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Copenhagen to London by Train

When we decided to celebrate my wife's (64F) birthday in London, we also decided to go by train - partly to save carbondioxode and partly to have a new experience :-) Since we are both retired, we are not restricted to 6 measly weeks of vacation, but can go when we want (and have the money)

We used the route described by The Man in Seat 61, going Copenhagen, Hamburg, Kõln, Bruxelles/Brussels, London.

Wednesday

We left home at 06:00 by S-train (the Copenhagen commuter train) and arrived at Copenhagen Central station around 07:00. I had planned for time to buy some breakfast, but we had enough bread and hardboiled eggs for breakfast and lunch, so we just bought a cup of coffee each.

07:26 Copenhagen - 12:04 Hamburg

The train arrived 10 minutes before departure (since Copenhagen is the origin station for this route) and left at the planned time. It turned out we hadn't needed to buy coffee, since there was a sales person on board, who carried a container of coffee and hot water on her back and a tray with danish (which we call Wienerbrød) and snacks in front. In Denmark we could travel bare face, but as soon as we crossed the border after Padborg, we had to put on face masks. They announced that we needed FFP2 masks, but we only had the "normal" masks and nobody complained.

We were 20 minutes late in Hamburg, but the plan allowed for that, and we still had ample time to buy two beers for our lunch - especially as the next train was 15 mintes late.

12:46 Hamburg - 16:50 Köln

As mentioned, the train arrived at 13:01. It was a bit difficult to find the correct waggon, but then it was easy enough to find our seats :-) The trip was uneventful. It started 15 minutes late and arrived 15 minutes late - apparently they did not try to catch up.

17:41 Kõln - 19:35 Bruxelles

We had booked two seats facing each other as in the other trains, but both seats faced in the same direction, so we were placed behind each other. Fortunately the seat next to my wife was vacant, so I moved. The train started 15 minutes late and arrived 15 minutes late - apparently they did not try to catch up.

We spent the night in Ibis Hotel Bruxelles Centre Gare du Midi.

Thursday

07:52 Bruxelles Midi - 09:57 London St. Pancras (note that the last time is in GMT)

Eurostar asks you to check-in 90 - 120 minutes before departure, so we were in the station around 05:40 :-)

We found a cafe without deafening music and had a nice breakfast. The hotel breakfast would have been 14 EUR per person, but the cafe brekfast was 11,50 EUR for both.

The check-in was fast and efficient, mainly - I think - because more experienced Eurostar passengers arrived an hour later. The train left 5 minutes late and arrived 5 minutes late. Our seats almost didn't allow us to look out of the window, but there was a free seat with fine window view and even looking in the direction of travel, so we moved. The trip was fast and without events.

General remarks:

  1. It is annoying to wear a face mask for over nine hours (except on platforms)
  2. All stations in Denmark and Germany prohibit smoking. German stations have dedicated smoking areas, which I think is a good idea. Unfortunately most smokers either don't know or don't care. They smoke all over the platforms, so we had to move around to avoid the smoke.

It's a long trip and I don't know if we will do it again. At least
not until the face mask issue is cleared up and hopefully the
smoking problem as well.

Posted by
4831 posts

Thank you for reporting!
Yes, any journey above 10 hours or so is quite the commitment... Especially with mask mandates newly in place in Germany.
And delays are to be expected on German trains these days; 15 minutes was a good performance!

Posted by
2867 posts

It is annoying to wear a face mask for over nine hours (except on
platforms)

I'm looking forward to my next flight from Canada now that we've lifted mandatory masking on flights. You're right, 8-9 hours is no fun. Funny how even a cup of water lasted longer on a flight so people could keep their masks off.

I'm curious of your on-train experiences. How did you pass the time for 9 hours? At least on a flight we had tv screens.

Posted by
7440 posts

It's a shame that you took the trip in two days. You missed seeing some beautiful cities--especially the Duomo in Cologne.

We limit ourselves to 3.5 hours usually on a train. We did take a 6.5 hour train from Barcelona to Paris that topped out at 185 mph, however.

We once came out of Vienna on what looked like a Soviet era train car with part of a soccer team in our compartment. And one of the guys was asleep on my shoulder--and the air conditioning was insufficient.

We're now big on budget European airlines.

Posted by
13535 posts

I have done this route without having to go through Belgium. From Hamburg Hbf to Frankfurt Hbf on the ICE, then to Paris Est. I stay the night in Paris Nord, the next morning Gard du Nord to London St Pancras.

Posted by
2894 posts

On Eurostar did you book standard, standard premier, or business premier. We will be traveling by Eurostar in April and wonder if the higher price is worth it.

Posted by
1169 posts

A few answers.

We took standard class. We both have rather short legs, so the extra space was not worth it. And "free" drinks and snacks are NEVER worth it in my experience.

We spent most of the trip looking at the scenery outside or on our phone/iPad.

The cost in money was roughly double the cost of flying, but the issue for us was the CO2 cost.

Posted by
2894 posts

Thank you for the answer. It’s such a short trip not worth the extra money. We can carry our own drink and snack.