Can You Travel From France To Scotland By Boat?  | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Ferries and sailboats are exciting ways to travel from France to Scotland
  • A ferry can take you through most of the journey, while sailing takes more time
  • If you choose to ferry, your trip can be less of a headache versus sailing

Traveling to different parts of the world is an exciting adventure. But can you travel from France to Scotland by boat?

You can travel by boat, either a ferry or a sailboat, to get from France to Scotland. However, the path traveled is not a straight shot and you must find alternative routes after using a ferry or go around if sailing. From the east coast to the Scottish border, you can find a route best for you.

No matter which method of boating you decide to use to travel from France to Scotland, a lot of planning must be had beforehand. As you will see, a lot of key details must be thought of for both situations.

Table of contents


Two Routes to Take by Boat

As mentioned, there are different routes you could take on a ferry boat or sailboat. Public transport might not be for everyone, but having a sailboat is also another animal of its own. In addition, journey times will vary quite a bit depending on where you are traveling throughout both of those locations.


Despite the lack of direct routes, travelers can still traverse between France and Scotland via ferry services. The most popular way to make the journey is to take a ferry from France to one of the ports in England or Ireland, and then continue on to Scotland by train or car.

A variety of ferry routes are available, including options like Calais to Dover, Dunkirk to Dover, and Dieppe to Newhaven, all of which are serviced by companies such as DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries, and Brittany Ferries. Once you arrive in England or Ireland, you have the choice of several train services or car rentals to continue on to Scotland.


Embarking from the northwest tip of France, you can make stops along the way from London, Sunderland, and even Edinburgh. From there, you could continue to sail through the North Sea shoreline and make your way to Aberdeen or other parts of Scotland.

Popular Ferries Leaving Between France and Scotland

There are plenty of trips from France to Scotland and vice versa by ferry. Below you can see which popular route you could take, whether from the Scottish border, North bank, or mainland Europe, and if it makes a time difference:

  • Calais to Dover
  • Dunkirk to Dover
  • Calais to Folkestone

France showcases 15 ports that ferries can use, with Calais, Dunkirk, Nice, and Marseille port being the most popular. Even amongst the most popular ones, Calais port leads the pack in popularity in France, offering roughly 80 daily sailing and ferry options to and from Dover and Folkestone.

When to Take a Boat from France to Scotland?

The choice of body of water for sailing or for ferry travel in Scotland depends on the location, with the options being the North Atlantic Ocean or the North Sea. To make the most of your sailing experience or if relying on ferry operators, the recommended period to embark on your adventure is from April to June.

During this period, you can relish the extended daylight hours, shorter nights, and favorable climatic conditions. If you plan on sailing and are new to the experience, it might not be as intimidating compared to other times of the year.

Is Taking a Ferry from France to Scotland Right for You?

Boating from France to Scotland has reportedly taken an average of 8 hours and 43 minutes, spanning roughly 685 miles (more or less depending on where you plan to start and stop). This also factors in a combination of ferries, trains, and buses typically servicing multiple stop points between the two. To make the trip even shorter, you can opt to fly (Paris Charles de Gaulle) or anywhere before or after a ferry.

Various routes begin in Châtelet and end at Glasgow Central. Even though a variety of these (out of 49) services usually operate each week, weekend and holiday schedules might change things up, so keep in mind before taking off.

France and Scotland are connected through many different transportation methods, including:

  • Planes (Paris Charles de Gaulle or London Heathrow airport)
  • Train (Avanti West Coast)
  • Night and daytime buses
  • Direct train
  • Car ferries (DFDS Seaways)

If you want your ferry trip to be successful from France to Scotland, you will need to figure out a combination of other travel options once you get off of the ferry and onto the next destination. A ferry can only take your journey so far, so plan ahead on the exact location and see where the ferry can take you.

Can You Take a Fast Ferry?

Numerous ferry companies operate "fast ferries" from England and other UK locations to France. However, if you find yourself situated in the far west of the UK, fear not - Brittany Ferries also offers a high-speed ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg that may be a perfect fit for you.

Although this particular route takes approximately three hours, it still presents a reliable and efficient method for traversing the channel. The key here is to decide which location is best for your situation for the fast ferry.

Is Sailing from France to Scotland Right for You?

If a ferry is not the option you want to consider, sailing can be an alternative. Unless you are a seasoned veteran, this could be a tough experience and shock when trying to navigate. This is due to weather changes, current, and boating traffic.

Assuming favorable weather conditions and a steady travel speed of around 10 knots, it is possible to complete the journey in as little as three days or take up to a week to reach your destination. This could also take longer if you decide to stop and visit beautiful locations along the way, such as the Channel islands.

There are plenty of factors you want to account for during this long of a voyage, such as:

  • Food and water
  • Proper sailing gear
  • Refueling at docks
  • Legal documentation (visas, passports, etc.)
  • Proper sailboat, good condition, experience
  • Planning out the routes

Most people might not plan ahead accordingly or only account for a few days. At best, you should pack for a week’s worth of supplies, even though this could take you roughly three to five days at a good pace.

Cheapest Way to get from France to Scotland

Even though flying is one of the quickest and cheapest options, it might not be for everyone. For boating, you could definitely “rough it” and stretch your dollar quite thin if you are sailing. However, this only works financially if you plan on staying on your boat full time and not enjoying hotels or eating out.

Taking a ferry can add up costs, especially since you might need to get off and get on a different one depending on your stops. So wherever you plan on going, you should account for the amount of stops or times you have to pay to ferry across.