Travelling by ferry may be a good option if you’re going on a walking holiday to France or Spain.
Whether you are taking a walking holiday in France or Spain you need to decide how you are going to get there, fly, rail or take the ferry.
If you’re travelling from the UK, taking the ferry is as popular now as ever, especially with the more modern vessels being introduced. You get to take your own car and therefore can take more luggage, and not worry about any weight restrictions either, so those heavy boots will cause no problem.
Plenty of choice
It can take from just 80 minutes to cross the channel from Dover to Calais. This is the shortest route to France with nearly 40 crossing each way per day, but there are in fact 13 different ferry routes between England and France to choose from and three routes to Bilbao and Santander in Spain.
Trying to get the best deal has become easier with the advent of comparison websites, no need to visit each ferry company individually, and there may be some that you were unaware of anyway. The price comparison website ferryonline.co.uk has a search function to compare the available ferries from all operators between the UK, France and Spain.
Tips for finding cheaper ferry prices
- Can you be flexible on your sailing times? If possible look to travel mid-week or during the night.
- Book in advance, web fares will be the lowest and generally the prices increase nearer to departure date, and try not to purchase on day of travel since the turn up rates are considerably higher.
- Consider alternative ports, the cheapest fares will be on the short sea routes between Dover and Calais or Dunkirk. It might mean more driving once in mainland Europe but may save you money.
- Can you share your car with family and friends? If taking the short sea routes prices are generally for up to 9 people, so splitting the cost could make great savings.
- Look at the short break options (3 or 5 day breaks) or travel out of peak season.
Taking your dog on a ferry
If your dog is as enthusiastic as you are when walking, then why not take it with you, subject to whether they are allowed on your chosen walking holiday. With the Pet Passport Scheme now in operation it is very straightforward to taking your dog with you.
On the short sea crossings your pet will stay in the car, on the longer crossings you may need to book a kennel or pet friendly cabin. If this is the case it’s a good idea to book as far in advance as possible since kennels or pet friendly cabins are very much in demand and there are limited numbers on each ship.
You may also be required to have a muzzle for your dog, whatever its size. And you’ll need to arrange for a pet passport and ensure you have all the appropriate vaccinations, microchips etc. For more details of what is involved, what vaccinations are required and how to apply check out the guide on taking your pet abroad on the gov.uk website.
If you’re taking your dog, you need to to arrive at port at least 1 hour before departure on short sea crossings and at least 90 minutes before departure on the longer crossings. Always make sure you have lots of water for your family pet and leave the windows ajar to make sure that the car does not get too hot.