How to Travel from London to Derby by Train, Bus and Car

Derby Cathedral at Dusk

Frank Fell / Getty Images

The town of Derby, which lies about 130 miles north of London, has been called "the city of festivals," "the real ale capital of Britain," and "a top-10 must-see destination." Regardless of why you're visiting, just make sure you pronounce the city name as "Darby," as the locals do. If you can avoid that common faux pas, you're sure to fit right in.

The quickest way to get to Derby is by rail, which takes under two hours on a direct train from London. However, train tickets can get prohibitively expensive, especially if you're booking at the last minute. The bus takes more than twice as long but costs a fraction of the price. If you have your own vehicle, driving yourself is a great way to explore not only Derby but the rest of the northern U.K. as well.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 1 hour, 40 minutes from $16 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 3 hours, 40 minutes from $9 Traveling on a budget
Car 2 hours, 30 minutes 128 miles (206 kilometers) Exploring the local area

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Derby?

If you don't mind the extra long journey, taking the bus from London is the least expensive way to get to Derby, with one-way tickets starting at seven pounds, or roughly $9. The total ride takes nearly four hours—more than twice as long as the train—but the price of a bus ticket is unbeatable, especially if you're making last-minute plans. Whether you reserve your bus seat weeks in advance or buy it from the driver as you're boarding, ticket prices shouldn't fluctuate much (if at all), with same day-tickets maxing out at about $20.

Buses are provided by National Express, and you can catch the bus in London from Victoria Station with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. The Derby bus station is located along the banks of the River Derwent and is just minutes away from the city center by foot.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Derby?

Taking the train is the fastest method for getting to Derby, shuttling passengers between cities in about an hour and a half to two hours. Trains depart multiple times every hour from the busy St Pancras Station in London and arrive at the Derby Station, which is less than a mile from the city center.

To get the best deals, look at schedules and book tickets through National Rail when train routes first open, which is about eight to 10 weeks before the travel date. Tickets with "Advance" pricing are the cheapest options, albeit the most inflexible. You have to catch the train that departs at the time you choose, which can be difficult to plan out weeks ahead. If you want a reservation that's more accommodating, choose "Anytime" or "Off-Peak" tickets—you'll pay an extra premium, but have more freedom to choose your departure time on the day of travel.

Tip: If you're returning to London after Derby, buy two one-way tickets. You won't be able to take advantage of the Advance pricing if you purchase a roundtrip ticket.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Traveling north from London on the M1 highway, it takes about two and a half hours to reach Derby if you're driving your own vehicle, although traffic can cause significant delays. To miss out on the worst of London congestion, avoid leaving at busy rush hour times, especially weekday evenings when many people are commuting out of the city. Parking in the center of Derby can be complicated, and you have to pay for almost all street parking. Once you're in Derby you won't need a car to get around this small town, so it's ideal to find a parking space outside of the city where you can safely leave your car.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Derby?

Summer in Derby is the most comfortable time to visit, when the average high temperature hovers around 65 degrees F to 70 degrees F. June, July, and August are the warmest months, but this is also the tourist high season and you may find this small town feels overcrowded on summer weekends. Visiting in the shoulder season of May or September is the best time to see Derby, when the weather is still pleasantly warm but with fewer visitors on the streets.

Derby is known as the "city of festivals" because you can almost always find some type of celebration happening in the city, from film festivals to music festivals to food festivals and more. Many of these events take place from spring to fall when the weather is warm enough to enjoy being outside, but even in the winter you can usually find some type of event happening. Check to see what's going on in the city before your trip so you can fully enjoy the festivities.

What Is There to Do in Derby?

Derby is historically significant not just in the U.K. but in the world, since its early factories secured Derby's place as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The Museum of Making debuts in 2020 and will highlight Derby's long and productive history from the Paleolithic Era to modern-day. Darley Park sits along the River Derwent and is popular with locals and visitors as a tranquil place to escape the city. The Cathedral Quarter in the town center is one of the focal points of the city and is the area to visit for high-end shopping and boutique eateries.

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