Sheffield, once the steel-making capital of the world, was an industrial city that has continued to find ways to thrive. Only 168 miles from London, this South Yorkshire town makes for a fantastic weekend trip to get out of the big city and experience another facet of British culture. It's also the gateway to the Peak District National Park, making this an excellent excursion for nature-lovers.
The train is the fastest way to get to Sheffield from London, but if you don't buy tickets early enough they can be prohibitively expensive. The bus is a cheaper option and even though the journey takes twice as long, it can be a fraction of the price of the train. If you have access to a vehicle, going on a road trip and adding other cities to the itinerary is a great way to fully explore all that the U.K. has to offer.
|Train||2 hours, 15 minutes||from $18||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||4 hours, 45 minutes||from $6||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours||168 miles (270 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Sheffield?
Although the bus is the slowest method of transport, taking more than twice as long as the train, it's also the most affordable and a favorite for travelers watching their budget. Tickets from National Express start at 5 pounds, or roughly $6. And while last-minute train tickets can soar to nearly 200 pounds, or almost $250, bus tickets don't fluctuate much in price regardless of when you buy them. You'll save money if you book in advance, but even same-day tickets shouldn't cost more than 12 to 16 pounds, or $15–$20.
Buses depart in London from Victoria Station with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. The Sheffield Coach Station is located adjacent to the train station and is just minutes away from the city center on foot.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Sheffield?
Taking the train is scenic, convenient, and also the fastest way to get to Sheffield. The shortest journeys are direct and take about two hours and 15 minutes, shuttling passengers from St Pancras station in London to the central Sheffield station. When you look at the schedule on the National Rail webpage, be aware that some routes are direct while others include a transfer, so double-check your itinerary before completing your purchase. Direct trains only leave from St Pancras, while trains that start in King's Cross station include a transfer.
"Advance" prices for train tickets, which are the least expensive tickets you can get, open up about eight to 10 weeks before the travel date and start at 15 pounds, or around $18. As demand goes up and seats sell out, prices can soar up to five or six times the original price. Flexibility is key for purchasing rail tickets in the U.K., so if you can't find a decent price, try looking at other times or nearby days for a better deal.
Tip: When buying roundtrip rail tickets in the U.K., always purchase your tickets as two separate one-way journeys. That's the only way to take advantage of the Advance pricing and get the best deal.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
If you have a car, driving is an ideal method of transport for exploring along the way and road-tripping up to other parts of the U.K., such as Manchester or Edinburgh. The 170-mile journey takes roughly three hours to complete when the roads are clear, although apart from traffic just getting out of London, the M1 highway that goes north toward Sheffield is one of England's most congested motorways. During certain times, you'll also have to pay congestion tolls just for driving inside of London.
Parking in Sheffield is available on the street or garages, but both options require paying. Sheffield is small enough that you won't need your car once you're in the city, so you could always park your car outside of the center and leave it there until you're ready to leave.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Sheffield?
If you're traveling by train, try to avoid peak travel times on weekdays from about 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and again from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. These tickets are always the first to sell out and you'll find better deals if you search for trains outside of the rush hour commute. Any long weekends or holidays are also more expensive for travel as many locals use the opportunity to escape London and head out to the countryside.
For enjoyable weather, the best time to visit Sheffield—as with much of the U.K.—is during the summer months when the sun is shining and the average high temperature hovers near 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). June through August get the warmest weather, but these months are also the busiest time and the tourist high season. If you can visit in the shoulder season of May or September, you'll encounter fewer crowds without sacrificing sunny days.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Sheffield?
Sheffield sits at the base of Peak District National Park, considered one of the most stunning places to visit in the U.K. The M1 highway you would normally take to Sheffield doesn't pass through the park, so you'll have to veer west as you approach Derby to cut through the park, adding about an hour and a half to your drive time. Most visitors would agree that the sweeping panoramic views, limestone gorges, and forested valleys more than compensate for the additional time in the car.
What Is There To Do in Sheffield?
Sheffield grew into the city that it is today during the Industrial Revolution, famous then and now for its steel and cutlery production. The Millenium Gallery is a museum in the city that chronicles the history of the city and showcases not only Sheffield's industriousness but also its artistic side. The city may be known for its role in the Industrial Revolution, but today Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in the U.K. and is home to a number of parks and over 4 million trees. The Winter Garden in the center of the city is an A-framed greenhouse where visitors can experience foliage from around the world.