Eurostar from the continent to London
Eurostar is the only train going from Amsterdam/Brussels/Paris to London. Reservations are mandatory. More information can be found in our Eurostar Wiki article.
What trains accept interrail/eurail?
Interrail/eurail is accepted on the vast majority of UK mainline trains. Other then heritage & charter services the only mainline train where the pass cannot be used is the Heathrow Express. It can though be used on the Stansted and Gatwick Express.
For clarity the passes are accepted on:
- Elizabeth Line & London Overground
- Merseyrail (Liverpool)
- Glasgow 398 local bus (which links Central & Queen Street stations – https://www.scotrail.co.uk/plan-your-journey/travel-connections/glasgow-stations-link-bus)
- Other commuter trains
And are not accepted on:
- London Underground & other metro systems
- Heathrow Express
- Heritage lines/services (including The Jacobite between Fort William and Mallaig – https://westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/steam-train-trip)
- Tram-train (linking Sheffield and Rotherham) and other trams
Reservations for beds are available here: https://www.sleeper.scot/ Click buy tickets, fill in your details, click more options and select Room Supplement Only to see prices with Interrail pass. You still need a reservation even if traveling in the seats but these are free and can be obtained from customer services.
For the Fort William to London journey only the sleeper rooms travel direct, people in the seated carriage have to move carriage at Edinburgh. Caledonian Sleeper customer services have confirmed that needing to move carriages does not constitute a change of train even though this takes place after midnight, so you can still travel only using 1 travel day. The Rail Planner app shows 2 seperate trains so you will need to add the journey manually to avoid using 2 travel days. Staff will wake passengers who need to move when the train arrives in Edinburgh so make sure to let them know if you have moved from your allocated seat.
Unlike most sleeper trains in Europe there are no couchettes, only sleepers and seats. The sleepers hold 2 people and it isn’t possible to share with someone unless you book together. The seats are in an open plan style and are wider than normal (2+1 layout) and do recline – more similar to 1st class seats on most trains. You’ll also receive a free eye mask & ear plugs though the lights remain on in the seated carriage.
Passengers in seats are forbidden from accessing the restaurant carriage, you can still order food + drink but this will be brought to your seat. In theory access can also be blocked for classic room holders if its busy but in practice this never happens. If you wish to purchase breakfast you have to order this the evening before – this is reasonably obvious if your in the sleeper rooms where a card is provided for you to do so. But much tricker from the seats. Staff might come through and ask but might not and if they do will usually only be once, particularly if you’re boarding from an intermediate station it can be easy to miss. Do not hesitate to use the call bell if needed. Also if boarding/alighting at an intermediate station be aware that at many of them the whole train does not fit in the platform.
Card payment is accepted in the restaurant carriage but on the highland legs in Scotland phone signal can be patchy (particularly on the Fort William train) and they cannot be processed offline. Staff will generally allow you to pay later once the train reaches its terminus as all of those have phone signal. Particularly if leaving at an intermediate station heading North some cash is not a bad idea.
There is WiFi on the train but again on the highlander in Northern Scotland there are long sections where it does not work where there is also no phone signal – particularly on the Fort William portion. USB and UK plugs are available at each seat in the seated carriage and in each sleeper room.
If you’re connecting with a Scotrail train and not using your interrail pass for that a 20% discount is available: https://www.scotrail.co.uk/offers/discounts/caledonian-sleeper – these tickets can only be bought from ticket offices or onboard Scotrail trains.
You can board the sleeper early if boarding at a station where it starts – check the times for this at: https://www.sleeper.scot/timetables/ – in theory you are also allowed to remain onboard for a shorter period after arriving but in practice staff will almost always force everyone off straight away. You can also access the first class lounges at some railway stations (most of which have a shower – toiletries provided) if you have a reservation for a certain class of room with Caledonian Sleeper even if you only have a second class pass. More information on this is at: https://www.sleeper.scot/guest-lounges/ – exactly what class of room you need for access depends on the station.
Can be made free with GWR or LNER. If you make these reservations through Interrail or Eurail, they will charge you, so it is best to make them with local operators instead. The Man in Seat 61 has excellent guide how to make those. Seat reservations are also possible made in any UK railway office for free.
To make a reservation with GWR you can follow this guide:
Here you will be asked to log in or create an account, do so. After that you will end up at the following page:
Fill your trip details in here, including stations, dates and class.
Click any of these options for the class of travel (first class for people with a first class pass, second class for people with a second class pass). After this press continue. You will come to the following screen:
Select your preferences here and press remember preferences, I have done that before that is why mine is set the way it is then press add reservation.
After this you will see a confirmation with either your seat number or “sit in any vacant seat”. This means that seat reservations are sold out but you can still board, and there may be available seats in the unreserved coach.
Reservations are also available from ticket offices free of charge.
Left luggage facilities are much less common and more expensive in the UK compared to the rest of Europe. https://www.left-baggage.co.uk/en/locations are by far the largest provider operating staffed luggage storage at 15 railway stations (9 of which are in London). Expect to pay £7.50 for 3 hours or £15 for 24 hours. Your bag will be X-rayed prior to being stored. They tend to be open pretty generous hours.
A few stations also have independant luggage storage – these are located outside of the railway station but tend to be right next door. Examples of this include:
- York – http://www.leftluggageyork.co.uk/
- Windermere – https://www.windermereinfo.co.uk/visit-windermere/luggage-storage/
- Aviemore – https://www.aviemoreluggage.co.uk/
Some stations – mostly in Scotland – do still have more traditional luggage lockers. Examples of stations with theses include Fort William and Inverness. You can check by entering the name of the railway station at https://www.scotrail.co.uk/plan-your-journey/stations-and-facilities There is no way to check the prices or opening hours of these online but Scotrail customer services have generally prooven receptive to specific requests. As of April 2022 the lockers at Fort William where open 0700 (1030 on Sundays) until 2210 7 days a week. They cost £4 standard or £5 large for 24 hours and only took coins.
All the standard sites for Europe work in the UK. By far the largest chain of Youth Hostels is YHA (Youth Hostels Association) – https://www.yha.org.uk/ – they do tend to be more expensive than a lot of European hostels but have very low minimum ages. People aged 16 and over can stay in shared dorms unaccompanied. People ages 12 and over can also stay in the shared dorms provided an over 18 they are traveling with is in the same dorm: https://www.yha.org.uk/faqs In addition if anyone on a booking is aged 25 or under everyone traveling (even those aged over that) gets 5% off.
https://independenthostels.co.uk/ is a great website for other hostels not part of YHA.
https://www.hostellingscotland.org.uk/ is another great option covering Scotland.
Things to do
https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/ & https://www.scenicrailbritain.com/daysout are websites explicitly designed to show tourist options which are easily reachable by trains. Where a connecting bus is involved do check as they do sometimes end up a little out of date. Sadly an interrail/eurail pass is not sufficient for the formers special offers.