I need to get from London to Rome. I know there are direct flights, but, I wanted to take the opportunity to do a boat trip along the way.

My general plan was taking a train from London to Dover, then a boat to Calais or Dunkerque, then a train to some airport in France, then a plane to Rome. But, I did not find an appropriate airport in France for this plan - all airports I checked required 3 of 4 trains and a very long land journey, which I would like to avoid.

So, my question is: what is the way to do this trip, with the least land-travel?

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    How long are you willing to spend on the ferry? There are some obvious (for a fairly outlandish value of obvious) routes to northern Spain, but that's a 24 hour trip. – origimbo Aug 11 '18 at 22:16
  • @origimbo Do you mean London-Portsmouth by train, Portsmouth-Santander by boat and then Santander-Rome by direct flight? This is a very cool route. I would never have thought of it. But, 24 hours on the sea are too much for me... – Erel Segal-Halevi Aug 11 '18 at 22:34
  • Paris is not an option? – MastaBaba Aug 11 '18 at 22:50
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    Obviously it's down to personal preference (I know you specified least land traveled) but I wouldn't bother with the flight, why not go all the way he train? You could head to Amsterdam via Hook of Holland, then it's 2 changes to Rome (Basel & Milan or Hannover & Munich always check exact dates), you'll likely need to get the ferry to Amsterdam the day before in order to head south in time for the night train or be happy with tight connections. Alternatively you could head from one of the many French ports to Paris and get the sleeper to Milan, where connecting services run to Rome. – skifans Aug 11 '18 at 23:06
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    Follow a canal from Calais to the Mediterranean? french-waterways.com/practicalities/canal-route-mediterranean – vclaw Aug 12 '18 at 12:31

3 or 4 trains from Calais or Dunkerque to a French airport?

  • Calais - CDG: quite a few options with a single change, either in Lille or in Paris Nord. Note that you may need to leave from Calais Frethun rather than Calais Ville (but you'll need a taxi to get from the ferry terminal to the train station anyway), and if via Lille, you may need to go from Lille Europe to Lille Flandres. But there's at least one option for doing it in less than 2 hours.

  • Dunkerque - CDG: change in Lille, Paris or Arras. Shortest: 2h16.

  • Not in France, but you can do Calais-Bruxelles National in 1h33 with a single change in Bruxelles-Midi.

Getting to Lyon St Exupery is surprisingly long (over 5 hours), but can be done with a single change.

There are other options like Strasbourg (a bit over 4 hours, 1 change), but there's no train station in the airport, so you need to get from the train station downtown to the airport.

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I am not sure this is a great idea in general, but a practical route would be:

  • London to Harwich; train from Liverpool Street to Harwich International. The train can be timed to meet...

  • Harwich to Hook of Holland - either a daytime or overnight sailing, takes 8-9 hours.

  • Hook of Holland to Schiphol Airport - in theory this is a train via Rotterdam, but the Hook of Holland line is closed until early 2019. There is a replacement bus to Rotterdam (~30m) and then you can get regular fast trains to Schiphol (~30m).

  • Schiphol to Rome - for the random day in October I checked, there were twelve flights to Rome Fiumicino, though the timing isn't always great.

You can get a combined "rail and sail" ticket from Stena Line which covers the train journeys as well as the ferry.

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Picking up on the mention of Sardinia in @skifans answer, you could fly from London to Sardinia, and get a ferry from there to mainland Italy. For example Ryanair fly Stansted to Cagliari, from where you can get a ferry to Cittavecia.

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  • Ferries from Sardinia are terribly expensive in high season, I know people who had to book return tickets months ahead. Admittedly, I'm not so sure about one-way tickets. – Mari-Lou A Aug 12 '18 at 12:10

Jersey airport on the channel islands is only a 15 minutes taxi from the docks. However, it has very limited flights to the European continent, you'll likely need to change planes and likely by back tracking to the UK.

According to ferries (https://www.directferries.co.uk/ferries_from_jersey_to_england.htm) operate a daily services from Pole and Portsmouth.

At time of writing there is a summer only Saturday Flybe flight to Zurich which arrives in time for the last Swiss flight down to Rome, always check for your exact dates of travel. And you will get a greater choice if changing in the UK.

Alternatively you could fly to the island of Sardinia by changing at Bern with Sky works, and then catch another ferry towords Rome. You'll likely need another train/bus/taxi to get from the western Italy docks into Rome.

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  • Indeed, flights from Jersey to Rome go through the UK – Erel Segal-Halevi Aug 20 '18 at 8:02

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