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

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.

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)

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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How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Spain's government recently confirmed it will slash the cost of public transport tickets to help people deal with rising inflation. Here's how much bus, train and metro tickets are likely to cost you in some of Spain's main cities from September 2022.

How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Spain’s annual inflation rate reached 10.2 percent in June, the highest since April 1985, according to a statement released by the Spanish authorities on Wednesday. 

To help its citizens and residents save money and make ends meet at a time of rising inflation, the Spanish government recently announced a 50 percent discount on the cost of multi-journey tickets on RENFE services such as Cercanías, Media Distancia and Avant. 

A 30 percent discount will also be applied to the cost of passes and multi-trip tickets for regional and local transport services, including city metro, bus and tram systems, bought between September 1st and December 31st 2022.

So far it hasn’t been revealed exactly how the reduction will work and it is up to each region to decide on how they want to implement it.

For example, they could just reduce the cost of the tickets or ask people to apply for money back on the tickets they’ve bought over the four months.

Some cities and regional authorities have also said that they will reduce the cost of transport tickets further by applying an extra 20 percent discount on top of the central government’s 30 percent, taking it to 50 percent.

In order to finance the new measure, the government has confirmed that €221 million will be allocated to regional governments and transport authorities across the country. 

Here are the savings you’ll be able to make on transport tickets in Spain’s major cities:


The regional government of Catalonia has announced that it will aim to add further deductions by applying a total 50 percent discount for services run by the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM ), which includes Barcelona city and the metropolitan area.  

The mobility councillor for Barcelona City Council Laia Bonet said ATM is “aiming to guarantee a 50 percent reduction”. 

This means that if the 50 percent discount is applied, the T-Usual ticket, which allows you unlimited journeys over 30 days, will go from costing €40 to just €20 and the T-Casual ticket which gives you 10 journeys will go from €11.35 to €5.67.  


Madrid has not yet confirmed if it will apply more than the 30 percent discount announced by Pedro Sánchez’s government, as public transport tickets there are already subsidised by 60 percent. Authorities in the capital have also said that they still don’t know how much of the €221 million they will receive.

If the national government’s 30 percent reduction is applied, the standard 30-day metro season ticket for zone A will be reduced from €54.60 to €38.22 and the regional pass all the way to Toledo will drop from €131.60 to €92.12.


Seville City Council also hasn’t yet decided if they will apply a 50 percent discount on transport passes to stick with the 30 percent. However, IU-Podemos has requested that they apply the 50 percent reduction. 

Currently, TUSSAM, the body responsible for urban transport in Seville, has set the price for a 30-day bus pass at €35.50.

With a 30 percent deduction, this will drop to €24.71 and with a 50 percent discount, the cost will go down to €17.65.

With regards to the Seville metro system, a 30-day Bono Plus 45 ticket which allows you to make 45 journeys of a similar type, costs between €30 and €50, depending on how many zones you jump through.

With the 30 percent reduction, a simple pass without jumping through zones will cost €21, while the one-jump pass will cost €29.40.


As of yet, there is no concrete information on the reductions that will be applied to transport tickets in Valencia city, but based on the national government’s discount a 30-day SUMA ticket pass for the metro, bus and local train services for zones A and B will go from €35 down to €24.50.  


Like Seville, no decision has been made yet in Malaga as to any further reductions other than the government’s 30 percent. Based on this, an unlimited monthly bus pass will be reduced from €39.95 to €27.96.