Travelling to Britain

A network of car and passenger ferry services conveniently link a dozen British ports to northern and southern Europe.

Ferries can be convenient, economical and fun for those travelling by car or on foot. Fares vary greatly according to the season, time of travel and duration of stay. Early booking generally means big savings and a wider choice of times – a Dover–Calais return crossing can cost as little as £39pp.

Crossing times vary from approximately 1.5 hours on the shortest routes to a full day on services from destinations like Spain and Scandinavia. If your clients are considering an overnight sailing journey, it is usually worth paying extra for sleeping quarters so they can get some much needed shut-eye, and avoid them feeling exhausted when they arrive in the UK.

Travel via the Channel Tunnel

Thanks to the Channel Tunnel, there is access to Britain via Eurostar and Eurotunnel from the French and Belgian high-speed rail networks. There are two passenger tunnels and one service tunnel, both lying 25–45 m (82–147 ft) below the seabed. In France and Belgium, trains reach speeds of up to 186 mph (300 km/h). The cost is comparable to flying but the train is much more convenient and more environmentally friendly, as well as showcasing a range of topography either side of the tunnel.

The Eurotunnel takes passengers on buses and in cars on a train between Calais and Folkestone. The journey takes 35 mins.

Eurostar operates around 40 scheduled passenger-only services directly from Brussels, Paris, Lille and Calais to Ashford, Ebbsfleet and St Pancras in London.

International coach travel

Coach travel is considerably cheaper than other methods of UK transport and is great if your clients have a bit of spare time. It will take longer than others forms of transport but some really enjoy the experience, not to mention the fact that it is very economical.

Travelling by air

Heathrow is the largest airport in Europe and is just 15 minutes away from central London. With over 80 major international airlines, serving 185 direct destinations across five continents, it is the main hub airport in the United Kingdom.

Other international airports include:

South: Gatwick, Stansted, London City, Luton, Southampton, Bristol, Exeter
Midlands: East Midlands, Birmingham, Norwich
North: Manchester, Liverpool John Lennon, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Humberside, Doncaster, Sheffield

Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick, Aberdeen

Wales: Cardiff

Northern Ireland: Belfast

British airports

Heathrow has five terminals, while several other UK airports also have more than one. Before your clients fly, advise them to check which terminal their flight arrives at or departs from. That said, the five Heathrow terminals are connected by free transfer services, as are the two at Gatwick, so your travellers don’t have to worry if they find themselves in the wrong terminal.

To transfer between Heathrow and Gatwick, frequent buses with National Express take about 75 minutes. For buses connecting Heathrow and Stansted or Luton Airports, allow up to 90 minutes – this is crucial to know when planning flight connections.

Transport from the airport

Heathrow and Newcastle airports are linked to the city centres by the underground, which is efficient, quick and cheap. Visitors to London arriving at Heathrow can also take the Heathrow Express, a fast train which takes them directly to London Paddington station. Trains run every 15 minutes from 05:00 until around midnight – the journey takes approximately 15 minutes from Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and 21 minutes from Terminal 5. Terminal 4 requires a change of train and takes a total of 23 minutes. Those arriving at Gatwick can take the Gatwick Express to London. Trains run every 15 minutes and take 30 minutes. Stansted and Manchester also have regular express trains that are reliable.

National Express coaches provide direct connections from major airports (London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, as well as Luton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, East Midlands and Bristol) to many key destinations across Britain. They also have a regular service between Gatwick and Heathrow and are usually a much more affordable option.

London airport transfers

For full details and to help you chose a London airport transfer for your clients, read our handy guide.