by Sharon Henry
The shops in York city centre ooze old fashioned charm with their wonderful window displays and ‘Olde’ England setting of crooked timber buildings and cobbled streets. For me it makes the simple act of window shopping in the historic city, one of the top York attractions and fun things to do, on par with visiting York Minster, the Guild Hall and walking the walls!
A stroll through the labyrinth of streets (or gates, as streets are called in York England) is so enchanting it’s like wandering around a movie set of a Charles Dickens novel.
Click here for a map of York city centre and Visit York information.
And reminiscent of those Victorian times, the windows of York city centre shops bulge with all manner of goodies, a catalogue of sorts divulging what’s inside. Pastries, trinkets, toys, curios, confectionery, home-ware, jewellery, musical instruments… all cleverly displayed to allure passers-by. It makes window shopping one of the best, unusual things to do in York city centre.
Free Things To Do In York City Centre
York UK is a window shopper’s heaven. Yes, there are the usual UK high street shops like York Primark and the Coppergate York shopping centre, but it’s the quaint style of the independent shops and boutiques that sets York apart. Offering a quirky and unique shopping experience you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
There’s an array of clothes shops in York, vintage shops, record shops and book shops in York England.
Wonderful Shops In York City Centre
The shop window displays have an informal, museum-like quality that showcases the lifestyle and culture of the city. There’s a Mary Shortle doll and teddy hospital shop, a taxidermist and even the all-year-round Käthe Wohlfahrt York Christmas shop.
My favourite are The Shambles York shops. The Shambles name suggests chaos, and it possibly was in centuries gone as this street used to be the butchers’ market. Today it’s a magnet for tourists wanting to photograph the Google earned title of ‘Britain’s most picturesque street.’ It makes Instagram candy.
Photography Tip: To eliminate reflections when taking pictures of shop windows, we use a polarizing filter. Click here for more info.
Unusual Things To Do In York
Gone are the hog’s heads and legs of lamb that once hung in the open shop windows (although if you look carefully the meat hooks remain). Instead The Shambles York shops offer specialty tea, finger puppets, amber jewellery and buttery beer; a spin-off of a Harry Potter brew.
JK Rowling’s, Diagon Alley was reportedly modelled on The Shambles and the real deal will capture the imagination of all Harry Potter fans, especially as here you’ll also find ‘The Shop That Must Not Be Named’ brimming with Harry Potter memorabilia and a Nimbus broomstick and a Sorting Hat hanging in the window.
But be warned – it’s very popular and there’s usually a long, snaking queue of people waiting to enter.
Come See The Shops In York City Centre
York is just two hours from London by train, perfect for York city breaks or a day’s excursion to see York tourist attractions. It’s the quintessential biscuit tin picture of an English town.
It’s a fantastic place to visit and for more ideas on things to do in York check this post that’s been put together by a Yorkshire local.
A spot of window shopping in York UK comes highly recommended by us and is a delightful way to spend a day. You can literally window shop till you drop, a form of retail therapy (albeit visual) that won’t cost a penny – if you’re strong! Beware: The window displays of the shops in York city centre are quite irresistible.
York Shopping Outlet
As mentioned above, York offers fantastic shopping that caters for fashion, beauty and home to suit all tastes and pockets. There are a number of York outlet shops and retail parks in and around the city, here’s a quick guide.
This list compiles some of York’s Indie retailers and includes a handy map of where to find them.
The York Shambles Market – can’t visit an English town without browsing a market for an authentic experience. Here you’ll find over 85 stalls selling world street food, vintage clothing and locally grown fruit and veg. Situated between Parliament Street and The Shambles.
The York Designer outlet shops are a 10-minute drive outside of city, there are over 120 designer and high street brands including Superdry, Timberland and Vans.
Monks Cross York Shopping Park is a 10-minute drive outside the York city centre where you find a mix of popular UK shops including Debenhams, H&M, New Look, TKMaxx and Hobbycraft.
The Vangarde Shopping Park is 10-minute drive outside York for John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next megastores.
In York the word ‘gate’ substitutes street, and ‘bar’ substitutes gate as in gate house. So, the streets are called gates, the gates are called bars, and the bars are called pubs!