Ferries to Scotland
The number of international routes to Scotland is somewhat limited. For example, from the European mainland you have to travel via England. The crossing from Amsterdam to Newcastle arrives closest to Scotland.
There are a number of options from Northern Ireland. You can sail from Larne and Belfast to Cairnryan in Scotland. With about 1.8 passengers per year, this is a popular destination.Water transport to Scotland – Transport Gov Scotland
If you are traveling without transport, you can also travel on a small but fast ferry from Ballycastle to Islay or Kintyre. Have a look at the map with all crossings on this page.
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Map with all ferry routes to Scotland
Stenaline and P&O Ferries operate large ferries back and forth between the Belfast area and Cairnryan. This is the shortest possible crossing from Ireland/Northern Ireland to the UK when traveling by car.
You can also travel to Scotland from Northern Ireland with a smaller fast ferry that is only suitable for foot passengers. This will take you in the direction of the Scottish Hebrides.
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The Kintyre Express passenger ferry from Ballycastle foot is not included in the booking module. Find more information about this further down this page.
Also on this page
From Northern Ireland to Scotland
Although Cairnryan is just a road with a few houses in front of it, most travelers from Northern Ireland choose these crossings. From here you can easily continue your way by car.
Those who want a nice short trip to Kintyre or Islay in the summer can opt for a small pedestrian ferry from Kintyre Express. From here you can continue your journey by ferry to the Hebrides or to the Firth of Clyde region. Tickets can be booked directly with Kintyre Express.
Ferry from Mainland Europe to Scotland
If you look for a ferry to Scotland from continental Europe, you can only travel via England. The most obvious crossing departs from Amsterdam (IJmuiden). This ferry brings you to Newcastle and from here you can drive to Scotland in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
You can also book a ferry from France to the southern parts of the UK. However, it is still a very long drive when you want to go to Scotland next.
Other Scotland-Related Guides
In the past, there were still existing connections from, for example, Norway to Scotland (read our indirect guide), but nowadays you have to travel via the Netherlands, France, or through the Eurotunnel when you travel from the south.
Indirectly to Scotland: France and Holland to UK
We've written extensive travel guides for people who want to travel to the UK from France or to the UK from the Netherlands. If that's the way you want to reach Scotland those guides will help you choose the right connection.
As mentioned above though: The Amsterdam to Newcastle connection might be the best option if you want to travel in this direction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes from Cairnryan you can travel to Larne and Belfast in Nothern Ireland.
yes, if you leave from Larne of Belfast you can reach Scotland directly and travel further to other cities in Scotland.
While there is a lot of demand for this route (for instance Glasgow to Dublin) there is no connection going from Glasgow to Ireland or Northern Ireland. In Glasgow, there are only smaller transport ferries active to pass the River Clyde in Scotland.