Airports & Airlines
Heathrow (www.heathrow.com) The UK’s main airport for international flights; often chaotic and crowded. About 15 miles west of central London.
Gatwick (www.gatwickairport.com) Britain's number-two airport, mainly for international flights, 30 miles south of central London.
Stansted (www.stanstedairport.com) About 35 miles northeast of central London, mainly handling charter and budget European flights.
Luton (www.london-luton.co.uk) Some 35 miles north of central London, well known as a holiday-flight airport.
London City (www.londoncityairport.com) A few miles east of central London, specialising in flights to/from European and other UK airports.
The national carrier is British Airways (www.britishairways.com).
Some planes on European and long-haul routes avoid London and use major regional airports including Manchester and Newcastle. Smaller regional airports such as Southampton and Birmingham are served by flights to and from Continental Europe and Ireland.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
Bus & Coach
You can easily get between England and other European countries via long-distance bus (called 'coach' in England). The international network Eurolines (www.eurolines.com) connects a huge number of destinations; you can buy tickets online via one of the national operators.
Services to/from England are also operated by National Express (www.nationalexpress.com). Sample journey times to/from London include Amsterdam (12 hours), Barcelona (24 hours), Dublin (12 hours) and Paris (eight hours).
If you book early, and can be flexible with timings (ie travel when few other people want to), you can get some very good deals. For example, between London and Paris or Amsterdam from about £25 one way (although paying £35 to £45 is more usual).
Channel Tunnel Passenger Service
High-speed Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) passenger services shuttle at least 10 times daily between London and Paris (2½ hours) or Brussels (two hours). Buy tickets from travel agencies, major train stations or the Eurostar website.
The normal one-way fare between London and Paris/Brussels costs around £154; advance booking and off-peak travel gets cheaper fares as low as £29 one way.
Channel Tunnel Car Service
Drivers use Eurotunnel (www.eurotunnel.com). At Folkestone in England or Calais in France, you drive onto a train, get carried through the tunnel and drive off at the other end.
Trains run about four times an hour from 6am to 10pm, then hourly through the night. Loading and unloading takes an hour; the journey lasts 35 minutes.
Book in advance online or pay on the spot. The standard one-way fare for a car and up to nine passengers is £75 to £100 depending on time of day; promotional fares often bring it down to £59 or less.
The main ferry routes between England and other countries include the following:
- Dover to Calais (France)
- Dover to Dunkirk (France)
- Harwich to Hook of Holland (Netherlands)
- Hull to Rotterdam (Netherlands)
- Hull to Zeebrugge (Belgium)
- Liverpool to Belfast (Northern Ireland)
- Newcastle to Amsterdam (Netherlands)
- Newhaven to Dieppe (France)
- Plymouth to Roscoff (France)
- Poole to Cherbourg (France)
- Portsmouth to Bilbao (Spain)
- Portsmouth to St Malo (France)
- Portsmouth to Santander (Spain)
Most ferry operators offer flexible fares, meaning great bargains at quiet times of day or year. For example, short cross-channel routes such as Dover to Calais or Boulogne can be as low as £45 for a car plus two passengers, although around £75 to £105 is more likely. If you're a foot passenger, or cycling, there's less need to book ahead; fares on short crossings cost about £30 to £50 each way.
You can book directly with one of the ferry operators listed here, or use the very handy www.directferries.co.uk, a single site covering all sea-ferry routes, plus Eurotunnel.
Brittany Ferries (www.brittany-ferries.com)
DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.co.uk)
P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com)
Stena Line (www.stenaline.com)
Train & Ferry Connections
As well as Eurostar, many 'normal' trains run between England and mainland Europe. You buy one ticket, but get off the train at the port, walk onto a ferry, then get another train on the other side.
Routes include Amsterdam–London (via Hook of Holland and Harwich). Travelling between Ireland and England, the main train-ferry-train route is Dublin to London, via Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead (Wales). Ferries also run between Rosslare and Fishguard or Pembroke (Wales), with train connections on either side.