Santander, on Spain’s northern coast, is known for its beautiful cathedral, wonderful cafes and seafood restaurants, and of course the busy Plaza Porticada. It is well worth a visit , but also serves well as a gateway to a driving tour of the rest of Spain, or even France or Portugal, depending on how adventurous and energetic you feel.

The Portsmouth to Santander route is a long crossing (around 24 hours) but, safe in the hands of Brittany Ferries, its more of a cruise and part of the holiday, than simply getting you and the car from A to B. The ships on this route – Brittany’s “Cap Finistère” and “Pont-Aven” – are referred to a cruise ferries, which gives you some indication of the level of luxury and comfort they offer.


Journey Time
Portsmouth to Santander2 per week1 dayBrittanyBrittany Ferries
Check Prices >>


Which ferry company runs the route?
Brittany Ferries run this route, along with several other crossings to Spain; Portsmouth to Bilbao and Plymouth to Santander. Brittany also offer routes to France, and between France and Ireland.

Does the ferry sail overnight?
It does indeed sail overnight. In fact it sails for a full 24 hours before arriving in Santander, taking you across the Bay of Biscay, with the possibility of seeing dolphins and whales.

How frequently does it sail?
Currently there are 2 crossings per week, leaving Tuesday at 17.00 and Wednesday at 11.00.

What facilities are on-board?
well, you name it, they’ve got it! These are state of the art cruise ferries, and you’ll find shops, restaurants, cafes and bars on-board, plus a heated swimming pool, spa treatments, kennels, cinema, kids’ play areas, Wi-Fi and lovely wide decks where you can find space to relax in the fresh sea air.

Do I need to book a cabin?
Yes, in fact you must. Brittany won’t allow bookings without booking a cabin on their routes to Spain. Luckily there’s plenty of choice in comfort and price.

Moving on from Santander

Northern Spain is a delight for travellers, where you’ll find beautifully sandy beaches without any of the crowds of the southern Costas. You could quite happily explore northern Spanish coast for much of your holiday. But if you wanted to get further afield, consider a long roundabout drive to Barcelona, with the possibility of going via Bilbao, San Sebastian, Pamplona and Saragossa.

Or how about taking the ferry to Santander, driving inland to La Rioja region (head for Logroño, the capital of the region), the head east to Pamplona (famous for the running of the bulls which usually takes place in July) the back towards Spain’s northern coast to the magnificent city of San Sebastien. Next, head for the border to France, driving through the Gascony National Park and on to Bordeaux, then La Rochelle, and finally on to St Malo to take the Britanny ferry home to Portsmouth. A full 600 mile journey at least, taking in 2 of the finest wine regions of Europe, magnificent countryside and coastal scenery, plus amazing cities and culture.