What ferry routes are available between Spain and the UK and Ireland ?

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What ferry routes are available between Spain and the UK and Ireland ?
As a new “cruise-ferry” will be launched between Ireland and Spain in November, here’s a reminder of the ferries that operate between Spain, Ireland and the UK. (Photo by MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP)

With the vast array of cheap flights and budget airlines operating between Spain, Ireland and the UK, the ferry often gets overlooked. See The Local’s breakdown of the various options and routes here.


As most people take advantage of the multitude of cheap flights that operate between Spain, Ireland and the UK every day, the ferry routes between them are often forgotten about, or considered old-fashioned.

In reality, there are still regular ferry routes between Spain and the UK and Ireland with plenty of people who prefer or need to travel by sea to and from Spain rather than by air.

The Local has had a look at the options and outlined them below:


UK to Spain

There are 3 ferry routes between England and Spain: 

  • Portsmouth - Santander  
  • Plymouth - Santander 
  • Portsmouth - Bilbao 

All three routes are operated by Brittany Ferries, and offer weekly crossings all year round.

Brittany Ferries map of routes between France, Spain, Ireland and England. Map: Brittany Ferries


Plymouth to Santander

The trip from Plymouth leaves to Santander in northern Spain takes around 21 hrs and 30 minutes on what is described as a ‘modern luxurious vessel’ with everything you’d need to pass the time on the 430 nautical mile journey. There are two crossings a week.

Portsmouth to Santander

The Portsmouth to Santander route takes anything from 24 hours to 32 hours, depending on the weather and the boat you’re on. The distance between Portsmouth and Santander is 532 nautical miles.

Portsmouth to Bilbao

The Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry leaves twice weekly throughout the year, and is a 555 nautical mile journey that takes either 24 hours or 32 hours, depending on the vessel.

READ MORE: UK’s first LNG-powered ferry launches route between Portsmouth and Bilbao


How much is the ferry from the UK to Spain?

Prices are very seasonal and vary largely depending on the time of the year you want to travel. Generally speaking, tickets between the UK to Spain are cheapest during autumn and winter but can double during the peak Summer season.

During the winter season, one-way voyages can cost £200 (roughly €240), but can rise to as high as £700 (€840), according to figures on Ferry Saver. 


Ireland - Spain

The only route from Ireland to Spain goes from Rosslare in southern Ireland to Bilbao and is a trip of 553 nautical miles. Crossings usually leave twice a week on the Connemara vessel and it takes around 30 hours under normal conditions with at least one night spent on board. One way tickets range from €223 to €468 each-way. 

In November 2022, Brittany Ferries will replace the Connemara with a new "cruise-ferry" called the Galicia which brings with plenty of perks for travellers.

It can carry 1,000 passengers, far more than the Connemara as this is mainly a freight vessel - and offers a wider array of entertainment and choice for passengers including onboard shopping, cabins with video on demand, playrooms and sundecks. Fares for the Galicia have not yet been announced. 

The introduction of Galicia on the Bilbao to Rosslare route is great news for Irish and Spanish travellers. Photo: Brittany Ferries


Taking your car

Cars can be boarded on all routes operated by Brittany Ferries between the UK and Spain or between Ireland and Spain. This is a very popular way to travel, so be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

Taking your pets

Unlike the hassle of flying with pets, taking your pets with you on the ferry is a much easier experience and all routes between the UK, Ireland and Spain allow pets on board.



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