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Traveling to Ireland? This is the best ferry route

Do you want to travel to Ireland from mainland Europe (The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium or France)? And do you travel with your own transport? Great, then you have the pleasure of taking a ferry. Most people travel via Great Britain, but there are some other routes. Which ferry route to Ireland do you choose?

There are many ways to travel to Ireland by car. The route you choose depends on the location where you want to start your journey in (Northern) Ireland. In this blog we give some tips to help you plan your car trip to (Northern) Ireland.

We have mapped out all possible routes for you. Take a look at our handy ferry route map and determine your optimal route to Ireland. On our information page you will find an overview of all possible ferry routes to Ireland on a handy, interactive map.
Stena Britannica Hoek van Holland Harwich

From the Netherlands and Belgium: most common ferry routes to Ireland

Depending on your destination in Ireland, you choose a favourable travel route. For example, if you want to go to Northern Ireland, you often travel via Scotland. If you want to go to Dublin, you can take the ferry from Liverpool. These are the most common routes:

Destination NORTHERN IRELAND – via Scotland:

  1. Ferry to England / Scotland: IJmuiden – Newcastle and then take:
  2. Ferry to Northern Ireland: Cairnryan – Larne or Cairnryan – Belfast

Destination IRELAND / DUBLIN – via Liverpool:

  1. Ferry to England: Rotterdam – Hull and then take:
  2. Ferry to Ireland: Liverpool – Dublin or Holyhead – Dublin

Destination SOUTHEAST IRELAND – via Wales:

  1. Ferry to England: Hoek van Holland – Harwich (or from France: Dunkirk – Dover and Calais – Dover) and then take:
  2. Ferry to (southeast) Ireland: Fishguard – Rosslare

From France: directly by boat to Ireland

Did you know that you can travel directly from France to Ireland by ferry? Quite a good option! You only book 1 ferry (instead of 2) and avoid a long car journey in England. It is a long crossing, but you sail at night, so you can spend the trip sleeping in your private cabin.

  1. Sail from Dunkirk (North of France) to Rosslare (southeast Ireland) in 24 hours
  2. Sail from Cherbourg (France) to Rosslare (southeast Ireland) in 19 hours
  3. Sail from Roscoff (France) to Cork (south of Ireland) in 14 hours

The shortest ferry route or travel through the tunnel

Are you not a big fan of boats? Board the Eurotunnel car train in France and skip the first ferry crossing to the UK. Unfortunately, there is no bridge or tunnel connection between Great Britain and Ireland. But you can choose the shortest ferry route; the narrowest part of the Irish Sea is between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland. This crossing only takes 2 hours!

How do you avoid seasickness on the ferry?

The swell of the sea can make you quite nauseous. Modern and large boats are very stable, but nevertheless seasickness is an obstacle for many people to travel by ferry. Fortunately, there is something that can be done about it. Be well prepared and take medication for motion sickness.

TIPS – Preventing sea sickness on the ferry
1. The fluctuations are less in the middle and bottom of the ship
2. It helps when you look at the horizon
3. Don't read a book or stare at your phone for long periods of time
4. Start your trip well rested
5. Stay hydrated
6. Provide fresh air
7. Ginger: works great against nausea
8. Take medication for motion sickness

Road trip through Ireland: set you own pace

A road trip through Ireland is a relaxing holiday. At the same time it is a big country and it has so much to offer that you won't get bored. From beautiful nature to historic monasteries and castles. And of course you end the day with a Guinness in a nice pub.

Tips for a driving holiday to (Northern) Ireland

What could be better than traveling around Ireland in your own car? The fact that you can take your own car (and caravan or camper) with you is the biggest advantage of traveling by ferry! When driving in Ireland, keep the following in mind:

  • In Ireland you drive on the left-hand side
  • In Ireland speed is indicated in kilometres per hour and the traffic signs in Northern Ireland use miles and miles per hour
  • Ireland has several toll roads. Check the Transport Infrastructure Ireland site for all toll roads and current rates
DID YOU KNOW – Dogs are also allowed on board? Read the complete guide: Taking your pet on the ferry. Another advantage of traveling by ferry!

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The editorial team at FerryGoGo writes travel guides and creates route ideas for ferry travel, along with everything else that might be of interest to travelers and tourists.

  1. If I am right, there are only 22 sailings from Liverpool’s port a week. So I was surprised to see it listed as going to Ireland. I guess this is a short trip, so it makes sense. I don’t suppose they are very frequent, though.

    • Hi Stanley,

      If you look at the port of Liverpool: There are about 10 – ferry departures per day leaving port for Ireland. The biggest routes are at this moment: Liverpool-Belfast and Liverpool-Dublin.

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