Visit the National Railway Museum in York

26th April 2023

All aboard for the National Rail Museum in York, which promises a fantastic day out for families, couples and friends alike. Here you can take a trip back in time and discover the exciting development of rail travel, learn how a working railway station operates and get up close with a whole host of vintage trains. And that’s just for starters. 


Planning a trip soon? From train travel and booking to opening times and the best time to visit, we’ve put together everything you need to know to make your day out run as smoothly as possible. And remember, when you travel to York with a Railcard, you can enjoy a 1/3 off your rail fare. 


Planning your visit 


The essentials 

When is the best time to visit the National Railway Museum York? 

The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday every week, from 10am to 5pm. Outside of the school holidays, weekdays are the best time to go if you want to avoid crowds. 


Do I need to book a ticket? 

While you don’t need to book a ticket to visit the National Railway Museum in York, it is recommended that you do as it’ll save you time on the day. You can do this online through the museum’s website.  


How much do tickets cost? 

Absolutely nothing. You don’t have to pay to get into the museum. The tickets just help the museum manage the number of visitors (especially during the school holidays). 


How to get there by rail 

Getting to the National Railway Museum in York by rail couldn’t be easier. Simply take the train to York station from wherever you’re travelling from and in just a few minutes on foot you’ll be at the museum’s front door.  


To get there, turn left out the front of the station, walk past the Principal Hotel and turn left again on Leeman Road. Walk through the tunnel and you’ll see the museum in a matter of minutes. 


What to see and do 


See the world’s fastest steam train 

Built in 1938 by Sir Nigel Gresley, the Mallard once hit a record speed of 126mph. It’s a speed that still stands unbeaten to this day. 


The train now sits in the Great Hall, a gleaming blue marvel of engineering. There’s no need to book any extra tickets to get close to the train – anyone with a standard ticket can see it. 


Marvel at a Japanese bullet train  

One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is the Japanese bullet train, which, along with other similar trains, has transformed the way people travel by rail. 


The Shinkansen is a highlight. It was donated to the museum in 2000, after it was taken out of service. During its heyday, the train would regularly reach speeds of 130mph during its 320-mile trip between Tokyo and Osaka. 


While the interior of the train is currently closed, the train’s structure is a marvel of modern train design and a must-see. 


Learn about the technological wonders of train travel 

Head to the Innovation Platform to find out all about the incredible technology behind some of rail’s greatest achievements. This fascinating free exhibition takes a deep dive into the innovative problem-solving of the rail industry. 


Currently, the exhibition is focused on the “decarbonisation” of rail (ending in June 2023). After that, the spotlight shifts to “smart cities” (July to December 2023) before wrapping up with “communities” next year (January to June 2024). 


Celebrate 100 years of the Flying Scotsman  

One of Britain’s most iconic trains, The Flying Scotsman is enjoying its centenary year, with the National Railway Museum delivering a packed calendar of events and experiences to mark the special milestone. 


This includes a virtual reality experience and an exhibition that focuses on people “whose lives have been touched by the locomotive”. 


Food, drink and gifts 

Feeling peckish? There’s a lovely little café in the Great Hall of the museum, which features a range of hot meals, bites and drinks. It's open between 10am and 4.30pm. 


If you’re on a budget, there are benches and picnic spaces throughout the museum where you are welcome to bring along and enjoy a packed lunch. 


For gifts, the museum shop sells lots of brilliant railway-themed stuff, from plush toys and train models to t-shirts and books. There’s even a special edition gin to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Flying Scotsman. 


Making the trip to York by train? Save up to 1/3 on your train fare with a Railcard, with average annual savings of up to £150.