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Belgium Eurostar plans

I'm thinking about taking Eurostar from London to Belgium and back. What do you think about these train times:

  • Leave St Pancras at 6:13 and arrive in Brussels 9:22 (I'll have a light breakfast on the train)
  • Travel to town center for a bigger meal and a little chocolate shopping
  • Back to train station and train to Bruges
  • Check into B&B and then dinner in Bruges
  • Full day in Bruges (buy chocolate)
  • Morning in Bruges
  • Train to Brussels
  • Lace Museum (and moar chocolate)
  • Leave Brussels at 17:56 and arriving in London 19:03

I worry that I might be leaving London too early or maybe getting back too late. Is it dangerous around 19:00 around St Pancras or on the tube?

Posted by
4933 posts

Dangerous? What do you mean?

With so little time in Bruges, I'd probably skip the initial detour into Brussels and head right on to Bruges as early as you can, especially as you will stop in Brussels on the way back anyway. If it were me, I might even look for a later train back to London to maximize my time.

Posted by
5558 posts

St Pancras is safe. 19.00 isn’t very late.

Only you can decide if getting up so early is something you want to do. Ideally, you need to be at the Eurostar terminal 45-60 minutes before departure.

I would head straight to Bruges and see Brussels on the way back. You could get a later train back as you gain an hour.

Posted by
4703 posts

Travel to town center for a bigger meal and a little chocolate shopping
Back to train station and train to Bruges

I'd suggest you head directly to Bruges. Buy breakfast at St Pancras and carry it on the train. There are plenty of chocolate shops in Bruges.

The downside of leaving that early is that you may need to get a taxi to St Pancras. You don't mention where you will be staying in London. If you are not within walking distance of St Pancras, check when the tube starts running and keep in mind you need to check in about 45 minutes early.

Posted by
27759 posts

19:00 is when people are still getting out of work and some are heading for the pubs to unwind. There will be people everywhere, lots of people.

I'd be a lot more conscious of the lack of people at 5:30 to 5:45 which is when you will be getting to the station in the morning.

Why such an early train back?

When is your journey? Are you aware of the rolling French rail strikes all Spring and into the Summer which are causing Eurostar cancellations?

I don't see any advantage of spending time searching Brussels for chocolates before heading to Brugge/Bruges. You have left out Gent, where (IMVHO) the best chocolate praline are. I'd go there on the way (especially if I knew exactly where to go) instead of Brussels but perhaps you something else in Brussels you want to see. There is plenty there of course.

Posted by
43 posts

First, thank you so much for your advice!

I think I might skip Brussels on the way. I think I can get everything I want to do done on the way back. I was leaving early to get as much time in as possible. I just checked google maps and the Circle line seems to be running at 5am. But it doesn't look like any thing is open at that time for me to buy a breakfast for the train.

Shoot! The prices just went up. Now the early train from London is $50 and the next train (8:54-12:05) is $95 and the next one (10:58-14:05) is $80.

The way back is the same price for the last few trains. I think I might take the 18:56-19:57 train instead.

Nigel, I keep seeing something about rail strikes on the eurostar website. What are rolling French rail strikes? Will they effect me when I'm going, 4-6 June?

Posted by
62 posts

Around 2 years ago, I took a "side trip" to Belgium. Like you, I used the Eurostar. I left London a tad bit later (perhaps 8 AM as opposed to 6) and, while on the train, they offered us vouchers to use to reserve a car once we were in the Station.

The driver led me to the town square where I roamed the shops, saw the churches and sites, had Belgium fries with mayonnaise, chocolates, etc. I got some good pictures but, because of a threatened rail strike, I took an earlier Eurostar back to London (it got into St. Pancreas at approximately 8 PM).

However, I saw Brussels and enjoyed the time spent there. It was a fun, casual, interesting and quite good photo op. I think your time frame is perfect and, as they serve meals aboard the Eurostar, you don't have to worry on that score (if all else fails, St. Pancreas has a small, on-the-go market (Tesco or Carrefour, I don't remember which) where you can pick up something for a quick bite.

Go and enjoy!

Posted by
43 posts

Thank you so much for the reply! I booked the later ticket from London leaving at 8:54 and the later ticket coming back getting to St Pancras at 19:57. I appreciate the help!

Posted by
5484 posts

It's too late for you now, but for future readers, consider, depending on actual destination, the Any Belgian Station add-on (extra cost) with Eurostar tickets. One advantage is avoiding standing in line in Brussels to buy a one-day ticket to ... say.... Bruges.

Edit: Because a recent Trip Report expressed frustration with the Brussels Metro system, I want to add that EVERY long-distance rail ticket to downtown Brussels (by which I mean to exclude the BRU Airport) permits you to use any of the three stations. That includes Eurostar tickets. Even without the "Any Belgian Station" endorsement, a Eurostar arrival (at Brussels Midi/Sud) includes the right to ride any non-reserved railroad train at Mid to either Centraal (for Grand Place) or Nord. That also means that a Eurostar DEPARTURE from Midi permits taking (many times an hour) the train from Centraal to Midi.

Of course, you have to allow for U.K. immigration processing before the departure of a train to London. This is urged by all Eurostar documents.