Whenever we think of the Netherlands, lots of us immediately recall an all-night excursion we took back in college from London to Amsterdam. Being rough-and-tumble, empty-pocketed students, we had no qualms about the cumbersome bus-to-a-train-to-a-ferry-to-another-train journey, and our bleary-eyed arrival into Amsterdam was offset by the sheer joy of being someplace new.
These days, we're a little more discerning about how we plan our trips. All the better that Eurostar has finally decided to forge ahead with its first-ever London-Amsterdam nonstop route, set to launch at the end of 2016. Using its new e320 high-speed trains, Eurostar will offer service between the two cities twice a day, resulting in a four-hour trip that stops in Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport, and, finally, Amsterdam Centraal.
If 2016 is too far away to suit your spontaneous travel needs, or you're curious about the cost of different kinds of transport between these two great cities, here's a quick guide.
If you're interested in getting there as quickly as possible, EasyJet offers the best options, with two-hour flights leaving several times a day from Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted (one-way fares from $39), all of which arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol.
The only thing that's been standing between a direct London-Amsterdam train route right now is the Dutch high-speed rail network, which traditionally hasn't been compatible with trains coming from London. This will continue to be an issue through the end of 2016, when Eurostar's new e320 trains enter into service. Until then, travel by rail involves passing through Brussels, where passengers change trains, and continue onto Rotterdam and Amsterdam Centraal; total travel time is six hours, and one-way tickets start at $189.
By "rail & sail"
If sightseeing is your priority, and you have the luxury of time, the Stena Line ferry, which runs from Harwich, England to Hook of Holland, is a viable one – just prepare to block out 14 hours of travel (and that's assuming you're departing directly from London; if your starting point is somewhere outside of London, you'll need to factor in that travel time as well). StenaLine offers standalone ferry tickets from $117 each way; however, the more popular DutchFlyer ticket (from $305 round-trip) includes your train ride from London Liverpool station to Harwich, where you'll board an overnight (or daytime, depending on which one you book) ferry. From the ferry terminal at Hook of Holland, the DutchFlyer ticket also takes care of your rail travel to Amsterdam Centraal.