Welcome to my new goth travel guide series, where we look at all the unusual things to do in places across the UK, and hopefully further afield too! Today we’re talking about the gothic city of York.
It’s a city where cobblestone streets echo with whispers of centuries past and gothic spires pierce the inky sky. Nestled in the heart of Northern England, York stands as a living testament to history, mystery, and a dark allure that beckons the gothic-ly inclined.
In this goth travel guide, we’ll delve into the beautiful haunts that make York a destination like no other for the discerning dark traveller. From iconic cathedrals to cute alternative shops, each location on our list is a must see or do if you’re a goth who loves to travel.
1. York Minster
If you’re anything like me, you can really appreciate some gothic architecture. If that’s the case then you can’t miss the York Minster (let’s be honest, it’s hard to miss anyway). It boasts the most incredible spires, breathtaking stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings, making it visually interesting. The York Minster is steeped in history, with an undercroft and crypt that any goth would be fascinated to learn about.
2. The Shambles
York is known for its well preserved medieval street, The Shambles, which is another must-visit for any goth. It’s a narrow, cobbled street where the tops of the buildings hang over your head. It definitely feels like you’ve been transformed into another time (bar the harry potter shops, of course…). There are some shops on the Shambles that are worth a visit for goths, like The Society of Alchemists (a magical fragrance shop).
3.York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum is the perfect place to discover the dark history of crime and punishment in York. From the costume and fashion exhibits to the full Victorian street and interesting exhibits that explore its use as a prison, there are loads of reasons why a goth might enjoy this museum in particular. The museum itself has an imposing Victorian structure with Gothic architectural elements.
4. York Dungeon
York Dungeon combines the morbid history of York with theatrical performances and interactive storytelling. It’s totally immersive, with dimly lit corridors, weird sound effects and realistic set designs to create a spooky atmosphere where you learn about engaging stories from the past. Of course, if you’re looking particularly unusual or goth yourself, you’re probably going to get picked to volunteer for stuff (why does that happen??).
5. York Ghost Tour
There’s so much history and folklore to explore, and in fact the story goes that York is one of the most haunted cities in the UK. You just have to wander through the streets and you’ll come across a variety of ghost tours to choose from, including the Ghost Bus Tour, which is a great option if it’s cold or you’d prefer not to do too much walking.
6. Bettys Tea Rooms
Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in a luxurious setting at Bettys, which has an old-world charm. While it’s not a super unusual thing to do in York, afternoon tea, brunch or lunch at Bettys is a must-do for any goth visiting York. Yes, it’s a bit posh, but it’s the perfect opportunity to don a fancy goth outfit, a hat and a pair of gloves.
7. The York Ghost Merchants
Back on The Shambles, the York Ghost Merchants shop is a definite for the itinerary when you’re a goth visiting York. It’s essentially a souvenir shop that sells over 600 different handmade ghost figurines. It’s a tiny shop, so there’s often a queue out the door, but it’s an experience as well as just a store. There are peepholes and curiosities to view ghosts in situ.
8. The York Cat Trail
A free trail that takes you across the city, you can discover the cat sculptures that watch over you from on high. Starting at The Cat Gallery shop on Low Petergate, you’ll be shown Clifford’s Tower, the City walls and the Museum Gardens, to name but a few places. It’s a great option if you’ve got kids with you, as you can keep them entertained with deciphering the clues and spotting the cats.
It would be remiss of me to exclude York’s original alternative store from this list of goth things to do in York. Located on Goodramgate, Classix is hard to miss with its purple frontage and black lettering. It’s been around since 1978, and inside you’ll find a selection of clothes, jewellery, a bit of home stuff and more.
10. Goth-Friendly Pubs
Visiting goth-friendly pubs in York is fairly easy as lots of the pubs and bars are housed in medieval buildings, so they’re dimly lit and slightly spooky. Highlights include one of the most haunted pubs in York, The Golden Fleece or the Guy Fawkes Inn where you can totally imagine dark plots being put together by co-conspirators. The Evil Eye Lounge and The House of Trembling Madness should be on your must-visit list too!