london to amsterdam bus

There are many ways to get from London to Amsterdam: bike, hitch-hike, train, plane, car, walking very far and of course taking a BUS – or, more specifically, a coach which gets on a ferry. Bussing can be a cheap, exciting and authentic way to travel: instead of seeing the earth as an angel in the sky (through a window), see it as an animal from the ground (albeit also through a window...) Bussing can also take ages and be boring (if you have nothing to read – so be well-prepared with a good read or a film to watch!) and uncomfortable(luckily, coaches have toilets on board and you can walk up and down the aisle between the seats to stretch your legs). In this post, as someone who has travelled to Amsterdam by car, plane, train and BUS I weigh up the pros and the cons of travelling from London to Amsterdam by bus.

London to Amsterdam Bus

1. How much does it cost to go from London to Amsterdam?

It costs around £15 per person to get from London (Victoria Coach Station) to Amsterdam (Amstel Station) by bus. Meaning: if you book it far enough in advance (about a month) with the right carrier. How does this compare to other modes of transport:

  • 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 you book with a good flight comparison site like Skyscanner and if booked early enough. Of course, this doesn't factor in the astronomical cost flying has on the environment we all live in (if you do choose to fly, please buy carbon offsets!) 

I get it, flying is only £5 more than the bus and it's a lot quicker. But there are lots of other additional costs to think about: on the bus you can take as much luggage as you like (weight-wise), you can take fragile things, as well and as much liquid as you like (within reason)... as opposed to flights, which suck you in with cheap cheap cheap prices and then charge you for your suitcase and don't let you take liquids in your hand luggage. Furthermore, you have to factor in the cost of actually getting to/from the airport. The bus, 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 bus is the cheapest way to get from London to Amsterdam – and has no nasty hidden costs. 

2. How long does it take to get from London to Amsterdam?

This is where trains, flights, driving and even hitchhiking win. Buses always take ages because they have to stop to pick up passengers/swap drivers. But how long does the bus actually take? We left London at 21:00 and arrived in Amsterdam the next day at 09:00. Thus the journey took 11 hours. (There's an hour's time difference between the UK and the Netherlands.)

Now the train and 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 (getting there early, going through security, standing in queue, getting on that little shuttle that takes you to the plane, etc.) plus the time getting from the airport to your destination (the same routine again + a bus to the city centre, etc.) Furthermore, getting into Amsterdam at 9am is a good time. All the cheap flights we looked at got in too early (6am) or too late (9pm) – for us 9am was the best: everything was open already and there were still enough daylit hours to check out the downtown area and get to our hotel.

Finally, the majority of our 11 hours were spent sleeping and / or reading or writing. Sure, it was not exactly the best sleep ever (we recommend getting earplugs, eco-friendly if possible), but certainly more relaxing than going through customs or driving down the motorway or standing on the side of the road hitchhiking. Conclusion: whilst 11 hours on a bus sounds awful, most of it was spent unconscious/reading/writing, and we arrived at an agreeable time. 

3. What's it like to go from London to Amsterdam on the bus?

Who cares how cheap a journey is – if you're not able to use a toilet for 11 hours and the other passengers stick needles in your eyes, it is not worth it. So read on to hear our first-hand account of what it was actually like taking the bus from London to Amsterdam! :)

bus london to amsterdam
The bus left from London Victoria Station, I don't know if you've ever been there, I've always found it a bit gnarly and everyone always seems to be in a bad mood there. (Or maybe I'm just always in a bad mood when I'm there. Who knows :D ) 

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 bus. Everyone wanted to be the first on board, 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... since then, we've had many bus trip without such hassle though, so this was probably a one-time thing. British people tend to be good queuers :)

Once we'd made it through, we got on the bus and sat down. It was relatively empty (it turned out that there were two buses and no need for pushing, so... do check that, as well, before you get into a queue :)) Then three minutes before the bus was due to leave, ten Americans got on. Turned out that they'd been sitting in the station, thinking that they were the first there and expecting the driver to come and tell them to get on the bus (cultural differences, once again).

Our driver was Dutch and actually hilarious, he didn't care about anything and gave a funny speech about not shitting on the bus, lol. Two hours later we had to get out in Dover, which we didn't know about (we thought we were getting the tunnel across and Tanbay was not impressed to be woken up). We got out again for another passport check and were sniffed by a police dog. It was still a lot smoother than the airport security check, though. 

Once we'd all got back on the bus, the Americans all sat together so the original 'seating arrangement' was confused. One guy in particular got extremely annoyed, I thought he was going to hit them, so I said "don't worry it's only a few minutes until we're on the ferry and we get off again" and then I thought he was going to hit me. Ha. 

He didn't and we did, indeed, get off the bus a few minutes later and onto the ferry. The ferry itself took two hours and everyone was completely knackered and tried to sleep. The sight was beautiful, though  oh, the ocean! –, if you like ship cruises, this might be just for you :)

The seating thing was pretty ridiculous. Everyone wanted to sit with their friends/significant others. I get that  I would have been the first to throw a tantrum if I hadn't been able to get to sit by Bae, even though I think couples should spend some time apart (ever heard of toxic monogamy? lol) The whole thing could have been avoided if we'd been given seat numbers or if everyone just chilled out a bit. Or if the American pack had understood that people are going to want to sit where they left their stuff... 

After that (by about 1am) everyone calmed down and slept all the way to Amsterdam.

I'm not going to lie to you and say it was the best night's sleep ever (far from it), but with earplugs and then a headphone with soothing meditative music, 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 ahead of us. 

Amsterdam itself was epic, definitely one of our favourite cities. You can read about it here.

Wrap Up: London to Amsterdam on the bus

So was it worth it? Should you take the bus from London to Amsterdam? We think Yes! Despite the sleep deprivation and worry that I'd have to hit a guy in the face (girrrrl powerrr!), it was 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 day time bus (which elevates the pressure of having to sleep). But overall we are convinced that the bus is a fun, cheap option. And definitely more eco-friendly than flying.

Tips in case you want to try it out for yourself:
  • Make sure you've got your passport!
  • Check whether you need to stand in the queue (you might not have to);
  • Make sure you've got enough clothes: the warmer you are the more likely you are to sleep;
  • Take eye masks, earplugs and headphones: light to pack and so annoying when you don't have them;
  • Take a bottle of water or any other liquid;
  • Don't sit in other people's seats!
By the way, we watched this video before going there, pretty good summary:

Would you make this journey from London to Amsterdam? Let us know!

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Travelling through the kyriarchy and weaselling our way out of the rat race - a female travel blogger writing about socially and politically conscious travelling.


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