How to get from London to York: best and cheapest ways to travel North

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For many people coming to the UK on vacation, especially if they’re coming from overseas, London is going to be your starting point. If you want to get out and explore some more places in England and have York, a fantastic northern city, on your radar this post should help you figure out how to get there.

York is a place I’ve visited often and I’ve used many different modes of transport over the years to get there. It’s big enough to warrant at least a day or two there and different enough from London that it’s a great change.

view of York, England at dusk
York, with it’s compact centre is an easy trip from London and so different

While it seems York is a long way from London, about 220 miles if you drive, since the UK is such a small country it’s actually not that hard to get to York from the south of England and in particular London. You have a few different options too from driving, train, coach or even flying (although I don’t really recommend flying). Let’s take a look at some of the best, cheapest and quickest ways and then look at each option in detail:

Some useful links for figuring out your journey to York from London:

The Trainline (best for booking trains and exploring times)
MegaBus (coach)

What’s the best way to get from London to York?

In my opinion the train is by far the best way to get to York from London. It’s an easy journey, getting to the train stations are easy and there’s no lengthy check in times. You can enjoy the countryside passing by and the change of scenery as you go from the leafy shires of southern England to the more rugged North and when you do arrive the train drops you right in the centre of York so you’re ready to get exploring straight away.

Read on for more detailed information about a train journey to York from London

What’s the cheapest way to get to York from London?

The cheapest mode of transport to get you to York, in North England, from London in the south is the coach. There are a couple of coach operators that will do the journey and the cheapest ticket seems to be around £10-£15 each way.

Stunning York Minster

Can you do a day trip from London to York?

If you’re wanting to maximise your vacation time then you might be wondering if it’s possible to do a day trip from London to York and back again. The good news is that if you take the train it’s totally doable. While it’s not a particularly short journey, it takes around 2.5 hours to get there, if you plan well enough and leave early enough you’ll have more than enough time to explore York. Thankfully you can see a lot even if you just have one day in York too!

Here’s some notes about doing York as a day trip:

  • The earliest train that goes to York leaves London at 6.15am and arrives at 8.33am
  • The last train leaving York is at 10.25pm and gets in London at 1.15am the next morning
  • There’s a lot of trains to choose from between these times
  • Prices vary due to peak hours so it’s recommended to check Trainline to see what it could cost

Getting to York from London by Train

The train is usually my favourite way of travelling around the UK. It tops the chart from the experience side but also from an environmental point of view too. Unfortunately it can be a little more expensive than other options such as a coach (see below for cost cutting tips). Time wise it does really well even against flying and is almost twice as quick than taking a car or bus

When you start to consider the ease of getting the train from central London (trains go from Kings Cross Station) and being dropped off in the centre of York sometimes the expense can be compensated by the convenience. It’s certainly one of the most convenient ways to get to York!

I’d say that it’s also worth checking out First Class tickets for your journey as well – you generally also get a small meal or snack onboard, drinks plus a lot more room in your seat. I’ve often upgraded when travelling long distances in the UK and can recommend it – it’s not as expensive an upgrade as you might think as well! You also get access to the lounges in the train stations which are a good way to start your trip.

  • The train journey is around 2 hours and 20 mins from London Kings Cross to the centre of York
  • There are numerous options for taking the train each day
  • It’s a direct train line to York from London so you shouldn’t have to change trains
  • Prices can vary depending on which train you take and how far in advance you book

How to buy train tickets from London to York:

My recommended platform is The Trainline which I use all the time when booking train tickets. It will book all trains from different providers and show you all the options. There’s only really one provider that you’ll use, LNER, but I still recommend Trainline.

You can check train times and see the different prices easily. Once booked, you get the ticket sent to your app and it’s all very simple.

Tips for cutting costs on the train to York:

If you know the dates and times that you wish to travel to York then you can book train tickets up to 12 weeks in advance. Whether you want to do that or not is up to you. The cheapest tickets are released at this time but they also have restrictions on when you can travel and on cancellations.

A railcard might also help to bring costs down. They are not just for UK citizens, they can be bought by overseas visitors too. They can reduce rail costs by up to a 1/3 and although they do cost upfront, around £30 per person, sometimes you’ll save more than it costs. It can be useful especially if you’re using the train a lot around the UK.

Tip: when searching on Trainline you can add a railcard and see what the price of the journey is with and without the card. This will help you see if it’s worth getting one.

There are a few different railcards depending on your status such as Young Person, Senior Citizen etc.

The Two Together railcard is good if you’re travelling as a couple and one I’ve used before. You need to be travelling together at all times but for many people this will be happening anyway.

You can buy the railcards at Trainline or at the Railcard website

You might also like: unique places to stay in York

An early morning at York shambles on our day trip
The old medieval street ‘Shambles’

Getting to York from London by Bus

The cheapest and most budget way to get to York from London is the bus and there are a couple of coach companies who do the trip, mostly having a few departure times each day.

I’ve done long distance coach journeys in the UK a lot and used a few different operators. It’s not the most comfortable way to get to York, and certainly not the quickest but for the cost it’s well worth considering.

Be aware that you’re looking at 5/6+ hours of journey ahead of you but as with taking the train you’ll at least be picked up from Central London (Victoria Station) and dropped in the centre of York too.

If you have a lot of luggage some buses don’t often allow more than one piece of baggage to be stowed away per person, but do check individual operators if this is a concern for you.

How to book a coach from London to York

The following operators do the journey to York. You can book tickets online and you’ll get sent the confirmation by email.

National Express
MegaBus

Getting to York from London by Car

It’s, of course, also an option to take a car from London to York.

If you’re considering renting a car from the airport then you’re looking at around a 4 hour car journey to York. You’ll travel mainly by motorway and large A roads (the A1 or M1 is your likely road to take) and while they can be busy, they are straightforward roads to drive.

The pros of taking a car to York is that if you’re planning to explore more of England on the way up and once you get there, a car will really help. There are a lot of day trips from York that are worth doing and a car is essential for a lot of them.

It’s also worth considering if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to navigate public transport with that or if you’re travelling as a group where the costs for public transport can skyrocket.

Remember that fuel costs can be quite expensive in the UK, especially if you’re comparing the costs from places such as the US. Remember also to consider car parking in York as well. There is a park and ride that we’ve used a lot in the past which will mean not having to search for a space in the city.

How to rent a car from London to York:

I recommend checking out Discover Cars which is a company I use to compare and check prices of car rental from different providers.

Can you travel to York from London by Air?

While the UK is small it’s potentially worthwhile considering getting to York by air. It’s not a particularly easy or straightforward option but I’ll add it here so you can get the full picture.

The nearest airport to York is Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) and you can get some small budget airlines to fly there from London.

  • At the moment, 2022, FlyBe seems to be the only airline that is going to Leeds Bradford Airport from London Heathrow
  • The cost of a ticket is around £50 one way
  • The flight time is around 1 hour 10 mins

It seems like it might be the quickest way to get to York from London but Leeds Bradford is still another 45 mins/1 hour away by car.

There’s also no direct public transport from the airport to York. You’d need to get the airport bus to Leeds central and then train from Leeds to York. Alternatively a taxi or private transfer could take you to York.

Another option is to fly to Manchester which is a much larger northern airport and get either a train from there to York or a taxi/private transfer

To get the best idea of what’s available I always suggest either checking SkyScanner or Google Flights.

Don’t forget to factor in getting to and from London airports especially since it’s so large and the airports are spread out.

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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