Brittany Ferries ferry 'Pont Aven' sailing to Spain

Brittany Ferries' flagship, the superb Pont Aven.

Photo courtesy of Brittany Ferries...

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  The ferry to Spain:  2-berth cabin on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven

A cabin on the Pont Aven.  At Santander, it's just a 7 minute walk to the railway station for a high-speed Alvia train to Madrid...

Cruise to Spain with

Why not cruise to Spain, on a luxury ferry that has more in common with a cruise liner than old-fashioned Channel ferries?  Brittany Ferries operates three direct ferry routes from the UK to Spain with a time-effective crossing time from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao of 2 nights, 1 day.  With ferry passenger numbers growing whilst airline passengers to Spain have been falling.  For much of the year, Brittany ferries now offer an unprecedented 5 cruise ferry sailings a week direct to Spain.  You can take your car, of course, and on this page I'll explain the options for travel as a foot passenger with train connections.

small bullet point  Which ferry route to choose

small bullet point  Portsmouth to Santander

small bullet point  Portsmouth to Bilbao

small bullet point  Plymouth to Santander

small bullet point  How much does it cost

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  Video:  Madrid to London via Brittany Ferries

small bullet point  What's it like on board the ferry to Spain?

small bullet point  Train travel between the UK & Spain

Which ferry route to choose?

About travel as a foot passenger...

London Spain via Portsmouth-Santander

London ► Spain via Portsmouth-Bilbao

London ► Spain via Plymouth-Santander

How much does it cost

How to buy tickets...

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Video guide:  Madrid to London with Brittany Ferries

See for yourself how straightforward and comfortable a journey via Brittany Ferries can be!  This shows a northbound trip from Madrid Atocha to London Waterloo, on Brittany ferries Pont-Aven from Santander to Portsmouth.  This route is now operated by the Galicia.

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On board the ferry to Spain...

The ferries offer a choice of restaurants & bars, standard & deluxe cabins, sun decks & cinema.  All cabins come with en suite toilet & shower, a small dressing table, and 2-pin European type power sockets for recharging laptops, cameras or mobiles.  The Pont Aven even has a small indoor swimming pool with poolside bar, two cinemas, and free WiFi internet access (in public areas but not in cabins).  These ships make getting to Spain as much a cruise as a ferry crossing.  A great way to reach Spain with or without your car, flight-free.

Cabin types:  All cabins have a private shower & toilet, with bedding, towels, soap & shampoo provided.  On the Pont Aven you'll find standard inside cabins (1 or 2 berths), standard outside cabins (1-4 berths with window), Club cabins (similar to standard outside cabins but with two lower berths, satellite TV with several UK channels, and tea/coffee facilities), Deluxe cabins (with TV/DVD player, tea/coffee facilities, twin beds, complimentary continental breakfast served in the cabin) and Commodore Class cabins (similar facilities as the Deluxe cabins but significantly larger & with private balcony).

Brittany Ferries 'Pont Aven' at Santander

Brittany Ferries' Pont Aven at Santander...

The ferry to Spain:  A Commodore class cabin on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven   The ferry to Spain:  La Flora restaurant on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven

Commodore class cabin on Brittany Ferries' flagship Pont Aven, with private balcony, shower & toilet, satellite TV & DVD player, minibar, tea & coffee facilities.


La Flora restaurant on board the Pont Aven.  The buffet hors d'oeuvre & dessert are excellent, as are the main courses and choice of wines.

The ferry to Spain:  The indoor swimming pool on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven   The ferry to Spain:  A standard 2-berth cabin on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven

The indoor swimming pool and lido on Brittany Ferries ship Pont Aven.


Standard outside cabin on the Pont Aven, with 1 to 4 berths, shower & toilet.

The ferry to Spain:  Rack of lamb in La Flora restaurant on the Pont Aven   Alvia train from Madrid arrived at Santander station

An excellent rack of lamb at dinner in the Pont Aven's La Flora restaurant. The starter and dessert are buffets.


Train from Santander to Madrid & Alicante:  Santander station is just 7 minutes walk from the ferry.

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large bullet pointFind hotels in Spain

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites: is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on,, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at

Recommended hotel in Santander...

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...


Staysure travel insurance logo

Always take out travel insurance...

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I use an annual policy myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see

UK flagYou can use to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.


Curve card

A Curve card saves foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.


Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.


Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank...

With tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes now often held digitally on your mobile phone, it's vital to keep it charged.  I recommend carrying an Anker powerbank which can recharge your phone several times over if you can't get to a power outlet when you're on the move.  I never travel without one.


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