Looking For A Family-Friendly Break From London? Make It York

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Looking For A Family-Friendly Break From London? Make It York

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Visit York and LNER.

Looking to book a hassle-free, family getaway for your next short break? Did you know that you can get to York in under two hours from London by train with LNER?

With journey times from just 1 hour 49 minutes, LNER Azuma trains will whisk you from London King's Cross to York at 125mph, direct; no changing, no pulling into motorway services for loo breaks, no queuing for hours in traffic.

Before you board the train, you can make use of the new family lounge at King's Cross station, which offers space for kids to let off steam (and parents to relax), getting your holiday off to the best possible start.

Make use of the family lounge before you leave London.

Once your train arrives, there's free wi-fi on board, plug sockets at every seat for charging those all-important gadgets, and a Let's Eat Cafe Bar, selling locally-sourced hot and cold food and drinks — delivered right to your seat, so everyone's fed and watered with no fuss.

That's the travel sorted, so it's time to plan what you're going to do once you get to York. Check out these family-friendly events and activities dotted around this beautiful historic city.

National Railway Museum

We're huge fans of York's National Railway Museum, which has 40 rail vehicles and thousands of other objects on display, just a couple of minutes' walk from York station. It's free entry, and has loads of family-friendly activities. The Mallard — the world's fastest steam locomotive — is the highlight of any visit, and a simulator experience allows you to experience the thrill of riding on its footplate at full speed.

JORVIK Viking Centre

York is laden with Viking history, and the family-friendly JORVIK Viking Centre is the place to head for a ride which takes you around the sights, sounds and smells of Viking-age York ('Jorvik' is the Viking name for York). The city-centre museum is home to artefacts dating back 1,000 years, including shoes, amber jewellery, and a padlock and key. If your family wants to dig deeper into York's history, check out JORVIK Dig a few minutes walk away, where kids can get hands on with archaeological digs.

JORVIK Viking Festival

Seeing dozens of Vikings charging at Clifford's Tower, shield and spears aloft, is a sight to behold — especially if you stumble across it accidentally, as we did one year. That's the JORVIK Viking Festival, an annual event which brings history to life for nine days, giving you a chance to get up close and personal with the Vikings, who pitch their tents in the city centre. There are craft workshops and family-friendly events throughout the festival, but a highlight for all ages is the Battle Spectacular (18 February), an after-dark event which uses fire displays, soundscapes, and a cast of Norsemen to recreate 10th-century writer Ibn Fadlan's encounter with the Vikings. You'll need to book ahead for that one, but it's well worth it.

JORVIK Viking Festival 2023 takes place 11-19 February, coinciding perfectly with half term. Almost like they planned it.

City Cruises York

One of the best places to see York is from its main waterway, the River Ouse. Hop on board a City Cruises York boat for a 45-minute sightseeing tour, and admire the city's landmarks from the open top deck, or the enclosed saloon below. Learn York's history and how the Ouse has shaped it, acting as an inland port where goods were delivered — including cocoa beans, resulting in York's thriving chocolate industry. Speaking of which, if there's a whiff of chocolate in the air during your time in York, it blows in from the Nestle factory just outside the city centre... and it smells delicious!

The best of the rest

Photo: Ravage Productions

That's just a small taster of the family-friendly things to see and do in York on a short break. The city is also home to York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral north of the Alps, with views for miles from the top. Wrap up and explore the beautiful, historic streets of the city on cat trails and ghost walks, or stroll around the city walls — you can do a whole circuit of York, or just walk along one stretch. For our money, heading clockwise from Micklegate Bar round to Lendal Bridge offers the best views of York's skyline, dominated by the Minster.

Snap a family selfie on world-famous wonky street The Shambles, and drop into nearby York's Chocolate Story, an interactive museum detailing the history of cocoa in York (with samples along the way, of course). Refuel at Spark:YORK, a collection of food outlets set in shipping containers, with enough choice to satisfy even the pickiest of young eaters.

York is compact enough that you can explore the whole city centre on foot. Its station is located right by the city walls, just a five-minute walk from the city centre, making your whole journey from London to York seamless.

Getting to York with LNER

Getting to York with LNER couldn't be simpler. LNER offers a Family Return ticket* for up to four children and two adults between London and York for £99. You'll need to book at least seven days in advance of your outward journey to bag one of these, and they are subject to availability, so get booking. Always book ahead to get the best deals possible with LNER.


*Family ticket T&C: A family is defined as being between a minimum of 1 adult and 1 child (aged 5-15 years old inclusive) up to a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children (aged 5-15 years old inclusive). Book at least seven days in advance of outward journey. Available on LNER services only, subject to availability. Prices subject to change. For more information, please visit LNER.co.uk/family

Last Updated 23 February 2023