The Netherlands to the UK by ferry

The Netherlands to the UK by ferry

The UK consists of islands, so you might assume it’s easiest to reach by plane. Wrong! There are quite a lot of ferries that can bring you from continental Europe to the UK. In this post, I will be focusing on the 3 ferry routes between The Netherlands and the UK (actually just England, although one of them brings you quite close to Scotland). Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for the most important (money-saving) tips.

Hoek van Holland – Harwich

This route is operated by Stena Line, a Swedish ferry company that’s arguably one of the most sustainable ones in Europe. You have the option to travel either during the day or at night. The night time ferries are slightly more expensive, but think of it as transport and a hotel stay in one! The port in Harwich is right next to the train station. Getting to London from there takes you approximately 1,5 hours. On the other side of the water, the metro in Hoek van Holland will take you to Rotterdam in about 45 minutes. The metro stop is located right outside the ferry terminal. Upon booking the ferry, have a look at the ‘low fares calendar’ to find the best prices.

Europoort – Hull

The second ferry option between The Netherlands and the UK brings you further to the north of England. It’s only 1 hour by train from Hull to either York or Leeds. Because it travels further north, the P&O operated ferry between Europoort and Hull takes longer than the one to Harwich. It therefore only travels at night, so you have to book yourself a cabin. In return, you do get access to a small movie theatre and free live music. Because the ports on both ends are not as conveniently located in terms of public transport, I prefer to take my bike (or a car) on this route. Just make sure that you’re aware of the Europoort port’s location, as it is located on the opposite side of the estuary compared to Hoek van Holland. If you’re travelling by train, you can book a bus ticket from Rotterdam to Europoort. Similarly, there’s a bus to take you to Hull train station when selecting ‘add-ons’ for your ferry ticket. You need to book these bus tickets in advance, as they are not part of the regular public transport network in either country. I would advice to use this route with a group of two or more people, as you can only book 2-person or 4-person cabins. If you travel solo, you’re esentially still paying for two people.

IJmuiden – Newcastle

The route between IJmuiden and Newcastle is run by yet another ferry operator: DFDS. Again, you need buses to bring you to the ports of both IJmuiden and Newcastle. These you can also select as an add-on upon booking the ferry ticket. The good thing about this ferry route is that it brings you close to two capitals. IJmuiden is practically ‘Amsterdam Harbour’, and Edinburgh is 1 hour 20 minutes away from Newcastle by train. The DFDS ferry is also an overnight one. It’s nice to know that DFDS is refurbishing all cabins on the ferry crossing between the Netherlands and the UK before March 2024!

The advantages of travelling by ferry

  • You travel whilst sleeping, so it’s time efficient!
  • It’s easy to bring a bike (or car, motorcycle, motorhome, etc.)
  • There is no limit on the amount of luggage or liquids to bring
  • It’s comfortable like a hotel stay (and just a great experience overall!)
  • Unlike going on a cruise, taking a ferry is a lot more sustainable than flying
  • You’re not putting any money in the aviation industry
  • You can make it as fancy as you want by getting meals and entertainment on board

For me, travelling by ferry gets me straight into vacation-mode. Over the past 1,5 years, I have travelled by ferry numerous times and I would highly recommend it. Thanks to the Europoort – Hull ferry, I have never had to fly to and from the Netherlands/UK during a period of long-distance dating.

Most important tips

  • Book way in advance and be flexible with dates: holidays and the summer period are often more expensive
  • Discounts aren’t always calculated into the ticket price by default, so check the discounts page before booking
  • Stena Line does ‘rail & sail’ deals, which can save you a good amount of money
  • Be aware of the check-in closing time (for the Europoort – Hull crossing, check-in closes as early as 90 minutes before departure)
  • Secure bus (and train) tickets to and from the port upon booking your ferry ticket
  • Think about food: taking an overnight ferry means you need to get dinner and breakfast, often with limited vegan options on board

* This post includes affiliate links. Booking your ferry ticket with P&O throughย this linkย or with DFDS through this link helps maintain The Sustainable Travel Guide, as I receive a small commission. I only use affiliate links for brands I personally use and support.

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