Getting to and around Wessex

Getting to and around Wessex that is the beautiful south west English counties of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset and Wiltshire is reasonably easy. Transport access by plane, boat and train, coach and car is a peach.

Aircraft coming in to land at Heathrow

Aircraft coming in to land at Heathrow
Photograoh © Hywel Williams

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By Air

For those visitors coming from abroad by plane we hope you have an enjoyable holiday. There are four airports within Wessex and two in London which are within easy reach. All are international. All have good facilities and access to road and rail is made as simple as possible making getting to and around Wessex an easy matter. The major roads can of course be busy in the summer - there are always the less major roads and the country roads to explore!

London Airports

Heathrow International Airport

The major airport in Britain is Heathrow International Airport. Details can be found in the link in the heading of this paragraph.  It is one of the largest and busiest airports in the world and is situated only about sixty miles from Wessex. Planes come and go to every part of the globe.

Gatwick International Airport

is a smaller airport than Heathrow and caters for services to and from Europe. There are two Terminals, North and South. Good access. Details can be found in the heading of this paragraph.

Airports in Wessex itself

There are four international airports in Wessex situated very helpfully in various parts of the region. Bristol Airport is the largest.

Southampton International Airport

Southampton is a large port city on the south coast of Hampshire that caters for air services from many parts of Europe. Being in Hampshire the airport is already in Wessex and there is road and rail access to all parts of the region. Click the link above for details of the airport.

Bournemouth International Airport

An up and coming airport is Bournemouth. Caters for traffic to and from a large number of places all over Europe and the Mediterranean. Situated on the south coast in Dorset it is ideal as an entry point for all of Wessex. Bournemouth itself is a lovely location for a seaside break. There is a shuttle service between the Traffic Interchange and the airport to access rail and coach transport. Click the link above for details of this fast growing airport.

Bristol International Airport

Handles flights from all over the world.
Bristol is more or less geographically in Somerset and so in Wessex. It is a large busy port city with all those advantages of access and accommodation. Bath is close by and Devon not far away. Click the link above for details of the airport.

Exeter International Airport

Situated near Exeter the county town of  Devon, the airport caters for traffic to and from Canada, many places in Europe plus other places as well. Ideal for those wishing to visit Plymouth the cultural centre of Devon and the place from which both the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to America and the First Fleet sailed to Australia. Click the link above for details of the airport..

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By Sea

Welcome too to our friends who are coming into the country as visitors from our European neighbours.

Brittany Ferry

Brittany Ferry
Photograph © Graham Robson

The easiest way to get from Europe to Wessex is by one of the Channel ferries. They take the car, all your baggage and passengers! Even take your bike. Foot passengers are welcome.

Some are night ferries and cabins are available. Quite comfortable if perhaps a little small. Railway sleeper cabins are about the same size.

Large and comfortable seating areas throughout the ship. Some seats are bookable. There are good restaurants, bars and cafes. Makes for quite a pleasant trip of about six to eight hours from France. Part of the holiday!

The best entry port for most ferries into Wessex is Portsmouth where ferries can be found from Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo in France and from Bilbao and Santander in Spain. From Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands also. National Express coaches call right into the Continental Ferry Port in Portsmouth. From Portsmouth all of Wessex is at your feet.

The nearest ferry port to Paris is France's second largest port, Le Havre, which has three ferries a day to Portsmouth run by P & O. They also run a service from Caen.

Brittany Ferries operate into Portsmouth from Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo in France and Santander in Spain.

Condor Ferries also operate into Portsmouth from St Malo, via the Channel Islands, and Cherbourg

Plymouth is another entry port into Wessex. It is Devon's largest city. Although not the county town it is the cultural capital of the county. Famous as the port from which the Pilgrim Fathers left and also the First Fleet to Australia.

Brittany Ferries run ferries from Roscoff.

Poole is on the beautiful Dorset coast. It is the entry point for

Brittany Ferries from Cherbourg.

Condor Ferries run a service from St Malo via the Channel Islands. Weymouth is also in Dorset, that well loved seaside resort for many years is also home to Condor Ferries who sail to St Malo via the Channel Islands. (There are day trips from Weymouth to the Channel Islands)

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By Rail

Channel Tunnel – sometimes known as The Chunnel

Why not try Eurostar. From Brussels and Paris to St Pancras, London. Underground trains from there to all other major stations in London. From there to any part of Wessex you fancy.

National Rail Journey Planner is quite a handy resource for all journies by rail throughout the UK.

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Within England, Scotland and Wales

By Rail

Access to Wessex by rail is easy enough from most parts of the country. Rail Maps can be found here. With careful planning there may be no need to go through London unless you wish to – or it is cheaper! Birmingham makes a good jumping off point from the north. From the south east coast Portsmouth and Southampton make good aiming points. Bristol is easily accessible from Wales.

For fares and timetables please click here There is a journey planner. It is possible you may find a Rail Card useful. They may cut as much as a third off the fare.

Bikes are carried free on the railway but there are cinditions. Remember though if you are going further and need to access other public transport the bike may have to be paid for, if it is allowed on. It is best to check with the public transport company concerned.

By Coach

National Express coach

A National Express coach

National Express

National Express coaches operate all over the country and have frequent timetables and extra services throughout the summer. Airport Express coaches connect many airports. All the National Express services save the hassle of the drive and no car park charges at the end!

Bikes can be carried but they must be of the folding type as can light manual wheelchairs.

Did you realise that travelling by coach instead of the car is seriously environmentally friendly? For instance a journey from London to Bristol is about 117 miles and saves about 35 lbs of CO2 per person! That is 141 lbs for a carload of four people! Very friendly!

By Road

The route by road of course depends on where the journey starts!

A touring holiday of Wessex would benefit from a good printed map, or better still one of those handy satellite navigation systems. You could always carry both!

Major roads on the whole are good but can get crowded in the summer months. Planning the journey saves time and arguments! Starting in the early morning and planning to get through bottlenecks or towns before the rush hour can save time and frustration.

Plan to take breaks in interesting places every two hours or less on a long trip. Or just stop for a coffee. The journey is part of the holiday after all. Change drivers if possible. Enjoy the trip.

Road sign A30

The old road to the West was of course the London to Penzance road,  used for centuries.

Road sign A303

Today this road and the Basingstoke to Honiton road, are the major roads

Road sign M3

Although this is the major route out of London as far as Basingstoke.

Road sign M4

If travelling between London and Bristol this is a useful road.

A4 road sign

However you might prefer the historic parallel route for this journey.

By Bicycle or Hiking

Why not! Travel through some interesting places, take your time.

Sustrans have some brilliant cycling routes through beautiful countryside. Some routes are off road.

For some ideas on cycling in Wessex why not try our Cycling in Wessex and Cycling in Southwest England pages.

For those who like hiking there are many ideas on the Walking Trails pages.

Hire Cars

Available from all airports and from many centres throughout Wessex.

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Wessex welcomes you all, enjoy your holiday and come back again.

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Other pages that may be of interest


Family History in Southwest England

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Return from Getting to and around Wessex to Home

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Getting there Condor Ferry

Condor Ferry

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Useful Information

For when you arrive


We all know that our environment is under threat and we need to do something about it. That's why the humble folks at carwow are doing everything they can to promote sustainable and green automotive solutions for the consumer.

To promote electric car adoption globally, they are developing an interactive Electric Car charging point finder tool to help EV and hybrid car owners find the nearest electric vehicle charging stations.

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Things change. Always check out the external links for the latest information.

These are just helpful suggestions only.

There is only one affiliate link, SBI.

Travel Wessex is a Guide.

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Public Transport

Traveline is a very useful resource for public transport throughout Wessex, even local buses. In fact all over the United Kingdom.

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Getting there British Airways plane

           British Airways

Getting there Eurostar


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