South Easterly entrance to the city of York but it was the Vikings that turned it into a street. This is also where the Rowntree’s chocolate empire began (now under Nestle’s ownership) when they purchased a small chocolate business on the street. There are a number of chocolate and sweet shops on this street which nod to its history. My favourite spot along Fossgate is The Hairy Fig and Merchants Hall facade which come together as a quirky picture. Duck under the archway to find the Merchant Adventurers Hall (a 14th century guildhall).
3. Low Petergate
Low Petergate is a beautiful street that runs parallel to the Minster and turns into High Petergate which you can find later on in this list! Both Low & High Petergate are named after Saint Peter. Low Petergate has some wonderful cafes and restaurants to enjoy as well as lovely orange bricked buildings and a stellar view to the towers of the Minster for a beautiful Instagram shot!
As you walk along Low Petergate look out for some of the little snickelways that stray off from the main street! These are curious narrow alleyways that are dotted through York’s city centre. How many can you find?!
4. Grape Lane
Grape Lane is actually just off Low Petergate so another easy street to see whilst walking through York’s city centre. It looks beautiful in the early morning light and with the lamps still on (although let’s be honest everyone’s really looking at the Cheese Trader shop sign 🤤). If you search for Grape’s Lane you may get a surprise; it’s original name was common in the Middle Ages and based on it being an area of the city known for prostitution. Well, now it’s home to some lovely cafes and shops as well as this lovely view to the top of the Minster and striking buildings at the end!
5. Chapter House Street
Chapter House Street is an intriguing lane that runs beside the Treasurer’s House – a National Trust property with a gorgeous garden. I love the cobbled stones down here and just as it turns into Goodramgate you can find the well known Grays Court (alleged to be one of the most continuously inhabited houses in the UK). I’m still intrigued by the number 72 on the building on the left!
You have to make sure to turn around on Chapter House Street to get this stunning view back to York Minster. The light coloured stone of the Minster contrasts wonderfully with the red brick of the wall of the Treasurer’s House.
6. High Petergate
High Petergate leads up to the Minster from Bootham Bar and provides a spectacular entrance into the city centre of York. The impressive Minster rises up to its full 72m height ahead of you and the street itself is lined with historic buildings and pubs. Bootham Bar is York’s oldest city gate and was used as the route into York from the north in the medieval period. Take the walls from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar for a great perspective of the Minster.
Stonegate would have been the most direct for transporting the limestone used to build the Minster but was also the first road in York to be paved in stone so its name could originate from either of these places! Today, it is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city centre with a host of vibrant shops, cafes and pubs to enjoy. It has plenty of unusual buildings and detailed shop fronts that make it a charming sight to behold. On Stonegate you can find one of the two Betty’s cafes in York, a great place to refuel with a cake and a coffee as well as the peculiar tiny pub House of the Trembling Madness!
8. College Street
College Street has become one of my favourite locations in York to photograph, mainly because of the striking features of St William’s College, with its elegant black and white Tudor beams and contrasting dainty blue shutters! But also because of that amazing view to the back of the Minster where you can really gain an impression of its size.
You can also find some lovely cafes along this stretch of road (I follow Crumbs Cupcakery on Instagram and I NEED to try one). Plus, did you know York is well known for its ghost stories and 5 College Street is where The Crying Girl is alleged to have been seen looking out of the upper window on the ancient building at the end…spooky! Take a ghost tour to find out more ghoulish stories from one of the most haunted cities in Europe!
For more places to see and things to do in York, check out the links below!