We are planning a trip to London in the fall, then we want to wing it and go to visit Paris and Amsterdam. This is our first trip to another country, so I really need help. What is the best way to travel to Paris and Amsterdam from London, which should we do first,and from which would be better to fly back to the states from, thank you so mucch
The fastest way to reach these cities will be via high speed rail. Take the Chunnel train from London St Pancras station to Paris. Journey time about 2.5 hours. The sooner you book the cheaper it will be (120 days allowed). Purchase tickets and check out schedules at http://tinyurl.com/chunnel-train From Paris take the direct high-speed Thalys train to Amsterdam. Journey time just over 3 hours. Same deal with the fares (90 days allowed). Book tickets at http://www.thalys.com Schipol Airport Amsterdam is one of the busiest airports in the world. So there are lots of direct flights back to the US.
If you want to travel London to Paris to Amsterdam (and that route is very sensible, because of the train connections as detailed in the above replies), you should fly into London and out of Amsterdam. Even if this is "more expensive" than flying round trip to London (and it may not be), you will save a lot of time and money by not backtracking. To find these flights, don't look for two one-ways (potentially very expensive). Go to http://www.kayak.com. Choose "multi city" instead of "one way" or "round trip." Assuming you want to use San Francisco as your departure airport, put in SFO to LON as your first leg, and AMS to SFO as your second leg. Then, see what you get. You can use the "filters" on the left side of the page to choose layover airports, number of stops, flight duration, etc - very useful. One other comment: if you really want to "wing it," your trip will be very expensive. Trains between London and Paris, and between Paris and Amsterdam, are inexpensive if bought in advance online as non-refundable and non-exchangeable tickets. However, if bought at the last minute, they cost a lot, and some runs can sell out completely. To see what I mean, look at trains for tomorrow and compare these with trains for a few months from now. If you can live with the last minute prices, fine; otherwise, you'll want to trade flexibility for price.
Suzanne - If you travel by train to Paris, I would suggest using the Eurostar. It is a pleasant 2 1/2 hour trip. If you know your dates, I would suggest purchasing tickets as soon as possible, rather than winging it. You can purchase Eurostar tickets up to 120 days in advance to get the best fares. Check out eurostar.com.
Suzanne, The Eurostar will be the way to cross the 20 plus miles of water between England and France. You are well advised to lock down that reservation as soon as it becomes available for best choice and lowest prices. When checking in for the Eurostar you must be there more than 30 minutes before departure, strictly enforced, or you won't go. The Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam also will give you a considerably lower fare booked well ahead. For neither the Eurostar nor the Thalys do the ticket prices ever go down, they only go up the closer you get to departure. You don't say which part of "fall" you mean, but be advised that Paris is very very busy in September.
Thank you all so much!!, all this information has been so helpful! We have now decided to cut out Paris, so our plan now is to fly to London in Nov, stay there for a few days, train to Amsterdam, then fly home (back to SFO) from Amsterdam, does anyone have any advise on this plan? we are traveling on a very tight budget, but we really want to get the train experience, thanks Suzanne
Suzanne, you can use the two links Michael gave you for Thalys and EuroStar to travel from London to Amsterdam. As he said, they won't let you book until about 90 and 120 days out. I strongly advise you to buy your tickets as far in advance as they will allow, because you can realize some fantastic savings! Start looking now at the schedules; they usually don't change too much over the course of a year, and you can get some idea of the times involved...Good job on the open-jaws airline ticket :-)