Last updated on February 6, 2024
Are you thinking about driving your own car to Ireland? Which route and which ferry will you take?
This is exactly what this article is about.
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I will show you the possible and sensible options and give you important tips for your travel planning.
By the way, I know all the routes and ferries well, because we ourselves commute from Germany to Ireland and back several times a year and have already tried out almost all the options and combinations ourselves.
My family and I come from Germany and have been living in Ireland (second home) for several years. In summer, we run our motorbike rental business here, south of Dublin (www.easycruiser.tours) and also offer nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
So, let’s get started:
Oh, one thing in advance: If you read or hear about a “sea bridge”, this means ferries that go directly from the European mainland to Ireland. The “land bridge” means the combination of two ferries and a land route in between, i.e. via England. We will look at both below.
Via Cherbourg or Le Havre to Rosslare or Dublin
We know this connection very well, as we have used it many times. Cherbourg and Le Havre are on the northwest coast of France. Three ferry companies sail from Cherbourg to Ireland, https://www.stenaline.ie ,https://www.brittany-ferries.ie/ and https://www.irishferries.com.
Stenaline sails two ships several times a week to the port of Rosslare on the south-east coast of Ireland. Irish Ferries sails to Dublin several times a week with two ships.
From Le Havre, a ship from https://www.brittany-ferries.ie sails once a week to Rosslare.
Via Roscoff to Cork
Roscoff is on the west coast of France. From there, two ferries a week sail to Cork, on the south coast of Ireland. See: https://www.brittany-ferries.ie/.
Via Dunkerque to Rosslare
This connection is new: Dunkerque is on the west coast of Belgium, not far from Calais. Ferries now also run from there to Rosslare. See: https://www.dfds.com/.
Via Bilbao or Santander to Rosslare
There are also two ferry routes between Rosslare on the south-east coast of Ireland and Santander and Bilbao in northern Spain. There are two ships per week on each of these routes. See: https://www.brittany-ferries.ie/.
Across South England and then via Wales to Rosslare or Dublin.
Let’s move on to the land bridge: You can cross to the South of England via the Calais-Dover ferry route. There are ferries from https://www.poferries.com/, https://www.dfds.com/ and https://www.irishferries.com/ .
Alternatively, you can use the Eurotunnel from Calais to Folkestone. See: https://www.eurotunnel.com/.
To continue from the south of England to Ireland, the following connections are available:
From Fishguard in the south of Wales to Rosslare with https://www.stenaline.ie/ or
from Pembroke in the south of Wales to Rosslare with https://www.irishferries.com/.
Via northern England and then via Wales or Scotland to Ireland
There is a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull in north-east England, see https://www.poferries.com/.
Another interesting option is to travel across the South West of Scotland. There is a ferry from Cairnryan to Larne, north of Belfast. See: https://www.poferries.com/
Alternatively, you can drive from Cairnryan in Scotland directly to Belfast. See: https://www.stenaline.ie/.
“Many roads lead to Rome” and many ferries lead to Ireland!
Some connections may not seem interesting at first glance, but may be a good alternative.
It is also important to realistically compare the travel costs – what costs more, to travel a longer distance and then take the overnight ferry, or to travel a shorter distance and then take a short ferry twice?
Or: Do you want to spend the night on a ferry, or are you not a big fan of ships and prefer to drive a little longer?
From which country or region are you starting your journey – and which connection makes the most sense for you?
Only you can answer this question and decide for yourself. But in this article you’ve definitely got an overview of the ferry connections that will help you make your decision!
With this in mind, happy holiday planning and have fun in Ireland!
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Photo credits cover photo: Stena Line ferry at Rosslare Harbour, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tours, www.the-view-accommodation.ie, www.irland-insider.de, www.ireland-insider.com)