Fastest journey4hr 11m
The journey from London to Amsterdam by train is so easy that air travel now plays second fiddle to rail on this important route. Eurostar looks set to launch a direct London to Amsterdam service in 2017, but until then it’s necessary to make one simple change of train along the way.
The usual route is with Eurostar from London to Brussels, connecting there onto either a fast Thalys train or a slower InterCity (IC) service to Amsterdam. There are generally eight departures from London each day with good onward connections via Brussels to Amsterdam. There are also twice daily connections via Lille Europe, changing there from Eurostar onto a direct Thalys train to Amsterdam.
Bookings for tickets from London to Amsterdam (via either Brussels or Lille) open three months prior to travel. If you are keen to get a good deal, this is a route where it really pays to book well in advance. Fares on this popular route often become much more expensive close to the date of travel.
London to Brussels
Board a Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Brussels. Little more than an hour after leaving London you’ll already be in northern France, speeding through Flanders fields towards Lille Europe, where almost all Brussels-bound Eurostar trains make an intermediate stop. Some trains make up to three additional stops – at Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais.
From Lille, it is just 35 minutes to Brussels, where Eurostar trains terminate at Brussels Midi station. Trains run every five minutes from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central (for the city centre). Your Eurostar ticket is valid for this short onward hop within Brussels.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar’s airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. This is a light-touch security scan, and there are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Brussels to Amsterdam
Thalys trains on this route generally run at least every two hours, with extra services at peak times. Trains leave from Brussels Midi station and arrive in Amsterdam at Schiphol Airport before continuing to Amsterdam Centraal where they terminate. Thalys trains make just two other stops en route, in Antwerp and Rotterdam.
The IC service (dubbed Beneluxtrein locally) leaves Brussels Midi hourly and makes 11 stops on its journey to Amsterdam Centraal. These include a very useful stop at Brussels Central, which is very close to the Grand Place in the heart of the city. The train serves both Brussels National Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Other en route stops include Antwerp, Rotterdam and Den Haag.