The United Kingdom has coastlines on the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, and the Irish Sea. As such, the country has several seaports that serve to transport both passengers and cargo. The Port of Dover is, unsurprisingly, the busiest in the country by passenger traffic. Holyhead, being the main port of transport to Ireland, comes second. Portsmouth becomes the third busiest seaport by passenger traffic in the UK. It is also connected to other European countries like Spain. The six busiest international passenger ports in the United Kingdom are as follows:
1. Port of Dover
The Port of Dover is the busiest passenger port in the United Kingdom and one of the busiest in the world. It was established in 1606. This cross-channel port is located in Dover of Kent in England’s south-east. France is located just 34 km away from this port making it England’s nearest port to France. The Port of Dover receives an average of about 16 million travelers annually. 2.8 million motorcycles and cars, 2.1 million lorries, and 86,000 coaches also pass through this port every year. The Dover Harbour Board owns and operates this port. The Port of Dover recorded 12 million passenger movements in 2012 which accounted for more than twice the passenger traffic volume handled by any other international seaport in the country.
2. Port of Holyhead
This is a ferry and commercial port located in Anglesey of Wales. The port occupies an area of 240 acres. It was established in the early 19th century. Today, the Port of Holyhead handles more than 2 million passengers every year. It is the main surface transport connection between Dublin of Ireland and northern Wales and England. Irish Ferries and the Stena Line’s vessels operate here. The port occupies parts of the Salt Island and the Holy Island. The Holyhead railway station is located nearby allowing train passengers to easily access the port for further transport.
3. Portsmouth Port
This port is located on England’s South Coast. Cruise ships, passenger ferries, and cargo ships pass through this port daily. It is the third busiest passenger seaport in the United Kingdom. It is an international port with both international and domestic terminals. The latter is used for the transport of ferries to the Isle of Wight. The Portsmouth Port was opened in 1976 with ferries running to the Channel Islands, Cherbourg, and Saint-Malo. Over the years, the port’s activities expanded to support cargo vessels and serve other domestic and international destinations.
4. Port of Hull
This port is located at the confluence of the Humber Estuary and the River Hull in England. The port has been used at least since the 13th century. The Port of Hull is the fourth busiest seaport in the United Kingdom by passenger movements. The port is equipped to handle about 1 million passengers annually. It is the country’s principal port for the import of softwood timber.
5. Harwich International Port
Located in Essex, England, this seaport of the North Sea is based on the River Stour’s south bank. Although cruise ships would formerly visit the port regularly, the visits by such ships have greatly decreased over the years. The economic downturn or the lack of facilities could be the reason behind such a change. The Stena Line uses the port extensively to ferry passengers to the Hook of Holland. The Harwich International Port also handles general and bulk cargos. The port is currently being used for offshore wind farms.
6. Port of Tyne
This port is located on the River Tyne in northeast England's Tyne and Wear. It is the sixth busiest passenger port in the United Kingdom. The port at Tyne developed as far back as the 19th century and was developed and modernized over the years. The port has two car terminals, a cruise terminal, and a ferry terminal.