Author: abby

Are you one of the most adventurous holidaymakers in the UK?

Are you one of the most adventurous holidaymakers in the UK?

Discover Ferries reveals where the UK’s most adventurous holidaymakers live

9 in 10 Brits love to explore beyond the holiday resort but Discover Ferries, which represents 13 ferry operators and more than 80 UK ferry routes, can reveal that Bristolians are the most adventurous holidaymakers. People from Cardiff, Birmingham and Edinburgh are also more likely to explore their destination than travellers from other parts of Britain. Holidaymakers from the North West, particularly those from Manchester are the least likely to explore their destination when abroad.

These findings come from the ferry industry body, which is tracking trends for travel “off the beaten track” as 70% of British holidaymakers rate experiencing attractions off the beaten track as an important part of their holiday*. They cite getting away from the crowds (44%) as the number one reason for heading to lesser-known attractions.

Abby Penlington, Director of Discover Ferries, comments: “We’ve long known British holidaymakers are craving new travel experiences that offer something a little different and this is a trend that has been steadily growing in recent years. With news that some destinations are suffering with over tourism, we want to shine a light on some lesser-known experiences that are within easy reach of the UK to inspire and tempt even the most cautious tourists to swap popular visitor spots for hidden gems.”  

Are you from an adventurous area? Residents from these UK cities are the most likely to explore when they go away**.

  1. Bristol
  2. Cardiff
  3. Birmingham
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Glasgow
  6. Brighton
  7. Leeds
  8. Newcastle
  9. Plymouth
  10. Belfast

And the British holidaymakers most likely to stay in the holiday resort…**

  1. Manchester
  2. Nottingham
  3. Southampton
  4. Sheffield
  5. Liverpool

Seeking authentic adventures away from the crowds

Popular TV series Race Across the World has potentially inspired travellers to seek more authentic cultural experiences. After relaxing (86%*), British holidaymakers rate trying local food and drink, learning about the culture and speaking with local people as the most important holiday experiences. Just over three quarters of UK travellers (76%) look to launch themselves into the local food and drink scene* and 71% want to immerse themselves into culture and speak to local people*.

Getting lost is the main deterrent for venturing off the beaten track, with more than a third of UK holidaymakers (36%) citing it as the reason they wouldn’t explore lesser-known places. Not having the right gear, such as walking shoes, because they didn’t fit into the suitcase puts 14% of British travellers off. Transport is another concern, with just over a fifth of UK holidaymakers (21%) put off going somewhere because it may be difficult to reach with public transport and 16% of holidaymakers say they are put off exploring if they don’t have a car to get there.

Penlington adds, “Ferry travel offers real freedom, providing a remedy for these concerns and helping them to feel confident to explore more. People can take their own vehicle across to Europe or other parts of the British Isles avoiding car rental costs. Ferry operators also offer unlimited baggage for vehicle drivers, and foot passengers can take advantage of incredibly generous luggage allowances. The ability to pack more than just the bare essentials can also help passengers save money as they can take their own sports equipment, all the suncream they need and even a picnic basket to reduce spend on dining out.”

The hidden gems within 90 minutes of your destination

Discover Ferries’ research further reveals the average time UK holidaymakers look to travel to find lesser-known adventures –1 hour 31 minutes on public transport*** (e.g. train, ferry, bus or a combination of transport types) and 1 hour 40 minutes by car. However, the preferred way to explore a destination is on foot with UK travellers willing to walk on average just under an hour (59 minutes) to reach lesser-known experiences such as a spectacular waterfall, a fantastic restaurant, a local food market, a secluded beach or an important historical site or a museum. Furthermore, on average UK holidaymakers are willing to walk 29 minutes to find a secluded beach cove – no mean feat when wearing flip flops!

To help travellers find the hidden gems worth travelling off the beaten track for, Discover Ferries has compiled its ultimate guide, which is divided into destinations accessible by car, on foot or with public transport within 90 minutes from a ferry port. Of course, all of them are flight free!

What’s on the list? The singing sands on the Scottish Isle of Eigg, which “sing” with every step you take; taking tea with Benedictine monks on the Isle of Wight, flying an Aéroplume on France’s Contentin Peninsula – a helium contraption that looks straight out of a Jules Verne novel; and the chance to spot wild wallabies on the Isle of Man.

Penlington continues: “Within a short distance of even the most popular holiday destinations, there are plenty of opportunities to discover some of the best views, beaches and attractions away from the crowds. Whether it is a wildlife seafari to Les Ecréhous islands near Jersey, discovering prehistoric monuments on Cornwall’s Isles of Scilly or swapping Amsterdam for the city of Leiden, we want to show travellers how easy it is to enjoy places that not everyone has seen.”

References

Results based on a survey conducted for Discover Ferries. The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 2,002 nationally representative consumers across the UK (aged 18+). The data was collected between 21.06.2024 and 24.06.2024. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct and ESOMAR principles. Censuswide is also a member of the British Polling Council.

* ‘Quite important’ and ‘Very important’ answers combined.

**Excludes those who do not go on holidays.

*** Average time calculated from responses for travel by water (boat, ferry etc.), coach and bus, by train, tram or metro and a combination of public transport e.g. train then ferry, then bus.

The best hidden holiday gems you can reach car-free

The best hidden holiday gems you can reach car-free

Taking the ferry gives you the freedom to explore somewhere new, to bring what you want with you, including your camping equipment or that extra pair of shoes and often a choice of scheduled departures so you can decide a time that most suits you. For everyone who doesn’t own a car or who doesn’t want to drive on holiday, ferry travel also gives access to some off-the-beaten-track experiences that are easily accessible by public transport, foot or bicycle.

Check the operators’ websites as many ferry companies offer combined rail-sail and coach-sail tickets that will take you all the way from your local train or bus station to the destination ferry terminal.

Recent research has shown that the optimum time to go in search of the road less travelled is 1 hour 28 mins. With this in mind, we have put together our top hidden gems within 90 mins or less of the arrival port.

Off-the-beaten track experiences to enjoy without a car

France

Rouen – more than just the Gros Horloge

Rouen’s half-timbered houses

At just an hour away from Dieppe and Le Havre by train, this often overlooked city on the River Seine is most famous for the trial and execution of Joan of Arc. A cross next to the Church of Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc de Rouen marks the spot where she was burnt at the stake. Rouen has some of the best-preserved medieval half-timbered houses in the world, a soaring gothic cathedral and a thriving food scene, with Norman cheeses, calvados and cider a must-try. One of the most surprising attractions is the Aître Saint-Maclou – a medieval plague cemetery where the buildings of the courtyard commemorate the devastation of the Black Death through the wooden beams carved with skulls, bones, swords and sleeping faces of the dead.

Sail to Dieppe from Newhaven with DFDS or Le Havre from Portsmouth with Brittany Ferries.

Calais Beach

Calais has a wonderful long sandy beach which is easily accessible by public transport from the port. The seafront has been completely renovated in recent years and not only are there some great restaurants and cafes but there is also a skatepark and the Calais Dragon which parades the promenade and interacts with the visitors!

Sail as a foot passenger with P&O Ferries. Fri-Sun and bank holidays there is a shuttle bus service from the port to the train station from where you can walk to the beach in 25 mins. Sail with your bicycle with DFDS and cycle to the beach within 20 mins.

Ireland

Howth Cliff Top Walk, Dublin

Howth Head, Baily Lighthouse, Credit: Cesar Dive / Failte Ireland

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and discover a different side to Dublin. Take the DART train from Dublin to Howth and in just 40 mins you’ll be breathing in the fresh sea air and exploring some of Dublin’s most spectacular coastline. The Cliff Path Loop starts at Howth station and goes along the cliff top path for 6km with views of the small island, Ireland’s Eye, and imposing lighthouses. You can extend the walk with a visit to the secluded Hidden Tiny Beach nestled in the cliffs.

Irish Ferries and Stena Line sail from Holyhead to Dublin. Crossings can be combined with Rail Sail tickets with Avanti West Coast. Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sail from Douglas to Dublin in high season.

The Isle of Man – the hidden gem in the Irish Sea

Wallaby at Ballaugh Curraghs, Credit Visit Isle of Man

Located in the Irish Sea between England, Ireland and Scotland this hidden gem is just 33 miles long and 13 miles wide, great for exploring by public transport. As a crown dependency it is not part of the UK and has its own government and laws. You don’t need a passport to visit though, and you can bring your dog without needing additional documentation and health checks.

If you avoid the world-famous motorcycle events– The TT and the Southern 100s – then you will find a relaxed, quite island filled with glens, mountains, woodland and coastal paths to explore.

Unbeknownst to many people is that the Isle of Man has a population of red-necked wallabies, which escaped from the wildlife park in the 1960s and started their own colony. There are now over 560 wallabies living in the north of the island, some of which may be spotted in the Curragh Nature Reserves (1h10 on the bus from Douglas).

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sails from Heysham to Douglas and from Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas in high season.

Isle of Wight

Enjoy tea with monks

Quarr Abbey, Credit: Visit Isle of Wight

Quarr Abbey is home to a small community of Benedictine monks who welcome visitors to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of their gardens and grounds. Relax in this quiet oasis with a light lunch, freshly prepared from their homegrown organic produce or a delicious cream tea accompanied with Abbey jam. There is also a Farm Shop and a Visitors Centre, for those who want to find out more about the Abbey and the daily life of the monks.

Walk to Quarr Abbey from Fishbourne (20 mins) or get the bus from Ryde (25 mins) or from Cowes (45 mins). Hovertravel and Wightlink sail to Ryde and Fishbourne or Ryde Pier respectively and Red Funnel sails from Southampton to Cowes.

Isles of Scilly

Bronze-age burial sites with stunning sea views

Bant’s Carn, Credit: Visit Isles of Scilly

Although more famous for idyllic beaches than historical monuments, the Isles of Scilly actually have an impressive range of pre-historical sites – all within walking distance of Hugh Town on St Mary’s! The closest prehistoric site to Hugh Town is the bronze-age standing stone (menhir) next to Harry’s Walls.  Further to the north you can visit Bant’s Carn burial chamber, one of the finest examples of an entrance grave, and Halangy Down ancient village, which features the remains of nearly a dozen interconnecting stone houses and a cemetery. Innisidgen has two entrance graves, the upper one with spectacular views over to St Martin’s and Porth Hellick Down features the remains of a bronze-age cemetery with six grave mounds.

Sail to St Mary’s from Penzance with Isles of Scilly Travel. All sites are within a 45 min walk of Hugh Town.

Jersey

Seafaris to Les Écréhous

Les Écréhous Credit Visit Jersey

Les Écréhous are a small group of islands 6 miles off the coast of Jersey which has been designated a wetland of international importance. Boat tours leave from St Catharine’s in Jersey and cruise around the reef to spot wildlife including seals, dolphins and a variety of sea birds. At low tide sandbanks and rock pools emerge from the sea, ripe for exploring and at high tide you can see the isolation of the island’s fisherman’s huts.

Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries from Portsmouth or Poole. St Catharine’s is 35mins by bus from St Helier.

London

East London countryside at Mudchute Park & Farm

Just cross the foot tunnel from Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs and you’ll find one of London’s truly hidden gems. Away from the crowds of Greenwich Park you can visit Mudchute Park & Farm. Home to a huge diversity of plants and wildlife, as well as domestic livestock and  Pets Corner. The park’s 32 acres represent a wide range of habitats including wetlands, woodlands and meadows. Book an animal experience to meet the sheep flock or the goat herd and in the late spring and summer you may even be lucky enough to meet the new arrivals. Mudchute Farm is a community charity, it is free to visit but donations are welcome.

Mudchute Farm is a 15 min walk from Greenwich Pier. Arrive at Greenwich Pier with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.

The Netherlands

Explore the courtyard garden city of Leiden

Swerve the tourist meccas of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and take the train to the university city of Leiden. This small city has its own charm and is perfect to be explored on foot. The well-preserved 17th century historic centre has old Dutch-style houses along cobbled streets with relaxed cafes next to pretty canals and it is also known for its many courtyard gardens. Take the Courtyard Garden walking route to discover these hidden havens in the heart of the city.  While walking around keep an eye out for the hand-painting poems that decorate many walls of Leiden, you’ll see many familiar names including Shakespeare, W B Yates and Pablo Neruda.

Leiden was the birth place and home of Great Dutch Master Rembrandt, who learned his trade in what is now the Young Rembrandt Studio. The Latin School, where he studied, is also worth a visit.

Trains to Leiden take 1h30 from Hook of Holland, 1h45 from Europoort Rotterdam and 1h05 from IJmuiden. Sail with DFDS to IJmuiden, P&O Ferries to Rotterdam or Stena Line to Hook of Holland.

Scotland

Puck’s Glen & Benmore Botanic Garden

Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Take the ferry across the Firth of Clyde to the Cowal Peninsula for a day exploring the magical forests and glens of Argyll. The Black Gates trail in Benmore takes in the full tour of the forest, between some impressively tall conifers and up the mountainside which give sweeping views of Glen Massan and the River Eachaig. The walk continues to the dramatic rocky gorge at Puck’s Glen, along the river and its cascading waterfalls. Don’t miss the Benmore Botanic Gardens with its collection of plants from the Himalayas, China, Japan and North and South America.

Buses between Dunoon and Inveraray stop at Benmore Botanic Gardens and take around 15-25 mins. Caledonian MacBrayne sail from Gourock to Dunoon.

9 hidden gems you can easily sail-drive to

9 hidden gems you can easily sail-drive to

Road trips conjure up thoughts of freedom, the open road, you and your tribe! Add in the ferry and now you can really reach those places on the road less travelled. Bring the bikes, the buckets and spades and travel at a time that suits you, with time on board to enjoy a bite to eat, look out for dolphins and even sleep in a comfortable cabin.

Recent research has shown how important it is for holidaymakers to escape the crowds and seek out authentic experiences it also shows that between 1-2 hours is the optimum journey that holidaymakers want to travel when going in search of attractions that are off the beaten track. So, here’s our guide to hidden gems within two hours of your ferry port.

The roads less travelled

France

Take an Aéroplume flight in the airship hangar on the Cotentin Peninsula

Normandy Experience: Aeroplume flight in Écausseville © Coraline et Léo

For a truly unique experience, drive to the airship hangar in Écausseville on the Cotentin Peninsula, which houses a well-kept secret. One of twelve built by the French army during the first world war, the hangar is now the last of its kind. During the summer months and the end of October, the 150m long and 30m high building is used for Aéroplume flights.  This incredible contraption, designed and invented by Jean-Pierre David looks like its straight out of a Jules Verne novel and for half an hour, you become the pilot! You are strapped underneath a helium balloon and “flap” the wings to fly around the hangar. When your feet are back on the ground, head to one of the Contentin Peninsula’s spectacular lesser-known beaches.

Hangar in Écausseville is a 35mins drive from Cherbourg, a 1h10min drive from Caen or a 2h drive from St Malo. Sail with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth or Poole to Cherbourg and Portmouth to Caen and Saint Malo, or with Condor Ferries from Jersey to Saint Malo.

Seal colony on Plage des Phoques, Berck

Credit: Somme Tourisme / Stephane Bouilland

Within an hour’s drive of Calais you can observe the seal colony of the Baie d’Authie where a number of harbour and grey seals make their home. The seals can be seen year-round at low tide resting on the sand banks in the bay around 200m off the coast. Drive to Berck and go to the viewing point at the Club Nautique Berckois.

DFDS, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries have multiple sailings a day from Dover to Calais. DFDS also sail from Dover and Rosslare to Dunkirk.

Ireland

Hook Lighthouse and Booley Bay Beach

Credit: Failte Ireland

Discover what life was like as a lighthouse keeper in the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. The 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse has a fascinating history and spectacular views out to sea. Combine the visit with a trip to the secluded beach at Booley Bay, also on the Hook peninsula. With golden sands, crystal waters and cliffs either side, this sheltered beach attracts few visitors and is a real hidden gem.

Hook Lighthouse is an hour’s drive from Rosslare Europort. Sail with Irish Ferries from Pembroke to Rosslare or with Stena Line from Fishguard to Rosslare.

British Islands

Stargaze at Fort Island on the Isle of Man

Fort Island Credit: Visit Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has 26 designated Dark Skies sites around the island, where you can see the Milky Way Galaxy and Orion Nebula with just the naked eye.

Drive 30 mins south of Douglas to Fort Island and you’ll have one of the best views of the autumn constellations in the southern sky including the Square of Pegasus. Bring your binoculars or telescope to discover even more.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sails from Heysham to Douglas and from Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas in high season.

Isle of Wight

Book a sauna on Compton Beach and head to Chessel Café for homemade cakes

Credit: Slow Motion Sauna

Compton Beach, although not a hidden gem, has a new, rather unique attraction that opened this summer. Former BBC Radio 1 DJ, Rob Da Bank, has stationed a traditional Lithuanian woodfired sauna on the beach – the Slow Motion Sauna, so you can feel the heat and then jump into the sea to cool off. Great for the circulation and a fun experience no matter what the weather. Just 5 mins’ drive away from Compton Beach is the little know Chessel Café. A favourite with cyclists, it serves homemade cakes and locally roasted coffee in what was once a working pottery.

Compton Beach is a 12 mins drive from Yarmouth, 30 mins from Cowes or 35 mins from Fishbourne. Sail with Wightlink to Yarmouth or Fishbourne or with Red Funnel to Cowes.

Jersey

Devil’s Hole and La Mare Wine Estate

Le Mare Wine Estate Credit: Visit Jersey

Jersey’s northern coast is wilder and more dramatic than the popular southern beaches. Drive to the Priory Inn in the north of the island, park up and then descend the steep footpath down to Devil’s Hole, an impressive blowhole that has been eroding the coast for millennia. Continue along to Sorel Point for spectacular views of these multi-coloured volcanic rocks disappearing into the sea.

Reward your efforts with a tipple from Jersey’s only vineyard and distillery, which is a 10min walk from the Priory Inn. Book a guided tour and tasting experience at La Mare Wine Estate and try the locally produced wines, cognacs, fudge and chocolate.

Priory Inn is a 20 min drive from St Helier. Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries from Portsmouth or Poole.

Scotland

Where the sea meets the singing sands, Eigg, Small Isles

View over towards Eigg and Rhum Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Yes, you read this correctly, it does say ‘singing’ sands. The sands on the beach at Cleadale, in the north of Eigg, are made of quartzite, which, in dry weather squeaks or sings when the grains are walked on, or when they are blown in the wind.  Singing Sands beach has fantastic views over to the Isle of Rum and is a short, though marshy ramble from the road. 

The Small Isles are some of the most remote islands in Britain accessible only by ferry from Mallaig.  Although you can take your car it is easier to leave it in Mallaig and get a taxi, the community bus or a lift from a local on this tiny island.

Singing Sands beach is a 14 mins taxi from Galmisdale. Caledonian MacBrayne sail from Mallaig to Galmisdale.

The Netherlands

Art Routes and vintage shopping in Middelburg, Zeeland

Zeeland, in the south-west corner of The Netherlands, consists of several islands and peninsulas, most of which lie below sea level. Middelburg, the capital of the province, has a lively art and cultural scene and is a treasure trove for antique and vintage shopping.

On the first Sunday of every month the artists of Middelburg open the doors to their studios, workshops and galleries and welcome visitors in to see their work. Between 1300 and 1700 you can walk the Art & Culture Route pop into the studios, meet the artists and admire their work without any obligation to buy.

There are several antique shops dotted around the streets of the town centre. Head to Sint Jansstraat for vintage Chanel and Dior. Middelburg’s Sebastian den Herder Vintage & Designers may have the perfect outfit waiting for you. And don’t worry, even the most enthusiastic shoppers will still find space in the car to bring everything home.

Middelburg is 1h30 from Europoort Rotterdam and Hook of Holland and 2h from IJmuiden. Sail with P&O Ferries to Rotterdam, with Stena Line to Hook of Holland or with DFDS to IJmuiden.

10 must-visit secret beaches

10 must-visit secret beaches

As soon as the sun comes out Brits love nothing better than to flock to the beach, however, when everyone has the same idea it can be difficult to find a space on the sand to call your own. Looking to escape the crowds? Discover Ferries and its 13 ferry operator members have shared their top picks for the best beaches accessed by British waters. So, whether its tropical sands and surf, caves and rockpools or somewhere so remote, you feel like Robinson Crusoe, there’s something to tick every box. And, even better, they can all be accessed by ferry!

  • Watcombe Bay, Isle of Wight
Credit: Island Visions Photography

On the west of the island, just along from the more popular Freshwater Bay is the remote Watcombe Bay. Only accessible by water, this deserted stony beach is cut into the chalk cliffs under Fort Redoubt. Curious visitors can explore beneath the cliffs to find caves that were used by smugglers in days gone by. Book a kayaking or SUP tour with one of the Isle of Wight’s adventure companies or travel by boat and make sure you go with local who is familiar with the tides!

Travel to the Isle of Wight with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink.

  • Laxey beach, Isle of Man
Credit: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Situated 8 miles north of Douglas, while this beach is not the most “unknown” it does hide a secret. At low tide, the steep stony slope turns into a huge sandy beach and reveals a network of sea caves and rock pools ripe for exploration. The beach gets its name from the old Norse word for salmon, which is also the name of the river that flows down from Snaefell Mountain – the island’s highest peak – into the sea at Laxey Harbour, which is a great spot for fishing.

Sail to Douglas with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

  • Helen’s Bay, Northern Ireland
St Helen’s Bay Credit K Mitch Hodge from Unsplash

Helen’s Bay, close to Bangor in N. Ireland is blessed with sand dunes and calm waters making it great for families and swimmers. The beach neighbours a stunning 9-hole golf course and Crawfordsburn Country Park, which forms part of the North Down Coastal Path. Discover Ferries recommends travelling car-free. Take advantage of Rail & Sail tickets to Northern Ireland via Belfast with Stena Line or travel from Scotland to Northern Ireland with Stena Line or P&O Ferries. Helen’s Bay has its own station and is only a 22min train journey from Belfast, which costs less than £5, or 1hr 35mins from Larne station. 

  • Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
View from Cap de Carteret, Cherbourg Peninsula Credit: CRT Normandy

Within just a few kilometres from Cherbourg harbour, ferry passengers can find some of France’s most impressive beaches. The Cotentin peninsular boasts expansive sandy beaches along the whole west edge until Mont Saint-Michel. With an abundance of space, it’s not hard to find your own secluded place on the coast and enjoy sunbathing, a reinvigorating walk or water sports. Families searching for calmer waters should head for sheltered bays such as the Anse de Sciotot, whereas surfing enthusiasts should head to Siouville beach, which is blessed with consistent waves and strong easterly winds. Sail to Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries.

  • The Cairns of Coll, Isle of Coll, Scotland
The Isle of Coll, Inner Hebrides Credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

On an island with fewer than 200 residents, this small, shell-sand beach is visually stunning but relatively unknown. The white sands are set off by the clear, turquoise waters, the golden sea grasses, and rocky outcrops. This jewel in the Inner Hebrides is loved by nature and is regularly visited by bird and marine life. Thanks to Scotland’s efforts to protect this aquatic habitat, the area continues to be a hotspot for basking sharks – the second largest fish species – and is visited by fin whales – the second largest animal on the planet. Sail to Coll from Oban with Caledonian MacBrayne and get to the Cairns of Coll by boat or paddleboard.

  • Stradbally Cove, Co. Waterford, Ireland
Stradbally Cove, Waterford Credit: Chris Hill Photographic

Tucked away on Waterford’s UNESCO recognised Copper Coast, this sheltered bay is protected from the breeze by trees either side. At low tide, the sandy beach stretches endlessly towards the sparkling sea but at high tide the beach almost disappears completely. Here it is just you and the sea so stop in the pretty village of Stradbally to stock up on refreshments and essentials before heading to the beach. The village has received accolades from Tidy Towns Competition and the respected Entente Floral. While in the area, pay a visit to the more rugged and dramatic Ballyvooney Cove, which is also accessed via the village and situated beneath an impressive headland. Stradbally is 2 hour 20 minute drive from Dublin or less than 90 minutes from Rosslare port by car. Travel with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

  • Beach of Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk, France
Credit: Hannah Reding Unsplash

This beautiful beach holds a prominent place in military history as it was the scene of the Operation Dynamo, a heroic World War II military manoeuvre, which saw “little ships” help to evacuate 338,000+ Allied troops in 1940. At low tide, shipwrecks become visible, and these moments of history have now become home for sea life. A visit makes for a very moving day trip, or, for history enthusiasts, it is a great place to start (or end) a tour of the D-Day beaches that stretch along France’s north west coastline. Sail to Dunkirk with DFDS or travel via Calais with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

  • Hidden Beach, London

By name and by nature, most Londoners are oblivious to this beach that is “hidden” in plain sight close to Tower Bridge. This tidal pebbly stretch is situated on the southern banks of the Thames, visitors are blessed with views of landmarks including the Tower of London, the Shard and the “Walkie Talkie” building. Sail to this beach with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.

  • Plémont Bay, Jersey
Plémont Beach Credit: StudioM Visit Jersey

One of Jersey’s most beautiful beaches, this sandy cove is hidden away on the north-west tip of the island. Plémont is protected by dramatic cliffs and the island’s largest sea caves ready for exploration. The sheltered crescent-shaped sand has plenty of rock pools creating a beach that feels more like a film set. Most impressive of all is the freshwater waterfall! Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

  • Great Bay, St Martins, Isles of Scilly
Great Bay, St Martin’s Credit Isles of Scilly Travel

While Great Bay has been voted the best beach in the UK, even on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend in August you could easily have the entire beach to yourself. Utterly unspoilt, Great Bay is reached by a few minutes’ walk through heathland paths, marram grass and sand dunes. With no facilities and no roads or buildings in sight, visitors to Great Bay can feel like true castaways. Sail away to Britain’s paradise isles with Isles of Scilly Travel.

9 Pride events to sail to this summer

9 Pride events to sail to this summer

Ferry travel is one of the most inclusive forms of travel, providing access to events, areas and attractions that suit everyone’s hobbies, interests and lifestyles.

Ahead of Pride month 2024, our operators have shared the most exciting LGBTQ+ events. While many are familiar with the big festivals, these events will appeal to first timers and seasoned celebrators looking for a slightly different Pride experience. And the best part – they can all be reached by water!

Wear a tartan rainbow

31 May – 2 June, Isle of Arran

Kick off pride month with a trip to this relative newcomer to the Pride Event calendar. The event warms up with drag bingo and cabaret on Friday night before a parade, picnic in the park and a celebration ceilidh – the ultimate Scottish party experience – on Saturday 1 June. Revellers can enjoy a “recovery dook”, a refreshing dip in the water that will clear even the foggiest of heads. Follow with a Full Scottish Breakfast for plenty of energy to explore the island’s diverse landscapes.

Sail with Caledonian MacBrayne.  

More than just one day

19 – 28 July, Belfast

One of the biggest festivals in Northern Ireland, Belfast Pride has more than 150 events over a 10-day programme. The centrepiece is Pride Day and the Pride Parade, which takes place on Saturday 27 July. The family-friendly Pride Village has live music, children’s entertainment and a bouncy castle as well as stalls selling refreshments. There are even quiet spaces for people that want to take a break from the crowds. With great nightlife venues, including Ireland’s biggest gay club, Kremlin, and bars such as the Maverick, there is plenty to do after dark too.

Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from Liverpool or Cairnryan, or from Cairnryan to Larne with P&O Ferries.

Celebrate with French flair

27-30 June, Paris

Described as a major demonstration, cultural celebration and party, Marche des Fiertés LGBTQIA+ welcomes around 700,000 spectators and marchers every year. France’s largest Pride Parade, Paris Pride comprises 50+ events, which have previously included exhibitions, concerts, dance and sports demonstrations, seminars and roller skating. The parade finishes at Place de la République for a free party.

Travel to France with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries.

Commemorate 50 years of Dublin Pride

29 June, Dublin

This free-to-attend festival is centred at the Pride Village in Merrion Square Park. Established in 1974, this year’s event will feel even more festive as it celebrates its golden anniversary. Revellers will enjoy the Mother Pride Block Party at the National Museum of Ireland, which boasts a line-up of DJs and Drag as well as events including Drag Aerobics, a Sing-along Social and Ping Pong Disco.

Looking for a more rural feeling Irish Pride? Mayo, Cork and Foyle all organise their own LGBTGIA+ community events starting with Mayo’s festival on 31 May, which features hiking and sea swimming alongside a parade.

Sail to Dublin with Irish Ferries and Stena Line.

The UK’s largest Pride event

29 June 2024, London

Pride in London unites the capital with a parade and stalls run by small and large businesses alike. Located in the heart of the city, stalls run by businesses of all sizes are set in Trafalgar Square, Soho, Leicester Square and St Giles and are open from midday to 8pm. The annual parade celebrates inclusivity and is powered by volunteers. The event is not ticketed but can be busy so visitors can book a seat in the grandstand on Haymarket.

Avoid the crowded tube and travel with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, the year-round city bus service helps make the city accessible to everyone. Disembark at Embankment for Pride in London events.

A charming event with a side of crafts

7 July, St Marys, Isles of Scilly

The islands held their first Pride event in 2022 and has become known for its community feel and colourful crafts – perfect for anyone who wants to move away from crowded and more commercial events. Free to attend and open to everyone the inclusive event has a procession, family-friendly activities, live music and stalls selling crafts and tasty treats. Everyone is invited to wear bright clothing.

Sail from Penzance on the Scillonian III with Isles of Scilly Travel

The only British Pride event on the beach

19-21 July in Ryde, Isle of Wight

Looking to combine festivities with flip flops? The Isle of Wight hosts the UK’s only Pride event on a beach. This unique backdrop combines sun, sea and sand to give festivities a holiday vibe, which has helped popularity grow since it began in 2015. This year’s event has had a makeover so expect more rainbow colours than you can shake a stick (of rock) at. With a Friday night launch party that goes into the early hours, Saturday’s free-to attend parade and Sunday’s entertainment featuring Symphonix Orchestra, this Pride is guaranteed to be a Ryde!  

Fly across the Solent on a hovercraft with Hovertravel or sail with Red Funnel or Wightlink.

Europe’s biggest canal boat parade

27 July – 4 August, Amsterdam, Netherlands

This year’s celebrations honour the 2,000 protesters who peacefully participated in city’s first Pride march in June 1977. Expect colourful floats, pulsing beats and dance as the crowds move towards the Vondelpark for the official opening party. For three days, Amsterdam Pride moves to the coast giving this festival a true holiday vibe. Pride at the Beach will return to Zandvoort People from all over the world come to celebrate at more than 800 events including street parties, cultural exhibitions and outdoor cinemas, so this is a truly international celebration that embodies 2024’s theme: Together.

Reach the Netherlands with DFDS, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

Late summer celebrations

7 September, Guernsey

Each year the Channel Islands alternates between holding Pride events in Jersey and Guernsey, 2024’s festival will be held in Candie Gardens on Guernsey. Designed for people of all ages, there are activities to suit everyone from live music performances on the main stage to talent acts and specific areas for families. Wear something bright for the parade! Guernsey is the sunniest place in the British Isles and while good weather isn’t guaranteed, the parade is always an explosion of colour. A stone’s throw from the ferry terminal at St Peter’s Port, visitors can easily catch Condor Ferries from Poole or Portsmouth.

Enjoy this sea-son of sport

Beach volleyball competition

Enjoy this sea-son of sport

Travel by ferry for football, sail to spectate or cross to compete

Whether you’re a spectator or a participator, this summer has a bumper crop of sporting events to keep you entertained. So, we’ve made a list of the unmissable events to choose from and, best of all, they are all easily reached by water.

Travelling by ferry offers great value as well as the option to take your vehicle, your dog and that all important sports equipment with you. Some ferries will also be showing sporting events on board so you can catch the action during the journey.  

Obviously, the summer of 2024 will be dominated by the world’s greatest sporting competition in Paris, taking place 26 July – 11 August & 28 August – 8 September.

With events taking place just across the Channel, excitement around this year’s championships will be palpable and start in May when the flame reaches France’s shores. Non-ticketholders can enjoy the action in Fan Zones and there will be plenty of screens in public venues to watch sporting brilliance unfold. Spectators can also cheer the athletes on for free by lining the route of events such as the triathlon, road cycling and the marathon. While Paris will host most of the competition’s athletes and para-athletes, different events are happening outside the capital too. This makes it easy for Brits to enjoy (or escape) sporting fever and appreciate the gastronomy, countryside and history France is famed for.

So how do you get there? Sail to France with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries. From ports in western France, including Dieppe and Le Havre, the drive to Paris takes approximately 2 hours 30 mins, whereas the journey from Calais is closer to 3 hours 30 mins. To avoid traffic and road closures, it is advisable to park up outside Paris and travel in with public transport. Versailles has great transport links into the city and – of course – the elegant palace, which is hosting equestrian events.   

For spectators:

Isle of Man TT Races, 27 May – 8 June

The world’s ultimate road race is a must-see event for motorsport fans. The Isle of Man TT is the only motorcycle race that takes place on a track as challenging, with plenty of twists and turns the Mountain Course is more than 37 miles long. Outside the event, the course is open to road traffic, so visitors can experience the same scenic views and spectacular landscapes as the world’s top riders.

Race activities commence from 27 May with a practice session in the morning before qualifying starts in the afternoon, racing begins on 1 June and culminates on 8 June. On non-race days spectators can explore the Island, using its 600 miles of roads. Travelling on two wheels? Read our tips for taking your motorbike or bicycle on the ferry.

Sailing with The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is the best way to reach the island, foot passengers will also enjoy the fresh air on the open deck or sitting back with a coffee on board to enjoy the journey. If you don’t bring your own transport either, buy a 7-day Explore ticket for less than £60 and gain unlimited use of buses, steam trains and electric trams to get around the island.

This event is incredibly popular and ferry crossings and accommodation books up quickly so it’s worth planning 2025 attendance early! Can’t make the TT? Try the Southern 100, which sees riders follow the Snaefell Mountain Circuit and takes place 8-11 July.

UEFA Euro 2024 Germany, 14 June – 14 July

This year’s Championship – the biggest event for European national men’s football teams – is being hosted by three-time winners, Germany. With matches taking place at 10 different cities across the country, from Hamburg in the north down to Munich in the south, the country will be rippling with excitement around the beautiful game. Whether you have tickets or simply want to soak up the atmosphere, travelling by ferry offers great value, convenience and enjoyment. Driving takes as little as 2.5 hours from Rotterdam to the stadium at Gelsenkirchen or for drivers through Dover, it’s less than 4 hours from Dunkirk to Dusseldorf, which has a great Fan Zone at Burgplatz in the heart of the city. Prefer to follow your sail with rail travel? You can reach Cologne from Amsterdam in less than 3 hours on the train.  

Travel with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries from Dover to France, cross from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS or sail to Rotterdam with P&O Ferries and Stena Line.

Tour de France, 29 June – 21 July

The 111th edition of the race starts in Florence and ends in Nice, adding a Mediterranean flavour to this year’s race and avoiding the road to Paris as the city prepares for the summer’s sporting events.

To reach the Tour by sea, travel via Dover or western ports in Normandy and Brittany and enjoy the spectacular scenery on the drive south stopping off on the way to marvel at France’s wine country.

Travel to western France with Brittany Ferries or sail from Dover with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

Wight Wave Beach Fest, Isle of Wight, 26 – 28 July

The festival is the largest beach sports event in the UK and celebrates all things beach! Appley Beach hosts a collection of competitive sports including Beach Volleyball, Beach Soccer, Beach Netball, Beach Tennis and Beach Rugby as well as Paddleboard Racing and Open Water swimming. Blended with music and fantastic locally sourced food & drink, this is a laid-back festival that has something for sports fans and the less-enthused alike. Located a short walk from Ryde, the event is easily accessed by ferry.

Cross the Solent with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink and look out for discounts on travel!

Cowes Week, 27 July – 2 August

One of the oldest and most respected sailing regattas, Cowes Week is the largest regatta in Europe and attracts approximately 8,000 competitors and more than 100,000 spectators every year. The ability for spectators to see the yachts at close quarters combined with the weather, fickle tides and varying sea conditions in the Solent make for exciting racing. With the competition, the quaint coastal town comes to life. Visitors can enjoy live music, fantastic nightlife and a carnival-like atmosphere, the festivities come to a crescendo with the Friday night prizegiving and closing party.

Sail across with Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink. As event sponsors, Red Funnel offers discounted travel for Cowes Week.

The Bute Highland Games, 24 August

Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

To experience quintessential Scotland, attend the iconic Highland Games on a beautiful Scottish Isle. Expect pipers, dancers and of course the strength and energy of the athletes. As well as road races and dance competitions, you can see wrestling and skills such as tossing the caber. Tickets start from £13.50 and family tickets are available for just £31.50.

The island itself is “a beaut” and known for its stunning, sheltered beaches and grand architecture – some buildings including the white marble chapel at Mount Stuart looks like it belongs in Renaissance Italy.

Sail from Wemyss Bay to Bute or take the short crossing from Colintraive with Caledonian MacBrayne.

Carey Olsen Jersey Regatta, 13-15 September

Credit: JamesCarnegiePhotography

This special 3-day event is a highlight for local and visiting sailors as it is open to all ages and ability with events for small boats, cruisers, dinghies and catamarans. Course events held around St Aubin’s Bay will provide plenty of excitement for spectators watching from the sand. After the events, head into St Helier for a bite to eat – Jersey has access to the best produce from soil and sea – and nightlife.

The perfect way to reach a sailing event? By sea of course! Cross to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

2024 Amgen Irish Open, 11-15 September

Royal County Down and Mourne Mountain’s  © Tourism Ireland & Chris Hill Photographic

World class golf and live music make this an unmissable event. Season ticket holders can enjoy five days of entertainment from the Celebrity Pro-Am and Championship matches. Held at the Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle Northern Ireland, it is less than an hour’s drive from Belfast port or less than two from Dublin and is accessible by train.

Sail to Northern Ireland with P&O Ferries or Stena Line or travel via Dublin with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

For participants:

Triathlon World Tour T100 London, 27-28 July

The biggest city centre triathlon in the world, the event races past some of London’s most famous landmarks. Open to amateurs and professionals alike with a choice of courses that cover different distances and there’s still time to enter. For 100k distance participants cover a 2km swim, 80km cycle and 18km run, passing monuments including the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament. Spectators can enjoy the swimming action at the Royal Victoria Dock, easily accessed by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers with a stop at the Royal Wharf Pier before moving to watch road events in the Docklands area.

Scilly Swim Challenge, 8-9 September

Credit: Visit Isles of Scilly

Swim from island to island covering 15km in 6 swims. Take in the Isles of Scilly’s beauty and enjoy the pleasant temperatures – the sub-tropical microclimate makes it one of the warmest places in Britain – while swimming around the unspoilt waters which are rich in marine life. There is also the opportunity to complete Tresco 360 on 11th September, an event which sees swimmers circumnavigate the island, which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Travel from Penzance to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel.

Jersey Marathon, 6 October

Motivated by watching world-class athletes achieve greatness? Use the summer to train for your own fitness challenge. Scheduled in the autumn, the Standard Chartered Jersey Marathon is an established niche race split into three categories: Marathon, Relay Race and Marathon Mile. Set on the stunning island of Jersey, which has a mild climate, quiet roads and clean air, the race attracts participants from all over – more than half of entrants travel from off the island to enjoy this “small race, with a very big atmosphere”. Even if you aren’t a Channel Island native, expect a thunderous reception at the finish line with large crowds and media celebrating your accomplishment.

Race entry starts from £51, great value for a marathon. Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

5 Peaks Challenge, anytime

Walker at the summit of Carrauntoohil Credit: Courtesy Gareth McCormack/garethmccormack.com

Many have tackled the 3 Peaks Challenge, but have you tried the 5 Peaks Challenge? As well as the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales, hikers climb Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland and Carrantoohil in the Republic of Ireland. Ambitious walkers can try to complete it in 72 hours. Start in Snowdon before travelling up to Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis before taking the ferry from Cairnryan to Northern Ireland. The final summit is in Co. Kerry and gives you a chance to take in a celebratory Guiness before returning home via Dublin.

Sail from Cairnryan with P&O Ferries or Stena Line and then return from Dublin with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

London to Paris by bike, anytime

Cycling from capital to capital will give cyclists enough scenery, challenge and hardship to write their own Tale of Two Cities.  Historically the route starts in Southwark and ends in front of Notre Dame, where there is a plaque in the pavement marking the finish. There are two routes to choose from, the classic route that goes through Kent and sails across to Dunkirk or Calais; or the shorter Avenue verte route, which goes through Surrey and Sussex to Newhaven where cyclists board the ferry to Dieppe. The second route works well for time-challenged cyclists as they can sleep on the overnight crossing before restarting their challenge early in Dieppe.

Sail from Dover with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries or travel from Newhaven to Dieppe with DFDS.

Ferry good value travel

Ferry good value travel

If you are looking to save on travel this summer, but don’t want to compromise on your experience, then ferry travel offers great value. While you avoid extra costs such as seat reservations, baggage fees and car hire costs, you can relax and enjoy the start of you holiday, whether that is spotting whales and dolphins from deck, grabbing a drink at the bar, indulging in duty-free shopping or enjoying your first experience on a hovercraft. To help you to reduce holiday costs even further we’ve partnered with Chelsea Dickenson from Cheap Holiday Expert to give her top money-saving tips.

  • Book early. Take advantage of advance booking offers and saver tickets and access the best choice of cabins and crossing times.
  • Travel off-peak. Even when travelling in the summer season – the busiest time of the year – opt for mid-week, early morning or late night sailings for shorter crossings, and daytime sailings rather than overnight crossings to get the best priced tickets.
  • Minimise the cost of getting to and from the port. Look at Rail & Sail offers – tickets that combine your train and ferry journeys are often very competitively priced. If you are travelling to Northern Europe and driving through France, consider ports closer to your destination to avoid motorway toll fees. Taking your bike onboard is incredibly budget-friendly and in some cases free, helping to dramatically reduce onward transport costs.
  • Seek out deals on accommodation and attractions. Ferry operators offer discounts on popular attractions, sights and accommodation – from campsites and glamping to hotels and holiday cottages. Purchasing these with your ferry tickets can give you up to 25% off travel and / or holiday activities.
  • Make the most of duty-free. When travelling to continental Europe, the Channel Islands or Republic of Ireland stock up on your favourite beers, wines, cosmetics and confectionary on board the ferry – with savings of up to 50% off RRP, drinks at home could cut your bar bill when you reach your destination.
  • Compare the total price of travelling. Ticket prices when taking your vehicle on the ferry are calculated for a car and the number of passengers in the car. Some tickets include up to 9 passengers in the cost of the ticket, so the more people who are travelling the cheaper it becomes. Also consider that all your baggage and equipment is included in the ticket price and you won’t need to hire a car when you arrive.
  • Consider short breaks and day trips. Many ferry operators have special fares for short breaks of 3 or 5 days and for day trips, making a mini escape a very good value option.

Check out our itineraries for inspiration on ferry affordable holidays.

If you like holidays, you’ll love our quiz.

Answer 5 simple questions and we’ll match you to your perfect destination. Then enter the prize draw to win ferry tickets to get there.

Take the quiz

A two-week family holiday in France for under £750

A two-week family holiday in France for under £750

Etretat beach, Normandy

France is the most visited holiday destination on the planet, famous for its gastronomy, culture and diverse landscapes. It is a popular choice for Brits, being only 20 miles away from England, with a range of ferry routes available to get there. As ferries allow you to bring your own vehicle, whether that’s a car or a campervan, as much luggage, liquids and sports equipment as you want, don’t charge extra for you to sit together (or roam around the decks) and even allow you to bring your pet with you, they offer great value for families wanting to go abroad this summer.

But is it possible for a family of four to have a holiday for under £750? We looked at peak travel dates from 17-31 August 2024 and this is what we found.

Best value: pack your tent and gear and head over to Normandy for a family beach holiday for as little as £744.

Normandy is a relaxed holiday destination with activities (and food) to please the whole family.  With its iconic cliffs at Étretat, family-friendly beaches, the Seine regional natural park and the Velomaritime coastal cycle path, there are plenty of things to do for free. This year Normandy is marking both the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy and 150 years of Impressionism with special events and exhibitions throughout the spring and summer. Add to the mix, the delights of locally produced Camembert, Calvados and fresh seafood and you have the ingredients for a memorable family holiday.  

Pitch your tent for the best value holidays

Camping provides the cheapest family holiday in France. Bring your tent (or van) and stay at Camping Domaine de La Catinière, near Honfleur. A pitch for a tent is £430 for 14 nights or £535 for a van with an electric point.

Take the ferry from Dover to Calais for a car and a family of 4 from £214* with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries. You can also sail from Newhaven to Dieppe with DFDS from £257* return.

Fuel and motorway tolls based on a hatchback family unleaded car are £100 return from Calais to Honfleur and £46 Dieppe to Honfleur.

*Prices correct as of 25 April 2024

Total: £744 via Calais (£733 via Dieppe)

No tent, no problem!

If you don’t have a tent or van then you can upgrade your stay at Camping Domaine de La Catinière, with a Coco Unusual Nature 2-bed suite in a mobile home with terrace for £940 for the two-weeks.

Total: £1,254 via Calais (£1,243 via Dieppe)

Prefer a holiday cottage?

Le Theil Bocage cottage in Normandy Credit: Brittany Ferries

If camping is not your thing and you like the comfort of a proper roof over your head, a soft bed and a private bathroom then packages with Brittany Ferries which include the ferry and a cottage are available from £1,556.10 for two-weeks departing 17 August.

Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen for a standard car and family of 4 departing 17 August, staying in a detached cottage in Swiss Normandy. https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/holidays/details/qn1153/le-theil-bocage

Total: £1,556.10

Extra money saving tips from Discover Ferries:
  • Avoid toll routes to reduce the cost of driving but be aware that this adds considerable time to your journey.
  • Bring your own camping fridge and cooker and stock up at the hypermarket to save on food costs.
  • Dining out? Eat your main meal at lunch time, restaurants often have a great value plat du jour.
  • Members of the Caravanning and Motorhome Club get a discount at many campsites when booking through the club website: https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/overseas/france/normandy/le-domaine-de-la-catiniere/

Action-packed Celtic Adventures

Woman hiking next to water and ruined building

Ferry good value action-packed Celtic Adventures

Woman hiking next to water and ruined building

If you’re looking for an epic road trip or want to hike, cycle, scramble, surf or paddle board into your next adventure then Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland will be right up your street. We’ve put together our tips for how to have a great value action-packed trip.

When taking the ferry your ticket price is mainly based on the cost of your vehicle, with a small amount added for additional passengers, and includes all the luggage and sports equipment that you can fit in (or on) the car.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry ©Fáilte Ireland

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2024, the Wild Atlantic Way is known for its imposing cliffs, rugged scenery, peninsulas and islands, wildlife and national parks. This breathtaking road trip along the West Coast of Ireland is 1,600 miles long and features multiple stages over several weeks, so if you don’t have time to do the full distance then choose a section that you want to explore.

By taking the ferry and bringing your own car you’ll save on car hire and can also bring your camping gear to save on accommodation costs too. 

Many of the main attractions along the route are best seen on foot and therefore are without cost if you are prepared to walk. There are also plenty of cycle routes and some spectacular beaches to go paddle boarding or kayaking.  If you have space in your car to bring your gear with you! You’ll be rewarded with outstanding views and the satisfaction of having earned your dinner.

A return crossing for a car and 2 passengers across the Irish Sea for 1 week in May starts from £326. Routes available include Cairnryan to Belfast or Larne with Stena Line or P&O Ferries, Liverpool to Belfast with Stena Line, Holyhead to Dublin with Irish Ferries and Stena Line, Pembroke or Fishguard to Rosslare with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

Short-break adventures in the Isle of Man

©Visit Isle of Man

Off the beaten track, the Isle of Man is the hidden gem of the Irish Sea and was the first entire nation to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2016. Its unspoilt hills, glens, plantations, and coast offer an action-packed break for those looking for adventure.

Bring your hiking boots and your mountain bike to make the most of your trip. Hike up Snaefell, the Isle of Man’s highest peak, or complete a section of the challenging 100-mile coastal footpath Raad Ny Foillan (the Way of the Gull). The forests and countryside have a huge variety of bike trails, including gravel paths, purpose built single track and quiet country lanes suitable for all abilities.

Try gorge walking with Adventurous Experiences through one of the island’s stunning glens. You will scramble, climb and swim your way along the river, to deep pools and past flowing waterfalls.

The Sound, on the Southern most tip of the island is a hotspot for wildlife, with seals, basking sharks and dolphins often being spotted in the area. Stay on until night fall and you’ll be rewarded with a fabulous view of the night sky. The car park at The Sound is one of 26 registered Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Isle of Man.

Knockaloe Beg Farm offers a range of accommodation options from B&B, to self-catering cottages, glamping wigwams and a hostel-style Bunkhouse and Bothy.

A summer 5-day short break to the Isle of Man with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company costs from £135.50 each way for a car and 2 passengers.

Isle of Tiree, Scotland – The Hawaii of the North

Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides ©VisitScotland

Tiree, the western most island of the Inner Hebrides, is often called the Hawaii of the North due to its great surf and white sandy beaches. However, just a 3-hour 20 min ferry journey from Oban, Scotland, it doesn’t come with the price tag of a jaunt to Hawaii.

Tiree is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide and surprisingly, is one of the sunniest places in the UK. It may be small but boasts some big sporting events including the Tiree Wave Classic in October, the longest standing windsurfing event in the British calendar and the Tiree Ultramarathon, a 35-mile race around the circumference of the island.

For those who want to try some Hawaiian water sports a little closer to home Wild Diamond offers kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for hire and lessons in windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing.

Pro-triathlete and Tiree resident Will Wright runs Tiree Fitness, which offers beach yoga, bike hire and fitness training for all ages, as well as a relaxing massage. Well-deserved after all that exercise!

Tiree Campsite offers budget accommodation options. You can pitch your tent or your van, or you can stay in an on-site Pod or Bothy, which are available to hire from £40 per person per night.

Sail to Tiree from Oban with Caledonian MacBrayne. A adult return ferry ticket costs £24.90. A car or campervan costs £135.90 return. Journey time takes between 3 hours 20 mins and 3 hours 50 mins.

Ferry great value-packed day trips

Couple on Scillonian III with their dog

Ferry great value-packed day trips

If you’re looking for a change of scene and an affordable way to get that holiday feeling, then a day trip by ferry transports you away from the every day. Relax on board with your travel companions, grab a coffee and look out at the spectacular views. You might even spot some wildlife!

The Thames, London, where the journey is the experience!

See Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Naval College and The O2 in Greenwich and the Thames Barrier from the best viewpoint and all in the same day. The family River Roamer ticket with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers lets you hop on and hop off the River Bus service as much as you want and up to 3 children travel for free with the family ticket. Combine with free entry into museums such as Queen’s House, Royal Maritime Museum, Museum of London’s Docklands and the Tate galleries or a wander through Greenwich Park or Battersea Park and you’ll have a great value day out!

Family River Roamer day tickets cost £44.20 for 2 adults and up to 3 children (Aged 5-15. Children under 5 travel free of charge.)

Pre-historic stone circles, the ruins of a medieval church, listed loos and secluded beaches on the Isle of Bute

Rothesay, Isle of Bute

Just 35 mins from Wemyss Bay in the Firth of Clyde, and an easy train ride from Glasgow, the Isle of Bute is the most accessible of Scotland’s islands. There are plenty of free activities for a day trip and Caledonian MacBrayne’s Road Equivalent Pricing means it is purse-friendly too. Bring your bicycles on board for free and you’ll be able to see even more of the island.

Arrive at Rothesay harbourside and make a quick stop at the listed loos. The Victorian gents’ toilets have marble furnishings, mosaic floors and decorative ceramic tiled walls and are testament to the longevity of Victorian design. As a functioning public convenience, ladies wanting to take a peek can ask the attendant to knock on the door first.

Head south to Kingarth where to explore the beautifully preserved ruins of St Blane’s church. The nave and part of the chancel date from the 12th century. The church has an upper and lower churchyard where men and women were buried respectively. Pre-dating St Blane, the pre-historic stone circle – The Devil’s Cauldron – can also be visited.

End your day with a walk along the secluded beach of Scalpsie Bay from where you can see stunning views across to Arran. It’s also home to a resident seal colony!

An adult return ticket to Rothesay from Wemyss Bay costs £7.60 with Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries. All other activities mentioned are free of charge.

Get the most out of a day on the Isle of Wight

Bembridge Pier © Visit Isle of Wight

Passenger ferry services to the Isle of Wight are quick and frequent and all have rail connectivity, allowing you to make the most of your day on the island, without the need for a car. If you like getting around by bicycle you can even bring your bike on board, free of charge.

Hovertravel, the only scheduled passenger hovercraft service in Europe, is the fastest way to arrive on the Isle of Wight. The service from Southsea to Ryde takes just 10 minutes and is a unique experience in its own right. Feel the skirt inflate before ‘flying’ at speed above the waters of the Solent.  

FastCat services from Portsmouth to Ryde Pier with Wightlink take 22 minutes and RedJet services from Southampton to Cowes with Red Funnel take less than 30 minutes.

The island has lots of free activities including exploring its many beaches and coves, searching for dinosaur fossils (the Isle of Wight is the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe) along the coast between Compton and Atherfield and spotting red squirrels in the woodlands.

For a bit of history visit the ancient former lighthouse, St Catherine’s Oratory and Appuldurcombe House, a partly restored 18th century baroque mansion with grounds designed by Capability Brown.

Discover more about the great work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who are celebrating their 200th anniversary this year, at Bembridge Lifeboat Station. It is classed as a RNLI ‘discover’ station, where volunteers give you a tour of the station and is located at the end of the Bembridge’s iconic pier.

The award-winning Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a great place to meet, interact and learn more about the donkeys, ponies and mules that have been given a home by the sanctuary. There are free tours available, but if you want to contribute to the work of the charity you can also book activities such as grooming and pampering.

Adult day return tickets cost between £12.90-£31.50 on Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink.
Family day return tickets (for 2 adults and 3 children) cost £78 on
Hovertravel, £44.90 with Red Funnel and from £57.50 with Wightlink.

Bonjour Calais

Calais Dragon

With France being a mere 90 minutes away from the Port of Dover, anyone based in the Southeast can easily experience the French lifestyle on a day trip for a fraction of the price of a holiday and make savings on Duty-Free and on your favourite French goodies.  

Calais makes an ideal day trip destination. It has a lovely sandy beach with traditional beach huts and the promenade has been modernised to include a skatepark, the fire-breathing Calais Dragon and a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch. The Calais Dragon can be seen making its way along the promenade or you can book a ride for €9.50 for adults and €7.50 for children.

Calais Hôtel de Ville and its UNESCO Belfry are not to be missed. At the front of the town hall you can admire the Auguste Rodin sculpture The Burghers of Calais and from the Belfry there are great views of the town.

Of course, a trip to France would not be complete without stocking up on cheese and wine and there are plenty of opportunities in Calais to indulge so you can fill your boot.

A day trip for a car and up to 4 passengers costs £39 with DFDS, £43 with P&O Ferries and includes 6 bottles of wine. Irish Ferries has a short break fare available for stays of up to 3 days for £98.

4-hours in…..

St Mary’s, the Isles of Scilly

Scilly-St. Mary’s-little girl sitting on a rock overlooking Porthcressa Beach © Visit Isles of Scilly

Cornwall is one of the UKs most popular holiday destinations, however few holidaymakers know that the Isles of Scilly are within easy reach on a daytrip from Penzance. Early sailings leave Penzance at 09:15 arriving in St Mary’s by noon, giving visitors 4-hours to spend exploring the 2.54 square miles of St Mary’s.

For a budget-friendly day out, walk from the quayside to the Garrison Wall to explore the old fortifications of the island, stop off in Hugh Town for a bite to eat or bring your own picnic to eat on Porthmellon or Porthcressa beach, before or after a dip! If there’s time, the lighthouse at Peninnis Head is well worth the 30 minutes’ walk.

Marine wildlife charity ORCA has named the crossing from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly as the ferry route with the UK’s highest diversity route for wildlife spotting. Over 600 common dolphins were spotted in 2023 so keep your eyes peeled! Also don’t miss local landmarks such as Land’s End and the Minack Theatre. The journey is definitely part of the trip.

Day return tickets on the Scillonian III cost from £35 for adults (Age 12 and over) and £17.50 for children (2-11) with Isles of Scilly Travel

Guernsey, the Channel Islands

Victor Hugo’s Hauteville House © Visit Guernsey

The crossing with Condor Ferries fast ferry service from Poole to Guernsey takes 3 hours, with great views of Brownsea Island, Sandbanks and the Dorset coastline as you leave England’s white cliffs behind. Have breakfast on board and make the most of Duty-Free shopping savings. Sailings leave in the morning, so you’ll arrive in St Peter’s Port around noon during weekdays, or earlier at the weekend.

Once in St Peter’s Port, you can explore the winding streets of the island’s capital. Guernsey offers tax-free shopping so there are plenty of opportunities to save on gadgets and goods. Take in the spectacular views from Candie Gardens over the neighbouring islands. A walk to the south of the town will bring you to Vallette Bathing Pools, a cluster of tidal pools built 150 years ago for safe swimming.

Although not a free attraction, art lovers won’t want to miss Hauteville House, where writer and poet Victor Hugo spent his exile and wrote many of his masterpieces, including Les Misérables. The house itself is a work of art and was designed by Victor Hugo himself.

If you’d prefer to save your pennies and visit a quirkier work of art, then take the bus to the Little Chapel, a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica in Lourdes, France. Brother Deodat started creating the chapel in 1914 but demolished it twice before you building the version which still stands today.

An adult day-return to Guernsey with Condor Ferries costs £38. A day return for 2 adults and 2 children costs £132.