Getting from London to Belfast (and return)

by Cristina on November 17, 2011

by Cristina | November 17th, 2011  

Belfast is the capital and the largest city in Northern Ireland, UK. It is the second largest city on the island of Ireland after Dublin and is located at the mouth of the River Lagan.

Getting from London to Belfast involves crossing the sea, so you’ll need to add the ferry into the route, whether you travel by bus, train or car.

Quick summary

The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to travel between London and Belfast is by plane. It costs about the same whether you fly London Luton to BFS on easyJet or from London Stansted to BHD on bmibaby (single fares start around £20).

Should you want to see the country as you travel, a good option is to travel by bus and ferry. But that involves quite a bit of hassle. First, take the bus to Glasgow, then another but to Stranraer , cross the sea and take another bus to Belfast. Starting with late November 2011, the new ferry crossing will be from Cairnryan, so add another bus ride from Stranraer to Cairnryan to the mix. Still, the entire journey costs less than £40 one way.

Flights from London to Belfast

Belfast is served by two airports:

  • George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD): is located about 3 miles from the city center and is a major base for Flybe. It is also hub for bmibaby and Manx2.
    Flights from Belfast to London are operated by: BMI (Heathrow), bmibaby (Stansted) and Flybe (Gatwick).
    If you want to fly during the shoulder season (late November 2011), expect to pay from £26 one way on bmibaby (on Stansted; flight time 1h 20 min). Should you plan to fly for the winter holidays, expect to pay from £23 one way on Flybe (on Gatwick; flight time 1h 30 min), while in the spring (March 2012), single fares start at £20 on bmibaby.
  • Belfast International Airport (BFS): is the bigger airport serving Belfast and is located about 13 miles from the city center. It is the second busiest airport on the island after Dublin and is hub for Aer Lingus, Easyjet, Jet2.com(Seasonal), Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways.
    Flights from Belfast to London are operated by: Aer Lingus (Heathrow) and easyJet (Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Southend).
    If you want to fly during the shoulder season (late November 2011), single fare starts at £26 on Aer Lingus (Heathrow; flight time 1h 15 min) , while during the winter holidays expect to pay from £28 one way on easyJet (Stansted; flight time 1h 15 min). In the spring (March 2012), single fares start at £23 on easyJet (Luton; flight time 1h 10 min).

Read more about:
>>Cheap flights to London Heathrow
>>Cheap flights to London Gatwick
>>Cheap flights to London Stansted
>>Cheap flights to London Luton

Trains and ferries from London to Belfast

There are three possible routes to travel from London to Belfast by a combination of trains and ferry:

Route1 : via Holyhead and Dublin

This is the cheapest option. A combined single ticket is £44 and can be bough here.
Start the journey in London and take the morning train to Holyhead in Wales. Then taken the afternoon ferry to Dublin and from there take the evening train to Belfast.
Trains from London to Holyhead are operated by Virgin Trains and they depart from London Euston Station every hour.

Read more about
>>Getting from Dublin to Holyhead
>>Getting from Dublin to Belfast

Route 2: via Stranraer

This is the traditional route and takes the same time as the first route, but it’s slightly more expensive. Single tickets cost £49.
Leave London in the morning for Glasgow (Virgin Trains) and then another train for Stranraer (Scot Rail). Trains leave London Euston Station and the total travel time is about 6 ½ h
Then, take the Stena Line ferry to Belfast port.
Starting with late November 2011, Stena will use the Cairnryan port, which is not connected to the railway, so the route will involve an hour bus ride from Stanraer to Cairnryan port.

>>read more about Getting from London to Glasgow

Route 3: via Liverpool

This is a comfortable way to travel but you need to book the train and ferry tickets separately. Take the afternoon train from London to Liverpool and then take the overnight ferry to Belfast.
Trains tickets from London to Liverpool start at £61.00 one way (valid on a specific train).
Stena Line runs a ferry from Liverpool Birkenhead to Belfast and the single fare is £30.50 on the morning ferry and £49.50 on the evening ferry. The crossing time is 8 h.

>>read more about Getting from London to Liverpool

Coaches and ferries from London to Belfast

Another option is the “coach & ferry” from London to Belfast. This combined ticket is offered by Stena Line and the sailing is via Stranraer.
First, you need to take the bus from London to Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. You can choose between Megabus and National Express . The travel time is between 8 h 20 min and 10 h, depending on the stops along the way. Single fares start at £12.50.

>>read more about Getting from London to Glasgow

From Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station take another bus to the Stranraer ferry departure and another bus to Belfast Europabus Centre.
There are two departures from Glasgow , at 10:50 a.m. and 4:35 p.m and the travel time is between 6h and 7 h 15 min, depending on the departure. The appex standard adult fare is £26.00 and includes the entire route from Glasgow to Belfast.

Driving from London to Belfast

There are two possible routes to travel by car from London to Belfast:

  • M1: 462 miles, 9 ½ h, includes the Holyhead to Dublin ferry crossing
  • M6: 465 miles, 9 ¾ h , includes the Stranraer to Belfast ferry crossing

For the first route, if you cross with a small car, expect to pay from £133.00. The ferry crossing is 3h 15 min (and is included in the entire route above).

If you choose the Stranraer to Belfast crossing , expect to pay from £99.00 for a small car.
As mentioned above, starting with late November 2011, the new crossing route will be Cairnryan to Belfast and for a small car expect to pay from £95.00. The crossing time is 2h 15min.

The map below shows the M1 route:


View Larger Map

Photo credits: Belfast Airport , Stena Ferry

{ 1 comment }

Andy March 12, 2012 at 8:21 am
Corner

I have to do this journey once ever two weeks – I have always found it faster and cheaper to travel by plane like you said. My round trip usually costs me about £70 with BA. From the airport I tend to just jump in a taxi to my london serviced apartment which is moderately priced and next door to work – from Heathrow it doesn’t take that long either by car. I never usually have any bother getting from A to B. Apart from when the ash cloud hit us – now that was not a fun journey at all! I had to be in London for a serious urgent meeting with my investors…So I took the ferry and drove down the M1. Obviously…some people had the same idea, accidents happen and it look me all night (a good 14 hours) to get to London. Thankfully the meeting was pushed back so I could get some much needed sleep! I never thought to drive down the M6. Interesting post.

Corner

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