How to Travel from London to Leeds by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Bridge over the Aire in Leeds
Ferne Arfin

Leeds is 195 miles north of London's Trafalgar Square. The city is one of the fashion, food, and sports capitals of England and it happens to be surrounded by national parks like Peak District, Yorkshire Dale, and Sutton Bank. If you're looking for directions to Leeds Castle, however, you're in the wrong place. Leeds Castle is located southwest of London in Broomfield, which is in the opposite direction of the city of Leeds, 246 miles away in Northern England.

If you have time, you can score some insanely cheap bus fares to Leeds from London, but the journey does take over 4 hours. Flying is the quickest way to get there, but when you factor in the time it will take you to get to the airport, it makes just as much sense to take a high-speed train directly to Leeds. If you want to make a road trip out of it and drive yourself, the route does pass by the towns of Nottingham and Sheffield, which could make for interesting side trips.

How to Get from London to Leeds

  • Train: 2 hours, 20 minutes, $28+
  • Bus: 4 hours, 20 minutes, $6+
  • Flight: 1 hour, $47+
  • Car: 4 hours, 195 miles (314 kilometers)

By Train

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) runs services to Leeds Station from London Kings Cross every half hour. The trip takes about 2 hours, 20 minutes. The cheapest train fares are those designated "Advance." How far in advance depends upon the journey, as most rail companies offer advance fares on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance tickets are usually sold as one-way or "single" tickets. Whether or not you buy advance tickets, always compare the "single" ticket price to the round trip or "return" price because it is often cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round-trip ticket.

To find the cheapest fares, use the National Rail Enquiries Cheapest Fare Finder. If you plan ahead and you're flexible about when you travel, you can save a lot of money. You may also be able to find a good deal using Rail Europe.

By Bus

National Express Coaches operates buses from London to Leeds from Victoria Coach Station. Buses leave every half hour until 11:30 a.m. and then hourly until 8 p.m. The journey takes about 4 hours, 30 minutes and bus tickets can be purchased online.

National Express offers a limited number of "funfare" promotional tickets that are very cheap. These can only be purchased online and they are usually posted on the website a month to a few weeks before the trip. It is worth checking the website fare finder to see if "funfare" tickets are available for your chosen journey.

Other bus companies like BlaBlaBus and Megabus also service the route between London and Leeds and leave from Victoria Coach Station as well. You can find fares as low as $7 or $25 on both of their websites. When booking your ticket, don't forget to take rush hour into account. A bad spat of traffic leaving London could add more than an hour to your total travel time.

By Plane

If you are really in a hurry, it is possible to fly into Leeds Bradford Airport from London Heathrow. The flight takes about an hour and can cost between £85 and close to £400 round trip. There are inexpensive bus and coach transfers from the airport to the city center, but by the time you factor in at least half an hour at each end of the journey (longer if the trip starts at Heathrow during the rush hour), you are really better off taking the train.

By Car

Leeds is 195 miles north of London and the total journey by car will take you about 3 hours, 40 minutes to complete, barring traffic. However, the main highways are usually busy, so realistically it will probably take you over 4 hours to arrive.

From London, you have a few options to get to Leeds. From North London, you can take the M1 or the A1, which will take you all the way to Leeds. From West London, you can take the M40 first to get out of the city and then connect to the M1 near Northampton to travel north the rest of the way to Leeds. If it is your first time driving in the UK, make sure you look up some advice on how to drive on the other side of the road, as well as the local road rules and customs. When filling up on gas, don't forget that petrol, as they say in the UK, is sold by the liter, not the gallon.

What to See in Leeds

Leeds is one of the largest cities in Northern England. Although it existed in the Middle Ages, the city didn't boom until the Industrial Revolution when it became a center for manufacturing. You can find some pre-industrial landmarks like Kirkstall Abbey, which was built in 1152, but most of the attractions in and around Leeds come in the form of shopping complexes like The Arcades and the Corn Exchange or the free-of-charge Royal Armouries Museum, where you can watch authentic jousting bouts and see the world's only complete set of Indian elephant armor.

If you mistakenly took the train to Leeds instead of Leeds Castle, you can still see some grand homes around the city like the Tudor-Jacobean Temple Newsam House or the Palladian-style Harewood House. If you're more into beer, there's a lot of excitement over Yorkshire's brewing scene, so you'll want to be sure to check out breweries like Quirky Ales and Northern Monk Brewing Company.

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