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The cheapest option travelling between London and many near European cities, notably Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Dublin is by scheduled coach. Once you go further afield in Europe low cost budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair are often cheaper, especially if you book well in advance.
The dominant coach carrier in terms of choice of destinations from London and frequencies are Eurolines. Eurolines are a confederation of European coach operators working together under a single brand name. In the UK, the operator is National Express the dominant UK scheduled coach operator.
Because of the National Express connection you can buy single tickets combining a National Express service from most towns and cities in England and Wales with a Eurolines service from London Victoria.
In London, the European terminus for both Eurolines is Victoria Coach Station, London's only major coach station that is also the London base for National Express services.
Victoria Coach Station is just a like a busy regional airport. Coaches leave every couple of minutes, there are airport style departure screens and departure gates where you board the coach. There is a full list of facilities including a useful left luggage office.
There is a full list of facilities including a useful left luggage office, foreign exchange etc.
The dominant national operators at Victoria, National Express and Megabus have a stranglehold on UK inter city services. You can interconnect between UK and European services under one roof.
Victoria Coach Station is quite central, 5 minutes' walk from Buckingham Palace and Victoria Railway and London Underground Station.
Victoria is also a major London hotel district with accommodation options for all sectors of the market.
Find out more about Victoria:
The single most popular European coach route by far is London - Paris. Normally coach is by far the cheapest way to travel between the two cities. However, the Eurostar trains are the dominant way to travel between London and Paris, the high frequencies and speed of Eurostar being more attractive despite the much higher fares.
Some coach services use the ferry across the English Channel, some use the tunnel. The fastest schedules are around 7.5 hours compared to 2 hours of the Eurostar trains. There are both daytime and overnight schedules year round.
Eurolines operate several daily services to these cities. The services to Brussels are slightly quicker than to Paris and Amsterdam is about 10.5 hours. Both services also stop at Antwerp and Rotterdam.
The Eurolines service extends on paper to most major cities in Europe. However few use the service. For example the service to Rome takes 30 hours with two changes of bus at Paris and Milan and is probably no cheaper than flying with a low cost budget airline in just over 2 hours.
On the main Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam services there are several daily departures year round from London Victoria.
The full network covers 600 destinations in 29 countries. Sea crossings are made by either ship or Eurotunnel, check timetables for specific information on your journey.
Services such as Paris may use either on different schedules. Eurolines use air-conditioned coaches with reclining seats, comfortable legroom and on board toilets. In the UK Eurolines is linked with National Express which is how it offers such a wide range of destinations. Flixbus is a more recent arrival in the provision of European coach travel, details can be found further down the page.
Key aspects of the Eurolines service are:
For most services you can take two medium sized suitcases, weighing no more than 30kg together and a small piece of soft hand luggage. A single rucksack can be taken instead of two suitcases. (Note: luggage allowances can vary on services to Europe).
To guarantee your seat in advance and take advantage of the best fares, called funfares, booking online is recommended. However, you may also purchase your ticket, on the day or in advance, at the coach station. The cheap Funfare tickets are only available online.
If you miss your coach, your ticket will no longer be valid and a new ticket must be purchased if you wish to travel on a later service.
If you are a frequent Eurolines traveller or touring Europe on Eurolines you can purchase a card that is called a Eurolines discount card giving 25% of fares over a 3 month or 6 month duration.
Free Wi-Fi is included on London to Paris and Amsterdam PLUS services. PLUS services are noted on the timetables/schedules when you book. Use our link below to book from the trainline website that offers both train and coach travel in Europe.
Use our banner below to book your Eurolines tickets. Trainline cover both coach and train services throughout Europe, so just select the date, departure and destination to find prices and all the options available.
Europe wide coverage
• Large bus network • Comfortable air-conditioned buses with toilets • Free Wi-Fi with PLUS service • Daily departures
Flixbus are a young company that has grown rapidly and has established Europe's largest intercity bus network in the shortest amount of time.
Flixbus have used technological advancements to differentiate themselves by offering e-ticketing, a booking app, free Wi-Fi on board and GPS live tracking.
Their green buses are a way of trying to show their environmental credentials and sustainable approach to their business.
Started in Germany, they now cover a myriad of routes across Europe and offer cheap prices, but specialise in cross border services in the UK rather than town to town transport options.
Cheapest prices from London to Paris
• Large bus network • Comfortable buses with toilets • Free Wi-Fi • Snacks for sale onboard • Carbon efficient coaches
The overriding reason for choosing to travel by scheduled coach to Europe from London is price. For near Europe cities like Paris the price differential is substantial and the journey although much longer can still be done without overnight travel or sleeping on the bus.
The most popular transport method in terms of numbers travelling to Paris and Brussels is the train. In the next few years direct services are being introduced to other near Europe destinations. Trains are of course much faster than coach enabling tourists to do day trips to Paris with a whole days sightseeing available for example.
The only reason not to take the train to Paris or Brussels and take the coach instead are the price of tickets. Ticket prices on Eurostar are dynamic and can look very expensive, especially if you purchase at short notice or are travelling when there is a popular event on in either city.
Eurostar is a reservations only service – you can book up to 4 months in advance. The further ahead that you book, the more likely you’ll be able to pick up the best fare. Non-flexible tickets (i.e. no exchanges or refunds allowed) are cheaper than tickets with fewer restrictions.
Eurostar fares are dynamic, there will be different fares for different schedules on the same day. Fares can be eye watering if you book late or are trying to travel when an event is on at your destination so do try and plan well ahead.
Full details of the service, an explanation of the classes of ticket and current fares for your dates can be found by clicking through on the trainline banner link below.
Book in advance and save money on your train journey
• UK buses • Eurostar • Virgin trains