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How To Get From London To York (2024 Guide)

York is a city in northern England that attracts millions of tourists every year. It is a popular destination due to its history, architecture, and culture. It’s about 175 miles from London as the crow flies, but whichever method of travel you choose, the distance you go will be more like 200 miles. 

It’s a city I’ve visited several times, and a great choice if you want to spend a few days in the north of England. 

The city has been inhabited for over 2,000 years and is filled with stunning medieval buildings, including the iconic York Minster. Visitors can also explore ancient Roman walls and visit well-preserved historic sites such as Clifford’s Tower and York Castle Museum.

But now that you know you want to go to York, what’s the best way to get there? 

Clifford’s Tower

Overview of Travel From London To York

You have 3 main options: train, car and coach. I’ll outline the pros and cons of each of them for you, but it boils down to this: pick the train for efficiency and if you are only visiting the city itself, pick a car if you want to explore other parts of Yorkshire as well, and pick the coach if you are on a very tight budget. 

By the way: If you are flying into London and were hoping to get a connecting flight to York, it’s not possible. The closest airport to York is in Leeds, and there are no flights between London and Leeds – they are just too close together to justify it. 

So, let’s get stuck into the details of how to get from London to York. 

York Minster

By Train

The train is the fastest and most straightforward way to get to York. The trains are pretty comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about traffic, parking or driving in a country you aren’t used to.

If you are only planning to visit the city itself and not the wider Yorkshire region, the train is the best option. Train travel in the UK is generally very good, but tickets can be expensive of you don’t book in advance. 

There are direct trains from London King’s Cross to York, leaving roughly every half hour. Some of them are non-stop taking just under 2 hours, and others have several stops and are closer to 2½ hours.

Either way, it is significantly quicker than coach or car. This journey time means it is even possible to do a day trip from London to York by train. 

Two companies run this train route, Grand Central and London North Eastern Railway (LNER), but I don’t recommend using their websites to work out which train to take. The best option is to use either Trainline or National Rail both of which will show you all trains for your route with all companies. 

Once you’ve chosen, National Rail will push you through to the train company’s website to book, or Trainline will take the booking themselves. Ticket prices are usually the same but you might be charged booking fees depending on which one you choose. 

Book as far advance as you can to get the best rates. You can get tickets for around £40 if you book in advance, but tickets on the day will be much more expensive.

Also, booking a specific train is significantly cheaper than buying an open ticket to take whatever train is convenient when you get to the station.

Just remember, if you miss the train you were booked on you will have to get a new ticket. Most trains have ticket inspectors and they will notice if you book a specific train but get on one that leaves earlier or later. 

If you are feeling fancy you could upgrade to first class, but on a train journey of this length it isn’t necessary, and the normal seats are reasonably comfortable.

Shambles – York’s most famous street

By Car

I’ve driven to York several times. In fact, I was in York when the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown was announced, and driving back down to London on an almost completely empty motorway felt strangely apocalyptic. 

(And just to be clear – my car has a built-in camera, so I wasn’t taking these photos manually!)

M1 Motorway after pandemic lockdown announcement – it felt very apocalyptic!

The main reason for driving rather than taking the train is if you want to spend some time outside of York. Exploring areas like the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and Whitby aren’t really viable without a car.  

If you are only going to be in the city, don’t take a car. York has lots of narrow winding streets and parking can be difficult. 

If you are determined to drive then look into the Park & Ride scheme. Many UK cities have these schemes which let you park cheaply outside the city and then shuttle you in to the centre on a dedicated bus service. 

Depending on where in London you are starting from, you are looking at a drive of about 4½-5 hours, but there is also the risk that it could be much longer if you hit particularly bad traffic. 

From London there are two main routes up to York, the M1 and the A1. 

M1 Motorway

There are pros and cons to each but personally I prefer the M1. If Google Maps indicates that there aren’t major traffic issues and the two routes will likely take a similar time, I’ll pick the M1. 

The services (rest stops) are better and you have more options if there are traffic issues. The M1 is multiple lanes the whole way, so you don’t get lorries taking up all the motorway lanes. On the downside, it’s just another ugly motorway so there isn’t much to see. 

The A1 has long stretches of 2 lanes in each direction and you can get stuck for miles when both lanes are taken up by lorries trying to overtake each other without actually being much faster. I almost always find myself getting very frustrated (and maybe a little sweary!) on the A1. 

I would also make a note that after spending 6 months and 22,000 miles driving around America, there is a difference between driving in America and the UK.

A similar distance can be much more tiring in the UK. The M1 and A1 are generally busy the whole way. You won’t get miles of road with only a few cars around you, and it requires more concentration. 

Driving from London to Edinburgh in one day left me exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Driving an equivalent 8 hours through North Dakota and South Dakota was easy. 

Overall, if you want to explore the wider Yorkshire area then a car would be helpful, but if it’s just a city break then I would recommend the train. 

By Coach

Coach journeys to York are generally the cheapest transport option. Megabus and National Express offer journeys from London Victoria station from as low as £12. However, for most of these routes you have to change at Leeds, and the journey will take around 7 hours.

Coaches generally have onboard WiFi (although there is no guarantee of speed), toilets and power outlets. 

Book directly with whichever company you prefer via their website. 

I would really only recommend the coach if you are on a very strict budget but have plenty of time to spare. 

You get all the downsides of driving (i.e. potentially horrendous traffic), without the benefit of a car’s flexibility once you arrive. 

North York Moors National Park

Final Thoughts: How To Get From London To York

By now you should have a good idea of which method will best suit you, but if you need a nudge here it is: take the train. And I say that as someone who loves a road trip. Unless you like to spend as much time driving aimlessly around the Yorkshire Dales as I do, you won’t need a car in York itself. It is a very walkable city, and best explored on foot. 

So, head over to the Trainline or National Rail websites, and get planning!

Train – most efficient

Car – most flexible 

Coach – most affordable

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