My best friend and I will be traveling from the UK to Italy this summer, and want an alternative to flying that is both enjoyable and efficient. We're considering taking a ferry from Dover to Calais, and traveling into Italy from there. Is this a good idea, or are there other options? Thank you!
Sarah, A bit of further information would be helpful.... Are you adverse to flying or just prefer a more scenic route? Where are you going in Italy? Travel via budget air is usually the quickest and cheapest method, and the most efficient use of holiday time for long distances. Cheers!
The ferry might be enjoyable, but not particularly efficient. Did you consider theEurostar train-London to Parisin 2.5hours? Then head south by train, either by way of Nice and along the coast into Italy, or through Switzerland. If you have a couple of days this could be fun.
We flew out of London Gatwick to Pisa for right at $100 and two hours last year. We took the train over to Florence from there. That's my suggested route, unless you have any specific tourist sites you want to see along the way.
Italy has so many things to see that it's a destination to itself.
Here's the Man In Seat 61's very thorough discussion of the options for traveling from the UK to Italy by train: http://tinyurl.com/cdoudud. Yes, if you're going to do this, the Eurostar makes much more sense than a boat across the Channel. Do be aware that while the Man in Seat 61 is very fond of overnight trains, many others are not. Do a search on this Helpline, and you'll see not only the divergence of opinion, but the vehemence of the "never again" posters. Of course, if you stop off on the way, you can do it all by fast day trains instead.
You can take a ferry from England to Amsterdam. There are direct trains from Amsterdam to Basel and even Zurich in Switzerland. If you take an EC train you even travel through the entire Rhine river valley and gorge. The ICE trains, much faster, use a different, less scenic (but again, much faster) route. In either case you could stop at Cologne for an hour or a few to see the Cathedral (right across from the train station)... You could even stop and sidetrip to Heidelberg, Baden Baden and the Black Forrest... stop at Freiburg im Breisgau, sidetrip to Strasbourg... From Basel and Zurich there are plenty of trains into Northern Italy, mainly Milan.