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For travelling between London and near Europe cities like Paris and Brussels, the train and at the moment this means Eurostar trains are the most popular transport option.
Not so long ago, London - Paris was one of the busiest air routes in the world. No more, the introduction of the train services through the tunnel connecting England and France mean travel by train is both faster and normally cheaper than by air, city centre to city centre.
However, the train is not the cheapest way to travel between London and near Europe cities like Brussels and Paris. That honour goes to the Eurolines and Megabus coach services to Europe. But this cheapest option (by far) coach takes much longer. For example to Paris the fastest coaches take 5 hours longer than the Eurostar train services.
Although new fast train services have been pencilled in to operate fast direct train services to Holland, Germany and the South of France they are not operating yet.
Until then and for destinations further afield the airlines dominate and in particular from London the low cost budget airlines, of which easyJet and Ryanair dominate. Travel by train at the moment to places like Rome, Zurich, Copenhagen and Barcelona is both slower and more expensive than the cheapest air fares and you will need to change train in Brussels or Paris.
However that doesn't mean using trains to European cities are not an option. Increasingly many travellers choose to travel by train to avoid the stress and tedium of travelling by air.
Eurostar trains run at minimum hourly frequencies between London and Paris and London and Brussels. There are no overnight services, first services start very early morning, last departure is mid/late evening. Scheduled journey times are 2 hours 15 minutes to Paris and 2 hours to Brussels.
Some services stop at Lille and Calais in France and Ashford or Ebbsfleet in England. Services also go to Disneyland Paris. There are two special seasonal services to Avignon, weekly through the summer and a ski train to the French Alps during winter and spring.
The London terminus is St Pancras Station, relatively central and a major London hotel district. There is the full range of hotels at St Pancras but the traditional emphasis has been towards the budget end of the hotel market. As one of London's main Underground hubs you can be at most sightseeing locations throughout the centre of London well within 30 minutes.
Eurostar offers three different classes of seat to meet your needs and seat numbers are allocated. You’re allowed two medium-sized items with a maximum length of 85cm, plus one item of hand luggage. You need to check in at least 30 minutes prior to departure.
Find out more about St Pancras / Kings Cross:
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 banner link below.
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• UK buses • Eurostar • Virgin trains
The cheapest option travelling between London and many near European cities, notably Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Dublin is by scheduled coach.
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.
All European coach services from London depart from Victoria Coach Station.
Once you go beyond the near Europe cities of Paris, Brussels etc air travel dominates. For near Europe cities once you factor in the time and expense of transfers between city centres and airports and hanging around in departure lounges train is faster and less expensive in almost all occasions.
For European destinations like Munich, Rome, Madrid, Nice, Copenhagen air travel will be cheaper and much faster than coach or train most of the time.
London has four major airports. For leisure travellers the lowest cost fares are normally found on the low cost budget airlines. easyJet and Ryanair are the two major airlines with flights to all Europe from Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Southend airports. The legacy national carriers fly out of Heathrow and British Airways from Gatwick too and be competitive with the budget airlines, especially purchasing close to departure date.
City Airport is the closest airport to the centre of London but can only host regional sized aircraft. Services from here are to near Europe cities and tend to be geared and priced to the business market.