Coaches Between London And Dover
National Express Bus Services Between Dover & London Including Heathrow Airport
London National Express Bus At
National Express are the largest scheduled long distance bus operator in Europe and operate the only truly national network in England carrying over 18 million people a year. They are a large public limited transport company with operations globally.
Between Dover and London they operate a broadly hourly service scheduled to take just under 3 hours These are not van shuttle services, with hotel drops and pick-ups. Vehicles are large 50 seat air conditioned buses with washrooms making around a dozen stops on the journey between Dover and London.
National Express Coaches are slower but cheaper than the alternative scheduled public transport, the Dover train services.
Key Points Of Travelling By Coach To/From Dover
- The coaches do not visit the cruise terminal at Dover. You will need a taxi between the bus station in Dover town centre or Dover Ferry Terminal and your cruise terminal.
- Coaches are full size and all have toilet and washroom facilities
- Your ticket guarantees you a seat, but does not reserve any particular place, so you can sit on any vacant seat when you board the coach.
- There are no senior's fares. These were withdrawn in 2012.
- The luggage allowance may well be significantly less than on your flight. Check the luggage section below.
- The London terminus is Victoria Coach Station, about 600 yards from Victoria train and Underground stations. The buses do not pick-up or drop at hotels or elsewhere in London.
- There is no direct service between Dover and London's airports. You can buy a ticket between Dover and Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports though, changing coach at London Victoria.
Cruise Ship Bus Shuttle
Transport to/From London
Transfer Options Dover From:
Transfer Tours To London & Airports
The Town of Dover
Cruise Ship Bus
- Tickets are for a specific journey, miss the departure and you lose the ticket. The notable exception is for departures at airports including Heathrow. Here can you use your ticket on later schedules if your flight is late and you miss the bus as a result. This is subject to seat availability on the following bus.
Dover Town Centre or Dover Ferry Terminal?
If you are from or going to a cruise terminal you will need a taxi between the cruise terminal and either Dover Town Centre or Dover Ferry terminal. The fare should be the same, so which one is best?
Dover Town Centre is the terminus of the service, from London the coach will first stop at the ferry terminal.
We would suggest using the ferry terminal. The town centre stop is not a bus station, just a bus stop in a scruffy part of town. There are not always taxi cabs in the immediate vicinity. The ferry terminal is much more civilised with proper waiting lounges and places for a coffee, money exchange etc. There is normally a taxi cab waiting for you as well.
London Victoria Coach Station
Victoria Coach Station is London's only coach station for scheduled services outside London. Victoria is a major hotel district and a pleasant place to be based in London. The Queen is your neighbour at Buckingham Palace.
Victoria Coach Station is like a regional airport in terms of facilities.
London's Airports By Bus From Dover
There are no direct scheduled services from Dover to either Gatwick or Heathrow Airport.
National Express do operate frequent services between London Victoria Coach Station and Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted Airports. You can buy a single ticket between Dover and these three airports connecting at Victoria Coach Station.
National Express Luggage Policy
Luggage allowance is often a lot less than flight baggage allowances if you are travelling to/from North America. Luggage entitlement is limited to two cases per person in the hold, neither of which should weigh more than 20kg (44lbs). In the cabin you can take a small item of luggage like a handbag or laptop that you can put under a seat or keep on your lap.
Drivers do not weigh the luggage and typically are quite flexible, but don't count on it and don't abuse the allowance.
National Express have introduced an excess luggage policy with charges and if you have outsize items or unusual items you really need to check out the detail of the luggage policy. If you go over the allowance and the luggage hold is full you may be asked to get the next bus (typically an hour later), even if you have paid the luggage penalty.
If you are concerned about the security of your luggage in the hold it is rather good. The blog video (link above) depicts the controlled manner in which luggage is loaded and unloaded.
Light weight manual wheelchairs and foldable pushchairs are taken subject to them being capable of being stowed in the luggage hold of the coach. Manual wheelchairs more than 20kg in weight and pushchairs not foldable are not taken. Powered wheelchairs are only taken by prior arrangement.
You may take your bicycle on your National Express journey, as long as it is designed to fold in half by means of a special link in the main frame and is carried in an appropriate padded bag or hard case, suitable for the purpose.
National Express Bus Timetables, Fares & Ticketing
Unlike the railways, National Express have true e-tickets - the moment you make your reservation your e-tickets are e-mailed to you. You can pay using major credit cards.
With a ticket you have a reserved seat on the bus schedule of your choice, no individual seat selection can be made. At airports only, if your flight is delayed you can travel on a later schedule subject to seat availability. At Heathrow and Gatwick it normally takes about 45 to 75 minutes to get through customs and baggage reclaim. At city termini like Dover and London if you miss your schedule you lose your ticket.
You can also buy tickets on the day from the bus station ticket offices, subject to seat availability. Those who have pre-booked have reserved seats and priority. Especially in the Dover to London direction buses are often sold out from about 8:30 a.m. to late morning if a cruise ship is in port. National Express do not put on extra capacity once a schedule is sold out.
Important: When you use the National Express journey planner (banner link below) do not select Dover Cruise Terminal as a destination, no bus goes to Dover Cruise Terminal. Select Dover Ferry Terminal or Dover Town Centre. Similarly at Heathrow do not select Heathrow Terminal 1,2 or Terminal 3, again no Southampton bus visits either passenger terminal, select Heathrow Airport London (for T1,T2 and T3). Very few National Express buses between Heathrow and London visit Terminals 4 or 5 either, you need to take the Heathrow Express train (free) between these terminals and the Central Bus Station in the middle of the airport.
Transfers Between Cruise Terminals & London Buses & Trains
No shuttle buses are provided between the cruise and the train station or London bus stops at Dover. You therefore need to get a taxi between the cruise terminal and the train station/bus stop. The fare should be around £8.
Taxi cabs at Dover come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, the image tight is fairly typical. If you have two cases per person and more than 2 people you may end up with multiple taxi cabs.
Typical Dover Taxi
Its just a 5 minute drive between the cruise terminals at Dover to/from the railway and bus stations and ferry terminal.
The cruise terminals are far too far to walk with luggage from the train stations.
All fares within Dover should be on a meter. Indicative fares to and from the cruise terminal are shown on the image.
For longer journeys outside Dover never leap into a taxi without agreeing the price before hand.
Although drivers may offer to accept your Euro or Dollar currency it will almost certainly be at a very, very poor exchange rate. Only do so as a last resort.
The taxi rank at the cruise terminal is well marshalled. Porters from the ship will normally take your luggage as far as the taxi rank immediately outside the front doors of the cruise terminal.
It is customary to leave a small tip with cab drivers, (assuming they provide a good service).
Shuttle Bus Between Station & Ferry Terminal
A shuttle bus plies between Dover Priory Station and Dover Ferry Terminal between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The bus is not complementary.
Note: The ferry terminal is further from the cruise terminals than the train station.
Train - Faster, More Frequent, More Expensive Than Bus
The National Express coaches take best part of three hours to travel between Dover and London, on the other hand the trains between London St Pancras and Dover take just 65 minutes and don't have to contend with possible traffic delays. The only reason not to use the train is the price premium you pay for using the train.
The train also has an advantage in that there are three separate train services serving five major stations spread across London, including Victoria where the National Express coaches terminate. This means there is a good chance a London railway terminus for Dover is more convenient for your London accommodation.
Dover Cruise Shuttle Bus - London Hotels & Heathrow To/From Dover
Not public transport, but a useful option offering prices approaching public transport with the convenience of door to door transfers between your cruise terminal at Dover and your hotel in Central London or Heathrow Airport.
In the London to Dover direction the bus picks up from hotels in all of the major hotel districts of Central London. The bus then goes onto Heathrow Airport where it will pick-up from a selection of Heathrow Airport hotels (but not passenger terminals) before going onto Dover with an optional stop at Dover Castle.
In the opposite direction the service takes the form of guided day tour. After leaving the cruise terminal at Dover the tour visits Canterbury and Leeds Castle before performing hotel drops in Central London late afternoon before going onto Heathrow Airport.
The vehicles used are normally full size 50 seat luxury air conditioned touring buses like that pictured.