From May 2020, direct Eurostar trains connect Amsterdam via Rotterdam with London without requiring transfers in Brussels. Cheap deals are often available.
On the London to Amsterdam route, trains are price competitive with flying and from May 2020, railway connections will be even faster on the direct Eurostar trains traveling between the UK (London) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Rotterdam). These twice-daily trains take around four hours with further options available that require train changes in Brussels. The boat train via Harwich and Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland) remains the romantic option. Good deals on the Eurostar are often available from Dutch International Railways.
Cheap Direct Eurostar Trains from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to London
Direct Eurostar train travel has been possible for nearly two years from London to the Netherlands but from 2020, direct travel is also available in the reverse direction. The direct service is currently available mostly twice daily with more services planned from later in 2020.
Travel is possible from Amsterdam Centraal station (from 30 April 2020) and Rotterdam (from 18 May 2020). Traveling time is 4h15 from Amsterdam or 3h45 from Rotterdam (and around 20 minutes faster on the return journey from London).
The cheapest train tickets from Amsterdam to London at Dutch International are usually on the direct Eurostar trains. (The cheapest tickets from London to Amsterdam are usually on the bus but it is a long journey usually requiring a bus change en route.)
Check-In for the Eurostar in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
Check-in for the Eurostar trains in Amsterdam and Rotterdam is similar to airport security, although liquids may be carried in larger bottles (but not necessarily in big quantities). Luggage is usually restricted to two suitcases but additional luggage may be booked. Bicycles must be reserved in advance and space is very limited.
After check-in and security, proceed to Dutch passport control followed immediately by British immigration control. Then wait in the terminal building until boarding of the train is allowed. (Similarly, on the reverse journey double passport checks are made at London-St Pancras International.)
Check-in is possible from 90 minutes prior to departure and closes 30 minutes before departure.
The Eurostar trains depart from Amsterdam Centraal station platform (spoor) 15b — it is clearly marked as London / Eurostar but cannot be reached from all station tunnels. If requiring an elevator, use the east tunnel. In Rotterdam, the Eurostar trains depart from platform (spoor) 2.
If using an indirect routing that requires a train change in Brussels, the passport control and check-in will be done at Brussels-South station so allow extra time.
Non-Direct Trains from the Netherlands to London
Initially, only two direct trains per day will be available from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to London. However, it is possible to reach Brussels on many train connections from all parts of the Netherlands and to continue from there on the Brussels to London Eurostar trains.
In such cases allow sufficient time in Brussels for check-in and passport control procedures.
The direct Eurostar prices are often slightly cheaper than indirect routings that require a train change in Brussels.
Boat Train from London to Hook of Holland
The boat train option remain a possibility to travel between the Netherlands and Britain with both a day-time and overnight ferry service on most days. Take the train from London Liverpool Station to Harwich. The train stop directly at the ferry terminal from where a Stena Line ferry sails twice daily to the Hook of Holland, which has good public transportation connections to Rotterdam, The Hague, and the rest of the Netherlands.
Although generally pricier than the Eurostar train — and slower — the boat option remains popular. Especially off-season, the overnight cabin may be cheaper than a hotel room. It also allows for early morning arrival which is impossible on the Eurostar.
Travel on the London-Netherlands route via the Harwich-Hook of Holland ferry is best booked via Stena Line NL (Dutch) or Stena Line UK (English) as Rail & Sail package deals to include both the train journey and boat ride.
A popular day-trip from Rotterdam is to the windmills of Kinderdijk while Keukenhof and the windmills of Zaanse Schans are top destinations from Amsterdam.