It’s been around for a while, and yet travelling on the many Eurostar routes still has that novelty appeal for many. And rightly so. Here’s all you need to know about it.
“It’s cool seeing all the fish as you travel through the sea at 300km per hour”. It’s amazing how many Eurostar newbies fall for this, if even momentarily. You don’t see fish, of course, but it is still kind of magical crossing the English Channel in around 35 mins into France, and from there into Belgium, the Netherlands and beyond. You zip through the longest undersea tunnel in the world, at an average depth of 40m below the sea bed. Far from any fish. But bobbing along nicely.
What are the Eurostar routes?
The great capital cities of London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam are the main Eurostar destinations, with trains going seven days a week, every day except 25 December. Other main stops, depending on the service and season, include Calais, Lille, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Marne-la-Vallée (for Disneyland® Paris) and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The icing on the winter cake is a ski train service from London to Bourg-St-Maurice in the French Alps between December to April. Read more about the journey from London to Paris here.
Are there other UK Eurostar stations?
The Eurostar also goes from Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International in Kent, UK. Not all services stop here but there are car parks if you want to drive or avoid Central London.
How far in advance can I book my Eurostar tickets?
The good news is, that compared with many other train companies, you can book your Eurostar tickets 180 days in advance, with bargain tickets being released at times throughout the year at sporadic moments. We will always send newsletters, post blogs and update our social media when this is the case.
Are there different Eurostar 'classes'?
Book your Eurostar ticket here on our platform and choose between the following options:
Standard: These cheap Eurostar tickets don't mean they are the cheap seats. They are comfy seats with ample legroom but not all have power sockets. Check in 45-60 minutes before departure.
Standard Premier: More legroom, more luxury and more lunch. With power sockets at every seat, you can work, be served a light meal and feel a bit more pampered. Check-in time as with a Standard ticket.
Business Premier: Arrive 10 mins before departure, head to a quieter ‘Premier’ lounge and have a three-course meal on board. With the same roomy seats as Standard Premier, the biggest advantage of this ticket is its flexibility. Note this fare is not available on Eurostar services to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Marne la Vallée or seasonal ski train services.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, you do need your passport. Or a national ID card for EEA citizens or Swiss nationals. ePassports are brilliant as you can go directly through the electronic gates, which are much quicker. But you have to be over 18 to use these gates. As with any international travel, you may also need a visa depending on what passport you hold.
How do I get my ticket?
You need to print out your Eurostar ticket if you have booked with us. We don’t (yet) offer mobile tickets on these routes. You can do this in two ways: The easiest is to print your ticket at home. If you don't have a printer, you can collect your ticket at the Eurostar station using the collection reference in your booking confirmation. If, however, you have booked a series of connections to or from your Eurostar destinations, you are always best to print it off at home. Eurostar machines don’t cater for all onward tickets.
Are there reduced fares for children?
You can find really cheap Eurostar tickets for young people. Children under four go free, with a great value child rate for 4-11 year olds. There is also a discounted youth fare for those between 12-26 years old e.g. £18 one-way London to Paris.
Can children travel unaccompanied on Eurostar?
Eurostar welcomes children from the age of 12 years old travelling unaccompanied on some routes. Children under 12 can also travel with anyone aged 16 or over. However, if you are 12-15 and travelling unaccompanied, a parent/guardian has to fill out this Eurostar form and sign it at the station, with a Eurostar official as witness. It is useful for the adult to have their own passport as ID in this case and, if you don’t have the same family name as your children, carry their birth certificate or your marriage certificate. It is slightly more complicated if you are travelling as a French resident. If you are under 18, you have to complete this Authorisation des sortie de territoire (AST) form to travel alone.
What is security like with Eurostar?
A lot easier and quicker than flying. However, Eurostar check-in still has that airport feel to it, with X-Rays, beeping things and queues. But with a recommended checking in time of at least 45 mins before departure, you can see that things are more laid back. You are made to feel welcome in Eurostar terminals, not like they are out to get you, or charge you, for ‘breaking the rules’. Liquids are fine, including coffee to board with - they even give you a nice tray to help you get it through security.
Does Eurostar now go direct to Amsterdam?
This fantastic service, launched in 2018, goes between London and Amsterdam in 3 hrs 53 mins, stopping at Brussels and Rotterdam. It still has one glitch though, to be ironed out in the near future hopefully: If you are travelling from Amsterdam to London, you have to disembark in Brussels for passport control, and then board another train. Travelling between London and Amsterdam is easier and direct, with passport control all handled in London.
How much luggage can I bring?
You can bring two pieces of luggage as well as a small piece of hand luggage, and there are no weight restrictions.
Is there food and drink on board?
Yes there is, but it is the usual expensive sandwiches and crisps style. Unless you are travelling in Standard Premier or Business Premier where meals are included and brought to your seat. Contact Eurostar 48 hours in advance to register your dietary requirements if you are booking one of these seats. One good reason to go to the buffet car, if you are heading to Paris, is to buy your Metro tickets on board and avoid a queue at Gare du Nord. You’ll need cash Euros for these.
Does Eurostar cater for people with mobility issues?
Very much so. With its Eurostar Assist service, each Eurostar train has space for those travelling with their own wheelchairs, which is in Standard or Business Premier, but at a standard rail fare. They also have special deals for your travelling companion. At present we do not have the facility to book this for you, so you need to contact Eurostar directly or call them on +44 3432186186. Eurostar Assist provides assistance for people with any special needs. For more information see our detailed blog on accessible train travel. Note that you need to arrive at the Eurostar Assist meeting point 75 minutes before your train departs.
Photo credits top to bottom: St Pancras International Railway Station Sign iStock ©KevinAlexanderGeorge, Eurostar route map ©Loco2, At the Station iStock ©coldsnowstorm, Inside view of Saint Pancras station in London ©MarioGuti
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