Ferry Travel Between UK and Europe
If you're the kind of traveller who likes to take in each bit of the road at a time rather than just getting on a plane and arriving at your final destination, then you'll most probably encounter ferries sooner or later. This is, in no small way, because Britain is an island.
Of course, since the early 90's we've had the Channel Tunnel (or 'Chunnel') connecting us with our Gallic cousins, so if you're not the seafaring type but you want to be kind to the environment, it is still possible. However, travelling by ferry can be both enjoyable and economical - especially if you choose to make the most out of it.
Let's face it, most of us never set foot on a boat - in fact, many of us rarely even go to the seaside. It's not that we're land-lubbers particularly, we're just too busy and preoccupied with making the most out of the little free time we have and it's so easy just to fly to places. But there's a lot to be said for the fresh sea air and its ability to clear your head, not to mention the spectacular panoramic views you get from a ferry as the great mass of land you were just standing on gradually diminishes into a faint shape on the horizon.
Mainland EuropeTravelling to France from the south of England is the quickest and cheapest type of ferry travel from the UK into mainland Europe. The shortest distance between the two countries is that between Dover and Calais, which takes about two and a half hours - short enough to actually go there and back in a day if you so please.
Other ferry routes from England to France or the low countries include: Dover to Dunkirk, Ostende (Belgium) or Hoek (Holland); Newhaven (near Brighton) to Dieppe; Poole to Cherbourg and Plymouth to Roscoff. There are also several routes coming out of Portsmouth to both France and Spain - the modern yet atmospheric town of Bilbao in the Basque region comes highly recommended, as does Santander.
For real lovers of the sea air, there are overnight routes from North Shields (near Newcastle) to Amsterdam and from Hull to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge.