Any trip around Northern England should include a stop in York, about halfway between London and Edinburgh. This medieval town is most famous for its massive cathedral, but its history dates back even further to the times of the Ancient Romans. It makes a perfect day trip if you're driving through the area or if you have the time, stay for a weekend to really experience what York has to offer.
Taking the train is the fastest way to get from London to York and the journey takes just about two hours. However, train tickets can get prohibitively expensive if you don't buy them weeks in advance. If you're traveling on a budget, the bus is much cheaper and can save hundreds of dollars if you're making last-minute plans. Perhaps the best way to visit York is to rent a car and road trip through England. It's only 210 miles away and makes an excellent pitstop on your way to Scotland.
|Train||1 hour, 52 minutes||from $23||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||5 hours, 30 minutes||from $12||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours, 30 minutes||210 miles (338 kilometers)||Exploring the area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to York?
Although the bus ride is more than twice as long as the train, it's the most affordable way to get from London to York, especially when booking at the last minute. A one-way journey starts at about $12 when reserved in advance through National Express, but even a ticket purchased on the bus shouldn't cost more than $25.
The ride takes about five and a half hours and all buses depart from Victoria Coach Station, with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. You'll be dropped off in York in front of the city's rail station, which is a short walk across the river from the town center and all of York's most famous sites.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to York?
The fastest trains leaving London arrive in York in just under two hours, quick enough that you could visit for a short weekend getaway or even a rushed day trip. If you purchase your tickets in advance, they're also relatively affordable, starting at just $22 for each way. Tickets are at their cheapest when they are first released and you see the "Advance" pricing, which is about eight to 10 weeks before the travel date. Once they start to sell out, they quickly—and drastically—go up in price, costing up to $150 for a one-way journey. Flexibility is key for grabbing a deal, so if trains seem too expensive, try looking at other times throughout the day or a day before or after.
Trains to York depart from King's Cross Station, which has connections to the Circle, Metropolitan, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern, and Victoria lines of the Underground. The York Rail Station is located just across the river from the town center and you can easily reach it on foot.
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?
The drive to York takes about three and a half hours without traffic, although just leaving London you're almost assured to deal with at least some road congestion. The M1 highway is the fastest route north, passing through many London suburbs and later the various towns that make up the Midlands. It's also one of the U.K.'s busiest motorways, and it's common for the drive to take up to five hours.
Parking garages are available in the town of York, but they all charge hourly fees which can add up if you're staying longer than a day. A more economical option is to park in one of the free Park & Ride lots outside of the city and use the shuttle service to get into town.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to York?
York is a stop on the popular train route from London to Edinburgh, and tickets during holiday weekends or summer vacation are always the first to sell out. If you're planning to travel by train during this time, be sure to book as far in advance as possible to avoid paying the highest prices.
Summer is the most comfortable time to visit York, with July, August, and September experiencing the best weather. These are also the busiest months and tourist high season, meaning accommodations book up fast and the small town can feel overcrowded. If you wait until the school year resumes in September, you should find sunny weather and much fewer crowds.
What's the Most Scenic Route to York?
The primary highway and rail route to York are primarily just driving through towns without any major cities or parks to break up the drive. But if you have a car and don't mind a detour, you could cut through Peak District National Park, which is filled with several scenic routes considered some of the most breathtaking in all of England. Even though it's in the direction of York, it adds about two hours to the drive. To make the most of your time, you could cut through the park and spend a night or two in Manchester—which has a direct highway connection to York—before continuing on.
What Is There to Do in York?
York, a city with roots that go back about 2,000 years, is a must-see destination for any history buff, and the first place you should visit is also the easiest to find. The colossal York Minster cathedral is one of the largest in Europe, and those who are able to climb the 275 stairs to the bell tower can enjoy unobstructed views of the city below. Clifford's Tower is another medieval building and was originally built by William the Conqueror, back when York was constantly under siege by northern rebels. If you want a more guided experience into York's long history, the award-winning York Castle Museum is a fully interactive experience that covers centuries of York life, all the way up to the present day.