London to Amsterdam by train
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The UK is very well
connected to mainland Europe by plane, ferry, train and car. In fact,
continental Europe is closer to London than Birmingham and it's often quicker
to get there.
Eurostar train service from London to Paris now accounts for 70% of travellers
between these two cities; few people now bother to fly because it's cheaper,
quicker and more comfortable by train. The relatively new direct London to
Amsterdam rail connection now runs three times a day and is rapidly following
suit, for just the same reasons.
Taking the train to
Amsterdam generates 80% less carbon than the equivalent flight, so as well as
being infinitely more enjoyable, it's also better for the planet. The current
rail service carries the same number of passengers as 12 flights per day,
that's over 4,000 per year. Rail travellers also get to enjoy the green rolling
English countryside, which is surprisingly similar to the French and Belgian
landscapes. The low-lying countryside of the Netherlands however is noticeably
different; the Dutch landscape is less hilly and to control the risk of
flooding from the North Sea there are numerous lakes, canals, rivers and
traditional windmills. All this travel scenery and without having to leave your
After a swift 30-minute
check-in and passport control at St Pancras station, Amsterdam trains follow
the same high speed Paris bound route across Kent and through the Channel
tunnel to Calais. Here it veers north to Lillie and on to Brussels in Belgium
where it makes a brief stop. It then continues north to Rotterdam and finally
on to Amsterdam Central station. Passport control has all been completed in
London and with no waiting for baggage collection, passengers walk straight off
the train into the heart of Amsterdam. The city's reputation as an unsavory
place of sex and drugs is mostly sensationalist media hype, unless you seek
these things out, you're unlikely to come across them.
Eurostar tickets cost from £35 each way and it takes less than four hours from
city centre to city centre. The enjoyable sightseeing journey has comfortable
seating, WiFi and a couple of cafeterias for drinks and light snacks. More
expensive Standard Premier and Business Premier options have larger seats,
fewer family groups and complimentary food and drinks are served at your seat.
Of course, like airlines prices jump up at peak times and the cheapest seats
are usually early and late in the day. Another perk of the train over the plane
is that travellers can bring their own food and drink, if you do, it's better
to book a seat with a full-sized table although all seat backs have airline
style fold down trays.
bridges, cobbled streets and seventeenth century gabled buildings are just the
backdrop to one of Europe's most vibrant city. As well as its world class
museums, canal boats, famous cafes and easy-going lifestyle, there are a host
of street markets and there's no better city for exploring on a bicycle. The
streets and canal sides are great for walking plus the trams and metro make it
easy to get around the city. A traditional canal cruise in a glass topped boat
is a more leisurely option for exploring the city but if this seems dull there
are gin, cheese and wine and even pancake specialist cruises.
If you're more
adventurous, some worthwhile trips beyond the city centre include the famous
Dutch flower auction (Royal Flora Holland) near Schiphol airport. It's open all
morning and it's best to get their early, around 7am, to see all the action;
optional guided tours do provide a good insight to what's happening. Depending
on the season, trips to the stunning bulb fields or the historic cheese markets
at Edam and Gouda make excellent day trips and are just 30-40 minutes from the
As of autumn 2019 the
return Amsterdam to London route is not quite so quick or straight forward as
the outgoing journey. All UK bound passengers must change at Brussels-Midi
station to complete security and UK immigration procedures. When Dutch and UK
governments complete arrangements for immigration control in Amsterdam
(possibly by 2020, Brexit permitting) this will speed up the return journey
considerably. The train change is quite straight-forward but it does add about
an hour onto the return journey.
However, Brussels is
also a wonderful and under-rated European city, it's the capital of the EU and
home to much more than its famously powerful beer and exquisite chocolate.
There's Tin Tin street art everywhere, he even has his own museum as do Rubens,
Brueghel and Magritte. The Grand Place is one of the world's most beautiful
Baroque squares and you'll find the selection of waffles is beyond your wildest
imagining. So, it's well worth thinking about turning a potential inconvenience
into a great stopover.
For rail holidays and
tours Silver Travel Advisor recommends Railbookers.
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