While many railway museums are the sole preserve of lone men in anoraks comparing dog-eared notebooks and getting high on the smell of machine oil, coal smoke and nostalgia, this place is different. York's National Railway Museum – the biggest in the world, with more than 100 locomotives – is so well presented and crammed with fascinating stuff that it's interesting even to folk whose eyes don't mist over at the thought of a 4-6-2 A1 Pacific class thundering into a tunnel.

Sightseeing Tickets & Passes activity

The York Pass


Highlights for the trainspotters among us include a replica of George Stephenson's Rocket (1829), the world's first 'modern' steam locomotive; the sleek and streamlined Mallard, which set the world speed record for a steam locomotive in 1938 (126mph); a 1960s Japanese Shinkansen bullet train; and the world-famous Flying Scotsman, the first steam engine to break the 100mph barrier (now restored to full working order). There's also a massive 4-6-2 loco from 1949 that's been cut in half to demonstrate how it works (daily talk at 4pm).

Even if you're not a rail nerd, you'll enjoy looking through the gleaming, silk-lined carriages of the royal trains used by queens Mary, Adelaide and Victoria and king Edward VII, or having a Brief Encounter moment over tea and scones at the museum's station platform cafe. Allow at least two hours to do it all justice.

The museum is about 400m west of the train station and if you don't fancy walking you can ride the road train (adult/child £2/1, April to October) that runs between the minster and museum every 30 minutes from 11am to 4pm.