Top Ferry Holiday Destinations from the UK

Posted on 26 Apr 2018 by Anna Scott
Fed up or scared of flying? Want a bit more adventure from your holiday this year? Or maybe you just want to save a bit of money. Many us associate ferry travel with booze cruise day trips to Calais but dig a little deeper and there’s a whole world of must-see locations that are easily accessible by boat from UK shores. We’ve picked out 4 different ones that are well-worth considering this summer, offering everything from picturesque coastlines to historical city centres with a bit of world class cuisine thrown in for good measure too…



Northern Spain is a million miles away from the more popular resort destinations further south. Not literally, but certainly in terms of what you get from the Spanish experience. Bilbao is famous for its food, its culture and its architecture where striking new structures sit next to the Gothic buildings of its Old Town. The Guggenheim Museum is a must-visit when holidaying in the Basque region, but many people visit Bilbao for that world-famous Basque food. The cured meats, the fresh seafood and the tapas are all present and correct for anyone who wants to give their taste buds a work out and all of this is accessible via good old-fashioned ferry.


Guggenheim Bilbao


Brittany Ferries provide a 24-hour service from Portsmouth to Bilbao, but if you’re worried about the prospect for a whole day and night on a boat, the holiday starts once you’re on board as the luxury ferry is equipped with accommodation options, great restaurants and boutique shops. And you can also book your Spanish accommodation with them for once you arrive, with self-catering, campsite and hotel choices available.



Although it’s on the West Coast of Ireland, it’s easy to reach the Cork region by catching a ferry to Rossclare on the east coast and arranging a self-drive holiday. You can get to Rossclare by booking a passage from Pembroke in Wales with Irish Ferries and the crossing takes 4 hours. Cork features some of the most stunning scenery on the Emerald Isle with unspoilt coastlines, castles and the relaxed atmosphere of Cork city. If you’ve never holidayed in Ireland before, this will make the perfect introduction.


Cork coastline



Western Loire

It’s difficult to narrow down must-visit destinations in France, but the Loire Valley is definitely up there with the best of them. Not directly accessible via ferry, nevertheless you can easily reach it from a number of ports. Brittany Ferries have two different routes that are ideal for visiting Western Loire – Portsmouth to Caen and Portsmouth to Le Havre.


Loire Valley chateau


So, what is there to see once you arrive? This is fine wine country with the vineyards of Anjou and Saumur within easy reach, waiting for you to sample their roses and light reds. Plus, the famous white wines of Muscadet also hail from this region too, if you prefer something crisp with your French seafood. Travel along the Loire river and take in the famous chateaux or visit the popular seaside resort of La Baule – there really is something for everyone.


Historic Belgium

Fancy a self-drive tour of Belgium’s historic sites whilst quaffing and scoffing fantastic beer and chocolate? It’s perfectly possible to do this without jumping on a plane, and you can even take in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam whilst on your way there too! Just book a crossing from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS Seaways and you’ll be on your way in no time. It’s only an hour and a half’s drive from the Netherlands capital to the Belgium border and once you cross, countless historical and gastronomic delights await. There’s not just the sparkling temptations of Antwerp, but also the cultural attractions of Brussels, the beautiful building of Ghent, and all that wonderful food and drink in Bruges. A holiday you didn’t even know you wanted but now can’t wait to start.





The thing about ferry travel is that you have to think outside the box. It’s not just about what there is to see in and around the ferry port because a lot of the time, there’s not really that much. Taking your car on board gives you the flexibility to plan your own adventure further afield, and all these ferry operators now offer holiday packages with a wide choice of accommodation.

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