The Best Day Trips from York

York has such a beautiful mix of history and culture that it is indeed easy to get more than a little captivated by its attractions. But go beyond the ancient walls, and you’ll discover that this northern city is an excellent starting point for exploring the incredibly picturesque Yorkshire countryside. Yorkshire is known as  “God’s Own County,” with fabulous cottages, farmhouses and decaying castles coexisting with old mills and market towns. York’s railway centre and works were at the centre of England’s network throughout the Victorian era. Today, its infrastructure makes car-free travel plentiful and straightforward. Where the railroad lines do not extend, it is often available to take a bus or a private trip. Here are some of the best day trips from York to help you plan your adventure in Yorkshire.

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The Best Day Trips from York

While we’re confident that if you’re spending time in York there’s lots to do (our guide to York is here), it is also a great place to base yourself to explore further afield – here are our recommendations for some fabulous York day trips.

Explore the Yorkshire Dales on a day trip from York

The Yorkshire Dales are both wild and windswept and equally peacefully calm, with valleys filled with hayfields, drystone walls, and barns. It is surrounded by several particularly remarkable protected areas: the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Forest of Bowland AONB, and the North Pennines AONB. You shouldn’t miss exploring these glorious locations.

Each of the Yorkshire Dales has its own personality. The Southern Dales are less secluded but just as stunning. The Northern Dales provide wild heather moorland and valleys filled with hay fields, dry stone walls, and barns. And each of the picturesque villages and small towns in the West has its own distinct charm. The Dales are worth visiting at any time of year, whether to visit a cosy rural pub with an open fire in the winter or to stay in a rambling riverside home for a summer getaway. In the Dales, there is always something to do, whether you’re just travelling through or visiting for the day.

  • How to get to Yorkshire Dales from York: You can drive easily from York to the Yorkshire Dales, but if you don’t have one, you can go from York to Yorkshire Dales National Park without a car is to take the train and bus, which takes 2 hours 33 minutes.
  • The Easiest way to go from York to the Yorkshire Dales without a car is to take a day trip – here are two York Day trips to the Yorkshire Dales that offer great value and a super day out
  • How far are the Yorkshire Dales from York?  The distance between York and the Yorkshire Dales National Park is 46 miles along the A64.

Visit Castle Howard on a Day Trip from York

Castle Howard is one of the best stately residences in the United Kingdom, located just outside of York amid the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sir John Vanbrugh built it nearly 300 years ago, and the Howard family still lives there now. If you’ve bought a York City Pass, then your entrance to Castle Howard is free.  Explore the House at your own speed, appreciating its breathtaking architecture and interiors, which have something to spark everyone’s interest. With over 1,000 acres of Grade 1 listed parks and gardens to explore, you can enjoy breathtaking scenery all year. Spend the day admiring sweeping rural views in a majestic environment filled with sculptures, temples, lakes, and fountains. Castle Howard is one of the top Castles to visit in Yorkshire, read more in our guide here. Explore the peaceful walled garden and wooded pathways. Skelf Island, the new adventure playground, will captivate children with its creative treetop nest constructions linked by rope bridges, slides, nets, and climbing equipment. Never forget to explore the stores and eateries, including a farm shop, gift shop, and garden centre!

  • How to get to Castle Howard from York: Castle Howard is about a half-hour drive north of York on the A64, across the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Monday through Saturday, the Castle Line bus service leaves York four times each day and takes one hour to reach Castle Howard’s gates.
  • How far is Castle Howard from York?  The distance between Castle Howard and York is about 23 miles.
  • Entrance Fees/Costs:  Adults cost £22 and children cost £12 – or get in for free with the York City Pass.

Visit Haworth and the Yorkshire Dales

From busy York, take a full-day journey to Haworth and the Yorkshire Dales. A Haworth and Yorkshire day tour from York is for you if you appreciate literature and history. This journey will take you through some of the loveliest roads in England, making you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and into a fantasy novel! Visit Haworth and walk around the areas where the Bronte sisters grew up and may have thought of masterpieces like Charlotte’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily’s “Wuthering Heights.” While you’re here you should also explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park, known for its stunning landscape and charming settlements.

  • How to get to Haworth and the Yorkshire Dales from York: You can take a train from York to Haworth that will take you via Leeds in around an hour and 40 minutes. Driving to Haworth from York will take around an hour and twenty minutes.
  • If you’d like to explore Bronte Country on a day trip from York, then this 8 hour guided trip will take you to Haworth, home of the Bronte sister’s home, museum and also explore Bolton Abbey.
  • How far is Haworth from York?  The distance between Haworth and York is 36 miles.

Visit Whitby and the North York Moors on a Day Trip from York

There’s more to the well-known North Yorkshire Moors National Park than meets the eye. It is famous for having the most fantastic expanse of heather moorland in England. These Moors constitute one of Britain’s most significant historical places in terms of religion, farming, mining, fishing, and smuggling. It is home to the most ancient scheduled monuments in the nation, including standing stones, stone crosses, and burial mounds. On the North Yorkshire moors, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Yorkshire countryside for miles.  Combine that with the fishing town of Whitby, which is known as the “Jewel of the Yorkshire Coast” because it is built around the natural harbour formed when the River Esk flows into the North Sea. Over centuries, this harbour grew to be one of the most significant in the nation, culminating with Captain James Cook setting sail from there on his trip around the world to find Australia.  Whitby is a stunning place to visit, especially when combined with the Yorkshire Dales.  Don’t miss some of the best fish and chips in England!

  • How to get to Whitby and the North York Moors from York: Without a vehicle, the easiest way to go from York Station to Whitby and the North York Moors is by bus, which takes 2h 2m.    It will take an hour and 10 minutes to drive from York to Whitby
  • Whitby is a great day trip from York – and you can let someone else do the driving and explore the North York Moors, including the lovely village of Goathland and have a great day out in Whitby too, on this fab day trip from York.
  • How far is Whitby from York?  The distance between York and Whitby is 46 miles.

Visit Bolton Abbey on a Day Trip from York

Bolton Abbey is one of Yorkshire’s most fabulous, deteriorating, and picturesque abbeys. This historic medieval church in the Yorkshire Dales is ideal for a fantastic day trip from York. The scenic environment, surrounded by rolling, green hills and broad vistas, adds to the crumbling walls and brickwork that reflects its past brilliance but still looks stunning. Bolton Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century, was once a great, wealthy English church. When Henry VIII started reforming the Church of England, he dissolved most of these abbeys, including Bolton Abbey. Although the lands were taken over, the churches and structures were simply abandoned. The village is as rustic and remote as the abbey. You can really get a feel for Yorkshire’s charm by spending the day walking around the ruins.

  • How to get to Bolton Abbey from York: Driving from York to Bolton Abbey will take about an hour and 15 minutes.  There is no direct bus route between York and Bolton Abbey. You can, however, take the train to Harrogate, walk to Harrogate, Bus Station Stand 2, and then catch the number 59 bus to Bolton Abbey, Bolton Bridge.   It will take just over 2 hours to go by train and bus from York to Bolton Abbey.
  • Alternatively, – this day trip to Bolton Abbey from York also visits Haworth and the Yorkshire Dales.  See what else is included here.
  • How far is Bolton Abbey from York?  The distance between York and Bolton Abbey is 47 miles.
  • Entrance Fees/Costs:   Entrance fees to Bolton Abbey are from £12.50 (it’s cheaper to pre-book)

Visit Hawes on a Day Trip from York

Hawes is a lovely town located inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This historic market town has meandering alleys and a gorgeous landscape. Still, it is arguably best known as the home of the Wensleydale Creamery, which makes the mythical Wensleydale Cheese, famed for being featured as Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese. Wensleydale had historically produced cheese, which may be linked back to the medieval days when French monks lived here. Today, the greatest Wensleydale can still be found here, and if you visit the local chip shop, you can even taste the local speciality of deep-fried cheese if you wish.

  • How to get to Hawes from York: Without a car, the best way to go from York to Hawes is by rail and bus, which takes 2 hours 36 minutes.  If you’re driving it will take just under 2 hours to go to Hawes from York.
  • How far is Hawes from York?  The distance between York and Hawes is 66 miles.

Go to Saltaire on a Day Trip from York

Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the outskirts of Bradford, close to York. Saltaire village was founded in the mid-nineteenth century during the Industrial Revolution. Its well-preserved Victorian-era buildings and streets and historic importance have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. Travelling to Saltaire seems like you’ve stepped back in time a hundred years or more. Sir Titus Salt, a renowned businessman in the Yorkshire textile industry, built the community of Saltaire in 1853 around the textile mill that he founded. The settlement’s name is a combination of the founder’s surname and the name of the river that passes through it the village. Salts Mill serves as the village’s focal point in the current day. The grand old building has been completely remodelled and now has a cool David Hockney gallery, a wide range of great shops, and several nice restaurants and cafes.

  • How to get to Saltaire from York: Without a car, the best way to go from York to Saltaire is to take the train.  It will take about an hour via Leeds.  If you have a car, then it will take about an hour and 15 minutes.
  • How far is Saltaire from York?  The distance between York and Saltaire is 46 miles.
  • Entrance Fees/Costs:  Admission to Saltaire is free.

Go to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park on a day trip from York

Located near Doncaster, a visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park will allow you to get up close and personal with over 450 creatures from more than 70 different species, including endangered lions, tigers, leopards, giraffes, rhinos, and red pandas. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is not a zoo, instead, it’s a conservation centre that uses ticket revenues to fund the breeding of these endangered species. Gradually exposing them to their original habitats and finally releasing them back into the wild where they belong. The 150 acres of land provide a lovely day out for both kids and adults as you go through each separate area and see the beauty of all the animals. Among the locations and areas are Into Africa, Lion Country, Project Polar, and Experience Ethiopia.

  • How to get to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park from York: The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is not easily accessible from York without a car.  
  • How far is the Yorkshire Wildlife Park from York?  The distance between York and Yorkshire Wildlife Park is 49 miles.
  • Entrance Fees for the Yorkshire Wildlife Park:  An adult ticket costs £22.00 and a child’s ticket (aged 3 to 15) costs £20.00.

Go to Harewood House on a day trip from York

Harewood House, built in the 18th century, is a stunning estate in the heart of Yorkshire. It is a fabulous day trip from York, thanks to its art collections, unique Bird Garden, Farm Experience, and 100 acres of lovely gardens. Harewood is a location rich in art, culture, and legacy that is still developing and flourishing today. The house’s interior is breathtaking, featuring a stunning music room and galleries to explore. There is also an old kitchen that gives insight into the operation of a country house.

  • How to get to Harewood House from York: Without a car, the easiest way to go from York to Harewood House is via train to Leeds and then a taxi, which takes 39 minutes in total.  If you are driving it will take about 40 minutes.
  • How far is Harewood House from York:  The distance between York and Harewood House is 26 miles.
  • Entrance Fees for Harewood House:  Adult tickets are £13.50 online and £15 at the gate. Child: £7.20 online / £8 at the gate.

Visit Fountains Abbey on a Day Trip from York

Fountains Abbey, established in 1132, is England’s biggest and best-preserved abbey. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the greatest sites to visit near York in the United Kingdom. It truly is a magnificent place (we explored it on a miserably grey day and it was still stunning!) The River Skell flows through the abbey remains and into Studley Royal Water Gardens, where moon-shaped ponds and reflected lakes, formal hedges, and laurel banks frame the historic abbey ruins. In addition to the ruined abbey and water gardens, see Fountains Hall, Fountains Mill, and St Mary’s Church in the medieval deer park. Fountains Abbey is managed and maintained by the National Trust and members get in for free.

  • How to get to Fountains Abbey from York: There is no direct route between York and Fountains Abbey. You can, however, take the train to Knaresborough and then a cab to Fountains Abbey.  If you’re driving from York to Fountains Abbey, then it will take about an hour.
  • How far is Fountains Abbey from York?  The distance between York and Fountains Abbey is 30 miles.
  • Entrance Fees for Fountains Abbey:  Adult tickets are £17.00. Child: £8.50.  National Trust members get in for free.

Take a trip on the North York Moors Steam Railway

And now we’ve got to my absolutely favourite day trip from York.  Board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for a day of classic charm and breathtaking beauty on one of the world’s best historic railroads. Allow their fleet of steam and landmark diesel trains to carry you over 24 miles of National Park landscapes and back in time for a taste of a bygone period! Seriously, it’s magical.  You can embrace your inner Harry Potter, as the train stops at Goathland, which you might recognize from the movies!  If you get the chance, upgrade to first class, and sit in the front carriage, it’s magical!

  • How to get to North York Moors Steam Railway from York:  You’ll either want to buy a round trip ticket, take a day trip, or take the bus one way and get the train the other.
  • The easiest way to experience the North Yorks Moors Steam Railway from York is on a day trip, which gets you to and from the stations and is a fabulous day out for you.  There are more details here.

Take a Day Trip from York to Malton on Market Day

It’s easy to see why Malton is known as Yorkshire’s food capital. It has lovely wafts flowing from practically every doorway around the Georgian market square. Visit the food market on the second Saturday of every month (excluding January and February) to sample locally produced vegetables while being overlooked by the 15th-century church tower. Enjoy award-winning macaroons, fresh gelato, ethically sourced coffee, and spicy pastries at Talbot’s Yard. You can also learn how to make your own gin at the Rare Bird Distillery’s Gin School or hone your culinary talents at The Cook’s Place. The Shambles, like its bigger counterpart in York, is also densely packed with businesses offering oddities and collectables. If you happen to visit on a wet day, then the three-screen art deco Palace Cinema also serves as a luxurious rain shelter! 

  • How to get to Malton from York: Transpennine Express and Northern provide hourly trains from York to Malton, with a trip duration of 25 minutes. Driving takes around 30 minutes.
  • How far is Malton from York?  The distance between York and Malton is 17 miles.

Go to the seaside at Scarborough from York

Scarborough is hard to match for a day at the seaside, as it’s just a short drive from York and offers a range of old-fashioned coastal appeals. This Victorian tourist town is definitely worth visiting, with stately homes clinging to the cliffs below a big medieval castle. If you just have one day in Scarborough, decide whether to go north or south of the castle headland. The protected surf, loud arcades, and spectacular cliff railway draw families to South Bay Beach. People in deckchairs nod along to orchestra concerts at Scarborough Spa during the summer season. In North Bay, though, you can rent a rainbow beach hut or take a surfing lesson.   Castle lovers will find Scarborough Castle magnificent (it’s certainly one of our favourite castles in Yorkshire!)

  • How to get to Scarborough from York: Without a car, the easiest way to get from York to Scarborough is by train, which takes 49 minutes.  If you’re driving it’s about an hour to Scarborough from York.
  • How far is Scarborough from York?  The distance between York and Scarborough is 42 miles.

Go to Harrogate on a day trip from York

Harrogate is the definition of a classic English town. You feel incredibly respectable walking about with the lovely, majestic buildings and the well-known spa town tradition.  When we lived in Buckinghamshire we spent many a year heading here for our local Cricket Team tour and it was always a glorious visit.  Harrogate became a popular resort for those wanting to benefit from the “healing waters” during the Victorian period. A traditional Turkish spa day, local shopping in the Montpellier Quarter, a visit to the Swan Hotel (famous for where Agatha Christie was recovered after her unexplained 11-day absence), and learning about spa history at the Pump Room Museum are among the highlights.   You’ll also not want to miss the original Betty’s tea room! (and here’s what you should eat here!) The nightlife here is best seen on Friday evenings, and the large Majestic Hotel is the place to relax after a long day!

  • How to get to Harrogate from York: Without a car, the easiest way to get from Harrogate to York is by train, which takes 37 minutes.  If you’re driving, then expect it to take about an hour.
  • How far is Harrogate from York?  The distance between York and Harrogate is 23 miles.

On a day trip from York visit Holmfirth for a Little Last of the Summer Wine Country

This is a day trip that is best done in a car. The picturesque Pennines and the picture-perfect Yorkshire village of Holmfirth are about an hour south of York. Holmfirth is best known to older readers and fans of classic British comedies as the location of the show Last of the Summer Wine. If you’re a fan of the show, then you can take a bus tour of the region to visit notable shooting sites and dine at Sid’s Cafe, which was made famous by the show, or the Wrinkled Stocking Tearoom, which is now a cafe. It’s also worth checking out the local festival schedule before you go since the town offers a vibrant art and culture scene and a terrific food and drink festival in September.

  • How to get to Holmfirth from York: Without a car, the best way to go from York to Holmfirth is by rail and bus, (via Huddersfield)which takes 2 hours and 11 minutes.  If you’re driving it will take about 70 minutes from York to Holmfirth.
  • How far is Holmfirth from York?  The distance between York and Holmfirth is 51 miles.

A Heartbeat TV Themed Day Trip from York

Following the TV series theme, you can also take a full-day trip from York and discover the delights of 1960s Yorkshire by seeing filming sites from the popular TV program Heartbeat. You’ll not only get to admire the rugged beauty of the North Yorkshire Moors, but also experience village life in Pickering and Goathland, and explore the beach town of Whitby, which is also known for its Dracula connections. In Goathland, you can visit Heartbeat landmarks such as Aidensfield Station, Bernie Scripps Garage, and the Funeral Parlour along the journey and, pause for a drink at the Aidensfield Arms bar and dig into traditional fish & chips. If you plan on spending more time in Pickering then our guide of things to do is here.

  • How to get to Goathland from York: This isn’t an easy trip without a car, and the best way to visit is to take a day trip from York.  If you’re driving, then it will take around an hour to go from York to Goathland.
  • How far is Goathland from York?  The distance between York and Goathland is 40 miles.

If you’re loving Yorkshire, then why not check out Pickering – for steam trains, a market and the fabulous castle. Or head to the glorious city of York, and be sure to explore some of Yorkshire’s amazing castles – including Richmond, as well as try some traditional Yorkshire food!

Travel Tips for Exploring England

Final Words on the Best Day Trips from York

York has such a magnificent blend of history and culture that it is easy to be enchanted by its attractions – there’s more on what to do in York in our guide here. Beyond the medieval walls, you’ll discover that this northern city is an excellent starting point for exploring the stunning Yorkshire countryside.   Whether you choose to visit the seaside from York on a day trip, or head from York to the North Yorkshire National Park there are a whole host of places to see around York that are fabulous options for a York Day Trip. 

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