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Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

queensland
Level Contributor
447 posts
193 reviews
Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

Wanting to travel from England to Belgium and would like to know the cheapest and best way to get there. I checked Google maps and it came up with "train transport" only and if it is anything like the tunnel from UK to France it seems too expensive. Is this the only feasible way to getting to Belgium. Does it sound feasible to get the ferry to Dover and then drive from Dover to Brugge? Would 3 to 4 days be enough to get a taste of Belgium as I am really only traveling through to get to Switzerland and last time came through France so thought it would be nice to go a different route. I could stretch it to 5 days if 3-4 days seems just too short. Any advice would be greatly appreciated on the time I have and what are the "must do's " We are in our mid 50's, love walking, we like scenery, good food, great coffee, quaint villages, old towns and museums only if it is wet and miserable outside.

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
37,151 posts
3 reviews
1. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

1) "Best" and "cheapest are rarely the same, and you don't say where in England you want to travel from, which affects the issue considerably. Assuming London/S. East, the cheapest methods are, in rising price order and (generally) descending lengths of journey:

- Megabus, London-Brussels 8 hrs - can be as cheap as £1 for certain departures, otherwise up to £27.

- Eurolines coach from Victoria coach station to Brussels Gare du Nord: day services take the Eurotunnel vehicle-carrying train (indeed, through "the tunnel from UK to France" - there is only one tunnel under the Channel!), while the overnight service takes the ferry. Prices range from €9 to about €30, depending on how far in advance you book. Eurolines (operated by National Express in the UK) also has a service to Brugge.

- Car ferry Folkstone-Boulogne or Dover-Dunkerque - IF you would have a car when leaving the UK (but a UK hire car would have to be taken back to the UK)

- P&O ferry Dover-Calais (the only one that takes foot passengers) then car-hire from Calais - but if you want to return the car in Belgium rather than France, you will pay a premium - or train to Brugge (3-3 1/2 hrs, €34.60)/Brussels (about 4 hrs, €38.60), via Lille; so yes, you can certainly drive from Calais to Brugge, and check route and timing on www.viamichelin.com

- Eurostar passenger train from London St. Pancras International to Bruxelles-Midi - 1h50, price can be perfectly reasonable (€42.50 non-flex) if you book well in advance - bookings open 120 days before date of travel and cheaper tickets may sell out in the first month - but of course if you buy just before departure this can be up to €97.50 non-flex and €155 semi-flex. If you book London-Brugge, you would get ABS ticket for an additional €7 or so, covering local train between Brussels and Brugge, either on the day or arrival or the following day (automatically included on http://www.b-europe.com/Travel; you have to be careful to select the column for destinations in Belgium - not "popular destinations", which includes Brussels - to be offered ABS option on www.eurostar.com)

- flight (Brussels Airlines and several others) from London Heathrow or Gatwick to Brussels Airport, 45 mins; or from London City to Antwerp-Deurne; check prices for possible dates on edreams or other such website.

2) Brugge is Belgium's top tourist destination, 1 hr from Brussels by train and about 1h20 from Lille (also by train); but you can't take the car into the city centre so check carefully location of hotel and whether it has parking facilities (if not, the station car park is the cheapest). Travelling by car it would also be easy to visit WWI sites around Ieper (Ypres), WWII sites around Bastogne (on the way to Luxembourg), and/or small places in the Ardennes like Durbuy or La Roche en Ardenne.

Edited: 27 June 2012, 09:25
Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
35 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

- I prefer the eurostar by far (by far), if you book well on beforehand it's not really that expensive.

For me it's the most comfortable in speed, bagage count/room/weight and arrival station in London, right in the center and you can just hop on the tube.

Customs don't x-ray you though I've been frisked once, but still not the American style.

- Ferry is the cheapest way of travel, but customs are more strict.

- Using an airline opens more possibilities than the eurostar and probably is faster, but more expensive and bagage is limited and bothersome, also different ports of departure/arrival.

So it would first depend on where you depart from, if you have a car you can choose to take the ferry and of course if you dare to be a rebel and drive on the right side of the road.

Northampton, United...
Level Contributor
67 posts
3. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

Between England and Belgium run regular coach services. Transport is performed by different carriers. Coaches also run between the UK and Switzerland and Luxembourg. I do not want to give you any details because I have not use this route. I did travel with Eurolines from Prague to Berlin and Warsaw to Paris, so I can only say that coaches are clean, equipped with toilet, reclining seats, TV. Stops on average every 4 hours.

About coach transport from the UK to Belgium: http://www.europebus.co.uk/belgium/

About coach transport from the UK to Switzerland: http://www.europebus.co.uk/switzerland/

About coach transport from the UK to Luxembourg: http://www.europebus.co.uk/luxembourg/

This is not a good option for someone who likes to travel fast, but it is certainly a good option for someone who wants to see much on the way. Good luck!

Edited: 28 June 2012, 06:58
queensland
Level Contributor
447 posts
193 reviews
4. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

I thank you all for your fabulous input and must really apologize for not giving you enough information as I am driving, I have my own car and I regretfully forgot to mention that so feel really bad that you all went to so much trouble giving me all the options as I really only wanted to know the cheapest way by car, should I go on the ferry or train. Thank you so much and this has made me realise to definitely be more specific when asking a question as a lot of people go to a lot of trouble with their replies.

Manchester, United...
2 posts
5. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

We travel by car and ferry from Manchester via Dover to the far Eastern side of Belgium and have done it in as little as 11hrs (inclusive of ferry crossing), albeit throught the night. Brugge is fairly close to the ports of Dunkirk & Calais. Ferry crossings (DFDS & P&O) in the wee small hours are dead cheap but also reasonable during the day, compared to the tunnel where I have never, ever found what I would call a comparable price to the ferries. But we do price over speed and comfort so that is personal preference. So in answer to your question, you can get to Brugge in reasonable time by car, dependent on where you are in the UK.

Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
35 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

No worries about too much information, other people read these posts as well when searching for similar information and may benefit from it anyway.

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
60 posts
1 review
7. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

I read this post with interest since my wife and I will be leaving London for Brussels on Sept. 11. There would be no question that the Eurostar would be the best choice, but there is a complication. My wife has claustrophobia and has doubts about traveling under the channel on the train. She has no problem with the tube in London, so I'm not sure how much of an issue this would be. I would like to explore alternative options just in case. What about London to Amsterdam by air and then Amsterdam to Brussels by train? All comments much appreciated.

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
37,151 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

If she has no problem with the London Underground, I don't know why she would have a problem with the Eurostar, which spends less than 20 minutes in the Channel Tunnel in a 2 hr journey.

But if all you are trying to do is avoid the tunnel, and money is no object (whereas the aim of the original question here was also to find a cheap way from London to Brussels) why not just FLY TO BRUSSELS AIRPORT?! Of course you can also fly to Amsterdam-Schiphol, Paris-CDG or Frankfurt, all of which are connected to Brussels by train, but it would be so much easier to fly into BRU and take the airport train to the city centre, which takes 20 mins! Although perhaps your wife would prefer to get off at Gare du Nord or Gare du Midi as Gare centrale is underground.. but then so are the stations at AMS, CDG and FRA, and the one from Schiphol goes in a tunnel under Antwerpen-Centraal on the way to Brussels...

9. Re: Best & Cheapest way to Belgium from England.

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