Good rail connections make York a lot more accessible from Central London than you might think, given its 210-mile distance (the National Railway Museum must have picked York for a good reason). It's a bit of a hefty outing for a day trip from the capital. But if you are in the UK for a very short visit and don't mind spending four hours on trains (about two hours each way), you could snatch some time in this popular walled city.
York is also in a prime position on the national motorway network and the halfway point on the popular route between London and Edinburgh. Use these travel directions and tips to decide between transportation options.
How to Get to York by Train
Virgin Trains run three or four trains an hour along the East Coast Main Line to York Station from London King's Cross Station. Most are direct services but one train an hour stops at Doncaster and involves changing to a cross-country service for the last leg to York. There's little time difference between the direct and cross-country services, with the journey taking about two hours. This is a popular route, so trains leave London regularly from about 6:15 am to after 10 pm. The cheapest off-peak, advance return (round trip) fare - sampled for April 2018 - was £38 when purchased as two singles (or one way) tickets. Round trip tickets for this route can cost as much as three times more so remember to book separate one-day tickets and book a few weeks in advance if you can.
UK Travel Tip 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 as it is often ( but not always) cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round trip ticket.
National Express run at least four direct journeys a day to York (opposite York Railway Station) from London Victoria Coach Station. The journey takes five and a half hours but there are several fast journeys every day that take five hours and 25 minutes. Longer journeys usually stop in Leeds. Round trip fare is under £40 when booked as two one-way tickets. But, if you make an online booking at least a month in advance, you could land tickets for less than £30 round trip, including a £1 booking fee. Look for the "Low Fares" box on the National Express home page to get the lowest online fares.
New in 2018, you can now pay for National Express coach tickets with Amazon. If you have an Amazon account, you can pay for tickets quickly without having to open an account with the bus company or enter your payment details all over again.
UK Travel Tip - Before you book your ticket, check out the Low Fare Finder box on the National Express home page. The company offers a limited number of travel tickets on their most popular routes that are £5 each way. The destinations change often and you may not find York on the list but it is certainly worth having a look. If there are any special offers or discounts available when you want to travel, you will find them on this page as well.
York is 210 miles north of London via the M1/M62 motorway network. It takes 4 to 5 hours to drive. Keep in mind that gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price can equal about $5.50 a gallon or more. Use the Automobile Association Route Planner to map a route with suggested stopovers and gasoline stations.
UK Travel Tip - York is a small, walled medieval city that is very popular with visitors. If you are planning to drive to York, make use of the city's Park & Ride service. Parking is free in one of six Park & Ride facilities that ring the city. Round trip bus fare to the city center and back, in 2018, cost £3.10. A fare paying adult can take up to three children under age 16 for free on that standard ticket - a real boon for family travelers. Once you are within the York city walls, you will not need to drive.