Fastest journey4hr 50m
It is a simple matter to travel by train from London in Utrecht. The journey to the Dutch city requires two easy changes of train and takes about five hours. The first change is either at Lille Europe or Brussels Midi. The second change is at either Schiphol (that’s the station for Amsterdam Airport) or Amsterdam Centraal. In terms of fares and travel time, it makes little difference where you change, and the pattern of the journey is the same: it kicks off with a high-speed run on Eurostar, followed by a journey to the Netherlands on a Thalys train. The third and last leg of the journey is a short hop on a Dutch domestic Intercity service.
The journey we describe here is via Brussels and Schiphol Airport. Whichever route you choose, bookings for this journey normally open three months prior to 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
Most passengers travelling from Brussels to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport use the high-speed Thalys service, which offers departures from Brussels Midi at least every two hours, with extra services at peak times. There are just two stops en route; they are in Antwerp and Rotterdam. The journey takes 95 minutes. There is also a much slower Intercity option from Brussels to Schiphol. This service (dubbed Beneluxtrein locally) leaves Brussels Midi hourly and makes 10 stops on its journey to Schiphol Airport.
Amsterdam Schiphol may be mainly associated with planes, but it’s an important hub on the Dutch domestic rail network, so upon arrival in Schiphol you’ll find a useful range of onward connections to cities across the Netherlands. Experienced travellers often favour it as an easier place to change trains than Amsterdam Centraal.
Amsterdam to Utrecht
From early morning until late evening, there are four Intercity trains each hour from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Utrecht. After midnight direct trains to Utrecht run hourly. The route cuts through the southern suburbs of Amsterdam, with trains making two intermediate stops on the 30-minute journey to Utrecht. You’ll arrive at the Centraal station in Utrecht, from where it is a short walk east to the heart of the Old Town.
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Image credits: Tambako the Jaguar