Ferry nice breaks

Cruise your way to a perfect holiday

Ferry nice breaks Hop on a ferry to enjoy the delights of the Isle of Wight - © Isle of Wight Council www.islandbreaks.co.uk
By Chris Moss

For a low-cost getaway, climb aboard a ferry and cruise gently to the British Isles and mainland Europe.


Voyage Portsmouth-Bilbao (35hrs)

Although it’s not the most scenic of cities, Bilbao is the gateway to Northern Spain. Check out the Guggenheim art gallery – inside is less impressive than outside – before continuing on to foodie capital San Sebastián and the cradle of Basque culture, the village of Guernica.

Go with P&O (08716 645 645, www.poferries.com).


Voyage Portsmouth-Guernsey (7hrs)

Head to Britain’s nicest island and buy a locally brewed ale with Guernsey pounds in one of St Peter Port’s lively pubs. The capital is still a busy little hub, framed by tiered gardens and criss-crossed by worn steps and hidden alleys. Don’t miss the fresh Guernsey ice-cream.

Go with Condor (01202 207216, www.condorferries.co.uk).

The Netherlands

Voyage Harwich-Hook of Holland (6hrs 15mins)

Get a Stenaline ferry to the Hook of Holland, for quick and easy access to the country’s main cities. Catch the train to the Hague, the Dutch seat of government; take in the historic houses of parliament and the Peace Palace, and do a tram ride before heading to the North Sea resort of Scheveningen for some kitesurfing and sunworshipping (and, if you want it, naturism). Rotterdam, Haarlem and Amsterdam are also all within easy reach of the Hook and the Hague.

Go with Stenaline (08705 70 70 70, www.stenaline.co.uk).


Voyage Hull-Zeebrugge (13hrs 45mins overnight)

Zeebrugge looks on to the beaches of the Belgian coast, and is only a drive away from Bruges, Oostkamp and Northern France. It’s an interesting town in itself and the huge wholesale fish market means the local restaurants serve up fresh catches every lunchtime. The Seafront Zeebrugge maritime theme park is full of piratethemed exhibitions and interactive gizmos for the kids, as well as historical displays for adults.

Go with P&O (08716 645 645, www.poferries.com).

Read more about Dublin's best restaurants, attractions, museums and more on Time Out Amsterdam.


Voyage Holyhead-Dublin Ferryport (1hr 49mins)

It’s hard to avoid the clichés of Guinness and folk bands in Dublin, so why not embrace them and head to the Guinness Storehouse museum – pull a pint and then sip another one while enjoying views of the city from the Gravity Bar. After dark, head to Temple Bar for a knees-up.

Go with Irish Ferries from Holyhead to Dublin Ferryport (08717 300 400, www.irishferries.com).

Read more about Dublin's best restaurants, attractions, museums and more on Time Out Dublin.

Isle of Wight

Voyage Portsmouth-Fishbourne (40mins)

The tiny village of Fishbourne is the arrival point, and lies between the yachting hub of Cowes and Victorian Ryde. The Isle of Wight is the best ferry option for those seeking a peaceful break – breathe in fresh air while gazing at the Needles and the colourful sands of Alum Bay.

Go with Wightlink (0871 376 1000, www.wightlink.co.uk).


Voyage Portsmouth-St Malo (9hrs)

If you fancy searching in rock pools for sea creatures and collecting fresh mussels for dinner, then St Malo is for you. A town by the sea, it’s a handsome, stone-walled place filled with restaurants, bars and shops.

Go with Brittany Ferries (0871 244 0744, www.brittany-ferries.co.uk).


Voyage Aberdeen-Lerwick (12hrs 30mins)

Shetland isn’t just full of small ponies, it has lots of trout too. In fact, the island has an array of watery activities from fishing to scuba diving to surfing, as well as plenty of wildlife and dramatic landscapes. Although it’s a long slog to get there – an overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick– the change of pace from bustling city life to idling island life makes it well worth it.

Go with North Link (0845 6000 449, www.northlinkferries.co.uk).


Voyage Harwich-Esbjerg (18hrs 15mins)

Denmark’s fifth largest city is built around one of the country’s most important North Sea harbours. Take a trip to the Fisheries & Maritime Museum to learn about its history before taking a look at the city’s newest landmark – four chalky white giants, by Svend Wiig Hansen entitled Man Meets the Sea. Stroll around one of Esbjerg’s parks to see wild deer and roe.

Go with DFDS Seaways from Harwich (0871 522 9955, www.dfdsseaways.co.uk).

Time Out Guidebooks

1000 Great Holiday Ideas

Plan your perfect trip with this inspirational compendium of failsafe holiday suggestions. It's packed with fresh ideas for traditional breaks, from beach idylls to winter sun and family camping, along with great suggestions for trying something different – all around the world. Whether you're looking for a weekend break or the trip of a lifetime, Time Out's worldwide team of travel specialists can take you there.

1000 Great Holiday Ideas is available from the Time Out shop.