7 Best Day Trips From York

speeding train

Written by our Web Team

7 min read | 24 May 2024

York is an ancient and beautiful city full of friendly people. With lots to see and do, it’s popular for visitors looking for day trips or weekend breaks. Plus, York's location makes it a great base for visiting other fantastic British towns and cities easily by train. 

Whether you’re looking for a day trip to or from York, this article will give you tips on where to go and how to get there by train. 

Travelling from York

Around nine million people a year visit York. That’s partly because York is so well connected to the rest of the UK by train. This includes destinations such as:

A York day trip is also popular because of the rich history and vibrant culture of the area. The city centre is full of attractions like the York Minster, the City Walls, and the Jorvik Viking Centre.

The architecture of the city is unique and beautiful. Explore the visually alluring Shambles, see the city in style with a River Ouse cruise, or, if you love your trains, the National Railway Museum is a must-visit.

Access to the stunning Yorkshire countryside is also easy from here. It’s next to both the majestic North York Moors National Park and James Herriot Country, also known as the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’re also close to two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Howardian Hills and Nidderdale.

A landscape of the city of York from the River Ouse at sunset.

Places to visit around York

The county of Yorkshire is just as popular as the city. Here are four of the most popular towns within an hour of York by train.

1. Harrogate

Travel back to the 19th century with a 30 to 40-minute train ride to the British spa town of Harrogate. 

When you get off the train, head to the eye-catching Turkish Baths. Behind its Victorian facade is a Moorish retreat with Islamic arches, terrazzo floors and glazed brickwork. 

A visit to Betty's tearoom is also a must. Open since 1919, its scones are famous, as are its lavish and delicious afternoon teas.

Around 90 minutes away from the centre of Harrogate via Ripon bus station is the UNESCO World Heritage site Fountains Abbey. Regular bus services make it easy to see the ruins of this Cistercian monastery.

Getting to Harrogate from York

You can catch the train from York to Harrogate every 30 minutes on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 18 miles

  • Journey time: 33 minutes

2. Knaresborough

Around half an hour away from York is Knaresborough, a fantastic mix of natural beauty and medieval history. 

At the awe-inspiring Knaresborough Castle, you’ll get a fascinating glimpse of what the town was like centuries ago. From the gardens, you can also enjoy scenic views of the River Nidd.

Nearby is Mother Shipton's Cave. One of the UK’s oldest visitor attractions, it was home to the wise woman who allegedly foresaw the Great Fire of London and the Spanish Armada’s defeat. It’s a strange, enchanting place that'll fascinate the kids. 

Before you catch the train back, visit the local market, open on Wednesdays. Shop for ladies' and gents' fashion or pick up homemade cakes, fruit, and veg.

Getting to Knaresborough from York

You can catch the train from York to Knaresborough every 30 minutes on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 16 miles

  • Journey time: 24 minutes

A shot looking up the street within the iconic Shambles streets of York

3. Malton

Just 25 minutes from the centre of York by train is "Yorkshire's Food Capital", Malton.

Try to catch the famous Malton monthly food market, held on the second Saturday of each month. Taste and buy fantastic food, soak up the atmosphere and listen to local bands.

To walk it off, take the scenic Malton and Saint Mary's Priory Walk. It takes about an hour and 10 minutes, passing by the river and the site of an old Roman fort and castle.

You might be feeling thirsty by this point, so pop into the taproom at Brass Castle Brewery. They're Britain's biggest brewer of vegan and gluten-free craft beers.

You can also indulge your love of steam trains here at the highly recommended North Yorkshire Moors Railway. This is around a 25-minute bus journey from Malton.

Getting to Malton from York

You can catch the train from York to Malton every 30 minutes on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 17 miles

  • Journey time: 24 minutes

4. Selby

About 30 minutes by train from York, the market town of Selby offers visitors a more laid-back day out. 

A 10-minute walk away from the station is the tranquil Selby Canal. Popular with walkers and cyclists, this is a great place to go for a stroll and enjoy the local wildlife. 

Just over the road from the station is Selby Park. Famous for its gardens, it’s a favourite picnic spot for tourists and locals. 

Round the day off with a trip to Selby Abbey, which has stood over the town for more than 900 years. The abbey offers a free guided tour that lasts about an hour.

Getting to Selby from York

You can catch the train from York to Selby twice an hour on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 12 miles

  • Journey time: 28 minutes

A close-up of a sign which shows directions to various attractions in York

Destinations reachable by train within two hours from York

If you're using York as a base for your holiday, you can travel by train to three major UK cities within just two hours.

5. Birmingham

Birmingham is the UK's second-largest city and a hugely popular tourist destination. In the last thirty years, the city has reinvented itself as a cultural centre. 

When you get off the train, go straight to the iconic Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to check out international art collections. 

Hop on the West Midlands Metro up to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and discover the history of jewellery-making in the city.

Before you catch the train back from Birmingham to York, head to one of the many canalside bars. Watch the narrow boats pass by and enjoy an early evening meal and drink.

Getting to Birmingham from York

You can catch the train from York to Birmingham twice an hour on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 107 miles

  • Journey time: Just under two hours

6. Nottingham

Despite having more than 1,000 years of history, Nottingham feels like a young city. 

Hop on the tram outside the station and get off at Lace Market to see the City of Caves. These 800 sandstone caves date right back to the Dark Ages. 

To find out more about one of the city’s icons, visit the Robin Hood Experience. It’s an engaging and interactive museum that’s perfect for a family day trip.

Visit the splendid Elizabethan mansion at Wollaton Hall. It has its own Natural History Museum with more than 750,000 specimens and a superb garden. 

Then take the tram back to Old Market Square. Five minutes' walk away is the splendid Nottingham Castle. Standing for nearly 1,000 years, it has an extensive museum chronicling the city's long history. 

Getting to Nottingham from York

You can catch the train from York to Nottingham three times an hour on weekdays.

  • Journey distance: 70 miles

  • Journey time: Just under two hours

7. Newcastle

Newcastle is the most northerly city in England and one of its most beautiful.

You'll get off at the Grade I-listed Newcastle Central Station. From some of the station’s platforms, you can see the "new castle" that gives the city its name. 

Take a walk up to Grainger Town. It’s home to many bars and restaurants, including Black Friars. A 13th-century Dominican friary and now a celebrated restaurant.

The city’s Tyne and Wear Metro is the best way to get around. Get the service from Monument to Tynemouth to see the stunning Tynemouth Priory perched on a cliff top overlooking the North Sea.

When you head back to Monument, walk down the hill towards the Quayside. Here you can see architectural gems including the Cooperage, Bettie Surtees House and the ancient Battery Stairs.

Getting to Newcastle from York

You can catch the train from York to Newcastle up to five times an hour on weekday daytimes.

  • Journey distance: 73 miles

  • Journey time: Approximately one hour

An aerial photo of the city of York including York Minster and the River Ouse.

Making day trips from York by train

Come to York and enjoy the city. Stay here for a weekend or longer and use it as your base to discover Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North East of England.

Buy your train tickets to York from Avanti West Coast and use your Railcards to save when you book. If you’re coming as a couple or a family, then the Two Together Railcard and the Friends and Family Railcard offer even greater savings. 

Keep up to date with the latest train timetables and book tickets easily by downloading the Avanti West Coast app so you can make the most of your day trip by train, wherever you’re travelling.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

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