Taking a day trip from London to Harrogate is possible,
although it makes for a long day. It's best to allow for an overnight stay,
if you can.
Harrogate's Ornate Turkish Baths
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
Trains leave from London's King's Cross station but there are no direct trains from London to Harrogate. You must take the train to either Leeds or York and change there.
The journey time from London to Leeds is about 2.5 hours,
with a further 30-40 minutes for the train from Leeds to Harrogate.
It's faster to go via York as the journey time is just under two hours on the faster trains, and the same 30-40 minute journey from York to Harrogate. Not all trains to York are fast trains so check before booking.
Trains to both York and Leeds start very early in the morning from King's Cross, so if you don't mind paying a little extra for your ticket, or you can book well in advance, it's possible to leave London at, say, about 6am on a fast train to York and be in Harrogate by about 9.30 or so.
Harrogate train station is right in the town centre, an easy walk or short taxi ride to many of the spa town's hotels and attractions.
The cheapest fares are often available on the RailEasy website.
Going from London to Harrogate by bus is much cheaper than the train, but involves a total journey time of about six hours. There are no direct London to Harrogate buses, and you must change coaches in Leeds. Taking the bus to Harrogate from London is only recommended if you're on a budget and the extra journey time doesn't matter.
The London-Leeds coach is run by National Express, and at Leeds Coach Station you switch to a local City Connect service for the 50-minute journey from Leeds to Harrogate. However, you can book your ticket from London through to Harrogate on the National Express website.
Note that at the time of writing Megabus does not offer a London-Harrogate coach service, only London-Leeds. You should compare prices, though, in case it works out cheaper to use Megabus to get to Leeds and then buy your local bus ticket when you get there.
You can drive to Harrogate from London in about 4-5 hours if you've already hired a rental car for your trip, but if you have no car then train is the best option.
Harrogate is just over 200 miles due north of London and there are two main route options. You can either leave London on the M1 motorway or on the A1, which for much of the route is a reasonably fast dual carriageway. The distance is similar in both cases, and in ideal driving conditions the time should also be about the same. It's easy to assume the M1 must be faster but in our experience that isn't always the case. The best thing you can do is check traffic reports with the AA or some other motoring organisation before you set off, and see if there are any roadworks or other problems likely to slow you down on one of the routes.
If taking the M1 the easiest option is to take it all the way till it merges with the A1 and becomes the A1(M).
If taking the A1 then take exit 45 and follow signs for A168 and then the A661 into Wetherby. Continue through Wetherby on the A661 all the way into Harrogate.
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