I’ll admit it. Whenever I thought about Eurostar, I only really thought about travel to Paris – or Brussels at a push. So when the Eurostar team invited me on their Eurostar Explorer trip, I was pleasantly surprised to see the following destinations listed:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – 4h16*
Cologne, Germany – 4h11*
Lyon, France – 5h*
Avignon, France – 5h55*
Bruges, Belgium – 3h30*
*From London King’s Cross St Pancras Station
Now, as it turns out, this isn’t quite the journey time from London to the place of interest. It’s the amount of time you spend on a train. So, the trip to Cologne took around two hours to Brussels, where there was a connection to Cologne. That second train lasted another two hours.
Eurostar vs Flights
Looking only at flight times (around 1h30 London to Cologne), air definitely seems faster than travelling by rail. However, for international flights you need to be at the airport two hours before departure, whereas with Eurostar it is only 30 minutes. For the Cologne to Brussels train, as long as you leap onto the train in time, all is well.
The Advantages of Eurostar Weekend Breaks
Train stations also tend to be in more convenient places. It is certainly easier to travel into London (or to the rest of the UK) from King’s Cross than from any of the London airports. Likewise, the main station in Cologne is right next to its most well-known sight – the Cologne Cathedral. The Gare du Nord in Paris, also allows you to enjoy the City of Lights as soon as you arrive, whereas the airport is outside the city.
The Disadvantages of Eurostar Weekend Breaks
Airports tend to have nicer waiting areas with more options for food, drink and shopping – although this is variable. The new Eurostar terminal at King’s Cross is a fantastic place: light and airy with plenty of facilities and free wifi. Brussels, however, isn’t quite as good.
You don’t need to check your luggage in when travelling by train, which frees you from queues and waiting at baggage reclaim. On the other hand, that means you have it with you all the time, which can become a nuisance.
Eurostar Weekend Breaks - The Overall Verdict?
Consider travelling by train with Eurostar for a weekend break away if you’re based anywhere near London. Remember to check the connection time when comparing train and flight journey times – and enjoy your weekend break!