Brittany Ferries ferry 'Pont Aven' sailing to Spain

Brittany Ferries' flagship, the superb Pont Aven.

Photo courtesy of Brittany Ferries...

Click to watch the video...

Book online here

  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 ships capable of 27 knots and a crossing time of just 24 hours from Portsmouth to northern Spain.  With ferry passenger numbers growing whilst airline passengers to Spain have been falling, Brittany Ferries have been expanding their ferry service to Spain, taking over P&O's service to Bilbao in 2010.  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.

  Which ferry route to choose

  Portsmouth to Santander

  Portsmouth to Bilbao

  Plymouth to Santander

  How much does it cost

  How to buy tickets

  Video guide:  Madrid to London via Brittany Ferries

  What's it like on board the cruise ferry to Spain?

  Train travel between the UK and Spain

Which route & ferry to choose?

London Spain via the Portsmouth-Santander ferry...

London ► Spain via the Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry...

London ► Spain via the Plymouth-Santander ferry...

This route operates all year, usually once a week on Sundays at 15:30 arriving 12:00 the next day.  Operated by Brittany Ferries flagship, the excellent Pont Aven.

How much does it cost

How to buy tickets...

Watch the video:  Madrid to London via 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.

On board the cruise ferry to Spain...

Both the Pont Aven and the Cap Finistère 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 is the bigger ship, with a wider range of facilities including a small indoor swimming pool with poolside bar, two cinemas, and WiFi internet access if you bring your laptop (in public areas but not in cabins, £4 per hour or £8.50 for 3 hours, cards available from the information desk).  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).

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.

Find hotels in Spain


Favourite hotel search & price comparison: checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings 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.

Recommended hotel in Santander...

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

Travel insurance & health card...



Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, 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, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  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 them myself.


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