With tourism to Belgium increasing for the fourth year in a row, you may be considering a trip to one of its charming historic cities. When you live in the UK, it’s easy to assume your only options to get there are flights or the Eurostar. But you don’t necessarily need to face your fear of flying or wait for payday to savour the sweet taste of Belgian waffles. This is how to travel the cheapest way from London to Brussels.
What is the cheapest way from London to Brussels?
During the holidays and other popular times to travel, a return bus journey to Brussels can be half the price of taking flights or the Eurostar. At other times it is substantially cheaper.
There are around 10 buses a day to Brussels from London Victoria bus station. Most are operated by two companies: Eurolines and FlixBus. The journey takes around eight hours but it’s pretty comfortable.
You may be wondering whether the eight-hour journey is worth its economy price. Read on to find out.
Buy the brilliant pocket guide to Brussels and Bruges by Lonely Planet.
The best way to book your bus tickets
You can easily book bus tickets in advance online with Eurolines or Flixbus. Your bus journey to Brussels will cross the Channel to France either via the Eurotunnel or by ferry. It’s significantly quicker and smoother to make sure you go via the Eurotunnel instead of by ferry. The Eurotunnel takes just half an hour to take you from the UK to France, while the ferry journey is 90 minutes.
Pro tip: It’s not always well-indicated when you make the booking, but check the duration of the trip. If the journey time is noticeably longer, you can assume it will be by ferry.
While return bus tickets will often be much cheaper than other forms of transport, if your budget is tight, there’s a way to make your return journey to Brussels even cheaper.
Pro tip: book a one-way journey from London. Then, confirm your return leg once you are in Belgium. There are often promo tickets available if you are booking online from Belgium which can cost less than €10 one way. This is an excellent price, considering the distance you’re travelling, and a cost-effective hack, especially if your travel dates are flexible.
What to do when you arrive at the bus station
The main terminal for buses from London to Brussels is London Victoria bus station. You will need to check in here for your boarding pass, much like at an airport. The main difference is there is less likely to be lengthy security queues.
Pro tip: Your ticket allows you to place up to two bags in the coach’s storage compartment.
This is what it is like on the bus
When you locate your seat on the bus, you will find it is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of leg room. Most coaches have free WiFi available on board.
There is usually a socket to charge your electrical devices. On the Eurolines buses, look up and you may see a USB port next to your seat’s light and aircon panel. If you’re travelling with FlixBus, most seats have British electrical sockets.
With comfy seats, a fully-charged phone or tablet and free access to the internet, it’s easy for several hours to pass by without you really noticing while you’re travelling past the white cliffs of Dover and through the countryside of France and Belgium.
What you need to bring with you
Depending on your coach’s route from London to Brussels, you will have between one and three stops on the way. Here, passengers may disembark for their destination and new people may come on board.
Pro tip: There are not usually any opportunities to pick up refreshments during the trip, so bring snacks and water.
What to do when you need to… go
Most coaches from London to Brussels will have an on-board toilet. They are usually kept in good condition with toilet paper and soap.
If you’d prefer not to go on board, be aware that there are unlikely to be any toilet breaks during the journey. You may have time to visit outside toilets are when the vehicle stops for the passport and customs checks between the UK and France.
Your other opportunity is when the bus is stationary on the ferry or in the Eurotunnel under the Channel and the passengers can explore the external facilities.
What to consider when booking an overnight trip
While overnight bus trips are often a good way to save money, I don’t recommend booking an overnight return journey back to the UK.
The passport and customs checks to get into the UK are stricter than leaving the UK. Along with the possible ferry journey, all this will likely occur in the early hours of the morning and disrupt your sleep.
Pro tip: Whether you are travelling in the day or night, it’s a good idea to bring an inflatable pillow so you can catch up on some sleep.
This is the best thing about travelling by bus
One of the best things about travelling by bus is you leave the heart of London and arrive in the centre of Brussels. This mean there are no expensive or lengthy transfers needed to or from the airport.
After a few hours reading or napping, you can arrive fresh, collect your bags and explore Brussels.
Here are the most unusual things to do in Brussels that will make you smile.
These are the coolest and cheapest places to stay in Brussels
There are many fantastic places to stay in Brussels, from boutique hotels to stylish B&Bs and sociable hostels.
A top-rated hostel in Brussels is the 2GO4 Quality Hostel Brussels on Grand Place, in the heart of the city’s tourist area. Each room at this clean and well-located hostel has a private bathroom and female-only dorms are available. There is a shared kitchen and guests can help themselves to free coffee, tea, and soup. It’s perfect if you are travelling alone.
Check out this great selection of affordable accommodation in Brussels.
A hugely popular budget hotel option for couples and solo travellers is the Motel One Brussels. This boutique-style accommodation is a short walk from the centre and offers free WiFi. Its soundproof, air-conditioned rooms come with a TV and en-suite bathroom. A buffet breakfast is available for an extra fee, but you can find cafes and supermarkets nearby if you prefer.
For a well-priced and stylish B&B option, try the B&B DRUUM, close to the popular Sainte Catherine area of Brussels. Set in a 19th century mansion, each room has been designed by artists to create truly unique living spaces. It’s on a quiet street but you will find plenty of restaurants, bars and cafés just a couple of minutes’ walk away.
Browse and book more fantastic hotel and hostel options in Brussels, here.
Next up, these are the best things to do in Brussels that will help you discover this quirky and cool city.