With 2,000 years of history to explore, Christmas markets to immerse you in the festive spirit, independent shops to tick off your Christmas list and plenty of pubs and hotels full of heritage to indulge and relax in, you’ll be spoilt for choice when planning a winter’s afternoon in York.

Even if you only have an afternoon spare this winter, fear not, here’s how you can discover the attractions off the beaten track, enjoy a scrumptious food and drinks scene and browse the contemporary independent shops – all in a day’s work.

Take in the views from Clifford’s Tower

If you’re arriving by car, this is one you won’t be able to miss as Clifford’s Tower proudly stands behind one of York’s main car parks. It’s a symbol of the power of England’s medieval kings and was originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue northern rebels. It has twice been burnt to the ground and was finally rebuilt to what it is today, with its sweeping panoramic views, by Henry III. Before you begin your winter’s afternoon, take in the views of York and the surrounding countryside and try to plot where you’re planning to visit during the day.

8 minute walk from Clifford’s Tower to Kings Square…

Be jolly at the Christmas Festival

Between 15 and 23 December, head down to Kings Square to visit the St Nicholas Fair, where you can walk amongst the twinkling lights and support Yorkshire’s small businesses and their stalls. You’ll find everything from Christmas gifts and festive treats, to hand-crafted produce and local delights.

4 minute walk from Kings Square to York Minster, Deangate…

Visit York Minster

Establishing York as a city, York Minster is arguably one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals. Whether you have five minutes to spare or a little longer, there’s so much to discover. You could explore the history, dating back to the birth of modern-day Christianity, join a service, or enjoy the space and its stained-glass windows. Keep an eye out for the Great East Window if nothing else; it’s one of its most famous works of arts and has recently been restored to its full glory.

10 minute walk from Deangate to Station Rise…

Relax over afternoon tea

Relax and refuel over afternoon tea in York at The Grand Hotel with stunning views over the city walls, no expense is spared in the pursuit of luxury.

An elaborate tower of a savoury and sweet treats will be presented on a silver tower – they’ll be plenty to feast on. Whether you’re with children or wish to treat yourselves to optional upgrades of prosecco, champagne or gin and tonic, there’s something to suit everyone.

11 minute walk from Station Rise to The Shambles…

Stroll in and out of independent shops on the cobbled streets

Feeling revitalised? Why not pick up some gifts on your Christmas shopping list (or even treat yourself) at the many independent shops hidden down the side streets of York? The Shambles is home to 500-year-old buildings, its medieval beauty once won UK’s most picturesque street and it is the perfect spot for picking up smaller gifts and souvenirs. If that’s not for you, head over to Coney Street or Spurriergate for plenty of larger retailers.