Ferries in Europe can be a relaxing journey compared to other methods of travel. Popular in the Mediterranean, and Norse countries – ferries are relatively inexpensive and offer solutions to overnight travel.
Whether you are going from mainland Italy to Sicily (and don’t want to fly) or island hopping in Greece it’s important to understand your options when it comes to ferry travel.
Types of Ferries in Europe
The term ferry is usually a term used for boats that carry people as well as cars. And tend to be on the slower side.
Large ferries are usually docked further away from the town center, which is something to consider if you have a lot of luggage and only your feet to carry you. The upside to larger ferries is they have ample room for comfort+passengers, are typically safer on the water, and can carry cars as well.
Catamarans are much smaller, and only used for passengers – not cars. This gives them a clear advantage in speed if you need to travel fast to make up for lost time AND they usually drop you right in the town center. However, because of their small size, tickets typically sell out fast, and can be unsafe in bad weather.
You can either buy tickets online, or at the window in Europe. The most popular sites to buy from are: aferry (for most of Europe), Greek Ferries (for all of Greece and Italy), and Fjord Travel (for tours in Norway).
A great website for some of the best prices is: Ferry Cheap, which gives a comparison tool for all of the best offers. Of course, as with anything else, booking early is the way to save money.
It’s important to note that ferry schedule’s are not always planned out ahead of time like airline tickets. Depending on the country/region, you can purchase tickets months ahead of time, OR sometimes just days before the season starts. If you end up having to buy them last minute, be sure to line up a couple of hours before it departs.
There are also ‘classes’ of tickets for overnight voyages. If comfort’s your aim, try to reserve a bed ahead of time. If not, you’ll be stuck sleeping out on the deck wherever you can find room.