Rail & Sail: London to Amsterdam with Train and Ferry Across the North Sea with the Dutchflyer

Rail & Sail from London to Amsterdam: the Dutchflyer.

Scroll this

The Dutchflyer Rail & Sail service offers a comfortable and cheap possibility to get from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands and mainland Europe. From London, direct trains operate to the ferry port of Harwich International. A Stena Line ferry then takes you across the North Sea to Hoek van Holland. There you will find train connections to all parts of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as connecting services to France and Belgium. Tickets including train and ferry are available from 49€ or 55 GBP.

Note: Since April 1, 2017, replacement buses operate between Hoek van Holland and Schiedam, read more below.

London Liverpool Street station
London Liverpool Street station

 

Rail and Sail: The Dutchflyer

The Dutchflyer Rail & Sail is a combined train and ferry offer. It includes the ferry trip from Harwich to Hoek van Holland, as well as train travel in the UK and the Netherlands. Abellio Greater Anglia runs direct trains from London Liverpool Street to Harwich International. These connect with the ferries to the Netherlands. The ferries from Harwich to Hook of Holland are operated by Stena Line. Stena Britannica and Stena Hollandica are the longest ferries in the world (built in 2010), offering comfortable cabins of different categories, several restaurants, shops and even a cinema.

Since April 1 2017, the railway line from Hoek van Holland to Rotterdam is upgraded to be included into the RET (Rotterdam metro network). Replacement buses are currently operating beween Hoek van Holland and Schiedam. There you will find train connections operated by NS (Dutch Railways) to all parts of the Netherlands. Direct trains are available from Schiedam to Den Haag, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In Rotterdam you have connections to Utrecht, Belgium and France). At both ferry terminals the train platforms are conveniently situated adjacent to the terminal buildings in Harwich as well as in Hoek van Holland.

Overall travel time from London to Amsterdam is about elven hours. Compared to a trip via Brussels using Eurostar and Thalys services which takes just about six hours this seems rather long, however the Rail & Sail fares are usually cheaper which makes it attractive especially for cost-sensitive travellers. The option to travel overnight is really convenient as well.

 

Train and Ferry information for London to Amsterdam

The direct Greater Anglia trains from London Liverpool Street to Harwich International providing direct connections to the ferries are formed of standard suburban EMU which are not particularly comfortable. These trains are mainly aimed at commuter traffic to and from London and only have a narrow 3+2 seating arrangement and do not have any other amenities. However the train takes not even one and a half hours so that’s not too bad. If you are looking for a bit more comfort you could take an Intercity train from Liverpool Street to Norwich. Then change for Harwich International at Manningtree. Overall travel time is the same as when taking a direct train.

Harwich international platform
Harwich international platform

Stena Britannica and Stena Hollandica are modern ferries with everything you need for a comfortable journey across the North Sea. Several restaurants and cafes, shops, a cinema, childrens playing area and a lounge are available. If you travel overnight it is required to book a cabin. The offer ranges from a simple one berth inside cabin to the large Captain’s Suite. For families cabins with up to five berths are available as are cabins for the disabled. All cabins have en-suite shower and WC, satellite TV and a wardrobe.

In the Netherland, the railway line from Hoek van Holland to Rotterdam is currently converted to metro operation. A frequent replacement bus service between Hoek van Holland and Schiedam is in operation. The buses run up to four times per hour and take about 30 minutes. Buses are operated by RET (Rotterdam public transport). Rail & Sail tickets, as well as Interrail and Eurail passes are valid on the replacement buses. Also, these tickets will be valid on future RET metro services on this route as well. From Schiedam you can travel by train again. Frequent NS (Dutch Railways) services run to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and many other cities in the Netherlands.

Two-berth outside cabin on the Stena Hollandica...
Two-berth outside cabin on the Stena Hollandica…

 

Schedules

Day and overnight sailings from London

Day and overnight sailings from Amsterdam

On the outside deck.
On the outside deck.

 

The Tickets

Stena Line offers through “Rail and Sail” tickets from either London, Harwich or Any Greater Anglia station to Any Dutch Station. For the trip from “Any Greater Anglia station” to “Any Dutch station”, prices are as follows: From GBP 55/94 for a single trip (day/night service) and from GBP 110/178 for a return (day/night service). Tickets from Harwich only are even cheaper. In the opposite direction Rail & Sail tickets are available from Hoek van Holland or Any Dutch station to Any Greater Anglia station. Prices from “Any Dutch station” start at EUR 66/93 for a single (day/night service) and at EUR 132/186 for a return. These tickets include train travel with Abellio Greater Anglia trains to Harwich International, the ferry trip with Stena Line and a trip to any Dutch station with NS trains. Tickets are valid on any train on the day you have purchased the ticket.

Travellers with Interrail or Eurail tickets get a 30% discount on the regular single fare of the ferry trip. Currently the price of a single ticket with the discount is EUR 31. If you want to use an overnight service, you will also have to book a cabin. Prices start from EUR 36 for a single cabin, EUR 51 for a 2-bed cabin and EUR 91 for a 4-bed cabin. You always have to book the full cabin, thus it is not possible to book a single bed in a 2-bed or 4-bed cabin.

Stena Hollandica has arrived in Hoek van Holland on a very foggy morning.
Stena Hollandica has arrived in Hoek van Holland on a very foggy morning.

 

Online booking of Railand Sail tickets

Booking of Rail and Sail tickets from the UK to the Netherlands is only possible on the UK version of the Stenaline website. Similarly, Rail and Sail tickets in the opposite direction from Amsterdam to London can only be purchased on the Dutch version of Stenaline (which is available in English). Please be aware that booking of “Any Dutch station” to the UK is only possible on the Dutch language version!

Reservations for Interrail and Eurail pass holders are available only on the Dutch version using the offercodes INTERRAIL and EURAIL respectively.

It is also possible to buy tickets/reservations directly at the ferry terminal, however the cheapest offers are only available online purchased in advance. Also, some services or at least some cabin categories, especially at busy holiday periods can be fully booked – keep that in mind if you want to get a ticket at short notice.

Modern NS (Dutch Railways) Sprinter train at Hoek van Holland Haven.
Modern NS (Dutch Railways) Sprinter train at Hoek van Holland Haven.

 

Good to know

Both Harwich International and Hoek van Holland Haven stations are adjacent to the ferry terminals. The distance from the trains to the check-in is under 500 metres at both terminals. The replacement buses in Hoek van Holland also depart just a few metres away from the terminal.

In order to maximize sleep on overnight journeys I’d recommend to arrive early at the terminals and board the ferry as soon as possible.

There are dedicated direct trains between Liverpool Street and Harwich International in connection with the ferry departures and arrivals. Even when their arrival at Harwich International is after the boarding time shown on your ticket these connections are planned and you will be allowed on board.

From Rotterdam Centraal there are connections to many Dutch cities as well as to Belgium and France.
From Rotterdam Centraal there are connections to many Dutch cities as well as to Belgium and France.

 
Update: March 2017

Flo Weber
I like to travel by train. https://www.instagram.com/raildudeflow/
Flo Weber
- 1 day ago
Flo Weber
Flo Weber
f _at_ rail.cc

18 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Have purchased a rail /sail on Stena line with train ticket from any Greater Anglia Station. Boat departs at 0900 on 25 May 2017 and train leaves LST at 0600. Do I need to book a seat on that train (10 pounds) or just rock up with my Stena line booking? It says on the train booking that limited seats? I ‘m coming from Australia so need to clarify that as not to miss out on the train because its full.

    thanks John

    • Hi John,

      you do not need seat reservations on either the UK or NL side of the trip. You can board all Greater Anglia trains without a reservation; the greatest problem you could have is that you’d have to stand for part of the trip which is highly unlikely at this time of the morning.
      Anyway, there’d be a later departure from LST as well, running directly to HPQ (Harwich International) at 0638, arriving at 0809.
      Where did you look for a train reservation – 10 GBP seems a rather expensive fare for a reservation!?

      Flo

      • Thanks Flo,
        I saw it on the greater anglia Website. It was for the standard ticket which I have found is what you get when purchasing the rail/sail deal. Greatful for the info. Many thanks. Saved me heaps of angst.
        John

        • Hi John,
          no need to worry, you will definitely reach your ferry. You could even use the direct train to Harwich International.
          I can have a closer look at the reservation issue when I am back home (currently travelling myself) but you definitely no not need one.

          Have a nice trip,
          Flo

  2. I want to take my dog on the Dutch Flyer soon. My eventual goal is Linkoping in Sweden.
    Its going to be a long journey, especially with a nervous dog. I am worried about how to get from the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam.
    I need to get to Copenhagen. I can get a direct train from there to Linkoping. But how can I get to Copenhagen? That is the problem.
    I know I could fly from Amsterdam to Linkoping, or from Gatwick to Copenhagen, but I am looking for an alternative to flying.
    My eardrums have been damaged by my last flight, so Ive been advised not to fly. Can you please advise me about the best route.

    • Hi Mary!

      You can book a Rail and Sail ticket all the way to Amsterdam (in fact, to “Any Dutch station”). You will then need tickets from Amsterdam to Linköping. I would recommend to make the trip in two steps:
      First, book from Amsterdam to a German city, somwhere between Hamburg and Flensburg (for instance Hamburg, Lübeck, Kiel, Flensburg) and make an overnight stay there). Book at https://rail.shop/bahn or https://rail.shop/nsinternational/
      Then, book another ticket from the German city to Linköping at https://rail.shop/bahn
      Regarding your dog, I can only recommend to either contact the train companies directly or book a ticket for the dog locally at the stations. Smaller dogs could be taken on most trains for free, for larger dogs you have usually to buy a regular ticket at half price (not available online).

      Flo

  3. Hello Flo,

    How long does the Ferry portion of this trip take?

    • Hi Jodey,
      the ferry portion takes between 6h30 and 9h30, depending on the direction of travel and whether it is a day or night ferry.
      Flo

      • Thanks, Flo.

        We would be going from England to Amsterdam…probably day, but night may be a cool experience.

        • The eastbound day ferry currently leaves Harwich at 0900 (1000 on Sundays) and arrives at Hoek van Holland at 1715 (1800 on Sundays). The night ferry departs at 2300 and arrives at 0800 the following morning. All timings are local time (the Netherlands being one hour ahead of the UK). When booking your trip use our partner link to Stena Line https://rail.shop/stenaline/uk to support our work, thank you! 🙂

  4. Hi Flo,
    Do you know if I can carry my bike in a trip train+ferry from London to Amsterdam?

    • Hi Alessandro,

      you can take your bike with you, however it is not possible to book the Rail&Sail ticket including a bicycle reservation. This means that you would have to book your Rail&Sail ticket and buy separate tickets/reservations for all three legs of the trip separately (Abellio Greater Anglia train to Harwich, Stena Line ferry to Hoek van Holland, then NS train to your destination in the Netherlands). However, bikes are not conveyed on the RET replacement buses between Hoek van Holland and Schiedam, which means that you would have to ride your bike to Schiedam station before continuing by train. 😉

      Flo

      • Hi Flo,

        Thanks a lot for the reply. I am going to buy tickets for the first two legs and then from Hook of Holland I plan to cycle around the Netherlands, so the RET replacement not carrying bikes is not an issue 😉

        Cheers!

  5. Hello Flo: We are thinking the Dutchflyer would be a great way to travel across the North Sea. is it really as simple as your blog states?

    • Hi Lisa,

      I have travelled twice from Harwich to Hoek van Holland using the overnight ferry. On my first trip I was travelling with Interrail so I just needed a ticket for the ferry; on the second trip we were using the Rail & Sail ticket from Harwich to Any Dutch station.
      Both trips went smoothly; take a train from Liverpool Street to Harwich International and you can access the terminal building directly from the train platform. You simply have to walk up a single flight of stairs and arrive at the departure hall where you can check in.
      The cabins where comfortable and clean with all amenities you need for the relatively short trip (shower, WC, TV, plugs,…) and if you want you can also eat something in one of the restaurants.
      The following day there is a wake-up call so you can get ready for disembarking; at Hoek van Holland the train platforms are located adjacent to the ferry building as well; the replacement buses which are currently operating depart from the bus stop in front of the terminal building.
      Have a nice trip!
      Flo

Submit a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *