This brief guide to getting to the rest of Europe by train covers only the most obvious choices - Eurostar to Paris and beyond and Brussels and beyond, getting to St Pancras, and onward travel in Europe.

You can find comprehensive information about almost any possible rail journey from the UK at Seat 61 with tactical hints and tips about the best routes and how to buy the cheapest tickets. If you want to go on a complex journey using a variety of European trains you may prefer to browse the Thomas Cook European Timetable available from or WH Smiths at Waterloo and buy an appropriate pass from Rail Europe.                   

Eurostar

Eurostar from London St Pancras is a great way to go to the European mainland if you want to avoid air or road travel. It is even possible to take your bicycle with you.

There are reduced fares for children, students and people over 60. To help you plan your journey, Eurostar have an interactive map of destinations with travel times at   If you are looking for combined rail and travel deals it is often worth checking the Eurostar website for their Europe Travel Deals.

Between Winchester and St Pancras:

You can now add reduced price extensions from and to Winchester when you book your Eurostar tickets. They are for specific trains so you may opt for the flexibility of a normal (more expensive) ticket. You can also get a reduced price ticket from Winchester to St Pancras if you show your Eurostar tickets at the Winchester booking office. The return is valid for up to two months and costs (Jan 2011) £32.80 or £21.65 with concessions. The price difference will be greater if you have to travel before 08:54 or cannot buy an off-peak return because you will be away for more than a month.

Take the train to Waterloo for St Pancras (allow at least 1hr 50mins from Winchester). It is best to take the tube from Waterloo to St Pancras via Oxford Circus because of the more convenient cross-platform interchange there.

Main Destinations: Lille, Brussels, Paris

The main destinations are Brussels Zuid (2h 10mins) and Paris Nord (2h 15mins) although there are some seasonal trains to the Alps and Avignon. Adult return fares without concessions start at £69 return to Paris or Brussels

You can also use Eurostar to go to Calais, or Lille where there are connections to East, South East or South West France. Ticket prices reflect demand, and it may often be cheaper to go via Paris where there is a greater choice of less crowded train.

Beyond Brussels

Onward travel from Brussels to any station in the Brussels area is included free of charge in your Eurostar ticket, and a small supplement will get you to any other Belgian station. For a similar small supplement you can travel on to anywhere in the Netherlands.

THALYS trains will also take you on to the main centres in the Netherlands. They are high-speed trains and take less than two hours, and if you book early and qualify for concessions they can be cheap, but not as cheap as using the ‘any station in the Netherlands’ extension for the slower trains. There are fewer of the fast trains, and the connections at Brussels may not be as good.

Deutsche Bahn run ICE trains to Köln and Frankfort where you can change for the rest of Germany.

Beyond Paris

There are frequent connections in Paris for all parts of France (including the many TGV high-speed trains), and it is just possible to get to Geneva or San Sebastian in one day.

You can also take a high-speed French or German train east from Paris to reach the nearer parts of southern Germany.

Otherwise it is best to leave London later and take a sleeper from Paris to Italy (Turin. Milan, Venice, Rome) Germany (Munich) or Spain (Barcelona, Madrid). High-speed AVE trains will take you on from Madrid to southern Spain.

Onward travel in Europe

For most destinations, the most comprehensive timetables can be found at www.bahn.com and you can book many tickets for trains that run within or to and from Germany. A mobile app to search the timetable is available for iPhone.

Tickets can also be booked on www.raileurope.co.uk for trains to most of the rest of Europe.

If you want tickets for obscure European destinations you can buy them from ffestiniogtravel but you will have to ring 01766 772030 and talk to a real person.

 

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