Victoria Coach Station, London Victoria
Victoria Coach Station is London's hub for domestic and international scheduled coach services, and has been 'connecting Great Britain since 1932'. It is still housed in the original art deco building on Buckingham Palace Road.
If you travel by coach from mainland Europe to London, this is almost certainly where you'll arrive. And if you travel around the UK using the extensive domestic coach network, you are likely to make at least some of your connections and changes here. Victoria Coach Station is also the departure point for regular airport transfer services, a London to Oxford service, and several of London's bus tour companies (offering scheduled trips to tourist attractions around the country). Overall, many independent travellers to London will find themselves at Victoria Coach Station at some point during their trip.
Note: Don't confuse Victoria Coach Station with Victoria Bus Station
, which is located a few hundred metres away directly in front of Victoria Railway Station, and is used only by red (local) London buses.
Information correct as of Summer 2012
Victoria Coach Station is still located in its original 1932 art deco building.
Coach companies serving Victoria Coach Station
Victoria Coach Station is served by more than 20 coach operators, the principal ones being the domestic services National Express
, and the European coach service Eurolines
. Approximately 10 million passengers pass through the coach station every year, and there are nearly 200,000 coach departures annually. The bulk of services arrive and depart between around 7am and 11:30pm, although there are ocassional departures through the night.
The major services are:
National Express Coach
Victoria Coach Station is the main hub for National Express, the UK's largest and best known scheduled coach company, with the majority of their services starting or ending here. National Express serves approximately 1000 destinations throughout the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other UK airports. For full information on National Express coaches and services see www.nationalexpress.com
Budget inter-city coach service Megabus provides scheduled services between around 50 larger towns and cities across the UK, including regular services to and from London - famously advertised as costing 'from £1'. For full information on Megabus coaches and services see www.megabus.com
Eurolines comprises 32 independent coach companies which together operate Europe's largest scheduled coach network. Services run to a wide variety of places all over Europe, linking over 500 destinations in total. For full information on Eurolines coaches and services see www.eurolines.co.uk
Oxford Espress Coach
The Oxford Espress X90 service is one of two major coach services linking London and Oxford (the other being the Oxford Tube, see Green Line Coach Termonal). The X90 takes you from Victoria Coach Station to central Oxford in just 100 minutes. Coaches leave twice an hour from early morning to late evening, with services every 15 minutes at peak times. Oxford Espress coaches also stop at Marble Arch (both ways) and at Baker Street (Oxford to London) or Gloucester Place just a little west of Baker Street (London to Oxford). See www.oxfordbus.co.uk
for full information on Oxford Espress services.
Airport transfer services
Airport transfer coaches run from Victoria Coach Station to four of London's five airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. City Airport, the smallest of London's airports, has no direct transfer service from Victoria Coach Station and is best reached by a combination of Underground (Tube) and Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
Victoria Coach Station is a pick-up and drop-off point for many other services, including day and half-day tours, coach holidays and private hire. For a current list of coach companies which use the station see here
Getting to Victoria Coach Station
Victoria Coach Station is located about 500m south west of Victoria rail, Underground and bus stations. It is slightly 'out of the way', however the route between the two transport hubs is simple, and its an easy 5-10 minute walk. It's possible to walk most of the route under cover (via two shopping arcades) if the weather is poor. The route along the main road is well lit and safe to walk at any hour (assuming you follow normal safety precautions for a big city).
The following red (local) London buses stop right outside Victoria Coach Station: 11, 44, 170, 211, C1, C10, and N11 & N44 (night buses). To see the routes these bus services take see Transport for London's helpful bus 'spider map'
If you plan to arrive by car, there is a multi-storey car park (operated by NCP) on Semley Place just south of the coach station. There is also metered car parking on the streets around the coach station, however the maximum stay is 4 hours, so it is only practical for drop-offs.
About Victoria Coach Station
Coaches arrive at and depart from different areas of the station. The main building houses the Departures area, while the smaller Arrivals area is to the north, across Elizabeth Street from the main building.
Victoria Coach Station is easy to navigate, with clear signs to the Arrivals and Departures areas, toilets etc. There are information desks in both areas. It is also baby buggy, wheelchair and rolling suitcase-friendly, with step-free access throughout.
The Arrivals area is basic but functional.
The Victoria Coach Station arrivals area is little more than a broad corridor and not somewhere you'll want to linger. However, there are fully accessible unisex toilets (there is a small charge - currently 30p), public telephones, limited seating and a mini cab booking desk. The information desk and a small snack bar are tucked away around a corner and easy to miss. There is also a hotel booking desk - see Hotel Boooking Service, below.
Licensed porters are available in the Arrivals area and will - for a fee - assist with transporting your luggage to the Departures hall for connecting services, to Victoria rail, Underground and bus stations, and to the Green Line Coach Terminal.
Onward travel by coach, bus, tube, train, taxi, rental car...
For onward travel on a connecting coach service follow the signs across the road (Elizabeth Street) to the Departures area in the main building. Once there, the timetable and information screens will direct you to the correct gate for your connecting service.
In addition to the mini cab booking desk in the Arrivals area, there is a taxi rank on Eccleston Place just outside. Red London buses stop on Buckingham Palace Road a few metres to the east of the coach station. For tube and train services you need to do the short walk to Victoria Railway Station. The nearest car rental offices are operated by Hertz (a short walk to the south at 200A Buckingham Palace Road) and Europcar (around the corner from Hertz at 12 Semley Place).
Hotel Booking Service
A hotel booking desk is located in the Arrivals area, near the Eccleston Place exit. It offers accomodation at a range of grades amd prices, from hostels and B&Bs to top hotels - useful if you're desperate for a bed for the night, but note that you will not necessarily get a good deal by booking at the last minute via services such as this.
The Departures area is located in the main Victoria Coach Station building, with its main entrance on the corner of Buckingham Palace Road and Elizabeth Road, and another entrance opposite the Arrivals area on Elizabeth Road.
A walk-through of Victoria Coach Station's Departures area
The Ticket Hall at Victoria Coach Station. There is almost always a queue and 'walk-up' ticket prices are high - much better to buy your tickets online in advance.
Tickets and timetables
The Ticket Hall is located at the back of the Departures area and is open daily from 7am to 10pm. The ticket office is run independently of the coach companies, meaning that it sells tickets on behalf of all the coach operators and services, and where a destination is served by more than one operator, staff will offer the full choice of services available on an impartial basis. Note, however, that last minute 'walk-up' fares can be very expensive - see below for information on getting cheaper coach tickets. Tickets for National Express and Megabus can also be obtained from ticket machines in the Ticket Hall and elsewhere in the Deaprtures area. For comprehensive timetable information look for the yellow timetable carousels that are in several locations around the Departures area and under the information screens in the main entrance area.
Getting the best deals on coach tickets
It is almost always cheaper
to purchase your coach tickets online in advance
of travelling. If you wait until you get to the coach station, not only do you run the risk of your preferred service being full, but you will also pay the 'walk-up' fare - that is, the most expensive rate. Most Victoria Coach Station operators allow you to book online and print out your own tickets. The further in advance you book, the cheaper the tickets are likely to be. There are some great deals available for those who are able to book early: Advance tickets can often cost less than half
, and sometimes only a quarter
of what a walk-up fare costs. Buying in advance also ensures that you will be able to travel on your prefered day and time.
To check fares and book tickets for the major coach services operating from Victoria Coach Station click on the links below:
The Eurolines continental check-in counter, adjacent to Gate 19.
Passengers for most international services to mainland Europe and Ireland must check in at the continental check-in desk (adjacent to Gate 19) prior to boarding. Check-in opens 60 minutes before departure, and closes 15 minutes before departure of the service. Passengers are strongly advised to arrive at the coach station 60 minutes before their scheduled departure time to allow sufficient time for the check-in process. Note that all passengers must
have a printed ticket and applicable travel documents (passport or European ID card, visa if necessary) in order to check in. No booking reference numbers will be accepted in lieu of properly printed tickets.
Passengers for domestic services are advised to arrive at the coach station 30 minutes before departure and go straight to their departure gate. Gate numbers and departure information are provided on electronic information screens in the entrance are and throughout the coach station.
Passengers queue to stow luggage and board the coaches.
As in an airport, Victoria Coach Station operates on a 'gate' system. Each gate has a waiting area with seating. Passengers must remain in the waiting area until their coach is ready for boarding and an announcement is made. Tickets are checked and luggage is stowed as you board. With the exception of passengers who have pre-booked mobility assistance (see below), all passengers must be able to carry their own luggage to the coach.
Facilities at Victoria Coach Station
25 years ago Victoria Coach Station was a run down and - at times - slightly intimidating place. Thankfully it has had a facelift since then and it is now a much comfortable environment to spend time in, although it still suffers from low ceilings and a rather utilitarian feel. Despite the staff's best efforts to keep London's ubiquitous pidgeons out of the public areas, there are always some around (largely due to people ignoring the 'do not feed the pidgeons' signs and frequent announcements). Note the forests of wires on every level surface above head height (to prevent pidgeons from perching) and look out for ocassional low-flying birds!
The waiting areas are clean, safe and reasonably comfortable.
The waiting areas are fairly basic but clean and acceptable. The long glass windows between Gate 2 and Gate 21 have photo transfers of vintage bus and coach operators from the coach station's history. It's a nice touch and the station would benefit from more decoration and features like this. The entire station feels pretty safe (there are security cameras), but do keep a good eye on your belongings - luggage has been known to disappear when passengers' backs are turned, even for a moment. The rows of seating have been designed with 'armrests' between seats to stop people stretching out and sleeping. If you do need to sleep, the best you can do is to find a seat next to a pillar and rest your head against that. Take earplugs or headphones though, or the constant announcements will keep you awake. The public areas - waiting halls, shops and toilets - are open from early morning (about 6am, depending on scheduled services) to around midnight.
In addition to the ticket office, facilities include an information desk, numerous pay phones, a passport photo booth, cash machines and a bureaux de change (open from 6.30am to 10pm). There are also two souvenir stands for last minute shopping. Toilets and baby change areas are located by Gate 2 (accessed via a flight of steps) and by Gate 12 (step free). There is a small charge, currently 30p. There are also several disabled toilets.
A number of snack bars and kiosks offer the usual sandwiches, pastries, drinks and confectionery. There is also a small branch of Burger King and several vending machines. However, you'll find a better selection of eating options, and in many cases cheaper prices, in the surrounding area (see below). The Snax Café allows you to recharge your mobile if the battery is low (pricey but maybe worth it in an emergency), and has a small Internet café and sports TV, as well as an all day breakfast. The Departure area offers free WiFi.
In common with public areas across the UK, no smoking is permitted within the coach station.
A hotel booking desk (located by the Elizabeth Street entrance) can assist with booking all grades of accommodation, from hostels to luxury hotels. Note, however, that you will get a wider choice of accommodation, and in most cases cheaper prices, by booking online.
The Victoria Coach Station left luggage office, opposite Gate 6, is open seven days a week from 7am to 10:45pm. It's worth noting that the cost of leaving a bag here is cheaper than using the left luggage office at nearby Victoria Rail Station (although the rail station office has slightly longer hours, being open until midnight).
Travellers with disabilities and/or special needs can access Victoria Coach Station's free mobility assistance service. Note that this must be pre-booked at least 24 hours in advance of travel, either online
or by phoning the Victoria Coach Station mobility lounge on 020 7027 2520.
The service includes access to a special wheelchair-friendly lounge (located near the ticket office) with disabled toilet facilities, help with luggage, and assistance to and from the coach. The coach station is step-free and there are further disabled toilets in both the Arrivals and Departures halls.
The area surrounding Victoria Coach Station
On Elizabeth Street, next to the main pedestrian access to the Arrivals area and directly opposite the Departures area, is the Travellers' Tavern - an unremarkable but clean and friendly pub offering standard 'pub grub' (chips, pies etc.). Don't let this be your only experience of an English pub, but if you have time to kill between coaches it's a comfortable enough place to wait. Further along towards Buckingham Palace Road, in an attractive old single story building, is the Da Scalzo wine bar and pizzeria. The prices are reasonable and it's probably the nicest choice in the immediate vicinity of the coach station.
A Grocers shop, food outlets and a coffee bar are just outside Victoria Coach Station on Elizabeth Street
Also on Elizabeth Street, on the other side just a few metres from the Departures Hall, is the Victoria Grocers, a useful source for emergency essentials including nappies, tissues and packing tape. It also sells a range of magazines, newspapers and alcohol (though note that drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden on most, if not all, coach services - a rule that in our experience is enforced by removing the passenger from the coach). Further along from the Victoria Grocers are several places to buy fish and chips (both eat-in and take-out) and Bar Fratelli, a nice-looking coffee bar. The ARM Chicken Takeaway does a couple of veggetarian options including falafels.
Peggy Porschen cake shop on the corner of Ebury Street and Elizabeth Street
The further you go down Elizabeth Street the smarter the area gets. At the junction with Ebury Street is the glamorous Peggy Porschen
bespoke cake parlour. On nice days you can order a special slice of cake and a pot of tea to enjoy at the pavement tables.
Accommodation near Victoria Coach Station
London Victoria, the area around the coach station, is one of London's major tourist accommodation areas, offering hostels and hotels of a wide variety of types and price levels.
Essentials - Victoria Coach Station
164 Buckingham Palace Road, London, postcode: SW1W 9TP.
+44 (0)20 7222 5600
Page last updated: Summer 2012