The Complete Guide to Eurostar Trains

Eurostar trains offer a convenient way to travel between the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.
Elina Geller
By Elina Geller 
Updated
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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Eurostar offers high-speed train travel between the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Its trains can reach 186 mph, which means a train from London to Paris takes only 2 hours and 16 minutes. Eurostar merged with Thalys — another European high-speed train company — in 2023.

Taking a Eurostar train between these five countries can be more seamless than flying because you get a solid baggage allowance and don’t need to deal with airports, liquid restrictions in your carry-on and long security lines.

Here’s what you need to know about Eurostar’s destinations, cabin classes, lounges, loyalty program, amenities and pricing.

Destinations

Eurostar offers direct train service to London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Netherlands. For all other destinations, you must connect to a different train, potentially with another carrier.

The fastest train journeys are the following:

  • Paris to Brussels - 1 hour, 22 minutes.

  • London to Lille, France - 1 hour, 22 minutes.

  • London to Brussels - 1 hour, 53 minutes.

  • Brussels to Amsterdam - 1 hour, 53 minutes.

  • London to Paris - 2 hours, 16 minutes.

  • London to Rotterdam - 3 hours, 13 minutes.

  • Paris to Amsterdam - 3 hours, 20 minutes.

  • Paris to Cologne - 3 hours, 20 minutes.

  • London to Amsterdam - 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Depending on where you’re headed, taking the train may take less total time than flying. For example, the train from London to Paris takes 2 hours and 16 minutes, while a flight takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. Though the train takes almost an hour longer, other factors involved with flying, including early airport arrival, travel time to/from the airport, security and boarding, make the train the faster option.

The Eurostar operates out of St. Pancras International Station, located in central London and easily accessible by several tube (underground) lines and buses. By contrast, London’s main airports, Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport, are located outside the city and can take an hour or more to get to depending on where you’re traveling from and your mode of transport.

Furthermore, Eurostar’s rules are arguably more traveler-friendly than those of airlines. On even the cheapest tickets, Eurostar allows adults to bring two pieces of luggage and one carry-on with no weight limit. Children can bring one piece of luggage and one carry-on.

You also don’t have to worry about paying for a seat or dealing with liquid restrictions. You can make fee-free changes to your ticket as many times as you like until seven days before departure. Ticket changes within seven days of departure incur a $40 fee unless you’re in Business Premier.

Club Eurostar

Club Eurostar is Eurostoar’s loyalty program and you can sign up for a free account to start earning points. You earn 1 point per $1 spent on Eurostar tickets. Train + hotel packages also earn points, albeit at a lower rate (1 point per $2).

Eurostar has four membership levels, and with each increasing level you earn more points on travel and get access to additional perks.

Classique

Avantage

Carte Blanche

Étoile

Points required

Free.

500.

2,900.

5,000.

Bonus points on tickets

N/A.

25%.

50%.

75%.

All levels can pool points with friends and family, use points to pay a portion of their tickets and upgrade their seats from Standard to Standard Premier/Comfort. If you’re going for elite status with Eurostar, the biggest advantages are companion vouchers, lounge access and priority benefits when traveling.

Rewards can be used for as low as 100 points on various experiences from free tickets to upgrades.

Eurostar travel classes

Standard cabin on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels. (Photo by Elina Geller)

Eurostar offers different travel classes, and these travel classes vary by destination. All trains offer Wi-Fi, but in my experience, the Wi-Fi has been awful, with upload and download speeds of less than 1 Mbps.

Trains to/from London

A Eurostar train to/from London offers three travel classes: Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier. All seats offer U.K. and EU plug sockets. You can also choose your seat when traveling on this route.

  • Standard: This travel class offers the lowest priced tickets and food and drinks are available for purchase.

  • Standard Premier: You get free magazines and a more spacious seat, along with a light meal and drinks.

  • Business Premier: You get the same seat as in Standard Premier, plus additional perks including three pieces of luggage, a carry-on, hot meals created by Raymond Blanc OBE served with champagne, free newspapers and magazines and a dedicated fast-track ticket gate. You also get access to Eurostar lounges and NS International lounges.

Trains between Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany

Premium seats on the train from Brussels to Amsterdam. (Photo by Elina Geller)

When traveling between Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany, there are three travel classes: Standard, Comfort and Premium. All seats include EU plug sockets.

You also have access to Eurostar’s taxi booking service, which allows you to arrange transport to/from the train station. Unfortunately you cannot choose your seat when traveling between these destinations.

  • Standard: This travel class has the cheapest tickets. Food and drinks are not included but can be purchased onboard.

  • Comfort: You get a more spacious seat, but still need to pay for food and drinks. Comfort seats have access to premium Wi-Fi, but I found that Wi-Fi to be just as slow as in Standard class.

  • Premium: You have the same seat as in Comfort class and some additional perks including a gourmet cold meal served at your seat, access to Eurostar lounges and NS International lounges. 

Amenities

The Eurostar amenities you receive depend on which class you travel in. You receive a complimentary meal in Premium, Standard Premier or Business Premier. Those in Business Premier (only available on London routes) receive three-course meals created in collaboration with Michelin-star chef Raymond Blanc OBE. Passengers in Premium get a meal designed by Belgian chef Frank Fol.

Passengers in other travel classes don’t receive a complimentary meal but can purchase drinks or snacks from the Eurostar Cafe.

Lounge access

Eurostar lounge in Brussels. (Photo by Elina Geller)

Travelers in Premium can visit the Eurostar lounge in Paris and Brussels, and NS International lounges in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Those traveling in Business Premier can use the lounge in London, Paris and Brussels.

Club Eurostar elites traveling on any fare class can access certain lounges depending on their elite status:

  • Avantage, Carte Blanche and Etoile members: Eurostar lounge in Brussels and Paris.

  • Carte Blanche and Etoile members: Eurostar lounge in London, Paris and Brussels; DB lounges in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Essen; NS International lounges in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Schiphol airport; Railteam lounges in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.

Check each lounge’s information page for opening hours. Generally, you can expect to find various seating spaces, complimentary newspapers and magazines, free Wi-Fi as well as food and drinks to enjoy.

Pricing

Eurostar allows you to book tickets up to 120 days in advance, and the sooner you book the better. You’ll generally find the cheapest tickets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since you can change your ticket fee-free as many times as you want until seven days before departure, you might as well book as soon as possible.

There are also special or discounted fares for the following groups:

  • Children under age 4

  • Kids ages 4-11

  • Passengers under 26 or over 60

  • Travelers in a group

  • Wheelchair passengers and companions

The availability of discounts depends on your destination, so you’ll want to check Eurostar’s page for guidance.

If you have a credit card that earns travel rewards, you’ll want to use it for this purchase since trains are part of the travel category. Here’s a sampling of cards that earn extra rewards for travel and don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Cards for traveling by Eurostar
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
NerdWallet Rating
Earn rate on train travel

• 2 points per $1 spent on travel, including train travel.

• 3 points per $1 spent on travel, including train travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on every purchase.

• 3 points per $1 on transit, including train travel.

Terms apply.

Annual fee

$95.

$550.

$95.

$150.

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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You can pay in U.S. dollars when buying Eurostar tickets online. However, if you plan to buy anything on board the train, and you’ll be in Europe anyways, you’ll want to use a card that waives foreign transaction fees.

Is it cheaper to fly or take Eurostar?

The answer to this question depends on how far in advance you purchase your ticket, your day of travel, whether you need to pay for luggage, and the difference in costs between traveling to the airport and to a Eurostar train station.

Here’s a sampling of Eurostar fares in September 2024 from London to Paris.

Here’s a selection of flights from London to Paris on the same day.

Although the cheapest flight is $13 less than the train, bag fees are not included in that price. And since Eurostar stations are generally more centrally located, your overall cost may be cheaper on the train after factoring in a rideshare or taxi to the airport.

Eurostar recapped

Eurostar offers a convenient way to travel between the U.K., Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany. If you’re deciding whether to fly or take a Eurostar, factor in the cost, travel time (including the time spent getting to and from the airport, as well as the time spent at the airport) and how many bags you're bringing as part of your decision.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

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