Getting to United Kingdom
When flying to the UK you are most likely to arrive at one of London's five airports, although there are direct international flights to many other cities. KLM has a large number of feeder flights from almost every UK regional airport to its international hub in Amsterdam.
Recently, many airports in southern England have added "London" to their names. Be aware that just because an airport has London in its name doesn't necessarily mean that it is near to, or easily accessible from, London.
- London Heathrow Airport s one of the world's busiest international airports. Situated 15 miles west of Central London, Heathrow offers a large choice of international destinations, with direct flights to most countries in the world. British Airways has its hub at Heathrow and offers a wide range of international flights to Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia. There are fewer direct flights to South America, although many South American airlines connect to London via Spain. Other large airlines operating at Heathrow include bmi (formerly British Midland), Virgin Atlantic and the main national airlines of most countries.
- London Gatwick Airport , 30 miles south of London in Sussex, is the second-largest airport, and also offers a wide range of international flights.
- London Stansted Airport in Essex is a hub for the budget airlines Ryanair and easyJet who offer direct flights to a wide range of European destinations as well as to Asia, with daily flights to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia X. It's often cheaper to fly here but bear in mind it is about 40 miles outside Central London so always factor in extra travelling time.
- London Luton Airport in Bedfordshire is also a major hub for the Ryanair and easyJet and is also often cheaper. However, Luton is even farther out from London and will also take extra time to get to.
- London City Airport is the most central airport in London, situated 7 miles east of Central London, but primarily serves business passengers to the main financial centres in Europe.
- Manchester International Airport in the North of England is the UK's third-largest airport serving many European and a reasonable number of long-haul destinations. This could be a more convenient arrival airport for visitors to North Wales, the North of England and Scotland.
Outside London and Manchester, many of the regional airports offer a wide range of direct links to European and some long-haul destinations.
- Liverpool John Lennon Airport , in North West England, is the UK's fastest-growing airport and is taking on more and more flights.
- Leeds Bradford is a hub for Jet2 and Ryanair.
- Birmingham International is the UK's second largest airport outside of London. The airport has good European services and some long haul services. The airport is served by the major European flag carriers providing global hub connections, as well as LCC's such as Ryanair and Easyjet. It is an ideal gateway to Central England and Wales.
Other smaller regional airports include Bournemouth , Bristol , East Midlands , Newcastle , Norwich , Southampton and Teesside/Durham Tees Valley .
In Scotland the major airports with links to London and abroad are:
- Glasgow has two airports: Glasgow International (for most major airlines) and Glasgow Prestwick (for RyanAir and some low-cost flights)
In Northern Ireland, Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport both serve the province's capital. City of Derry Airport serves the northwest with a limited number of international and domestic flights.
Due to an increase in airport security and aviation security in general, long delays are possible when checking in for a flight. Additionally a passport or valid photo ID (such as photo driver's licence, national ID card, etc.) is required for internal flights.
From Belgium and France
Eurostar high-speed trains run between London (St Pancras International), Ebbsfleet and >Ashford through the Channel Tunnel to Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille and Brussels . During the summer an additional weekly train operates to Avignon and during the winter a weekly service runs a ski service direct to the French Alps. Through tickets and connections are available in Lille, Paris and Brussels from many European cities to most large UK cities.
Journey times average two hours fifteen minutes to and from Paris, and one hour fifty minutes to Brussels. A second class return from Paris to London costs between ˆ85 and ˆ230. While it can be cheaper to fly from London to Paris using a low-cost airline, bear in mind that the journeys to the airports can be expensive and time-consuming.
From The Netherlands
Multiple daily connections from Dutch cities are possible via Brussels and the Eurostar to London. It can be cheaper (and more flexible) to book an 'Any Dutch station' Eurostar ticket that permits connection to/from any Dutch station provided the itinerary doesn't use the more expensive Thalys services.
Combined train and ferry tickets are available to travellers from stations in the Netherlands to train stations in East Anglia , Essex and East London. This service may be a useful alternative to Eurostar for travellers from Northern Europe, or for those wishing to travel to East Anglia. The interchange between the ferry terminal and the train station at both ports is very simple and user friendly. Express trains from Harwich International are timed to meet the ferry and allow a simple transfer to London Liverpool Street. The Dutch Flyer website gives prices only for tickets purchased in Great Britain; it does, however, give timetable information. Stena's Dutch language website allows booking of tickets for journeys starting from the Netherlands.
The Channel Tunnel has provided a rail/road connection since 1994. Shuttle trains carry cars from Calais, France to Folkestone, the journey taking around 40 minutes. Fares start at ?49 one way and can be booked on the Eurotunnel website. On arrival at Folkestone, you can drive on to the M20 motorway which heads towards London . Car ferries also operate to many parts of the UK, see 'by boat' section. Drivers entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland will usually find they have done so without noticing. There are no border controls, and only the major roads will display signs stating that you are leaving one country and entering the other. It should be noted that road signs in the Republic of Ireland are in kilometres while those in Northern Ireland are in miles so it is advisable to take note of the differences in signs and road markings when driving in border areas.
Coaches are the cheapest way to travel to the UK from France and the Benelux. Eurolines offer daily services from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels to London Victoria coach station. Daily overnight coaches and limited day coaches travel between the UK and Ireland. Connections are available to most parts of the UK via the domestic National Express coach system, for most destinations it is cheaper to purchase this when purchasing your Eurolines tickets as discounts are available. Journeys take about 8-14 hours.
Eurolines will also take you to/from other major European cities. Taking a budget flight is normally cheaper (but with a greater environmental impact), and spares you from a 24h+ bus journey.
Various other operators compete with Eurolines, mostly between Poland and the UK; these come and go.
There are a large number of ferry routes into the UK from continental Europe. Newcastle serves a route from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Harwich has ferries from Esbjerg in Denmark and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands . You can also sail from Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Zeebrugge in Belgium to Hull, or from Zeebrugge to Rosyth, near Edinburgh (note that this service will resume in April or May 2009, as Norfolk Line take over the route from Superfast Ferries, whose service ended in September 2008). There is a regular connection between Ramsgate and Oostende in Belgium. There are 4 sailings a day and prices vary between ˆ50 to ˆ84.
Dover is one of Britain's most popular passenger ports with sailings from Zeebrugge, Dunkerque and Calais in France . The Dover-Calais route is particularly busy, with three companies competing and up to 50 sailings per day. The Ferry between Dover and Calais costs around ?12-18 each way if on foot or bicycle, and around ?80 for a car, although big discounts are available if booked in advance or with special offers.
On the south coast, Portsmouth serves ferries from Le Havre , Caen , Cherbourg , St. Malo and Bilbao in Spain and there are speedy services between Dieppe and Newhaven. The other route from Spain is Santander to Plymouth, Plymouth also has ferries from Roscoff, Poole has ferries to Cherbourg as well as the Channel Islands.
From the Republic of Ireland , ports of entry include Pembroke, Fishguard and Holyhead and wansea . There are sailings from Dublin to Holyhead, and Liverpool.