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Taking the ferry or channel tunnel

A Dover to Calais or Dunkerque (Dunkirk) ferry is usually the cheapest way to cross the channel. Dunkerque is in France, east of Calais. and is the most popular with UK visitors to the Ring. You'll notice bias towards DFDS here; I find them good value and easy to deal with. The Eurotunnel is the fastest and easiest way to get to France, but it will almost always cost more than the ferry.

Ferry price comparison

Enter your preferred route and dates above and we will search all the ferry companies and Eurotunnel for prices. You pay the same as booking direct.

Note all times are local. I have found that you can usually (subject to availability and price difference when you booked) turn up for an earlier ferry or Chunnel without having to pay more, because they can re-sell your space on the later service, but if you're late they will often charge a penalty of about £40 to change your ticket.

Routes and prices

Dover to Dunkerque
Dover to Calais
Harwich to Hook of Holland
Newcastle to Amsterdam
Hull to Rotterdam
Hull to Zeebrugge

The Newcastle to Amsterdam route is apparently good if you're coming from the north of England or Scotland

The cheapest return prices I have seen are £35 for DFDS Dover to Dunkerque, £50 for DFDS Dover to Calais, and £100 for the Eurotunnel. Double these prices for the most popular high season / midday crossings. Check Tesco Clubcard or Nectar Card for offers because quite often they do good deals on travel.

Tesco Clubcard transport deals

Don't forget to take your passport. Sometimes they don't check passports on the way into France, but they always check on the way back. You will probably be allowed back in the country (assuming you speak perfect English and have other ID etc), but it's a hassle.

Tobacco Alley in Belgium

Just 20km east along of Dunkirk along the E40 is a town called Adinkerke where you can get cheap tobacco products in bulk. 20 B&H were €57 or £45 in February 2014. It's worth checking out if you are a smoker. Tobacco Alley link

DFDS Dover - Calais & Dunkerque

DFDS is often the cheapest ferry crossing the channel, costing around £50 return in low season and £100 in high season. Book an off peak sailing time to get the best deal. Dunkerque is just east along the coast from Calais. The crossing takes 2hrs, which is about 1/2 hour longer than Dover to Calais, but it takes about 15 minutes off the drive to the Germany.

DFDS Dover to Dunkirk timetable

DFDS Dover to Dunkirk is easy to remember:

  • Ferries leave Dover every even hour
  • Ferries leave Dunkirk every even hour
  • Check-in is open 24 hours and closes 45 minutes before departure

The detailed version is that ferries sail every two hours basically continuously throughout the week, apart from 10pm Saturday night to 8am Sunday morning. They leave on even hours, so 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm etc. The same also applies on the return leg, but the earliest ferry back on Sunday is 6am.

DFDS Dover to Calais timetable

DFDS Dover to Calais sailings are a bit more complicated than the Dover to Dunkirk route, so here's the timetable:

DFDS Dover to Calais (and return) timetable

I have never had a problem getting on to an earlier ferry with DFDS/Norfolk Line but have had to pay for a few later ones. If you need to change a booking their contact details are:

Amazingly, emails are actually answered promptly. You must get in touch at least 24 hours in advance of your sailing time. I wasn't charged to change the details of the car on a booking in 2010 but you may be charged if you want to change to a more popular ferry time or won't make your original booking time.

Eurotunnel Dover to Calais

The Chunnel takes 35 minutes, an hour less than the Calais ferry. Note that you can't take an LPG car on the Eurotunnel, and it is probably more economical to take a trailer on a ferry than the Chunnel. You can also load up on duty free on the ferry, but not the tunnel, although better deals are probably available in the supermarkets and booze warehouses around Calais. The Eurotunnel operates 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, and leaves every 30 minutes.

It is a great service if you just want to get to Germany as fast as possible.

P&O Ferries Dover to Calais

P&O Ferries leave about every 45 minutes in the daytime, and about every hour throughout the night. The Calais ferry terminal is about a ten minute drive from the duty free supermarkets.

Crossings take about 1.5hrs and the motorway to Germany can be picked up easily. I have always found DFDS's Dover to Dunkerque route to be cheaper than the P&O Dover to Calais, and you make up the extra sailing time by being closer to the Ring at Dunkerque. However, P&O does have more sailings and nicer terminals at the borders.

Stena Line Harwich (Essex) to Hook of Holland

The Harwich to Hook of Holland service takes 6.5hrs and leaves twice a day.


DFDS Dover to Calais (and return) timetable


DFDS Dover to Calais (and return) timetable

* Disembarkation time

DFDS Newcastle to Amsterdam (IJmuiden)

The Newcastle to Amsterdam service goes overnight at 5pm and arrives at 9.30am the next morning. The return journey has the same sailing times. The Nurburgring is about 225 miles from Amsterdam (versus 305 miles from Calais). A sample search just after Easter 2011 gave a return price of £150 for a car and £218 for a two person cabin (compulsory on overnight sailings).

Sailing Schedule

DFDS Newcastle to Amsterdam (and return) timetable

Check in opens 2.5 hours before departure and closes 30 minutes before departure. You can board the ferry two hours before departure.

P&O Hull to Rotterdam

The Hull to Rotterdam service goes overnight at 9pm and arrives at 8am the next morning. The return journey has the same sailing times. The Nurburgring is about 210 miles from Rotterdam (versus 305 miles from Calais). A sample search just after Easter 2011 gave a return price of £170 for a car and £240 for a two person cabin (compulsory on overnight sailings).

P&O Hull to Zeebrugge

The Hull to Zeebrugge service goes overnight at 6.30pm and arrives at 9am the next morning. The return sailing leaves at 7pm and arrives at 8am. The Nurburgring is about 250 miles from Zeebrugge (versus 305 miles from Calais). A sample search just after Easter 2011 gave a return price of £170 for a car and £240 for a two person cabin (compulsory on overnight sailings).



At the Ring



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