North Sea Travel - Getting There


Getting to Zeebrugge or Rotterdam, either with or without your own bike, is going to involve one or more of:
Middelburg
The overview map below shows the principal options.

Planes

Flying to this section of the North Sea from outside Europe, there are a number of possible arrival airports:

If you are flying from within Europe then the options include flying to:
  • Schiphol which many overseas airlines fly to
  • Brussels which also has many flights, but fewer budget ones

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that cheapflights.co.ukoffers consistently low prices.

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage (many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles) and your travel insurance. We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane. Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.
Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide.
Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up.Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.

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Trains

Taking the train from London or Paris is a possible solution. For example the train from Paris to Bruges takes about 3 hours while London St Pancras to Zeebrugge takes 4 hours, passing through Lille.

If you do decide to travel by rail then take advice from:

  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.

  • Travelling with a bike inside the UK is relatively easy, as most trains will carry bicycles as long as there is room (avoid commuting times and travelling in a large group of cyclists) and for free, but advance reservations are sometimes required.

  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites.
  • Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • Crossing the Channel by train means using Eurostar (St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford to Brussels, Lille, Paris or Calais). Tickets can be ordered from trainline.

  • Bikes are seldom allowed on TGV, Thalys or ICE unless they are in bags.

  • Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long. If you are tandem riders, you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Verona.

The map below gives you an idea of where the local trains run and the relevant airports.

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Overview map

Airports (red numbers)Northsea travel key points

  1. Schiphol Amsterdam
  2. Brussels

Ferry terminals (letters)

  • R: Rotterdam Europoort, close to Hook of Holland
  • Z: Zeebrugge
  • O: Ostend
  • D: Dunkirk
  • C: Calais
  • L: Lille Eurostar Station
  • X: Dover and other Kent ports
  • H Hull

Bike route

The pale blue line shows where the route goes.

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Ferries

There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. This trip is designed for easy access from the east of the UK so the most useful ferries are:

  • Eire
    • Rosslaire to Le Havre or Cherbourg
  • South Eastern England
    • Dover to Calais or Dunkerque
    • Harwich to the Hook of Holland
    • Ramsgate to Ostend
  • Northern England
    • Hull to Zeebrugge (overnight)
    • Hull to Rotterdam (overnight)
We like travelling by P&O and DFDS Seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price. For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent.

If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel.

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Driving

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off. If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here. At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are:
  • carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
  • carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs
It is mandatory in France, Belgium and the Netherlands (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

For further details, click here.

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