A trip to the historic city of York can make a wonderful holiday. There are fascinating museums and old buildings to see, unique shops to explore and a beautiful river to relax by. The centre of the city is small, making it relatively easy to get around. Old cities can present difficulties for disabled visitors, however, so what should you be aware of when making plans to visit this one?
A Historic City
Founded by the Romans and heavily influenced by the Vikings, York is a city which still has many of its historic features intact. These include parts of the city walls, which you can walk along provided you are sure of your balance – there’s a straight drop on one side. The walls surround a centre full of narrow streets, many of which are cobbled. The cobbles can be uneven so it’s advisable to walk slowly or to use a sturdy wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Because many of York’s shops are small, being in very old buildings, it can be difficult to get inside them on a mobility scooter. Some have steps at the entrance. Staff are used to disabled visitors, however, and will do what they can to help. Many will bring things out for you to look at in the street if necessary.
Despite the age of many of its buildings, York has a good number of hotels with accessible rooms for disabled people. Five star accommodation is available and you can also find very affordable places to stay, especially in the off season – York is interesting all year round but most visitors go in summer.
There are good disability-friendly hotels very close to the centre of York. These are a great choice if you don’t want to have to deal with public transport – parking in the centre can be difficult – and they’re also good if you want to split up your day and take short breaks where you can relax.
There are two main forms of public transport in York: buses, and the ftr system. The latter is a type of vehicle that looks like a tram but uses the roads, and it only runs on a few selected routes. It is wheelchair accessible with raised kerbs at the stops and reserved seats for ambulant people with walking difficulties. It can be useful for getting into the city centre but not really for getting around it.
Buses in York vary but many are now wheelchair accessible and can be lowered down for easier access. You can find guides to accessible bus routes online or order copies from York City Council. They will get you to and from most popular areas of the city.
Taxis in York are averagely priced but because the city is quite small it’s usually fairly quick to get around, meaning that you don’t need to spend all that much per trip. If you can manage in minicabs you’ll find several good services available – ask at your hotel for advice.
Places to Visit
York has many famous attractions, among them the beautiful York Minster, built in the year 627. This is relatively easy to access for disabled people and there’s lots to explore inside. If you can cope with the steep hill that leads up to it, there’s also Clifford’s Tower, the only remaining part of York Castle. Although the taller parts are only accessible via narrow winding staircases, the ground floor is also interesting to look around and there are usually museum exhibits there.
If you want to explore a more recent version of the past, the Yorvik Viking Centre will take you on a ride back in time. Its disability access is generally very good, though only one wheelchair user can go back in time at once, so it’s best to book ahead. Help is available for visitors with sensory impairments and special one-on-one sessions with Vikings can be arranged for people with other types of difficulty.
Places to Eat
York is a good city for finding accessible places to eat. There are lots of small tea shops in the central Shambles area which are ideal for taking short breaks. You’ll find plenty of different restaurant types to choose from and the city also does well when it comes to pubs, most of which serve food. In fine weather it’s well worth visiting one of the pubs beside the river where you can sit outside at a picnic table and enjoy the view as you eat.