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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.

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*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.

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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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