Our first super long, super cheap coach journey in Europe was from London to Amsterdam - was it worth it?
It costs £15 per person to get from London (Victoria Coach Station) to Amsterdam (Amstel Station) by coach*
*Note, this is if you book it far enough in advance (about a month) with the right carrier.
So how much do the other modes of transport cost:
- Train: Prices start from about £75 per person
- Car: For petrol and the ferry it's going to cost at least £78. That's not even taking into account the cost of insuring car and the cost of the car itself.
- Plane: Flying starts at about £20, if booked early enough and with the 'right' carrier. We would have opted for flying if we hadn't taken the coach.
Furthermore, you have to factor in the cost of actually getting to/from the airport. The coach, on the other hand, takes you from the centre of London right into the centre of Amsterdam at no extra cost.
Conclusion: Basically, other than hitchhiking, taking the coach is the cheapest way to get from London to Amsterdam - and has no nasty hidden costs.
2. The Timing: This is where trains, flights, driving and even hitchhiking win. Coaches always take ages because they have to stop to pick up passengers/swap drivers. But how long does the coach actually take?
We left London at 21:00 and arrived in Amsterdam the next day at 09:00.
Thus the journey took 11 hours. (No my maths isn't wrong, there's an hour's time difference between the UK and the Netherlands.)
Now taking the train or driving take about 5 hours. The flight itself only takes about an hour but you've got to factor in the two hours (or so) that you've got to spend in the airport, plus the time getting there.
Furthermore, getting into Amsterdam at 9am was the perfect time for us. All the cheap flights we looked at got in too early (6am) or too late (9pm).
Finally, the majority of our 11 hours were spent sleeping, not exactly the best sleep ever, but certainly more relaxing than going through customs/driving down the motorway.
Conclusion: whilst 11 hours on a bus sounds awful, most of it was spent unconscious, and we arrived at an agreeable time.
We had to queue up and show our passports - this is worth noting because generally in Europe if you don't board a plane you don't need a passport, but apparently you do in this situation - so don't forget yours!
Anyway, we then queued to get on the coach. This was actually pretty horrible. Everyone wanted to be the first on the coach, so when the doors opened there was a gigantic horrible push to get through. No one was crushed to death this time, but it was a close thing I think.. But then I have agoraphobia, for more adventurous travellers this probably would not have been a big deal.
Our driver was Dutch and actually hilarious, he didn't care about anything and gave a funny speech.
After the Americans finished telling the rest of the coach (well one couple, but it carried) about their amazingly uninteresting plans, everyone settled down to sleep.
Luckily (for him) he didn't hit me and we did, indeed, get off the coach a few minutes later and onto the ferry. The ferry itself took two hours and everyone was completely knackered and trying to sleep, but were prevented from doing so by some delightful (annoying) French teenagers.
I'm not going to lie to you and say it was the best night's sleep ever (far from it), but with headphones, an eye mask and a comfy jumper it was not the worst either.
When we arrived in Amsterdam, we were a little sleep deprived, but we had the thrill of adventure and the knowledge that we just saved a bunch of money.
Amsterdam itself was epic, definitely one of our favourite cities ever. You can read about it here.
Conclusion: So was it worth it? Should you take the coach from London to Amsterdam? We think you should!
Despite the sleep deprivation and worry that I'd have to hit a guy in the face, it was all worth it for the money that we saved.
We would indeed take this journey again (if we needed to) but we would probably consider taking a daytime bus (which elevates the pressure of having to sleep).
Depending on when we were booking the tickets, we would also consider taking a plane too..
But overal we are convinced that the coach is a fun, cheap option.
- Make sure you've got enough clothes - the warmer you are the more likely you are to sleep, or I am anyway..
- Take eye masks and headphones - light to pack but so annoying when you don't have them
- Take a bottle of water - personally I don't use coach toilets but they do have loos on the ferry :)
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.