Algorfa’s location means it’s easily accessible from both Alicante and Corvera (Murcia) airports. From Alicante, it’s possible to get flights to and from most UK airports, as well as various other destinations around Europe. Sometimes, though, flying isn’t the answer, and you may want or need to drive to your home in Algorfa.
The good news is, not only is Algorfa well connected for local transport links, it’s quick and easy to drive to the Cantabrian ports of Santander and Bilbao, or even through France to numerous ports in Brittany and Normandy. And if you’re not a very good sailor, the Channel Tunnel is also relatively easy to access. This is ideal if you’re travelling with pets who don’t take kindly to crossing the Channel in a kennel.
However, it’s worth considering how far you’ll need to drive once you hit the UK, since you don’t get the rest and recuperation of an extended ferry crossing before you’re behind the wheel again. For me, with a UK base in the West Country, the 6 – 7 hour drive, taking in the M25 as a bonus, puts the Tunnel off the possibility list, but it might work well for others.
Spain – UK direct sailings
My preferred travel option is to drive up to Santander and sail to Plymouth. It’s around 850 kilometres, or 540 miles, and it’s mostly motorway, so it’s doable in around 8 hours. We travel with two dogs, so it takes us longer as we need regular stops for them. We’re happy to do it in one go when returning to Algorfa, depending on arrival time in Santander, but on the way up from Algorfa, we usually stop overnight at Burgos. It’s just two hours from Santander, and as our usual sailing time is around 4.00 pm, that means we can enjoy a long evening in the hotel and a leisurely breakfast before the final leg of the journey.
From Santander, you can sail to Plymouth or Portsmouth, and you can also sail into Portsmouth from Bilbao. Sailings to Portsmouth generally take longer and are more expensive, and some sailings from Portsmouth to Spain involve two nights on board. This may be a consideration if you are travelling with pets, especially cats, who need to spend the journey in your vehicle, because access to the vehicle decks is forbidden during the sailing.
Crossing the Bay of Biscay can be bumpy at times, and there are no sailings during the winter months from Spain to the UK. Book as early as possible if you are travelling with pets, as the kennels and pet friendly cabins soon fill up, and you can’t rely on snagging a cancellation.
Saving money on the journey
Direct sailings are more convenient, but they can work out as the most expensive option. However, there are numerous ways to shave some Euros off the cost of your journey. Brittany Ferries, who operate direct sailings between Spain and the UK as well as France – UK, have a Club Voyage programme which can result in substantial savings. It’s certainly worth considering if you make more than one ferry crossing a year.
As well as ferry discounts of up to 30% on the Spanish routes, you receive a £10 voucher for each passenger which can be used towards a meal in the daytime or breakfast. There’s also an extra 10% off further restaurant purchases, and half price entrance to the on board cinema as well as discounts on spa treatments. Friends and family members can quote your Club Voyage membership to receive up to half of your discounts, although they don’t receive any other benefits. You’ll receive a £10 voucher against future sailings for each guest who books through your membership. Check out the details on the Club Voyage link above.
To save money on accommodation, why not join a cashback site like TopCashback.com then book your accommodation through the agencies listed? (disclaimer: this is my affiliate link to join TopCashback, and I will get a sign up bonus, and so will you. You’ll need a UK address to register with). We stay in Burgos, at Hotel Las Vegas. It’s pet friendly, clean, close to the motorway and it’s very reasonable. On 19th October 2022, it cost us €90 for two people and two dogs, which included breakfast, an evening meal and €5 supplement for each dog. I’ll be reviewing this hotel, and two more we will be staying in, in a later post when we return to Spain in late November.
Wondering where to break your journey if you’re not familiar with the route? Wanderlog is a great site that lists towns and points of interest on your chosen route. I used this St Malo – Algorfa route to work out where we needed to stop without straying too far from our route.
I booked the hotel through Booking.com on Topcashback’s site and received a 3% cash back payment just a couple of days after our stay. Okay, it’s only around €3, but it bought us a glass of wine each at the hotel, and as the commercial says, Every Little Helps! And the more nights you stay, the more you save.
Driving through France
If you want to make a road trip out of your travel between Algorfa and the UK, there are various options available. Here’s a summary of the popular French ports, with approximate driving distances and times, sailing times and UK destinations. If you travel on French toll motorways, it’s likely to cost around €95 in tolls, but it will save a fair bit on driving time and fuel.
|Port||Kms/miles from Algorfa (aprox)||Driving time (hrs, approx.)||Sailing time (hrs, approx.)||UK arrival port|
|Roscoff||1,700/1,063||16||6 daytime, 10 overnight||Plymouth|
|Caen||1,700/1,063||16||8 – 9||Portsmouth|
I hope this has cleared up some of the questions you have about driving between Algorfa and the UK. The motorways here are much less crowded, and not full of roadworks, which means you can make excellent progress. As an example, the distance from Plymouth to Edinburgh is similar to Algorfa to Santander, but I’d never even contemplate making that journey in a single day on UK motorways.
In another feature, coming soon, I’ll review the pet friendly hotels we use on our return journey via Portsmouth to St Malo. We couldn’t secure pet accommodation on the UK – Spain routes, but we have a pet friendly cabin, so the dogs will be with us all the time, which makes us and them very happy, despite the longer drive! However you travel to and from Algorfa, take care and stay safe, won’t you?