Driving to Europe – all you need to know

August 6, 2019



Driving, cycling or taking your motorhome through Europe is a wonderful way to explore the continent, allowing you to visit beautiful beaches, rolling countryside and quaint towns at your own leisure.

The best way to start your European road trip is on a ferry and DFDS offer several routes from the UK to Europe. To discover the destinations you can head to via ferry, what to expect onboard, and what you need to remember for a driving holiday in Europe, read on.

Where can I go on a ferry to Europe?

You can get to mainland Europe via several ferry routes with DFDS.

Dover – Dunkirk

Our Dover – Dunkirk crossing takes just 2 hours and there are 24 sailings per day. Visit the landing beaches in Normandy, immerse yourself in the historical landscape and head further afield to Belgium, Holland or Germany via some of the best driving roads in Europe.

Dover – Calais

You can also get from Dover to Calais in less than 2 hours. With 30 crossings a day and no luggage restrictions you can bring as much as you like, never having to worry about the size of your liquids or baggage allowance.

Newhaven – Dieppe

Travelling on our 3 daily sailings from Newhaven to Dieppe gets you within a few hours of Paris and is just a 4 hour drive to the beautiful northern region of Brittany.

Newcastle – Amsterdam

If you’re heading to Europe from the North of England or Scotland, our Newcastle-Amsterdam route is ideal. The daily, overnight crossings take you across the North Sea and you arrive in IJmuiden the following morning with just a short drive to the Dutch capital. If you fancy heading further afield, there are great road links to neighbouring Belgium or Germany.

 What do I need to drive in Europe?

When driving in Europe from the UK, things are a little different so make sure you are aware of the laws and requirements in every country you visit or pass through.

These range from carrying breathalysers in France to warning triangles when driving through Spain so make sure you do your research to avoid fines or worse.

A new law in France requires you to display a ticket showing your car sits in a low emissions category if you wish to enter low emissions areas such as Paris or Lille. If a ticket isn’t displayed you may be liable to on the spot fines.

Before embarking on any long car journey, it’s important to conduct some essential maintenance checks at home to make sure your car is in tip-top condition and you’ll get to your destination and back safely.

Other essentials you may need to add to your driving in Europe checklist include:

  • first aid kit
  • additional engine oil/water,
  • mobile phone charger
  • plenty of snacks and games, especially if you’re travelling with children.

Can I cycle to Europe?

With prices from just £21 in high season, cycling is an affordable and wonderful way to explore the continent. With secure storage onboard and excellent cycle routes in Holland, France, Germany and Belgium you can be in Europe in less than 2 hours onboard one of our ferries.

 Can I take my pet with me on holiday?

Although we love our holidays, it’s tough having to leave our beloved pets at home. Well, travelling with DFDS means you don’t have to! On our Newcastle-Amsterdam route, we have pet friendly cabins so your furry friend can stay with you for the entire overnight journey. There are also specified areas on deck for them to stretch their legs and get some fresh air too.

On our Dover – France and Newhaven – Dieppe crossings, your pet can travel the short journey if they are suitably secured inside your vehicle. You can visit your pet in the car during the crossing if accompanied by a crew member and you’ll be in France in just a few hours.

For more information on Pet Travel with DFDS, click here.

 What is there to do onboard a ferry?

Our ferries have a range of facilities to keep you busy during your crossing. Our ships to Dunkirk, Calais and Dieppe have a selection of cafes and restaurants including light bites, self-service and à la carte options. The onboard shop caters for any last-minute essentials and you can find savings of up to 30% against the high street on products such as fragrances, cosmetics and alcohol. Our ferries to France sail 24 hours a day and our outlets are always open to cater to passengers.

The overnight crossing from Newcastle to Amsterdam has all of the above and more, boasting en suite cabins, a selection of bars, a cinema and even an onboard nightclub. On some crossings, you can enjoy a sea-life spotting experience with wildlife conservationist charity, ORCA.

All of our ferries have facilities for the whole family including the Pirates Island play areas which are ideal for little ones to let off some steam. Our interactive app, Jack’s Treasure Hunt is a great way for kids to explore the ship, using the app to help our mascot, Jack, find his treasure.

To find out more about our onboard facilities click here.

For further hints, tips and advice about driving in Europe, as well as specific information about the countries you will be visiting, you may find this page useful: https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/travel-ideas/driving-in-europe

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