A guide to the international megabus: London to Amsterdam

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in Amsterdam, Europe | 36 Comments

megabus london to amsterdam

In all honesty, I love the megabus. It’s cheap, it’s efficient, and there’s sometimes free WiFi on board. It’s also a hell of a lot more eco-friendly than planes – and to be honest, I fly far too much (I think it’s 20 planes in the last 2 years…). It takes quite a bit longer, but for me, the low carbon footprint and the kinder it is to my bank balance makes me want to take it everytime.

The megabus route from Bristol to London was an absolute lifesaver during my four years at university. Anyone who has lived in London will know what a difference it is getting into ‘your’ side of London; so arriving on the bus at Victoria rather than Paddington meant that I could just pop on a train to the suburbs and be home half an hour later.

But what about continental megabuses? They were only introduced recently, and they’re still quite a novelty – you can board a bus in London and get to France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium or even Spain, and change to go further afield. But can you really cope with a megabus journey of double digit hours? Is this survivable?

My answer is a resounding yes.  The cheapest way to get around in Europe is without a doubt the megabus. London to Amsterdam takes about 10 hours, yet I paid a mere £10- and many are cheaper. And to other European destinations they can be even less – Paris for  £6, Brussels for £8. At these prices, there’s no reason not to take the megabus.

megabus london to amsterdam

Here’s how to take a long distance megabus – like an absolute boss.

Preparing to take the megabus

Pack a nice bus bag

I don’t mean an aesthetically pleasing bus bag (although, whatever makes you happy!). I mean, fill it with nice things that are going to make your journey that little bit more pleasant.

For me, this consists of:

  • Face wipes – these are probably my most important item. Takes off any make up in the evening and helps you feel all fresh in the morning.
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste – good for the same reasons!
  • A comfy pillow (even two if you can fit them in) – the dream is to have one to sit on and one to rest your head. But failing that, make sure you have the one so you don’t wake up with a stiff neck!
  • A blanket – for ultimate warmth when sleeping
  • A hairband – to keep your hair out of your face when sleeping/ the next morning
  • Comfy trousers (if you’re not already wearing them)
  • A cosy hoody
  • Kindle
  • Ipod
  • Change of clothes for the morning
  • Plenty of food
  • Lots of water
  • Deodorant
  • Paracetamol and my favourite headache remedy, 4head
  • Tissues to act as toilet paper

Key things to remember when preparing for the megabus:

Put comfort over fashion

I tend to do this most of my life anyway, but if there’s one place where comfort should always win, it’s on the megabus. Tracksuit bottoms, baggy t shirts, no make up – whatever makes you comfiest will ensure you have as pleasant a journey as possible.

Take a load of water

‘Bus air’ always makes me dehydrated, and it’s always better to have extra water than to run out!

Bring along healthy snacks

One thing that will make you feel worse after having sat on a megabus for 10+ hours is a sugar crash. Fruit, veggies and nuts will keep your energy levels at a high!

When you get to the station or bus stop

waiting to board the megabus to amsterdam at victoria station

If you’re leaving from London Victoria, they ask you to be there an hour early. This is just a precaution, but try and get there as early as possible. Check in is normally by the bus itself but can be at the check in desks. You’re allowed to board the coach as soon as it arrives, so be sure to be there early to nab a good seat!

You’ll need to print off your confirmation email, as EU laws state you have the have a physical ticket on you and it acts as this. Have it ready for boarding the bus.

Your luggage will be tagged and you’ll receive a stub – keep hold of this.

Once you’re on the bus, obviously first look around to see if there’s any empty double seats (generally the further back, the more empties). These buses do tend to fill up along the way, but there’s always a chance that you might get to France or Belgium while retaining a double seat. Obviously avoid a seat near the toilet – and seats closer to the back might mean extra room to stretch your legs out.

The megabus journey

documents for the megabus

The bus takes about 2 hours to get from London to Dover, so it’s up to you if you want to try and sleep in this time. Personally, I wouldn’t bother before the ferry and would opt to read my kindle or listen to music instead. There’s lots of faffing around at the ferry and you have to embark/ disembark the bus so you won’t be able to sleep the whole way through.

Once you get to Dover you’ll have to go through passport control – the driver will explain where and when to get off. Then, once the coach is on the ferry, you have to get off again and go up into the main body of the boat. Here, there’s a restaurant, shops, bars, arcade games and loads of sitting areas – so you can keep well entertained for the 1 hour 30 minute crossing.

The Channel Tunnel
From my experience, on the way into the UK buses seem to take the channel tunnel. I’m not sure why this is, but the protocol is much the same as the ferry – apart from on the French side, we had to disembark the bus twice.

Make your way back to the megabus promptly after docking in Calais; nobody wants to be that person making the whole bus late! The good news; once you get on board the bus, it’s sleep time!

I’m awful at a lot of things, but I’m a bit of a pro at sleeping on public transport. I have major issues with insomnia in my own bed, but put me on any form of moving vehicle and I’m out like a light. We thought this might represent how I’m never happy staying still and that moving is more natural to me… or it could just mean that I’m a really odd person. But anyway, I’ve concocted of a magic formula for sleeping on buses.

  1. Make sure you’re super comfy
    I’m talking velour tracksuit bottoms (so ugly but SO cosy), all make up off, hair in a top knot, bed socks on, blanket wrapped around shoulders. New levels of snug.
  2. Block everything out
    An eye mask and ear plugs are essential. Maybe not your best look, but you’ll be the one laughing when you reach your destination completely well rested.
  3. Adjust pillows accordingly
    If you’re able to do the two pillow trick, pop one underneath you and one on the window/ the back of the chair/ the shoulder of the person next to you (probably only if you know them). If you just have one, make it a neck support.
  4. Pop your feet up
    This might be just one for us short-legged gals, but I find that I can’t really get on with megabus floors. The footrest is perfect to give your feet some levitation.
  5. Take some deep breaths and look out of the window if you can
    I find driving through an area I don’t know at night so tranquil and relaxing. It sends me right off!
  6. If you struggle, try listening to music or reading
    Whatever normally works to send you off should help you sleep on the bus too!

stretching out on the megabus to amsterdam

A word on Megabus bathrooms

After five+ hours of any coach journey, the toilets aren’t going to be in their best state. Make sure you have your own supply of tissues and try to use the bathroom wherever else when you can (such as on the ferry or any service stations you might stop at – the bus doesn’t always stop at these however so don’t rely on them). For the night bus, getting changed and brushing your teeth on the ferry is a very good idea!

For a night bus, try to sleep the whole way, for obvious reasons. It’s a great way to save money on a night’s accommodation too!

For a day bus, it’s a little trickier – it’s a bit harder to sleep, and a little less logical as it may muck up your sleeping pattern. I’d definitely advise booking the night bus where possible, but on a day bus, a combination of snoozing, listening to music, reading and catching up on any work seems to do the job of passing the time. Lots of people were watching films on tablets too.

Top tip: European megabuses have plugs and WiFi! So you can use your phone as much as you wish; perfect for social media fans documenting their trips.

If you’re travelling to Amsterdam, you’ll stop at Lille, Gent, Antwerp and Rotterdam. Rotterdam is about 45 minutes away, and I’d recommend at this time starting to ‘freshen up’ ready for an exciting day exploring!

Top tip: include ‘freshening up’ time into the journey. Not only does this kill a bit of time, but it means that you will arrive at your destination refreshed and raring to go!

I always feel a lot better if I wash my face with my lush ‘ultrabland’ wash and put my handcream on. So I did just that on the megabus.

I always travel in as comfy clothes as possible (which for me equals velour tracksuit bottoms) so I take a spare set of ‘not so comfy’ clothes (aka jeans) to change into. A face wipe, quick brush of my hair and spritz of deodorant later and I’ll feel like a new woman, ready to cope with a day of exploring a new city!

Top tip: do make sure you’re keeping track of your destination – you can use the megabus wifi to load a map and GPS to track you. After 16 hours sitting still, any European city could be Amsterdam at first glance; and once you’re off the megabus you’re really not going to fancy any more travelling!

Give yourself a big pat on the back once you get off the bus. You’ve done it, you’ve braved Europe’s cheapest overland transport method and now you’re ready to explore a great city. Make sure, in all your pride and excitement, you don’t forget to collect your hold bag. You’ll need your ticket stub that you received all those hours ago in London to retrieve your bag.

More megabus information

Amsterdam

You get dropped off at Sloterdijk station, where you can catch a quick train to Amsterdam Centraal for 3.20.

Paris – thanks to Miss Happy Feet for this information

It is either a 8-9 hours bus trip during the day or 10 hours overnight. Bus departs from Quai De Seine Arret Megabus and arrives in Victoria Coach Station, London. Be sure to pack in an inflatable neck pillow to prevent neck pain!

Why you should get the international megabus

Not only did I get to Amsterdam and back for£25, but I only paid £8 for a return from Bristol to London – so my entire journey cost me a grand total of £33. Once you consider getting to and from an airport, plus the extortionate cost of flying, the megabus is a fraction of the price. Plus it’s a lot kinder to the environment than taking a short flight and it cuts out all of the ‘airport hassle’.

In terms of seat comfort and facilities, it’s like taking a long-haul flight; as long as you keep yourself occupied with things to do, the time just speeds away. Getting the megabus to Europe means that you save vital money for wine and gelato, and it’s an experience in itself. It’s a revolutionary, great value way to travel and I’d recommend it to any budget or conscious traveller.

getting another megabus from london to bristol

I’d love to develop this article further to include information about travelling to other European cities via the megabus. Have you got the international megabus to or within Europe? Please let me know any tips or information you have about the service below!

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You can get a megabus from London to a lot of places in Europe for very cheap! Check out this guide for tips and tricks on how to do it and to cope with the long journey

36 Comments

  1. Joe
    April 12, 2016

    £10 for a 10 hour bus journey to Amsterdam? Consider me sold! Not taken the megabus before, but have taken a near 24 hour bus from London to Hannover, not to mention other 12 hour plus buses in places like Turkey and the Philippines, so hopefully will be OK on it 😉 Great tips, thanks for sharing!
    Joe recently posted…Expedition Training I – Setting the Itinerary and ExpectationsMy Profile

  2. Jenni
    April 13, 2016

    i have recently started using the megabus from bristol to London and it’s great so next stop a big further afield I think

  3. Claire
    April 13, 2016

    I once had to stand up/ sit on a tiny patch of floor for a 7 hour bus journey in sweltering hot Costa Rica, and after that promised I’d never complain about the megabus again 😉 Definitely recommend it, just take a good book!

  4. Claire
    April 13, 2016

    The Bristol to London service is fantastic! Might see you on one sometime haha!

  5. Stephanie - TouristExclusive
    April 16, 2016

    I’ve seen these buses before but never considered taking them. But how cheap are they? It would mean a lot of hours extra but sometimes the journey is way better than the destination. Unfortunately my partner gets sick in buses.

    Thanks for the tips!

  6. Claire
    April 16, 2016

    It cost £10 for the way there and £15 for the way back, so £25 in total – and flights were looking to be about £90! It does take a lot longer but for me the price reduction is worth it. I guess it would be more of a problem if I got bus sick though!

  7. Seb
    April 20, 2016

    I’ve not taken the Megabus, however I have taken a coach from Norwich to Amsterdam. Due to a cock-up with booking the ferry from Harwich (which means being able to sleep for most of the trip), we had to go via Calais. We left at 6pm and arrived at 7am the following day. Wouldn’t recommend it. Hopefully the Megabus was comfier. It sounds like good value at least at £1 per hour at least 😉

    Would be interesting to see how much the same route costs via Eurostar, might even be quicker from central London than flying once you take all the security checks into account too.
    Seb recently posted…How to find Cheap Train Tickets in the UKMy Profile

  8. Claire
    April 20, 2016

    Oh no haha that sounds like a bit of a nightmare, especially when you’re expecting one thing and you get the other! Haha yeah that’s a great way to look at it! From my experience, the eurostar is pretty pricey and I think you might have to change to go to Amsterdam? Yes it might be – and it’s great that it leaves from Central London too! I’ll check out your cheap train tickets post when I get a second 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  9. Nowthatsahoneymoon
    April 28, 2016

    I’ve only traveled to Bath or Stonehenge or Bristol with Megabus or National Express but never considered doing a “long haul ride” to Amsterdam for wowww 10 hours! But yeahhh 10 quid is certainly cheap!!!! Great tips you got here!

  10. Shobha
    April 28, 2016

    The prices you see advertised can’t be beat. Also, you see a lot more of the countryside than if you are flying over a country.

  11. NoMAD NiNo
    April 28, 2016

    Wow! Amazing. saved for future reference 😉

  12. Marta
    April 28, 2016

    I love bus travel. When I lived in Brussels, I loved how esy and cheap it was to take even long journey without the hassle of taking a plane. Now I live in Ireland and that ease of movement is something I miss

  13. Brittany
    April 29, 2016

    Love all these tips and tricks! I almost went the megabus route a couple times in Europe and opted for RyanAir instead…. maybe next time!

  14. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    Haha it’s a long time but so cheap! I’m always on the Bristol – London megabus, maybe see you on there sometime!

  15. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    Yes definitely, I always think this with driving through countries, you’re at liberty to stop if you want and it’s a much more wholesome experience than flying.

  16. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    Tehe, thanks!

  17. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    That’s true, there’s a bit more of a sea between us and you guys! My dad and sister recently got a ferry from Liverpool to Belfast and said it took 8 hours!

  18. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    Haha, I would recommend – let me know if you do end up taking a megabus sometime!

  19. Annika
    April 29, 2016

    I have only taken a bus between Berlin and Hamburg once because I am so fed up with the German train system and I absolutely loved it too! I think if you are not pressed for time, it is really the way to travel.

  20. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    Yes, it’s certainly not the quickest, but it’s easy, cheap and you see the country more. I’ll be bussing around the world for a long time yet!

  21. Kevin Wagar
    April 29, 2016

    I haven’t used Mega bus in years, but it’s great to have so many great options for getting around on a budget
    Kevin Wagar recently posted…Comment on Why You Need to Visit Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock by Clair KellyMy Profile

  22. Claire
    April 30, 2016

    Yeah they’re such a handy option for the UK!

  23. Alexa
    May 1, 2016

    How cool. I’m planning to be in Europe this summer and am so excited to research the bus option!

  24. Claire
    May 1, 2016

    You can get it all over west Europe, from the UK to Italy, so be sure to check it out! 😀

  25. Wanderlustingk
    May 3, 2016

    I STILL haven’t braved a Megabus in the EU after having a terrible experience on a 24 hour Megabus to Chicago in the US. I’ve heard better things about Flixbus, however I’m glad to hear that it’s worked out for you. One small note: it’s spelled Sloterdijk. 🙂

  26. Claire
    May 3, 2016

    Haha, what happened?! I’ve never heard of Flixbus – do they operate in the UK or just on the continent? Ooh thanks for that, I’ve corrected it 🙂

  27. Serena Grimaldi
    May 4, 2016

    I use Megabus fairly regularly. I came back from Milan (newish route) in February for £4!!!, and a couple of years ago I got a £2.50p (inc. booking fee…:-) )return London/Barcelona!. It’s worth checking the website, as soon as you know when you are travelling, as they do have amazing deals!I also (with the exception of hairband, I have very short hair) take just about all the things on the bus with me that you do, as I almost always use the night busses….re. not sitting by the toilet, on some of the busses, the seats over the toilets are sometimes the best, as they back on to the space for the side door, and can be fully reclined without (inevitably) annoying the person behind you, so if you get it as a double seat, you can practically lie down!!!

  28. John
    May 5, 2016

    Megabuses that cross the channel during the day travel by Channel Tunnel train, those that cross during the night take the ferry. Nothing to do with direction, you must have taken the day bus back as a coincidence 😉

  29. John
    May 5, 2016

    Megabuses that cross the channel during the day, take the Channel Tunnel train; those that cross during the night take the ferry.

  30. Claire
    May 5, 2016

    Ah thanks for the heads up, I didn’t know that!

  31. Claire
    May 5, 2016

    Wow that’s amazing – and I thought there and back for £20 was really good! Yeah that’s a really good tip actually, so it’s basically like a bed? I’d wake up refreshed and ready to go in that case!

  32. Danny
    June 5, 2016

    Wow just a tenner. Going to try this me thinks!

  33. iskander
    June 5, 2016

    Had a megabus from swansea to london the london to barcelona back in 2014. Whole thing cost £6 plus booking like 50p. The swansea to london cost a fiver and london to barcelona only a quid which was great for me as i drive lorries for a living so spendin 30+ hours on a bus didnt bother me at all. when you consider its three times more travel time than a plane really with airport time etc… and i loved the free wifi too 🙂

  34. Claire
    June 5, 2016

    That’s so cheap! London to Barcelona for a pound?! Yeah exactly, it took us about 14 hours door to door but I reckon that would have been about 6 flying – more if I’d flown into London and had to go back to Bristol. I’ll always be a megabus fan!

  35. Claire
    June 5, 2016

    So cheap!

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    September 18, 2016

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