It's now easier than ever to travel overland without flying from the UK to Ireland, mainland Europe and beyond!
There is incredibly detailed information about worldwide train travel on the website seat61.com, but if you're looking to combine rail and/or ferry travel with a holiday, here's some basic information on some of the most popular routes. We've tried to simplify the information as much as possible, so that in a glance you can find out how to travel flight-free to these destinations.
Given that most routes to Europe involve taking the Eurostar train from London, we have named most of these trips 'London to' but if you need to travel from outside London to connect with the Eurostar, please see the box below for information on Travelling from Outside London.
Eurostar train at St Pancras International Railway Station
Photo: Richard Hammond
Overland Routes to Europe
Please note the information given on these links may be currently different due to the Covid pandemic. Travel times and journeys may be temporarily altered so you are advised to check before you book and travel with the relevant travel operators.
Overnight ferry from UK
Portsmouth/Plymouth to Santander, Northern Spain
Under 5 hours from London
London to Amsterdam
London to Brussels
London to Cologne
London to Ghent
London to Lille
London to Lyon
London to Paris
London to Utrecht
Arrive same day from London
Travelling from outside London to Europe
Connecting with Eurostar
It's not particularly well known, but Eurostar has negotiated with rail companies throughout the UK so that you can buy a train ticket to get you to London to connect seamlessly with your Eurostar departure.
There are two kinds of tickets:
1. Through-fare ticket: when you initially buy your Eurostar ticket from Eurostar, you can also purchase your train ticket to London as a 'through-fare' ticket, which combines the price of the UK journey and the Eurostar ticket to Paris, Lille, Brussels (or in fact anywhere in Belgium). For instance, you could buy a train ticket from Manchester to Paris or Newcastle to Brussels. These tickets are available as long as you book less than 3 months before travel. If you need to change station in London to get to St Pancras, your National Rail tickets will be valid for transfers on the London Underground, plus all changes between trains are synchronised so that there are minimal transfer times.
2. Add-on ticket: this is useful if you've already purchased a Eurostar ticket but haven't yet bought your train ticket to London as part of the through-fare ticket scheme (above) OR if you want to book your UK train ticket more than 3 months in advance before travel (not available for the through-fare ticket). You can purchase the initial leg of the journey to London at your local
train station (there are about 100 stations in the UK where you can do this).
Just take your Eurostar ticket with you to the station and ask to buy
the 'add-on' ticket to take the train to London to catch that Eurostar.
The reason why it is worth buying this Eurostar 'Add-on' ticket is that they'll give you what's known as a ticket to 'London CIV', which means that should your train to London be delayed and you miss the Eurostar connection, you can jump on the next available Eurostar. In practice, Eurostar will probably put you on the next available Eurostar anyway, but with this 'Add-on' ticket it is guaranteed.