Getting from Brussels to London, tourist edition.
August 11, 2018 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I am in Brussels, by Brussels-Luxembourg station, and the Brussels-Midi station is very close by as well. I would like to take a day in London -get there ~lunch time, hang out, maybe have dinner, and come back that same day.

I have been looking at Eurostar, Eurail, RailEuro, and other sites till I am cross-eyed. It's ~ € 220 per person, for the best I can find. What options am I missing? I could have sworn, when we started planning this trip, there was something for ~ € 125, per person, round trip! Please help salvage our trip to London!
posted by kellyblah to Travel & Transportation around Belgium (10 answers total)
 
I mean, I'm sure there was if you booked in advance. Which, as you are standing in a train station in Brussels right now, you probably are not able to do.

If you wanted to go tomorrow, BA has a flight leaving at 7:15 am and a 19:40 return and it's €99 round trip. (The more civilised 11 am departure doubles the price, but the good news is you only actually need to be at the airport at 6:15 am so it's not that bad.)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:40 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


To add to DarlingBri’s answer, trains in the UK do not have fixed prices. Prices fluctuate and get more expensive closer to date of travel.
posted by moiraine at 11:43 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes the Eurostar is known to be ridiculously expensive close to travel. It's a great trip though if you can swing it -- a very short and pleasant ride to end up right in the middle of the London. Not sure it would be worth it (for me) to do a flight, unless you really have something specific in London you want to see.
posted by heavenknows at 11:51 AM on August 11, 2018


I have been looking at Eurostar, Eurail, RailEuro, and other sites till I am cross-eyed. It's ~ € 220 per person, for the best I can find. What options am I missing?

If you're going by train Brussels - London, there is literally one train you can get: Eurostar. It rarely has any kind of discount.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:52 AM on August 11, 2018


Note that the flight DarlingBri mentioned goes to Heathrow, which adds an hour on the underground each way plus (potentially? Not sure of the details, but I had to go through from a flight from Portugal) customs & immigration, which if you are not an EU resident could plausibly be a couple of hours. You could take a 10 am train and potentially beat someone on the 7 am flight to an arbitrary tourist destination in London.

Transportation pricing is complex, but it's not unusual for last minute travellers to have to pay higher prices - often they are business travellers who will spend more freely.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:06 PM on August 11, 2018


You have to go through immigration when travelling between Belgium and the UK regardless of mode of transport as the UK is not part of the Schengen Zone.
posted by hoyland at 12:15 PM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would take the flight suggested by DarlingBri. It is indeed around an hour or so by Tube from Heathrow to the city center (or you could take the Heathrow Express) but it takes a while to get into central London from any of the airports and the Tube from Heathrow certainly the cheapest option. If you want to splurge, the Heathrow Express is much faster.

It is unlikely to take you too much more than an hour or so to go through immigration--if you're really lucky, it could be less (source: I have flown into various London airports a lot over the last few years). Unfortunately, you're not going to find a lower price on the Eurostar because, as others have said, you have to book early to get those prices.

Honestly, if your heart is set on going to London, the flight option is really not a bad one!
posted by tiger tiger at 12:53 PM on August 11, 2018


We reconsidered. We're going to Amsterdam, instead. Thank you all for the input; I had thought the rail system would be more like a metro system, than an inter-country rail (which it really is, duh, K.), I think. I thought the whole EU brought things closer in that respect.
posted by kellyblah at 2:58 PM on August 11, 2018


I had thought the rail system would be more like a metro system, than an inter-country rail (which it really is, duh, K.), I think. I thought the whole EU brought things closer in that respect.

Pretty much as a rule, high-speed rail across the EU is dynamically priced (i.e. it varies in the same way that airline ticket prices vary) even for intra-country travel. French TGV trains, for instance (the ones that do the Paris-Marseille run in 3 hours) get more and more expensive as you get closer to the date of travel.

This rule generally holds true for long distance travel as well, though less consistently -- Belgian domestic trains do not rise in price, whereas British domestic trains (say London-Edinburgh) absolutely do as tickets sell out and get closer to the date.
posted by andrewesque at 3:22 PM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


The thing is, that if you go Brussels to London you can only take ONE train - the Eurostar.

Usually, when traveling between countries on the Continent you can also take advantage of different routes or using InterCity trains instead of high-speed trains for some or all of the route. For example, Brussels to Amsterdam shows about 100 euros one-way on high-speed trains on Monday. But I can also go for about 40 euros if I don't mind taking a little bit longer.
posted by vacapinta at 3:19 AM on August 12, 2018


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