15 gorgeous Instagram spots in York

Updated May 2022!

The Roman city of York is achingly beautiful with photo opportunities at every corner. There are plenty of cobbled streets and historic buildings to explore which you are bound to fall in love with. I’m always looking for an excuse to go back and every time I find a new dreamy spot! From pretty views of York Minster to the inspiration for Diagon Alley make sure to check out the locations below in York for gorgeous photos to fill your Instagram feed with!

1. Lower Petergate

Lower Petergate

You’ll see that York Minster features in a number of these shots but given that its central tower rises 72m above the city, it’s no wonder! You can see it poking up above the streets nearly everywhere you walk! The best spot for a view of the cathedral rising above the streets is on Lower Petergate. This street gets its name from St Peter, who York Minster was dedicated to.

2. Fossgate: The Hairy Fig & Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

Beautiful fronts on Fossgate

For the Romans, Fossgate was the South Easterly entrance to the city of York whilst it was the Vikings that made it into a street. I love a beautiful shop front and this shot with The Hairy Fig next to Merchants Hall is so quirky it makes a great photo opportunity. Walk through the archway to find the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall which is a medieval guildhall built in the 14th Century.

3. The Shambles

Early morning at The Shambles

The Shambles must be the most famous as well as the most photographed street in York and I’m sure you can see why. The cobbled street with overhanging Elizabethan buildings are what makes it so distinctive. As you walk down the street notice the benches and the hooks in the walls…can you work out what this street would have once been? For centuries, The Shambles was lined with butcher’s shops! Imagine the smell…

The Shambles

This narrow street is alleged to be one of the real life inspirations for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. For a photo with no one else around I’ve found that visiting early on a Sunday morning (I’ve visited at 7.30am in Summer and 9am in Spring) is the best time.

4. York City Walls

York City Walls in Autumn

You can’t visit York without a stroll along the City Walls. The walls were built by the Romans as defence but have been modified over the years. There are 3.4km of walls to walk and it’s a great way to see the city with plenty of photo ops along the way. It’s free to visit the walls but they are closed at dusk so plan carefully! Visit in early Spring and the banks of the walls are awash in golden daffodils!

5. Sir Thomas Herbert’s House

York Gin pop up shop in Sir Thomas Herbert’s House

York has plenty of lovely black and white timbered Tudor buildings and Sir Thomas Herbert’s House fills up a square frame so perfectly. Find this building on Pavement at the bottom of The Shambles. Sir Thomas Herbert was very close to King Charles First and it is rumoured that he dined here during visits to York!

6. Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower

The striking contrast of Clifford’s Tower with the green bank of grass it sits on is a classic photo to snap of York! Make the short (but steep) climb to the top and venture inside for a panorama of York.

7. Minster Gate

Minster Gate

Minster Gate is a rather small section of street but it’s one of the most beautiful corners to photograph in York. Looking towards the Minster the building rises up above the street of shops below. The Minster Gate Book Shop is a popular place to stop and browse with lots of floors of books to explore!

8. York Minster

York Minster from the City Walls between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar

York Minster is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Europe. There are so many stunning angles of this building but a perfect spot along the City Walls between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar offers the whole length of the Minster in a single shot!

9. St William’s College

Stunning timber buildings in York

Another charming timber structure is St Williams’ College. The blue of the doors and shutters contrasts so well with the black and white medieval building and it stands in the shadow of the Minster. It was originally built for Chantry Priests who prayed for the souls of the dead (not sure that’s a job I’d want!).

10. Upper Petergate

There are lots of lovely facades along Upper Petergate to photograph. My favourite angle is the above with the view to York Minster showing so many of the wonderful details on the front of the building. Stop for The Little Apple Bookshop, The Grimoire Bookshop, Eagle & Child and The Fat Badger for great facades.

11. Chapter House Street

Chapter House Street

Chapter House Street is right around the corner from St William’s College so it should be nice and easy to find. This wonderful cobbled street has historic buildings along it including the Treasurer’s House (National Trust). The Treasurer’s House and another building on Chapter House Street are said to be haunted so keep an eye out if you come along at night ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chapter House Street towards York Minster

Turn around and walk back up Chapter House Street for this incredible view back to York Minster – it’s stunning! Two shots for your album in one here so it really is a great spot!

12. Grape Lane

Grape Lane

Grape Lane is situated off Lower Petergate and is a great place to take your camera and snap for the feed! I love the shop and restaurant signs and the building at the end of the street that houses the restaurant Forest plus the tip tops of the Minster poking up above the street.

13. The Three Tuns

The Three Tuns pub on Coppergate

If you’re a fan of symmetry then maybe this one’s not for you! You can find the adorable, slightly wonky The Three Tuns pub (dating back to the 18th centruy) on Coppergate in the middle of York city centre.

14. Snickelways

Watch your head!

York is full of intriguing Snickelways leading between streets or to unusual buildings. Coffee Yard has to be my favourite (not just because of the name!) and it leads down to The Barley Hall. Parts of this historic building date back to the 14th century but its importance was only discovered in the late 20th century.

Other strange snickelways to find include Mad Alice’s Lane, Pope’s Head Alley and Lady Pickett’s Yard.

15. The Shambles Market

Gorgeous Gert and Henry’s Pub

Next to The Shambles street, there is also The Shambles market. It’s full of local goods to take home and delicious treats to taste as well. The buildings that surround this market are pretty amazing and my favourite has to be Gert and Henry’s Pub (I know, another black and white timbered building, but they’re just so photogenic!).

What’s your favourite spot in York?

Cat x

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