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Transport & Driving

Getting to the UK

There are many ways of getting to the UK: by coach, by train, or by airplane. The country offers different international connections of varying convenience. We have compiled an overview of how to get to the UK (and away) for newly arrived expats. At the end of the day, getting there is fairly easy.

Airports in the UK

The UK has a total of 462 airports, including smaller ones with unpaved runways. London alone is connected to the rest of the world through five major airports: London City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, and Stansted. Heathrow is the city’s busiest and most popular airport. It handles about 64 million passengers per year and offers connections to over 170 destinations around the world.

But of course there are many ways of getting to the UK and London’s airports, although they might be the most popular, are not the only ones. This is why you should look for airports near your host town to see if they are a more convenient option of getting to the UK.

The English Channel

The English Channel, an arm of the Atlantic between northern France and southern England, separates the UK from the rest of Europe. It is the world’s busiest sea route and important for imports and exports between different European countries. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the Channel is also an important transportation route, not just between the UK and the European mainland, but also between the UK, France, and the Channel islands.

The Eurotunnel

The Eurotunnel has first been opened in 1994. It runs from Calais to Folkestone and connects the UK to the European mainland. The trains that cross below the English Channel can carry both passengers and their vehicles (including cars, trucks and coaches). Train connections operated by Eurotunnel are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It takes you between 30 and 45 minutes to cross the Channel that way. Fares vary greatly, depending on the type of vehicle you are taking along and how far you book your ticket in advance.

There is also a train connection from Paris to London via the Eurotunnel. This connection is operated by Eurostar and is available for foot passengers only. Unlike the Eurotunnel shuttles, the trains do not run 24 hours a day. However, they are a convenient and fast way to travel to the UK capital. Fares are slightly cheaper than for journeys with the Eurotunnel shuttles.

Ferry Connections

Many people however decide to take the ferry instead. There are numerous destinations around the British island you can easily reach that way. One of the cheapest and most popular connections is surely that from Calais to Dover.Other destinations include the Channel Islands, Ramsgate, Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth and Plymouth. Ferries from Ireland usually connect to Liverpool and the Isle of Man.

As you can imagine, fares vary considerably, depending on your destination in the UK and on the time of your travel. Booking a ticket way in advance might make a difference as well. Turn to “Discover Ferries” for more information.

Taking the Coach to the UK

Travelling by coach is becoming more and more popular within Europe and is the right choice for those who travel on a shoestring. The downside is, of course, that it will take you much longer to reach your destination. The company Eurolines is one of the biggest in the UK, connecting the island to more than 500 locations. However, this provider does not offer connections from Europe to Northern Ireland. Although fares depend largely on your destination and on the provider you eventually decide on using, you can be sure that travelling by coach is significantly cheaper than any other connection to the UK.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine