Ferry or Eurotunnel- which is best? (Driving to Europe road trip tips)

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Driving to Europe this year? Wondering if you should use the ferry or Eurotunnel? Today, we’re sharing the pros and cons of each, plus some tips to save you money!

Ferry or Eurotunnel- which is best?

It’s one of the most common questions we get asked and I know it's tough to know which option is best for YOU.

We’ve been travelling Europe in our motorhome for the past 3 years and we’ve used many ways of getting to and from the UK to the continent, with and without a dog. 

Like many things with road trips, there is no RIGHT answer, but I hope that by the end of this post you’ll have enough information to decide what’s best for you.

 


Ferry or Eurotunnel- watch the video

 

Driving to Europe from UK- the options

So, let’s talk about the options you have if you want to get from UK to Europe by road.

Eurotunnel

Obviously, one option is the Eurotunnel. This is a train which carries cars, motorhomes, campers, trucks & bikes. It runs from Folkestone to Calais multiple times a day.

Pros of using the Eurotunnel to travel from UK to Europe

There are several advantages to the Eurotunnel:

  • Generally cheaper than a ferry
  • Definitely quicker- takes 35 minutes
  • You (and your pets) stay in the vehicle together
  • No restriction on how many pets you can travel with (unlike some ferries or pet-friendly ferry cabins)

 

Cons of driving to Europe using the Eurotunnel

  • can’t use it is if you have LPG as a propulsion system on your vehicle. 
  • Regularly has large delays in summer, especially in school holidays
  • Means going via Calais, which can be a long way round
  • No real break from driving

 

Can I use the Eurotunnel with LPG?

As mentioned above, you CANNOT drive from UK to France on the Eurotunnel if your vehicle uses LPG for propulsion.

LPG as a source for heating, cooking etc is fine- but it does need to be turned off for the crossing, which means you might want to use ice packs or buy a couple of packs of frozen peas to keep everything cold in the fridge.
 


Ferry to Europe- options

There are LOTS of options if you want to drive to Europe from the UK. Some of the ones we have taken include:

    • Portsmouth to Caen (our favourite route)
    • Portsmouth to LeHavre (cheaper than Caen- it's the economy route)
    • Dover to Calais- takes about an hour!

Poole to Cherbourg – perfect for anyone who lives in the west country to visit France

There are, of course, many more options. The two main ferry providers are DFDS and Brittany Ferries

 

Pros of using the ferry to get to Europe from UK

There is only one main reason we prefer the ferry- it's more convenient for us. We travel regularly from Portsmouth to west coast of France, and using the Eurotunnel adds several hours of driving onto our route.

Although both routes are actually quite similar door-to-door, using the ferry allows us to relax, get some work done (I'm actually writing this post whilst on the ferry!), and arrive on the other side feeling more refreshed.

We only travel on ferries which have pet-friendly cabins when we have Mac, our cocker spaniel, with us. He comes and chills in the cabin with us- whether we're travelling by day or overnight. 

Also, we find we've had fewer delays on the ferries than we have using the Eurotunnel.

 

Cons of driving to Europe using ferry 

There are several cons to the ferry:

  • More expensive
  • Slower (depending on where you're going)
  • Potential storms
  • The breakfast onboard is awful. We struggle seeing how they manage to consistently make it so bad.

None of these are down to the ferry company (except the breakfast!), but they are worth taking into consideration.


Eurotunnel or ferry- which do WE use when driving from UK to Europe?

We use both. 

Our rationale is this: If we are travelling to a destination in Europe WEST of Calais (such as Bordeaux), we use the ferry (as long as we're travelling from Portsmouth)

Any other time, we prefer to use the Eurotunnel. 

It really is that simple.


Crossing the channel with a dog – is Ferry or Eurotunnel better?

Mac doesn't really mind- he's been on both several times. I think the Eurotunnel is definitely easier with a dog- and there is more opportunity to exercise them.

Onboard the ferry, there's a tiny area where they can do their ‘business', but nowhere for dogs to run or play. 

Having said that, most ferries only allow you to bring 2 dogs onboard- so if you have more the tunnel is a better option.


Ferry or Eurotunnel- Tips to save money

There are several tips we've discovered to save some money whilst driving to Europe from UK.

  • Book in advance. Way, WAY in advance
  • If using the Eurotunnel regularly, buy a 10 trip pack. It's about 50% cheaper- but only if you use them!
  • Don't book a return ferry trip. Book 2 singles. This saves fees if you need to change the return journey AFTER you've travelled
  • Try to travel during the day on the ferry. Cabins are much cheaper than overnight
  • Conversely, night crossings are much cheaper on the Eurotunnel. 

 

I hope you now feel more informed to decide how you're going to travel from UK to Europe with your car, motorhome or camper. 

Have an excellent trip. You might find these articles useful:

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