Steeped in history, York is famous for its Viking past, its Gothic cathedral and its impressive walls. A trip to York is a step back in time, with plenty to entertain and delight any visitor who has an interest in history. From 2024 onwards, visitors to York will need to know about the UK’s new ETA system. Read on to learn about how this programme may affect your trip to one of England’s most-visited historical cities.
Travelling to York With the UK ETA
The Roman colony of Eboracum was established in the year 71 AD. This site, which later became York, was chosen for its strategic location, allowing the Romans to monitor the fierce nearby tribes. Some Roman ruins have been found in the city, but most are buried beneath the mighty cathedral of York Minster. Eboracum flourished for a time, becoming one of the main Roman settlements in Britain. However, it gradually declined, as repeated flooding from the nearby rivers led much of the population to abandon the city by 400 AD.
The Vikings in York
In time, the former Roman colony was settled by the Anglo-Saxons and became one of the largest cities in the kingdom of Northumbria. It grew steadily until the year 866 when it was captured by the Vikings. They made it the capital of their kingdom, known as Jorvik. The Vikings remained in the area for a century, although the city changed hands many times due to regular conflicts with the Anglo-Saxons. Finally, in 954, the Anglo-Saxons scored a decisive victory, expelling the Viking King, Eric Bloodaxe. Many of the oldest buildings in York date back to the Viking period, with churches dedicated to Scandinavian saints, such as St Olaf.
York’s Dark History
Following Henry VIII’s Protestant Reformation, York’s monasteries, abbeys and churches were sacked, as were religious buildings across the country. However, the city continued to have a hidden Catholic community. One of their members, Guy Fawkes, was a native of York, whose name is now infamous for his 1605 Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London.
Another notorious local was Dick Turpin, whose exploits as a highwayman became the stuff of legend. Turpin was hanged in York and buried in the cemetery at St George’s Church in 1739. Following his death, the highwayman became known across the country, with stories about his deeds growing extremely popular.
Places To See in York
This impressive cathedral can trace its origins back to the year 627 when a wooden church was hastily erected to baptise Edwin, the new King of Northumbria. However, the current York Minster took centuries to build and was finished in 1472. It is the second-largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, and its architecture shows the evolution of the English Gothic style. Some of its stained glass windows date back to the 12th century, showing scenes from the Book of Revelation. Its largest bell, Great Peter, weighs almost 11 tons and continues to strike the hours, its toll echoing across the city.
The Shambles is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval shopping streets. It was once known as the Great Flesh Shambles and housed butcher shops. Today, it is a popular shopping destination and is said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. The timbered medieval buildings that line this narrow street make it a popular spot for visitors. Some of these buildings date back to the 14th century, and many now house boutique shops at street level.
Jorvik Viking Centre
One of York’s most popular attractions, Jorvik Viking Centre, is dedicated to the city’s Viking past. It contains life-size dioramas depicting scenes from Viking life. Sights, sounds and smells combine to make an immersive experience. Those interested in this period of history may wish to visit York in February, when the annual Jorvik Viking Festival takes place, complete with historical re-enactment, walking tours and craft workshops.
This hilltop tower is all that remains of York Castle, built by William the Conqueror as part of the Harrying of the North. Clifford’s Tower was used as a military base in the wars against Scotland and later the English Civil War. It was also the site of one of the darkest chapters of the city’s history when an antisemitic mob rounded up York’s Jewish community within the castle and massacred them. The tower has become a popular attraction, offering views across the city. The nearby Castle Museum explains the history of the site.
The UK ETA for York
At present, many visitors to the UK are entitled to a visa waiver. This programme is to be discontinued in 2024, being replaced by the new ETA system. The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is similar to programmes that are currently used in the United States and Canada. It is a key part of the British government’s effort to digitalise the country’s borders.
The travellers who will be affected by the ETA are those who currently do not have to apply for a visa. The citizens of these 92 countries are listed here. Once the new system comes into effect, these visitors must apply for an ETA prior to their trip to the UK.
With an approved ETA, travellers will be able to spend up to six months in the UK. Visitors who are coming to the country for business, pleasure or short-term studies will all need to apply for an ETA. Travellers who currently require a visa — those who want to work in the UK or those who plan to spend a period of longer than six months in the country — will find their circumstances unchanged. They will still need a visa.
What To Know Before Applying for the UK ETA
The application system for the ETA is solely available online. Before beginning their journey, travellers should complete their UK ETA application. They will need to have an approved ETA before they are allowed to enter the United Kingdom to visit York. This means that carriers may deny boarding to passengers without an ETA.
Before starting their application, travellers should take the time to look at the list of ETA requirements and make sure they fit the criteria. For example, they will need to hold a valid biometric passport. The application process also requires them to provide personal information, such as their date of birth, employment status, contact details, etc.
Further questions on the application form will ask the traveller to share information about their past. They will be expected to disclose any criminal record, immigration offences and membership of proscribed groups. They will also need to give details about their trip to the UK. This might include the address at which they intend to stay or an itinerary outlining their plans while in the country.
A completed ETA application can take up to 72 hours to process. Travellers should keep this in mind when they are planning their trip. When applying for the UK ETA for York, they will need to pay a fee. This fee is non-refundable and must be paid in full before their application is considered complete.
Travelling With the UK ETA for York
Once a visitor has had their application for the UK ETA for York approved, they have the freedom to travel within the United Kingdom. There is no border control between the four constituent countries of the UK. This means that visitors can cross the border into Scotland and Wales, or they can travel across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland without any additional paperwork or restrictions. However, if they wish to extend their trip by visiting the Republic of Ireland or any other European country, they will need to check specific entry requirements.
Your Trip to York With the UK ETA
Whether you’re excited by the history of the Vikings or just want to visit the spectacular cathedral, York has plenty to offer. Ensure that your ETA application is completed well in advance, so you’ll have nothing to worry about when you travel. Get the UK ETA for York and discover one of Northern England’s most interesting and historical cities.