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I am making a trip to Amsterdam in late September for a beer festival for 5 days, and I am trying to determine a means of getting there and back to Oxford that is both easy on my wallet but not overly strenuous or inconvenient. The other restriction causing me trouble is that I will be meeting my friends who are flying from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and will be arriving fairly early in the morning. As such, I also want to try and arrive sometime in the morning on this day (a wednesday if it makes a difference). At the moment, some options I have come up with are:

  1. theairline by Oxford Bus Co, period return to LHR (£29) -> return flight from LHR (~£95 at the moment, KLM)
  2. book Oxford Tube via megabus.com (£1 fares but somewhat unpredictable in terms of times they are offered for and the length it will take... if the megabus booking isn't possible, one can always just get a student period return on the Oxford Tube for £15) -> London Victoria -> take the tube from Victoria station to LHR (~£5) -> Return flight from LHR (~£95, KLM); this route could be quite a bit cheaper if the megabus deal works out, but obviously more of a hassle
  3. theairline period return to LGW (£37) + return flight from LGW (~£90, BA)
  4. I have stumbled across a train and ferry option offered by DutchFlyer. Taking the overnight ferry on the way over with a cabin and the day ferry on the way back without a cabin, the fare would total to £120. However, I would need to get to London Liverpool Stn which is where the train ticket included in this fare is valid from. So again, I could attempt to swing some sort of megabus/Oxford tube deal to get to this station. This sounds quite leisurely, but there are a number of changes involved, and I am wondering if anyone can recommend this in terms of convenience.
  5. megabus return from London Victoria Bus Station (I can't book far enough in advance, but prices look like they are about £45-50); although this is by far the cheapest even with the bus to and from London Victoria from Oxford, I would need to do the overnight bus with a total travel time of ~10-11hrs. Has anyone ever done this before and is it feasible to get some sleep?

These are only the options I have come up with, so if there are any other suggestions or ideas I could look into, please share.

P.S. I have looked into trains from London to Amsterdam, but the prices seem to be just extortionate.

  • LHW is the airport in Lanzhou, China. Did you perhaps mean LGW (Gatwick) or LHR (Heathrow)? – Nate Eldredge Mar 23 '14 at 0:33
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    I've taken the train + ferry + train option quite a few times from Oxford to various bits of the Netherlands. Not quick, but effective, and plenty of options to stop off along the way if you want to – Gagravarr Mar 23 '14 at 1:20
  • Also, for train + eurostar + train, you might be too far out to book - Eurostar tends to be ~4 months out, Thalys (fast train from Brussels to Amsterdam) is ~3 months – Gagravarr Mar 23 '14 at 1:22
  • For a bus, worth checking Eurolines. Probably similar cost and journey times to Megabus. – vclaw Mar 23 '14 at 13:01
  • @NateEldredge yes, indeed I did mean LHR and not LHW – BielsNohr Mar 24 '14 at 12:07
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I've done the Oxford <-> Netherlands trip quite a few times over the years. Firstly, I'd say you're missing a few more options:

  • Bus to London, Eurolines or iDBus over to Europe, possibly direct to Amsterdam or possibly changing to another bus/train
  • Bus or train to one of Birmingham Airport, Luton, Stansted or Marston (Kent) for a cheap flight
  • Train to London, Eurostar to Brussels, then either local train (cheaper, book "Any Dutch Station") or Thalys (quicker) onwards

Ignoring costs, I'd say the easiest two options are:

  • Airline bus to Heathrow (esp. T5), flight to Amsterdam, train from Schipol to the city centre
  • Train to London, short underground ride, Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys onwards to Amsterdam

The former might be slightly quicker, but the latter gives you several 1-2 hour periods where you can get useful work done / relax + read a book / etc.

For trips when I needed to spend the whole working day in the Netherlands, then the Dutch Flyer was my go-to travel method. Leave Oxford after work, train into London (Paddington), 5 minute walk to Lancaster Gate, tube to Liverpool Street, quick meal in one of the restaurants near there (often good deals available online!), later train to Harwich, up the escalators to checkin, onto the boat, and in bed at a sensible time. I'd describe the ferry as a "floating travelodge" - basic accommodation, but effective and decent quality. In the morning, decent shower, down the ramp into the station, onto a waiting train, and short but picturesque ride along the coast to Schiedam or Rotterdam. Grab some breakfast as you change trains, then off to your final destination. Surprisingly easy, and very effective! Coming back overnight, there's a decent chippie at the ferry terminal in Hooke, just past the end of the platform, and you can normally make it onto the ferry and sit out on the deck to eat with your food still warm! It's an early arrival into Harwich, but you get into London well in time for a full day's work, and even back to Oxford for only a slightly late start. (Never done daytime, sorry)

One other thing - there's no "universally right" option. Almost all of the modes of transport available operate on "airline" style pricing, where costs vary, and typically increase closer to departure. You'll need to check all of them - flights from many airports, trains, buses etc.... Also, consider booking horizons. Eurostar used to be ~4 months, but now it's a little longer but released in chunks. Eurostar + Any Dutch Station will work like that, but Eurostar + Thalys would be constrained by the Thalys booking horizon, which is ~3 months. I think Eurostar + Any Dutch Station starts from £89 return, though it can be tricky to book at times, and you might need to phone / use a different website.

For both Eurostar or Dutch Flyer, you've four options for getting to London. One is bus, with the risks of delays and missed connections that go with that, but it can be cheaper. Another is normal train tickets, which might be cheaper if it's off peak both ways. Next, you can buy cheap advanced purchase train tickets to London if you book far enough out, but there are connection risks there (they start from £7.20 one way). Finally, I normally buy a "Euro High Saver CIV" ticket, which is currently £31.50 return with a railcard. It's valid on any train any time of day (railcard discount permitting), includes the cross London transfer, extends the CIV protections (including delay rebooking) back to Oxford, and is valid for connecting to Eurostar or a rail-sail ticket from London (eg the Dutch Flyer)

  • You mention 4 options for getting to London in your final paragraph, but only give 3: bus, normal train, Euro High Saver CIV. What is the final? Otherwise, very informative answer that will certainly help me, and I will mark as accepted once you clarify the above. – BielsNohr Mar 24 '14 at 12:13
  • AP ticket - 4 options were there but not clear, hopefully clarified now – Gagravarr Mar 24 '14 at 12:17
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    I loved the train/ferry/train option. It's quite comfortable, plus you get most of your traveling done while sleeping, so it doesn't feel like it soaks up all your day. – morganpdx Mar 25 '14 at 17:09
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    If you really want to avoid London for some reason, you can change trains in Birmingham for Ely and get an "Any Greater Anglia Station" Dutch Flyer ticket from there. It's a very long way around and much more expensive than going via London. More usefully, when East-West Rail is finished, you could go Oxford-Cambridge on EWR and then join a Cambridge-Harwich train (direct), as Cambridge is a Greater Anglia station. The only disadvantage of that option is that you might run into some Tabs. – Richard Gadsden May 28 '14 at 15:17
  • The Dutch flyer option for day travel is not as good. You need to start from London Liverpool street so early that it will be hard to travel there from anywhere but London itself. And the day return will get you into London late in the evening. Traveling from Harwich or near there I have used it, but the early start is less of a problem then. – Willeke Apr 26 '15 at 7:45

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