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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Will Hide

York was one of the original centres of the rail industry in Britain, so it’s fitting that the country’s premier train museum is here, housed in the city’s former train depot.

The National Railway Museum is the UK’s largest collection of trains and rail-related memorabilia, with over 100 historic locomotives and rolling stock (the earliest dating from around 1815), alongside model railways and experimental technologies, including a gyroscopic mono-rail car.

Steam enthusiasts will love the 200-year-old Colliery Railway locomotive, and the chance to experience riding on the footplate of the steam train Mallard – the fastest of its type in the world. The museum is also home to the royal carriage that carried Queen Victoria to Balmoral each year, while more contemporary travel is represented by the only bullet train outside of Japan.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The museum is located slightly outside the centre of town, but it’s an easy fifteen-minute walk, or you can take the Museum’s own road train, which leaves from Duncombe Place – next to York Minster – every half hour.

The miniature railway is one of the biggest draws at the museum, but separate tickets are needed; enquire as soon as you arrive (not bookable online).

Entry is free but check the website before you come to see if pre-booking is required.

When to do it

The museum is open on Wednesdays to Sundays. Closed Monday and Tuesday. The museum does get extremely busy in school holidays and weekends, especially if it’s raining.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

The Principal

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.4 miles]

An imposing Victorian hotel with chic bedrooms, a buzzy restaurant and one of the best spots for afternoon tea in the whole of York. Perfect for a car-free break. 

Official star rating:

The Grand

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

The Grand lives up to its name, with a chic cocktail bar, one of the city’s best restaurants and a sleek, subterranean spa. 

Official star rating:

The Fat Badger

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

A former 18th-century grocery store, this is a cosy, charming inn set next to one of the city’s medieval gateways.  

Official star rating:

Dean Court Hotel

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

A stone’s throw from York Minster, this trio of 19th-century townhouses has the best location in town, close to all of the city’s main attractions.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)

York’s dramatic past – from Roman settlements to Viking invasions – has created one of Britain’s most beautiful historic cities, home to the world-famous York Minster and the most complete medieval walls in the country.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

York Minster

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.9 miles]

York Minster is northern Europe’s finest Gothic cathedral, taking 250 years to build, and famous for its vividly beautiful stained glass.

Best for ages: 18+ | £12

Walk York’s Roman city walls

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[1.3 miles]

Walking York’s ancient city walls – the best-preserved in Britain – offers glimpses of the city’s rich history, with fortified towers, Roman gateways and a wonderful view of the medieval rooftops.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2 houra

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Exterior of medium-sized museum with lawn in front and a bed of flowers

Yorkshire Museum

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

Yes, Yorkshire is the theme, but here you’ll find everything from dinosaurs to Richard III. A surprisingly diverse museum and its spacious gardens are a lovely spot for a picnic afterwards.

Best for ages: 13+ | £8

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Overview >
Boats sailing down the River Ouse with people walking along the embankment

Boat tours of York

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

Get a different perspective on York while gently gliding down the River Ouse with jovial commentary. Lunch, afternoon tea and evening cruises are also offered.

Best for ages: 4+ | £12 | 1-3 hours

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Overview >
City street and exterior of two adjoined brick buildings

Bar Convent

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

England’s oldest convent still in use, dating back to 1686. Its 18th-century hidden chapel is fascinating, and its café and garden provide a welcome pause on a busy day of sightseeing.

Best for ages: 18+ | £5

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Exterior of two-storey art gallery with a fountain and statue in front

York Art Gallery

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

A regional art gallery that punches well above its weight, you’ll find Victorian and contemporary artists displayed, including David Hockney and Grayson Perry. General admission is free.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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