York or Edinburgh?

We will be in England in October and have three days and two nights to either visit York or Edinburgh. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

York doesn't have enough for three full days. Edinburgh almost does.

Posted by Micky
San Francisco, CA, USA
97 posts

Oh, I disagree! York is well worth 3 days. Day 1: the Minster plus its undercroft and tower in the morning, the Yorkshire Museum in the afternoon, a ghost tour in the evening. Day 2: spend the day rambling through the old city: the Shambles, various snickelways, the city walls, Barley House, Micklegate Bar, Jorvik, the Merchant Adventurers' House, tea at Betty's... Day 3: York Castle Museum or the National Railway Museum, depending on what suits your fancy.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4212 posts

If you want to be introduced to a new country, then go to Edinburgh. York is wonderful, but Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and so has a lot more to offer. The castle, the museums, New Town, Holyrood Palace and so much more. The country is voting on independence a year for this October, so visit now while it's still part of the UK! : ) Pam

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4737 posts

Pamela's right. Before I went to Scotland, I thought of England and Scotland as basically one place. I then spent 4 days in Scotland (3 in Edinburgh and 1 in Glasgow), in 1993. I didn't get to any other part of the country, and I haven't been back since. But I will never think of them as "twins" again. Just those 4 days were enough to emphasize to me how different they are. Whatever the status of Scotland and its independence, it's a totally different culture, and I don't mean stereotypical things like kilts and bagpipes (which are, shall we say, in short supply in Glasgow and Edinburgh). I actually preferred Glasgow to both Edinburgh and York, but I seem to be in the minority. Of the two you asked about, if you only have time for one, I'd pick Edinburgh. Do be prepared for a language barrier; while not everyone will have a thick Trainspotting style accent, enough of them will to make communication difficult at times.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7870 posts

Two of my favorite places. If you have to chose only one, I'd give the nod to Edinburgh - unless you have to skew your itinerary beyond recognition to get there.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

I was born about 15 miles north of Edinburgh, on the Fife side of the Forth bridge. My mother went to school in Edinburgh and even though we moved to England when I was 5, I'd been back loads of times and knew the place fairly well when we went there on honeymoon. It is an international city, very touristy, marketing a version of Scottishness I suppose, but needing care if you want to avoid coming away with a feeling that you've somehow missed what Scotland is really about. The tartan shops down the Royal Mile and the gift shops selling Tam O'Shanter hats complete with ginger hair are a case in point - there is a lot about the Edinburgh tourist experience that can be bogus, but for my money it's the finest city in the (current) UK for art, music, architecture, scenery (climb Arthur's Seat on a clear day, or even just the castle and look out towards the Firth of Forth) and it even punches above its weight for food these days, which is amazing for the country that gave the world mince, peas and tatties and the deep fried pizza, but there it is. We stopped in York on the way home, mostly because it was too far to drive in one day, but it's a lovely place too. If Edinburgh gives you Georgian grandeur then York gives you 2,000 years of development, starting with the Romans. On balance there is enough in York to spend at least as much time as you devote to Edinburgh, but for me York is about history and archaeology, while Edinburgh is about culture. Hard to choose between them...

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Oh, by the way Harold, if you thought the accents in Trainspotting were hard to understand, you should have met my Grandad, or my Granny come to that (a Glaswegian herself)... ;-)

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
398 posts

How are you traveling? If you take the train from London...you can do a stopover in York on your way to Edinburgh. Check the Britrail Book or National Rail schedule and you may be able to do York Highlights and catch evening train to Edinburgh for 2 full days there. Skip Yorvick...it is not worth time...unless you like Tunnel of Love rides.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1260 posts

I agree with Kathleen - see both. Two full days is enough for the highlights of Edinburgh and most of a day is enough time to visit Yorkminster, the Shambles, have lunch, and walk a short section of the city wall, accessed directly across from the front of Yorkminster. The train between Edinburgh- London goes through York. It's fun to see the highlights even if you don't have time for the slow travel - linger scenario.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2028 posts

"climb Arthur's Seat on a clear day," Most definitely, if you're physically able and have a fine day do climb up to Arthur's Seat. We did it early evening and watched the sun set over the city. Absolutely one of my favorite memories of Scotland. I loved Edinburgh. I haven't been to York but it's on my agenda for my next trip (either this Sept or next May/June)- plan to spend one day there and hope to see the highlights in that time frame.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
894 posts

As you have seen it is an impossible question to answer. For what it is worth I would suggest York because as well as its own sites it is an easy journey to the (Yorkshire) Dales or Moors for a day trip. But I wouldn't rubbish Edinburgh, either - although it is not a proper capital city, it is very close to being one and is well worth visiting (much more so than Bath, I think, which gets mentioned relentlessly as a tourist place but - personally - I fail to see its attraction). If you can do both, then that would be ideal, of course. But if not, then ... actually, despite what I wrote above, I don't know which to chose, just go to one and enjoy.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4212 posts

Awe...come on Keith, if we start throwing in day trips.... Stirling, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Roslyn Chapel, Loch Lomond, Trossachs, Fife.... And then there would be the Lanark Wheel if you're engineering inclined, or Bass Rock if you're ornithilogically leaning, or the Abbey's if you're historically inclined. ; ) Pam PS I do like York and I think that Castle Howard and Rivaulx Abbey are terrific.

Posted by j.c.
NC, United States
865 posts

Heh heh. Both are great. York's much smaller, with less walking. And, it's pretty flat. Edinburgh isn't. Three days is fine for a good Edinburgh visit, and it's also fine for a leisurely York visit. If I wanted to be out and about most of the time, I'd go for Edinburgh, If I was in the mood for taking it easy, loitering over a drink and coffee and sweets after dinner, I'd go for three days in York.

Posted by Michael
Fairhope, Alabama, USA
17 posts

Thanks for all the info. We now find we can fit both into our trip. Two days in York and three in Edinburgh.

Posted by christa
alameda, ca, usa
311 posts

I took the train from London to Edinburgh and spent a full day there and was absolutely awestruck by the scenery, every view more beautiful than the last, so many wonderful old buildings and so much to see. I visited the Castle and did a bus tour and spent time wandering in the Royal Mile area as well as closer to the train station, and I could easily see enjoying 3 full days there so I vote for that option.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
894 posts

Michael - that is great, and once you have seen both, perhaps you can come back and tell us which was the right answer! JC makes a very good point - Edinburgh is realy hilly, though that does mean you get some wonderful views. Pam - being born and bred in God's own county, I will never accept Edinburgh could be better than Yorkshire, but I agree it is a decent place to go, including some worthwhile day trips. I'm interested in the Roslyn chapel that you mentioned -is it worth visiting? I admit, I'd never heard of it before that (daft) Dan Brown book! Should we make it a place to go next time in Scotland?

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4212 posts

Hey Keith, you have to pick on Roslyn Chapel? ; ) My top day trips from Edinburgh would be: Stirling Glasgow Trossachs Perthshire Abbey's of the Borders
Abbotsford and Neidpath Castle or Traqair House. Oh and then the interesting Castles and housesBlackness, Hopetoun House etc. And, I am pretty sure you can get to Doune Castle of Monty Python fame for a day from Edinburgh. Again, I do like York, but...And my grandmother was born in Cumbria and lived there until she fled to be a nurse in the midlands and then to the US. So, I have some really pulls on me to England. Pam

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
871 posts

This would be a hard choice for me. They do say that if you flip a coin you will know before it lands, how you want it to land.