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Great socially-distant summer getaways

By 29/06/2020October 28th, 2022Blog

If you’re keen to get away this summer, you are not alone as our research* shows that almost three quarters (73%) of us are looking to take a break in the UK and Europe this year.

With wide passenger areas, access to fresh air and new Covid-safe measures in place, ferries offer a great, safe and comfortable way to travel. And, with the ability to take your own car or motorhome on many routes, camping and self-catering holidays in quieter spots have never been more appealing.

So, if you’re looking to go on holiday away from tourist hotspots when travel restrictions have been lifted, check out our list of fantastic places to explore. These quieter destinations are also perfect for nature lovers.

Socially distanced experiences to inspire your next trip

Image credit @Visit Isles of Scilly

Puffin spotting

These colourful-billed seabirds are found along UK coastlines and islands including the Scilly Isles. To see them in flight, set sail on The Scillonian Ferry, which is operated by Isles of Scilly Travel. Puffins also nest on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland. Sail to this RSPB breeding site in County Antrim with P&O Ferries’ Cairnryan-Larne route. Alternatively, the port of Belfast in the capital is a two-hour drive away, Stena Line offers crossings from Liverpool and Cairnryan and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has a seasonal service from Douglas.

Tourisme Bretagne – Image credit @Emmanuel Berthier

French footpaths

Boasting open countryside, there is plenty of room to roam in France, meaning that some days you won’t encounter a soul. Diverse landscapes including gorges, vineyards and mountains, make for a walker’s paradise with endless views and plenty of picnicking spots to savour local cheese, wine and other delicacies.

Travel to France from Dover to Calais, with P&O Ferries, or with DFDS via Dover to Calais or Dunkirk or from Newhaven to Dieppe. Brittany Ferries offers routes from Plymouth to Roscoff and from Portsmouth to Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre and Saint Malo.

Image credit @ORCA

Wildlife deck watches

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are regular deck sightings with ORCA Wildlife Officers stationed on some ships for the annual OceanWatch marine mammal survey. Last year, more than 2,000 animals were sighted during the nine-day survey period. These beautiful creatures can be spotted off the UK and European coasts, but you have a good chance of spotting marine life during longer ferry crossings, while taking in the fresh sea air. DFDS encourages wildlife watching on its Newcastle-Amsterdam service and whales and dolphins are frequently spotted along Brittany Ferries’ Portsmouth-Santander route.

Daytrippers, visitors and commuters in London can also spot wildlife in the Thames, which is home to two species of seal and more than 100 types of fish. Thames Clippers also produces an activity sheet in conjunction with ZSL to help young passengers learn about the river’s ecology.    

St Peter’s Church, Sark – Image credit @Sue Daly


In more remote areas of the British Isles, low levels of light pollution provide professional and budding astronomers with clear night skies; perfect for perusing the constellations or simply spending a tranquil evening bathed in starlight.

The Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands boast some of the darkest skies in British waters and offer a variety of campsites for adventurers looking to sleep beneath the stars.

Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel offer services to the Isle of Wight; Isle of Man Steam Packet Company runs routes from Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas; and Condor Ferries operates links to Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. 

Image credit @NBTC Holland Marketing

Cycling along Holland’s waterways

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect solution for those looking for solitude and adventure. First-timers and young families alike can enjoy exploring Holland by bike, which has flat terrain, flower fields and an extensive network of cycle paths. And, with ferry routes from a variety of British ports offering bicycle crossings and bike rack add-ons to vehicle crossings, you won’t need to worry about hiring equipment when you arrive.

DFDS runs ferries from Newcastle to Amsterdam, P&O Ferries operates services from Hull to Rotterdam and Stena Line offers crossings from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

Image credit @Tourism Ireland/ Failte Ireland

Foraging in the Ring of Kerry

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is renowned for its green open spaces, perfect for people looking to take in the west coast’s breathtaking scenery from the comfort of their own car. Boasting fine beaches, the Wicklow Mountains and greenway trails; foodies can experience the best of Kerry’s soil and sea with foraging tours and fishing trips. Irish Ferries offers daily sailings from Holyhead to Dublin and Pembroke to Rosslare, P&O Ferries operates crossings between Liverpool and Dublin and Stena Line runs services from Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare.   

Discover Ferries’ members operate over 80 ferry routes across the UK, Ireland and British Isles. For information about current ferry operations and the hygiene and social distancing measures in place for individual routes, visit: www.discoverferries.com/ferrysafe

* Research for Discover Ferries was carried out online by Opinion Matters on 10th and 11th June 2020 amongst a panel resulting in 2,005 UK adults responses.