Best Flight-Free Travel Routes from the UK to the Netherlands

Published on 17 May 2024 at 18:52

This blog post first appeared as a guest post here - on 17/05/2023

Despite the Netherlands being so close to the UK, flights between the two are very tempting for many travelers, even if they want to avoid the harmful emissions that flying creates. The great thing about the Netherlands is that once you're in the country, the public transport network is more than good enough to take you anywhere. 


That only leaves the question of how to get to the Netherlands without flying - how do you swap flights to Schiphol for trains, buses, and ferries?


Thankfully, the Netherlands are accessible a few different ways form the UK. This list breaks down the most helpful methods, most (but not all) of which start from London.


While there are other ways to go flight-free from the UK to the Netherlands, the list below shows all those which I think are worth considering. While a Hull - Rotterdam ferry exists, it is run by P&O ( who sacked workers without warning a few years ago ) and has very poor connections in either port. You could also take a ferry to France and then trains to the Netherlands, but of course, this would take longer/cost more than the direct options.


Let's get into it!

Train - Eurostar

The Eurostar might be an obvious option, but that's because it's a great one! By far the fastest way to get to the Netherlands, you have 3 or 4 direct journeys from London St. Pancras to Rotterdam and Amsterdam each day. More times are available if you are willing to change trains in Brussels. City center to city center within 4 hours for the direct trips - up to 5 and a half hours if you have to change. 


Both options are similar prices, but that brings us to the main downside of taking the Eurostar to the Netherlands - it isn't cheap! Looking six weeks ahead, you can see the prices vary widely, and €125-170 (£110-150) is not uncommon.

Other than the price, it's hard to fault the Eurostar. Having both Rotterdam and Amsterdam as stops is a real benefit, as you get a wider range of possible onward connections into the country. The train is quick, comfortable… just make sure you arrive in plenty of time to check in if you choose this option! The official guidance is 45 to 90 minutes before departure.

DFDS Newcastle - IJmuiden Ferry

This is a fantastic option, especially if you're coming from Scotland or northern England. This ferry departs from North Shields and arrives in IJmuiden, a port 15 miles from Amsterdam. Don't worry - DFDS runs transfer buses to and from each port. It's great to see these connections being recognized and included in flight-free service. 


By all accounts, the boat itself is quite comfortable and well-equipped for food and entertainment. Here's a video from fellow travel blogger Steve Marsh showing what a 'mini-cruise' on this route looks like.


You can choose between 2- and 5-bed cabins, inside or sea view. Cabins are mostly £70-90 (for the minimum two people) - there's no extra fare beyond that, so it's good value! The crossing is overnight, approximately 17:30 to 0915 depending on the day. If you book transfer buses, you do so in the same booking, and you can do the same with your meals on board as well!

Stena Line Harwich - Hook of Holland Ferry

If you're in London or East Anglia but still like the ferry option, you're in luck. Stena Line runs ferries from Harwich to Hook of Holland, and this is a great route. You have day sailings (09:00 to 17:15) and night sailings (23:00 to 08:00) to choose from, and cabins on the latter run from £35 single-beds all the way up to £135 deluxe suites . If you want to see photos of the cabins or any more details, Seat61 has an excellent breakdown of the finer points of this route.


There's another reason this is an affordable route to the Netherlands for many people - RailSail . You can get a ticket from any Greater Anglia station to the ferry port at Harwich included in your fare. Did I mention that this ferry port has a dedicated rail station, so it's easy to access? For those traveling from outside London, this is most useful for connections from London Liverpool Street or Peterborough. 


On the other side, Hook of Holland - or Hoek van Holland - has a metro connection straight into Rotterdam. You have to change for Rotterdam Centraal, but you also have great onward connections from Schiedam Centrum and Rotterdam Alexander, both of which are on the same metro line (B). Alternatively, take the metro one stop in the opposite direction to the brand new beach stop and start your holiday straight away!

London - Amsterdam Coach

If you really do need a cheap method of flight-free travel, coaches will always do the trick. The best option for this route is Flixbus . Expect to pay £35-60 depending on date and how far in advance you look. The good news? It's direct, cheap, and a very low-emission way to travel. The bad news? It will take all day - here's a sample journey on that route from the Flixbus website.

This particular coach might actually be more handy for visiting Belgium. You can also take Flixbuses to Lille or Brussels, and then the train onwards from there. This will certainly be faster, but many of those cross-border trains to the Netherlands will be run by Thalys - and these are often a similar price to the Eurostar anyway, so this may not save you very much money. 


National Express have a page dedicated to London - Amsterdam coaches , but this also displays the following notice showing that these are currently unavailable. Eurolines also runs coaches on this route , but they are more expensive for the same route as a Flixbus, so not worth it!


The flight-free routes shown here can work great for business or leisure travel between Britain and the Netherlands, or they can form part of longer overland routes across Europe. We all want to travel with fewer carbon emissions, and every time you choose one of these routes, you're taking a positive step in that direction and increasing demand for these services. Happy traveling!

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