Ferry travel allows clients to take a city break without facing the chaos at UK airports.
Ferries can take passengers into the heart of a city, or within easy reach, especially for those travelling with a car.
Many of the nearest cities are tried-and-tested favourites, but there are always new reasons to visit, as our round-up shows.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Best for cycling
Holland has roughly 600,000 bicycles for 730,000 residents. There are almost 250 miles of bicycle paths through Amsterdam and numerous places to rent bikes all over the city.
Sample product: Stena Line operates twice-daily crossings from Harwich to the Hook of Holland from £59 one-way for a car and two passengers next year.
Best for a night out
With 1,000 pubs in Dublin, there is no excuse for having a quiet night in. The Irish capital has traditional clubs offering Irish music and dancing, jazz or salsa venues, and trendy nightclubs that stay open until the wee small hours.
Temple Bar, famous for its brothels in the 18th century, is still a magnet for hedonists, its cobbled streets now lined with pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. An organised pub crawls will cost about £5.
Sample product: Irish Ferries operates crossings from Holyhead to Dublin from £77 one-way for a car and two passengers next year.
Best for chocolate
Brussels is heaven for chocolate fans. The Museum of Cacao and Chocolate tells the story of the cocoa bean’s arrival in Europe and the production processes, with a demonstration by a chocolate master. Planète Chocolate has demonstrations on Saturdays, La Fonderie offers guided walking and tasting tours of the city.
If that’s still not enough, Bruges, just 10 miles from the port, has a chocolate festival in April.
Sample product: P&O Ferries operates from Hull to Zeebrugge, 70 miles from Brussels, from £133 one-way for a car and two passengers next year including a standard cabin.
Best for the great outdoors
The city is the gateway to the fjords, where nature is at its biggest and best, but you don’t have to leave Bergen to enjoy the great outdoors. A funicular operates to the top of Mount Fløyen, 1,000ft above sea level, where there are hiking trails across the mountain.
Really fit clients can take the cable car up Mount Ulriken, walk to the top of the mountain and across to Mount Fløyen, which takes around five hours. The walk back to the city from Mount Fløyen takes about 30 minutes.
If that sounds too much like hard work, the Norway in a Nutshell tour is a way to enjoy nature while sitting down – on trains, boats and coaches – travelling through the mountains and fjords.
Sample product: DFDS Seaways operates from Newcastle upon Tyne to Bergen with prices from £138 one-way for a car and two passengers with an inside cabin next year.
Best for dining out
In a country where lunch is still considered time to down tools and tuck in, you can guarantee good food.
Making an ideal stop at the beginning or end of a European driving holiday, the French capital is full of restaurants and bistros where foodies can enjoy everything from moules mariniere (mussels with wine and garlic) to cassoulet (white bean stew).
There’s a huge choice of places to eat in the Latin Quarter, south of Notre Dame, and around the Champs-Elysées, where ducking into a side-street restaurant for dinner is a cheap option for visitors.
French Links offers tours of markets and gourmet food shops, while Edible-Paris runs guided food tours to bakeries, chocolate and cheese shops.
Sample product: LD Lines operates from Portsmouth to Le Havre from £105 for a car and two passengers with a cabin next year.
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