Fastest journey9hr 1m
Take the Eurostar to Paris and transfer to a TGV to Munich, or board the Eurostar to Brussels and travel to Munich on InterCity Express trains via Frankfurt.
It is an easy journey by train from London to Munich. Tickets to Munich can be purchased here on Loco2 via either Brussels or Paris. It is the Paris option which we describe below.
Your journey starts with a high-speed run on Eurostar from London to Paris. In the French capital, you change stations from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l’Est. That’s just a short walk. At Paris Est, you join a French TGV train for the onward journey across eastern France and southern Germany to Munich.
This routing using a direct train from Paris to Munich is only available once each day. There are additional options from London to Munich via Paris but these require an extra change of train in Stuttgart, Mannheim or Frankfurt-am-Main.
Tickets for your journey from London to Munich via Paris go on sale four months prior to travel. Tickets for the route to Munich via Brussels only open for sale three months in advance of travel, but that Brussels route can sometimes be cheaper than the Paris option. This is one of those frustrating situations where it’s hard to know whether one should book the Paris route or hang on to see if a cheaper fare might later be available via Brussels.
London to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from London to Paris. There are upwards of 15 trains to Paris from London each day with departures at least hourly from the beautifully restored station at St Pancras in London. The fastest trains speed to Paris in just 2 hrs 16 mins, with slower services taking up to 20 mins longer to reach the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first part of the journey from London sweeps through Thameside landscapes and rural Kent to reach the Channel Tunnel. Little more than an hour after leaving London you'll already be in northern France, tracking south through Flanders fields towards Paris.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar's airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. There is a luggage and body scan and you'll be asked to show your passport. There are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Paris interchange: Paris Nord to Paris Est
It is an easy ten-minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l’Est in Paris. Or if you have lots of luggage consider a (very short) taxi ride for around €10. There’s really no point going by Métro.
If you’re on foot, exit the station from the main entrance and turn left onto Rue de Dunkerque. Walk along the Rue de Dunkerque, crossing Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis and Rue La Fayette, still continuing on Dunkerque. You’ll come to a T-junction where you turn right into Rue d’Alsace. Follow Rue d’Alsace (you’ll now see the platforms of Gare de l’Est below you to your left) to the flight of pedestrian steps which leads down to the side entrance of Gare de l’Est. Beware of the hustlers who often hang around the steps soliciting donations and offering to carry your luggage.
The route above is the quickest, but for step-free access to Gare de l’Est here’s a slightly longer alternative. Leave the main front entrance of the Gare du Nord and walk straight ahead down Boulevard de Denain (which runs down beside the Café Terminus Nord). Follow Denain to Boulevard de Magenta, turning left onto it. Take the third left onto Rue de 8 Mai 1945 and walk along to the front of the Gare de l’Est.
Paris to Munich
The year-round once-daily direct train from Paris to Munich departs from the Gare de l’Est in Paris and arrives at Munich Hauptbahnhof. On a small number of peak travel dates in 2017, there is a second direct train on this route. A new high-speed line in France opened in 2016, bringing the journey time for the direct Paris to Munich train down to just over five and a half hours. There are several additional Paris to Munich options each day, all requiring a change of train in Stuttgart, Mannheim. Karlsruhe or Frankfurt.
The direct TGV from Paris to Munich tracks east on the high-speed line from Paris towards the German border, sometimes touching 320 kph along the way. After a brief stop in Strasbourg the train crosses the River Rhine and then continues south-east to Stuttgart, where the train reverses. From there it is another two hours with stops in Ulm and Augsburg to Munich Hauptbahnhof, where there is an excellent range of onward connections to destinations in Bavaria, Austria and beyond.
The journey by train from London to Munich is very easy to organise. Through tickets to Munich can be purchased here on Loco2 via either Brussels or Paris. It is the Brussels option which we describe here.
Your journey kicks off with a high-speed run on Eurostar from London to Brussels. The connection in Brussels onto a German ICE is very efficient. You take the ICE from Brussels to Frankfurt-am-Main, changing at the city centre Hauptbahnhof for the third and final leg of your journey to Munich.
The journey from London to Munich is easily done in a day. It is one big hop across Europe with some decent scenery along the way. You can make more of the occasion by having a meal in the restaurant car which is usually available for the last leg of the journey (from Frankfurt to Munich). The train from Brussels to Frankfurt also offers dining facilities, but that’s a bistro with a more limited menu.
Tickets for your journey from London to Munich via Brussels go on sale three months prior to travel. That’s the time to book if you are keen to get a bargain fare.
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 Frankfurt am Main
The direct ICE trains from Brussels to Frankfurt am Main take about three hours for the journey. These trains stop five to eight times along the way. In Brussels these services depart from Brussels Midi and then also stop at Brussels Nord. In Frankfurt trains stop first at the airport station, then continue to the city centre station (Hauptbahnhof) where they terminate.
The route east from Brussels initially traverses the flat lands of Brabant to reach Liège-Guillemins station. East from Liège, the train cuts in tunnels through hilly country to reach the German border just before Aachen. Beyond Aachen, the train speeds east to the Rhineland city of Cologne, arriving at the city’s main station (the Hauptbahnhof). From Cologne, the train continues along a new high-speed line to Frankfurt.
Frankfurt am Main to Munich
High-speed ICE trains leave hourly from both Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof and from the airport station (Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof) for Munich Hauptbahnhof. Most trains on this route take about 3 hrs 30 mins for this journey of over 400 kilometres.
Running south-east from Frankfurt, the route followed by most trains cuts through the Spessart Hills to reach Würzburg, where vineyards make a lovely backdrop to one of Germany’s most appealing cities. South from Würzburg there are fine views of the landscapes of Franconia and Bavaria en route to Munich where the train runs into the main station (called Hauptbahnhof). Some trains take a completely different route from Frankfurt to Munich, running via Stuttgart and Ulm instead of Würzburg. That route takes in a nice swathe of Swabian countryside.
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Image credits: Aerial view of Munich © Sborisov