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The National Railway Museum in York – our review and tops tips

The National Railway Museum in York – our review and tops tips

What is it?

The National Railway Museum houses the world’s greatest collection of railway items. It includes dozens of famous trains from the last 200 years.

Where is it?

Near York Railway Station just outside the city walls, about a 15-minute walk from York Minster.

What did we think?

If your child loves trains you won’t go wrong here and there is enough hands-on history for the average visitor too. The pay-as-you-go rides aren’t the most thrilling though so choose carefully.

Highlights

Mallard at the National Railway Museum

Mallard

*Living history. Head for the Mallard – the fastest steam train ever which sits proudly in the Great Hall. There is also a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket, the first steam powered train, and dozens of other locomotives.

*Royal Carriages – peak inside Queen Victoria’s royal train and see what Kings and Queens over the centuries have travelled in. This is a fascinating glimpse into luxury rail travel.

Queen Victoria's carriage

Queen Victoria’s royal carriage

*The only Japanese bullet train outside of Japan is a chance to learn about what was the fastest train in the world. You can step on board and watch a video about life on the railways in the Far East. There are talks daily at the museum including one about this train.

*If the full-size trains are too big, then under-fives will enjoy the play area, tucked in a corner of the Great Hall.

Our top tips 

*The biggest and most interesting room is the Great Hall housing famous trains like Mallard, Stephenson’s Rocket and the Japanese bullet train – go here first even though the natural route takes you to the Station Hall at the start.

*Entry is free but you can buy tickets for rides at the entrance hall – a miniature railway, short trip on a steam train, Mallard simulator and a road train which travels between the museum and York Minster. Each ride cost £3 or £4 per person. Some of the ticket machines at each ride only take cash and the queues are longer. Save yourself time by buying all the tickets you want at the start.

*Try and park at the museum if you can or take the road train from York Minster (£3 per person). It is an awkward and not especially pleasant walk from the city centre through a smelly underpass around the back of York Railway Station.

The National Railway Museum information

Food: You can eat in seats from a Victorian dining car in the Station Hall which serves hearty restaurant meals. There are snacks and cakes at the cafe in the Great Hall and an ice cream shop outside in the Courtyard.

Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm in winter, 10am to 6pm in summer.

Cost: Entry is free but some rides are pay as you go (each one £3 or £4 per person).

Best for: Ages three to 10 and anyone who loves trains.

Time needed: two to three hours.

Access and restrictions: It is a flat site with lifts available for some areas if needed. Disabled toilets are available. Wheelchairs are available for use at the entrance and mobility scooters are for hire for £5. Assistance is available for visitors with visual and hearing impairments.

Address: National Railway Museum York, Leeman Rd, York, YO26 4XJ.

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Research reveals the best value long-haul flights from the UK

Research reveals the best value long-haul flights from the UK

Skyscanner reveals the cheapest routes per mile for families from the UK

 
Flights from the UK to Bali are the best value long-haul deals available for families, according to research by Skyscanner.
The flight search website also rates the Philippines and New Zealand amongst the cheapest routes per mile.
Bali Denpasar is leading the way, appearing twice in the top three cheapest routes per mile, with Manila and Auckland also showing up more than once.
Oakland in the United States is also a good value option.
 
This is Skyscanner’s Top 10 Cheapest Long-Haul Routes based on cost per mile
From
To
Average Flight Price
Distance (miles)
Price per mile
London
Bali (Denpasar)
£828.00
7765
10.66p
London
Cebu
£796.00
7032
11.32p
Manchester
Bali (Denpasar)
£894.00
7814
11.44p
London
Oakland
£616.00
5363
11.49p
London
Auckland
£1,315.00
11389
11.55p
London
Christchurch
£1,368.00
11786
11.61p
London
Jakarta
£851.00
7278
11.69p
Manchester
Manila
£788.00
6675
11.81p
London
Manila
£794.00
6678
11.89p
Manchester
Auckland
£1,343.00
11274
11.91p
 
Lisa Tyndall, Senior Growth Manager at Skyscanner, said: “We analysed our flight data to find which long-haul destinations are offering the best value based on cost per mile.  
“It was great to see popular destinations such as Bali, Auckland and Manila appearing more than once.”
She recommends travellers make use of travel tips to find the best deals.
“For example setting price alerts, considering departing from a different airport nearby and just changing their departure day slightly can all help save money,” she added.
How to do Tuscany with children – five top tips

How to do Tuscany with children – five top tips

Five hacks to help make a perfect family break to Florence, Pisa and Tuscany

 

Coping with the heat

It can be intensely hot in summer. The temperature is at its best before 11 and after 6. We found early morning excursions and late evening walks worked best for us.

The middle of the day is the time to make sure you’re either in air conditioned accommodation or by a shaded pool.

 

Beware the siesta

No fewer than four times in a week we were caught out waiting for the local supermarket to open (it was closed between 1.30 and 4) and as we were staying 10 minutes drive along a gravel track that wasn’t ideal.

If you need supplies for little ones plan ahead and get all the essentials in one go. Often in small towns the choice isn’t what you might be used to and shops close in the early afternoon.

 

Research your parking

At busy towns like San Gimignano and Volterra it can be tricky to get close by car. 

San Gimignano has a decent park and ride system but in August the car parks were almost full by 10.30am.

Volterra has even less parking near the historic centre, which means a long hot walk. The best idea to minimise a long walk is to visit early morning or late afternoon.

 

A view of Florence from the Duomo of the city in the sunshine

Keep walking to a minimum in Florence during the summer

 

Be picky

Florence has so much to see, but not all of it is interesting to little ones and the heat soon saps their energy.

Pick one or two main sights, rather than packing it all in, and choose two close together to cut down on walking under the blazing sun.

One good option is the Boboli Gardens and Ponte Vecchio, which work well and are quite close together. Similarly the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio are quite close.

 

leaning tower of Pisa in the sun

You can’t climb the leaning tower of Pisa until you are eight years old

 

The Leaning Tower

Yes, it’s a must with children but stick together, get the pictures done and retreat to a little market outside the walls of the site where there are toilets, snacks and stalls to browse.

You have to be eight to climb the tower so once you’ve snapped that shot there’s not much reason to hang around.