Travelling from London to York is easy.
But how easy and how expensive it is depends on the type of transport you choose to use.
London to York by train
Train is THE best way to travel to York. It is a short journey averaging around two hours; it is so quick you can visit York on a day trip from London.
York’s centrally located rail station is just a 10 minute walk from the city centre and York’s major attractions.
After leaving London, the train passes through small towns and rural countryside. It is a much more scenic – and relaxing – journey than London to York by car or by bus.
Need to know information
There are on average 50 trains a day travelling to York from London. The trains depart from Kings Cross Station and travel on the East Coast rail line. The route is operated by LNER (London North Eastern Railway).
York is rarely the final destination given on the station’s information boards. Trains to York usually terminate in Edinburgh or Newcastle; York will be one of the stops mentioned on route. Trains are high speed and either travel directly to York or they will have one or two stops on route.
You will not need to change trains travelling from London to York. The quickest train journey time is 1 hr 46 minutes and the slowest trains take just over 3 hours.
Your can bring your own food or purchase food from the on board catering trolley. I’d always recommend bringing your own as it is much cheaper and usually tastier! There are supermarket outlets at Kings Cross Station.
Booking a rail ticket from London to York
Tickets can be bought at Kings Cross rail station or in advance online and are always cheaper if they are bought before the day of travel.
Seats can be reserved in advance and you can choose table seats (always a good option with kids) or seats near a toilet or power source. Avoid choosing seats in the designated quiet coach.
Children under 5 travel for free but can not reserve a seat. I find that if you sit next to someone with a child on your lap, they are usually only too happy to move!
Grand Central Railway operates a few trains each day on this route. Grand Central trains take longer but they are usually cheaper than LNER. We find that Grand Central trains have a little more leg room.
Visit nationalrail.co.uk for train times, fares and to book a ticket. Compare prices before booking with Trainline, Red Spotted Hanky, LNER and Grand Central Rail. Shopping around can save a lot of money for a family.
A new company, Lumo, has just started offering aim budget fares on the London to York route. Check their prices here.
Tips for finding cheap train tickets to York
Ticket prices vary depending on which day of the week you are travelling on, what time you travel and when you book your ticket.
The cheapest rail tickets are released 12 weeks in advance. Book as early as you can for the cheapest prices.
For example, on the day I am writing this, the cheapest London to York rail ticket for today is £54. But 11 weeks from today it is £24.
Avoid travelling on peak days or at peak times. Monday morning, Friday evening and Sunday afternoons will be incur the highest prices.
Mid week travel or travel after 9.30 am will be cheaper. You can also find some good deals on a Saturday.
When you have chosen your travel date, check the costs of travelling at different times of the day.
For example, train fares for the day I am writing this, vary between £52 and £125 within the same day.
And shop around for the best prices.
Buy a rail card
Consider purchasing a national rail pass. There are passes available for couples, families, seniors and students. Rail passes can be downloaded to your mobile or bought in person at a rail station and must be shown to the train conductor alongside your ticket.
Rail passes are valid for one year and can be worth buying even if you are just booking one rail trip.
For example, a Family and Friends railcard allows four adults and up to four children to travel on one card. Adults get 40% off full fares and children aged 5 – 15 years get 60% off full priced fares. The card cost £30 but for a group you may save more than that just by buying the card.
London to York by bus
It is possible to travel from London to York by bus (called a coach) but it is a long journey involving multiple stops.
However, the bus is the cheapest way to get to York
National Express coaches depart from London Victoria bus station or from a stop in Golders Green. There are two or three buses a day and the journey takes 5 ½ hours. However, it is cheap as tickets start from £12 one way.
The coach timetable has afternoon and evening coaches with an occasional coach travelling overnight.
Coaches usually have a toilet on board and will make stops for food and drink along the route.
Megabus is a budget coach company operating routes throughout the U.K.
Its London to York route has a couple of coaches each day but with multiple stops on route the journey takes around 6 hours.
Prices start from £11 one way.
Driving to York
I have travelled from London to York (and vice versa) on the M1 motorway many times. I would always pick a train over a car journey!
Driving to York is long and boring as you will not see the scenic views that you will enjoy on the train.
The distance from London to York is around 220 miles / 354 kilometres. It will take around five hours depending on traffic but I have known it take longer.
Most of the route is on the busy M1 motorway and you can get food, drinks and petrol at service stations on route.
If you are travelling from London to York by car as part of a bigger UK road trip, you do not need your car to explore York.
York is a compact city and is easily explored on foot, even with kids in tow. Read my guide to getting around York here.
It is better to travel to York by train, explore York on foot and hire a car from York when you are ready to continue your journey or to take day trips from York.
Flying to York
Flying to York from London is not worth the time, money or environmental impact.
You will spend as much time travelling by plane (if not more) than if you travelled by train. York doesn’t have an airport so you have to fly into Leeds. From Leeds Bradford airport, it is either a two bus journey to York or a bus and a train combination.
As you can see, there are several ways to travel from London to York (or vice versa). But for speed, comfort and ease, travel by train!