How (And Why) to Add London to Your Eurail Trip
As of 2017, your Eurail Pass is valid on the famous Eurostar high-speed train between London, Lille, Brussels, and Paris. This means that it’s now easier and cheaper than ever to include the English capital in your Eurail adventure. This is how, and why, you should consider going about it.
1. London is a great city
As one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and vibrant destinations, it makes sense to include London in any European trip. This iconic capital city has a lot going for it. Although it’s compact enough to explore the highlights in a few action-packed days, you could easily spend a week or two soaking up the atmosphere and exploring all it has to offer.
2. It’s the perfect start or end point for a Eurail trip
London is a global transportation hub. Heathrow airport alone sees more than 75 million passengers walk through its doors each year. Most large airlines also fly directly to London. It’s an attractive and competitive market for airlines, which means you can often find good deals and convenient options to and from London.
With your Eurail Pass now valid for free travel on the Eurostar high-speed train to continental Europe, there’s no reason not to make London your start or end point. Book a return flight to London and you can easily make it both! The Eurostar leaves from St Pancras International railway station in central London.
2. Understand the limitations
It’s important to remember that there are some limitations when it comes to traveling to London with your Eurail Pass. Most importantly:
• Your Eurail Pass must be valid in France or the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, or Luxembourg). This doesn’t include the Eurail France-Italy Pass.
• The pass does not include travel within the United Kingdom. Once you reach London, you’ll need to pay for your own internal transport.
• Although the trip on the Eurostar train to and from London is free, holders of a valid Eurail Pass will need to pay the seat reservation fee.
3. Don’t include London in the middle of your Eurail trip
Because your Eurail Pass is not valid on internal UK transport, it makes sense not to travel to London for any length of time while your pass is still valid. This would mean potentially losing out on travel days you could otherwise use elsewhere in Europe.
It makes much more economical sense to head to London on the last day that your Eurail Pass is valid, or to schedule your departure from the United Kingdom on the first day of your pass’s validity.
4. How to reserve a seat on the Eurostar high-speed train
Unlike many other regional trains in Europe, you can’t simply hop aboard the Eurostar and choose a random seat. This is a premium high-speed train that fills up quickly. You need to reserve a seat on the train ahead of time. There are also a limited number of seats allocated to Eurail Pass holders, so the sooner you book the better.
Eurail Pass holders can make reservations on the Eurostar from three months in advance. You can make reservations in the following ways:
Seat reservation on the Eurostar costs 30 euros in second class, and 38 euros in first class. Your trip will also use up one travel day.
When you consider that a full price Eurostar ticket costs anything from 85 euros to 290 euros, it’s a serious bargain. It’s also worthwhile remembering that your reservation fee is fixed and will not increase closer to the departure date like the full fares. Many trains, particularly those during peak hours and on holidays do, however, sell out.
5. Which passes are valid on the Eurostar?
Not all Eurail Passes are valid on the Eurostar. Make sure your pass is a Global Pass, or any other one that includes France or the Benelux. Please note that there’s one exception: the Eurail France-Italy Pass.
6. What about visas?
Remember that the United Kingdom requires a different visa from the Schengen zone that you will be traveling to. First check if you require a visa to visit the UK or other countries in Europe, then make sure you plan ahead and do the necessary admin before you leave.
7. What to expect on board
So with all the admin out of the way, you might be asking what you can expect from this magical journey under the sea.
You’ll be hopping aboard one of the most advanced trains currently in service. On board most Eurostar trains you’ll find a bar, coffee counter, restaurant, power sockets, and WiFi.
The train travels in the Channel Tunnel and reaches impressive speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour. This means you can travel between London, Brussels, and Paris in less than 2.5 hours. You could conceivably be in London for breakfast, and on a ride at Disneyland in Paris by lunch.
Top tip: If you want a seat in standard class with a power socket, make sure you choose car 5 or 14 in the classic Eurostar. All first class seats have power sockets.
With the Eurostar line now a part of the Eurail network, there’s no reason not to include one of the world’s most famous capitals in your next big Eurail adventure. Hop on to the Eurail website and start planning!