With the prospect of taking a foreign holiday looking increasing unlikely this summer, there’s been a huge surge in interest for breaks closer to home, with ferry operators reporting an average increase of 116% in bookings since February 2021.

To inspire holidaymakers, Discover Ferries has compiled the 10 breath-taking destinations, that feel a world away but can be accessed by UK ferry routes.

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Abby Penlington, director of Discover Ferries, says: “The government’s roadmap to ease Covid restrictions has encouraged excited holidaymakers to start planning their next trips, which has given operators a much-needed boost. Due to uncertainty over travelling further afield, it makes sense that consumers are looking to stay closer to home and considering trips in the British Isles and neighbouring European countries that are progressing well with their own vaccination programmes.

“By no means does staying locally mean that travellers need to miss out on exotic experiences, as there are plenty of extraordinary locations within reach of our shores. From daytrips and staycations to European getaways, ferry travel offers passengers the freedom to explore and a feeling of escape – quite literally the breath of fresh air we all need after staying home for so long. These destinations prove that there are some remarkable locations surprisingly close by.”

Ferry destinations from the UK that feel a world away

Here are 10 destinations easily reached from the UK that will make you feel like you’ve travelled half way across the world.

Looks like Ha Long Bay, actually Guernsey

Boat trips on the South coast of Guernsey
(©VisitGuernsey)

Boat trips on the turquoise waters off Guernsey’s rugged south coast are reminiscent of Vietnam’s spectacular Ha Long Bay – but with far less traffic. Condor Ferries operates routes from Poole and Portsmouth to Guernsey.

Looks like Tahiti, actually Western France

Île Callot France
(Tourisme Bretagne – ©Thibault Poriel)

Brittany’s Ile Callot may look like a Polynesian paradise but is actually only a ferry trip across the Channel. Travellers can also enjoy the neighbouring Tahiti beach, the sandy shores, cocktail bars and happy vibe mean it shares more than just a name with the popular honeymoon destination.

Brittany Ferries operates routes from Plymouth to Roscoff and from Portsmouth to Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre and Saint Malo, DFDS runs a service between Newhaven and Dieppe. DFDS and P&O Ferries also run crossings from Dover to France.

Looks like the Australian Outback, actually the Isle of Man

Kangeroo on the Isle of Man
(©Visit Isle of Man)

After a chance escape from a wildlife park several decades ago, the island has a thriving wild wallaby population. The winding footpath through the Ballaugh Curraghs is the best place to spot the marsupials, which are native to Australia. Families can even download the “Where’s Wally the Wallaby?” trail map from Visit Isle of Man.

Travel to the Isle of Man with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Please check the latest Isle of Man Government guidance for travellers.

Looks like Iceland, actually the Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight
©Wightlink

The Isle of Wight is home to many breath-taking beaches but the rocky, rugged and wild landscape at Freshwater Bay makes it one of the most picturesque. At low tide, beachcombers are rewarded with rockpools teeming with life.

Travel to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel.

Looks like New Zealand, actually Northern Ireland

The Mourne Mountains
(©Tourism Ireland)

The Mourne Mountains have been crowned Best Walking Destination in Northern Ireland thanks to the spectacular scenery and diverse geography found within the range. With a third (32%) of the public taking up walking during lockdown2 and keen to continue this hobby in their holiday and leisure time, the mountains will make ramblers feel like intrepid explorers.

Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from Liverpool and Cairnryan, P&O Ferries operates a route between Cairnryan and Larne.

Looks like the Caribbean, actually Scotland

Seilebost, Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris
(©Visit Scotland)

Visitors will be forgiven for mistaking the white sandy beaches of Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris for a far-flung destination. The island has been voted the best in Europe, blessed with crystal clear waters and fantastic seafood helping tourists to feel a million miles away.

Travel to Harris with Caledonian MacBrayne, which offers routes from Skye or can be incorporated in an island-hopping tour from Barra.

Looks like California, actually the Netherlands

Nederland, Eiland Vlieland, Natuurreservaat De Vliehors.  Drenkelingenhuisje en strandjutter museum. Nature Reserve De Vliehors.
(©Visit Holland)

California surfin’ dreams can be made on this stretch of beach in Vlieland, Holland. Our research shows a quarter of Brits are looking to be more active on their next trip2 and whether you’re a surfing pro’ or expecting to wipeout every time, you’ll certainly get a good workout while riding the waves.

DFDS runs ferries from Newcastle to Amsterdam, P&O Ferries operates services from Hull to Rotterdam and Stena Line offers crossings from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

Looks like Italy, actually Ireland

Bantry House Ireland
(©Chris Hill Tourism Ireland)

Located on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Bantry House boasts European-style terraced gardens. Inspired by the second Earl’s travels, visitors will feel transported to the Mediterranean and enjoying the tranquillity found amidst the estate’s impressive wisteria.

Irish Ferries runs daily sailings from Holyhead to Dublin and Pembroke to Rosslare, P&O Ferries operates crossings between Liverpool and Dublin and Stena Line offers services from Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare.

Looks like Hong Kong, actually Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf
(© Mikel Parera Unsplash)

While we might be familiar with the famous Westminster monuments dominating London’s skyline, the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf give a glimpse into slick modern metropolitan life. At night it almost looks futuristic!

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers enables Londoners and visitors to take in the city’s sights from the water, there’s even an on board bar to add sophistication to the moonlit river cruise experience.

Looks like the Maldives, actually the Scilly Isles

Scilly Travel
(© Isles of Scilly Travel)

Privy to some of Britain’s warmest waters, the Cornish archipelago looks and feels like heaven. Sandy beaches, shipwrecks and sub-tropical flora and fauna give visitors a taste of the exotic, but it is the gentler pace of life that really sets a relaxed holiday vibe.
Isles of Scilly Travel transports sea passengers on The Scillonian departing from Penzance to St Mary’s Harbour.

Best-selling UK holidays guidebooks

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

SaleBestseller No. 1
The Great British Bucket List: Utterly Unmissable Britain
  • Hardcover Book
  • Madden, Richard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
SaleBestseller No. 2
Lonely Planet Great Britain's Best Trips: 36 Amazing Road Trips (Travel Guide)
  • Albiston, Isabel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 06/11/2021 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet (Publisher)
SaleBestseller No. 3
52 Great British Weekends, 2nd Edition: A Year of Mini Adventures (IMM Lifestyle Books) Seasonal...
  • Annabelle Thorpe (Author)
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  • 192 Pages - 06/08/2021 (Publication Date) - Fox Chapel Publishing (Publisher)
SaleBestseller No. 4
The Times Britain’s Best Walks: 200 classic walks from The Times
  • Somerville, Christopher (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 03/08/2018 (Publication Date) - Times Books (Publisher)
SaleBestseller No. 5
Lonely Planet Best Day Walks Great Britain (Travel Guide)
  • Berry, Oliver (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 03/12/2021 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet (Publisher)

Last update on 2021-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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