Can I make a day trip to Amsterdam from London?
Yes, Amsterdam is an easy day trip from London. In this article, I will tell you exactly how. You’re not crazy thinking this is possible because it is!
I am a Dutch native and love taking day trips across Europe. Trivial side note: this is how I met my other half. We shared a love for quick city trips. We traveled solo and thought it would be much nicer to go together.
For us, it would be the other way to London, but I know the connection well, and of course, as a private guide in Amsterdam, I can give you some great tips on what to do here in Amsterdam.
It’s straightforward to go on an Amsterdam day trip from London. With the arrival of the Eurostar high-speed train and countless flights between the two capitals, reaching Amsterdam in a matter of hours is possible. Flights take just over an hour, while the train takes you across in under 4 hours.
Now don’t discount the train immediately, thinking it’s slower. If you fly, you must travel to and from airports, which adds time to your trip. The Eurostar whisks you across the channel from city center to city center, which makes a huge difference!
Short on time? Or ready to book?
Find departure times and book your train tickets here.
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Table of Contents
Direct Eurostar Trains: Tips for a Smooth Ride
The idea of tunneling under the English Channel by rail has a hint of magic, at least for me. The main benefit of the train is that it offers a smoother ride than a flight, you avoid getting to and from the airport, and you have less airport hassle.
In London (UK), trains leave from St Pancras station and travel via Brussels, Rotterdam, and Schiphol to arrive at their final destination Amsterdam Centraal in the Netherlands. The journey to Brussels is about 2 hours, to Rotterdam just over 3 hours, and to Amsterdam just under 4 hours.
Now this may sound like longer than flight times, but it’s usually the faster way to get to Amsterdam because it leaves from the center of London to the city center of Amsterdam.
The first train from London to Amsterdam
Are you an early bird? The first departure from London is at 06:16 am. That train arrives in Amsterdam at 11:13, giving you a solid amount of day left to explore. But it’s early. You need about 1 hour for check-in and the formalities.
Too early for you?
You can also leave two hours later at 08:16, but you won’t be in the city until 1:13 pm. The good thing is that Amsterdam Centraal Station is right in the middle of the center of Amsterdam.
The last train back from Amsterdam to London
The last Eurostar back to London is at 18:47, which is a beautiful time, giving you plenty of time in Amsterdam. You’ll also benefit from the one-hour time difference, so you still arrive at a reasonable time in London (you get there just before 10 pm.)
PS: Trains leave from platform 15 in Amsterdam (the last one from the city center side, or the first when you enter from the north entrance). It’s also sign-posted. Make sure to go to the passport control office first.
Fares on Eurostar are similar to airline pricing. Prices go up with the demand, and usually, the earlier you book, the better price you can get. You can check prices and departures here. There is no competition on the train line. It’s Eurostar only from London. Thalys trains run between Paris and Amsterdam.
TIP: I prefer to travel first class (Premier) to have more space to stretch my legs and watch the European countryside blur by. Regular (2nd) classes can feel more cramped.
PS: they offer two first-class price levels. These are the same in seat comfort, but the more expensive option offers extra amenities on top of a better seat. It’s up to your preference whether that is worth it to you. For me, the seat is most important.
For a detailed rundown on traveling on the Eurostar train, check out my post: A Comprehensive Guide London To Amsterdam By Train 2023 🇬🇧
Flight Options: Making the Most of Your Day Trip to Amsterdam
There are three advances to flying compared to traveling by train.
- There are so many flights every day: you can depart every hour.
- It’s often cheaper to fly than to take the train.
- Many airports in the London area offer flights to Amsterdam.
Choosing a Low Budget or Traditional Airline
KLM, British Airways, and EasyJet offer most flights to Amsterdam from London.
If you want to fly to London Heathrow, you must choose a traditional airline. Both KLM and British Airways offer many flights daily from here.
EasyJet flies from airports like Luton, Southend (on and off), but mainly from London Gatwick. It depends on where you are in London which one works best for you.
Another fantastic airport to use if you are in central London is London City Airport. It’s small, in the city center, and offers many direct flights to Amsterdam on smaller aircraft. Both KLM and BA offer flights here.
Which London Airport to Choose?
When I travel to London for a day, I pick the airport where I need to be. I choose London City if I need to be in Central London or the Excel Convention Centre.
Gatwick is great for anything in Southern London or Central London, and Heathrow is great for anything in West London.
There is a tube connecting Heathrow with Central London, but it takes a long time, something to consider when you travel for just a day.
London Stansted doesn’t offer direct flights to Amsterdam, you could fly to Eindhoven, but with 90-120 minutes of travel time between Eindhoven Airport and Central Amsterdam, it’s not ideal for a day trip.
But airports. The queues, the security checks, and the frantic rush to far-away gates are often not a fun experience, but simultaneously, it makes a day trip from London possible and easily doable. It might be a reason to choose the train instead.
From Schiphol Amsterdam Airport it only takes less than half an hour to get to Amsterdam by train, so that part is easy and quick.
What To Do In Amsterdam On A Day Trip from London?
There is so much to do in Amsterdam, and when you’re coming to the city for just a few hours, it can be overwhelming to choose the right things.
Why settle for just a stroll and a bite to eat when there are so many beautiful things to explore?
If you arrive by train, you’ll have a good 6 hours in the city, if you fly in you can extend this maybe to 8 hours. Either way, it’s enough for a meaningful visit to the city.
I created four example itineraries that take 4-6 hours to complete. All are either within walking distance from each other or a short ride on the tram network. You’ll find them here: four one-day trips in Amsterdam. Each can be done comfortably on a day trip to Amsterdam from London.
Read more: 4 Day Trips in Amsterdam: Where to Go!
Of course, you can adjust to your preferences, but they offer a great starting point to get the most out of your day.
PS: There is also a section in the article on how to get around, which trams, metro and buses to use, and also not unimportant which tickets to buy!
TIP: If you find yourself in Amsterdam on a Saturday Morning, a great local experience is to visit the Noordermarkt, where there is an organic market, and have Apple Pie at the Winkel 43 café (this is what locals consider the best Apple Pie) both are in the Jordaan area, close to Central Station.
And you might spot me because I often come here to do my weekly shopping and get some pie!
Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Amsterdam Day Trips from London
Amsterdam is a joy to explore, but as with any city trip, a little preparation goes a long way. Especially if you’re here only for a few minutes. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Allow Enough Time
It’s tempting to cram too much into one day. However, for the best Amsterdam day trips from London try to strike a balance. Less is more. You will enjoy the things you do choose much more. Promised!
Plan Well In Advance
If you have more time, Amsterdam is great to be experienced organically, but the main attractions sell out and must be booked in advance.
If you’re here for just a few hours, it’s essential to plan so you’re not surprised by the speed of time or disappointed if something is booked.
It brings calm on a trip like this to have a plan in place and your reservations done.
It’s a day trip; hand luggage with essentials like a small backpack with a refillable water bottle, your passport, and perhaps an umbrella should suffice.
Amsterdam is best explored on foot or via trams. Lugging around a trolley or large bags can be cumbersome.
Everything else can be bought in Amsterdam.
You’ll also avoid baggage allowance restrictions, especially when you fly.
Both for flights and Eurostar, you need to pass immigration and security. Ensure you account for enough time for this.
For a day trip to Amsterdam from London without checked luggage, I advise you to be at the airport or the train station at least 90 minutes in advance. To be sure, at the airport: 2 hours is better.
Even in a short day, Amsterdam leaves a genuinely lasting impression. It’s enjoyable to do something unusual, like taking a day trip and visiting another country!
London and Amsterdam are both great cities but very different indeed.
As your day ends and you return to London, you take the memories and stories with you. Hopefully, you’ve also found a few reasons to return.
PS: Do you want to spend longer in Amsterdam? Then staying overnight is not a bad idea. With so much to do, it’s easy to spend two fun days in the city and squeeze in more of its sights and attractions. Here are some hotel suggestions in Amsterdam for you.
Find A Place To Stay In Amsterdam
Update your (intended) travel dates for accurate prices. TIP: Zoom out on the map (-) in the bottom right corner. This will show more options and availability.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I travel from London to Amsterdam for a day trip?
The two primary transit options for a day trip from London to Amsterdam are via the Eurostar high-speed train service or by flying. Both options offer efficient options and allow for a day trip to Amsterdam. Expect 4 hours of travel time each way.
How long does it take from London to Amsterdam?
The Eurostar journey from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal typically takes around 3 hours and 55 minutes. If you fly instead, scheduled flights are 75-90 minutes. But if you add transportation to and from the airports and security, it equals out.
Is it better to book travel tickets in advance?
Yes, booking your Eurostar or flight tickets in advance can offer you better deals, ensure availability, and helps you plan your day trip more efficiently. The same is valid for activities you want to do. Some do sell out in advance. This article has the links you need to book.
Are there any advantages to traveling by Eurostar over flying?
Traveling by Eurostar offers several advantages, such as travel from city center to city center, no transfers, fewer restrictions on luggage, online connectivity, and a more scenic journey.
Are there any advantages to traveling by airplane over the Eurostar?
Traveling by airplane also offers several advantages. You have more different London departure airports for flights to Amsterdam, giving you options depending on where you are. There are many more flights than train departures every day. And flights tend to be a little cheaper.
What should I prioritize in Amsterdam if I only have a day?
Great questions. I created different itineraries for you. One for those short on time and not interested in museums, one that does include a museum highlight, another to see some smaller Amsterdam museums that are well worth your time, and one that includes an excursion outside the city and see something more of Holland, but still comfortably possible in a day trip.
What’s the best time to visit Amsterdam for a day trip?
While Amsterdam is beautiful year-round, there are a few things to remember. April is the busiest month due to the tulips, followed by August when Italy, Spain, and France take their vacations simultaneously. So if you can plan outside this time window, crowds will be easier to manage. Unless, of course, you want to come during tulips season for the tulips.
Can I bring back any souvenirs from Amsterdam?
There are plenty of souvenirs from Amsterdam, like Dutch cheese, tulip bulbs, or Delft pottery. Although the UK and Europe now have separate legislation after Brexit, many rules are still aligned, making importing foods easier. But other things like bulbs can be more tricky. Ask the seller if you’re unsure. And check the UK government website for the latest information.
Are You Taking A London To Amsterdam Day Trip?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: If so, will you take the train or fly? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
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