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Brussels – London connection

London calling? Here are your options to get there!

With a boyfriend living in Essex, I’ve tried all they ways of transport to London and would like to share it with you (with the exception of the bus again, see Paris-Brussels connection).  So I think I can say that I have some experience when it comes to this route. My boyfriend is even more experienced, since I was lucky and he visited me more than I visited him! 🙂

1. Train

Eurostar

If you are planning to go to London city from Belgium, this is the best option by far! Why? You arrive in London city center, what more would you want? And it is only a 2h train ride, whohoow! But don’t forget that for this trip, you need to go through security and passport control. Be there at least half an hour before your departure time.

Duration: +/- 2h direct train
Frequency: 9 trains a day  (from 8am to 8pm)
Price range: €39 ($46 / £35)  for a single ticket if you book in advance, otherwise prices can go up to €120 ($142 / £108)   or even €170 ($201 / £153) for a single ride
Booking: You benefit from booking in advance. The earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket will be. The easiest way to book is online. You can also buy your tickets at the station, but expect to pay a €14 ($16 / £10) fee. The same for when you book over the phone.
Seat selection: You automatically receive an allocated seat
Comfort: Great comfort, good seats and lot’s of space
Wifi: Yes, but I couldn’t get connected last time…
More info: www.eurostar.com
Tip: If you travel frequently with the eurostar; get yourself a Eurostar account. With every 300€ that you spend, you receive a €20 ($23 / £18) coupon for your next trip. Friends and family can also use your code (so you can save faster!).

Eurostar Snap

Are you like me and typically make some last minute decisions when planning a trip? Then I’ve got something great for you; Eurostar Snap! You can book cheap last minute trips to London and back. The catch? You don’t know which train you will be taking.  Snap sells last minute Eurostar tickets up to 3 weeks in advance, in order to fill the train. So popular dates, won’t be on here, UK bank holidays for example… You can book the date and indicate a morning or afternoon train and they’ll let you know a couple of days prior to departure which train you’ll have. Not ideal for all travellers, but great when you have flexibility.

Differences from standard Eurostar ticket:
Price range: from €28 ($ 33 /  £25) for a one way ticket.
Booking: You can only book 3 weeks in advance and you won’t know which train you will have. You can only select the day and morning or afternoon train.
More info: https://snap.eurostar.com/


2. Car & Ferry

When driving to the UK,  you have two options: the Ferry or the tunnel. There are two locations in/near Belgium where you can take the Ferry to Dover: Calais & Duinkerken. It’s a great option if you are travelling with a few people or a family. And if you don’t really plan on going to London city. So perfect for roadtrips!

Calais – Dover

Duration: 90 minutes on the ferry
Frequency: 16 crossings a day with DFDS & up to 23 sailings a day with P&O ferries
Price range:  DFDS: €45 ($ 54 / £41) on average and when booking in time. With P&O you are looking at €59 ($69 / £53) each way. On average I would say it will be €250 ($294 / £225 ) for a car with 2 adults & 2 kids (not booking super early).
Booking: book online and in advance
Seat selection: Once you are checked in at the dock, you will receive a ticket that indicates in which line you will have to wait before driving up the Ferry. It’s kind of a first come first serve (first in line). Once you are parked, you get out of the car and into the ferry.
Comfort: The ferry offers food and beverages, some seating inside and outside, a shop and a small playground for small children. My suggestion here is to take a food and drinks with you. I wasn’t to keen on the food and if you are bringing food, might as well bring your own drinks too.
Wifi: There was wifi, but the connection  wasn’t very good, I got a connection at some parts on the ferry and only sufficient enough to send a whatsapp message (This experience was with P&O ferries).
More info: http://www.directferries.co.uk/ This site compares both companies.
Tip: Dover – Calais is one of the busiest routes. Book in advance, sailings regularly sell out during busy periods.

3. Car & Tunnel

So I haven’t taken the tunnel yet…  I guess I’ll put this on my to do list :). But I’ve been reading on it and it seems really like a valid option. The ferry is a bit more of an exciting experience if you are travelling with kids. The Tunnel is a more efficient way, if you want to get your car over.

Calais – Folkstone

Duration: 35 minutes on the train. Add more time for checking in and driving on and off the train.
Frequency: 4 departure a day
Price range: The prices vary a bit, depending on your stay. Short stays start from €83 ($98 / £75). The price is per car, including up to 9 people (depending on the legal amount of passengers for your car).
Booking: book online
Comfort: You can stay in your car or you can stretch your legs in the train.
Wifi: N/A
More info: https://www.eurotunnel.com
Tip: Cars with LPG are not allowed on the train.


4. Flights

London has more airport than you might think!  And on average all airports are an hour away from the city center. Actually you could win some time by choosing an alternative airport than Heathrow, depending on your final destination. Here is an overview of the most convenient airports near London and the distance from the city centre:

    • Heathrow airport 32km (20 miles) West of Central London
      Direct flights from Brussels
    • City airport 9,5km (6 miles) East of Central London
      Direct flights from Antwerp
    • London Southend airport 64km (40 miles) from Central London
      Direct flights from Amsterdam
    • Gatwick airport 45km (28 miles) south of London
      No Brussels connection
    • Stansted airport 64km (40 miles) north-east of London
      No Brussels connection
    • Luton airport 56km (35 miles) north-west of Central London
      No Brussels connection

Here is a overview of the airlines that fly from Belgium to London:

  • Brussels airlines   BRU  – LHR
    British Airways BRU – LHR
    BMI regional BRU – LHR
    Lufthansa BRU – LHR
  • 50 min train ride to the city center

Duration: +/- 1h15 direct flight
Frequency: 4 different airlines have frequent flights from Brussels to London
Price range: Depending on airline and how much in advance you booked the flight. From €39 ($46 / £35) single ticket
Booking:  The earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket will be.  For me the easiest way to compare prices and book is via skyscanner.
Seat selection: When flying with low budget airlines they often make you pay for seat selection. If you are flying together and don’t pay, they will most likely place you far away from each other.  
Comfort: Normal plane comfort.
Wifi: No
Tip: I normally fly from Amsterdam to Southend. With Easyjet but that is only because I need to be in Essex and not London centre. For some UK destinations it’s good to see what the Amsterdam connections are.

To compare your routes yourselves, goeuro makes a good overview of options for you!

 

Coverphoto: © Commons Zero (CC0)

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