Getting to Britain

Travelling to the UK by sea, rail and coach

The Isle of Wight Ferry. Isle of Wight Ferry. Links Southampton to the Isle of Wight.

Travelling from the European continent to Great Britain you will cross either the English Channel or the North Sea, and there are many different ways you can do this. Ferry services operate from a number of ports and have good link-ups with both public transport and international coaches/buses. The Channel Tunnel provides a non-stop rail link between Britain and the rest of Europe. Prices among the ferries and the tunnel services remain competitive, and both options are good green alternatives to flying. Find out more:

Ferry services to Britain from Europe

A network of car and passenger ferry services conveniently link several ports around the UK with northern and southern Europe.

Key international UK ferry ports include: Felixstowe, Harwich, Folkestone, Dover, Southampton, and Bristol in south England; Hull and Liverpool in north England; Edinburgh in Scotland, and Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Ferries can be convenient, economical and fun. Fares vary greatly according to the season, time of travel and duration of stay so make sure you do you research before you book.

Crossing times vary from just over an hour on the shortest routes to 24 hours on services from places like Spain and Scandinavia. If you take an overnight sailing, it could be worth paying extra for sleeping quarters. DFDS runs fast Seacat (catamaran) services Boulogne in France, taking just under an hour. Catamarans can carry vehicles and lack the dip and sway of a conventional ship, so may be preferable for those who tend to get seasick.

Travel to Britain via the Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel provides a route to Britain from the European continent via Eurostar trains (which take passengers) and Eurotunnel trains (which take passengers in their cars). The cost is comparable to flying and the train can be more convenient and eco-friendly. A one-way ticket between London and Paris can cost as little as £29; prices depend on the day and time of your journey and how far in advance you book.

Passengers on coaches/buses and in cars board a freight train run by Eurotunnel that takes 35 minutes to travel from Calais in France to the port of Folkestone in the UK.

Eurostar passenger rail services, operated by the French, Belgians and British, run frequent direct services from Brussels in Belgium, and Paris, Lille and Calais in France to Ashford and Ebbsfleet in southeast England and St Pancras station in London.

International coach travel to Britain

Coach/bus is a cheaper option for travelling into the UK. Many services offer regular routes that cross the Channel from the European continent. You could choose to terminate your journey in London or other major cities in the UK.