The town of Harwich in north east Essex is a busy one.
Not only is it a beautiful place to live, work, and visit, but there is a large international port that sits right on both the River Stour and River Orwell. Strangely, Harwich isn’t mentioned in the Domesday book, even though its neighbour, Dovercourt, is.
Despite its peaceful exterior, the name Harwich means ‘military settlement’ and for many hundreds of years it was an important base for all kinds of military campaigns. In 1652 the Royal Navy Dockyard was built there in readiness for war. Harwich is where William of Orange had planned to land when he invaded in 1688 – he wanted to be there due to its perfect position – but the weather had other ideas and he actually landed at Torbay.
Harwich old town is a conservation area due to its many beautiful old and architecturally important buildings. For those who love architecture and history, Harwich is a fascinating place to visit, and for those who prefer different kinds of art there is the Swan House Gallery. Other places to visit include the lovely Halfpenny Pier, the Harwich Mayflower Project (volunteers are building a full scale replica of the original Mayflower), and the ‘high lighthouse’.
Ferries and cruise ships from Harwich
|Harwich Hook of Holland||2 daily||6½ hours||Prices|
This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.
|Cruise line||Typical itinerary||Prices|
|Harwich Ports such as Rouen; Honfleur; Cobh; Dublin; Belfast||Prices|
|Harwich Ports such as Zeebrugge; Le Havre; Cherbourg; Bilbao||Prices|
This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.
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To find other ports near you, take a look at the UK port map here.
Harwich International Port Limited, Parkeston, Harwich, Essex, CO12 4SR, United Kingdom
Harwich port is conveniently located at the end of the A120 in North East Essex. Follow the Parkeston Bypass through the retail park and across Dovercourt Dock River to reach the entrance.
Follow signs to the port rather than to the town centre - unless you want to visit the quaint town before your sea crossing of course! The exit for the port is around 1.5 miles (about 2 kilometres) from the town centre. If you arrive via the A120 and reach the town centre you've gone too far.
The A120 connects on the western tip with the M11 which in turn links to the M25 to the south, or the A1 and A1(M) to the north.
While the port enjoys good road links it is still a lengthy journey at 86 miles (about 138 kilometres) from Central London.
Ferry passengers can use the on-site Pay and Display car park outside the entrance to the train station and ferry terminal. When I checked in May 2016 the rate was £8.60 per 24 hours. Free parking for 30 minutes is also available at the same location for picking up and dropping off passengers.
Cruise parking for up to 600 cars is available at the port. A courtesy bus makes a five minute transfer to save the hike on foot. At the time of writing pricing wasn't available and seems to be calculated on a per cruise basis.
Getting there by coach
National Express curiously doesn't have any stops anywhere near the port. The only service that gets anywhere near is route 481. The coach departs London and heads to Chelmsford, Witham, Colchester, St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, Holland-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Ipswich and terminates at Felixstowe. Book your tickets here.
Getting there by train
You can arrive by train as Harwich International Station is directly adjacent to the ferry terminal. Local services run between the port and Harwich Town or Manningtree. Manningtree is the gateway for many journeys to the port, meaning most travellers will have at least one train connection to make on long distance services.
The journey time from London is just 1½ hours. Journeys from Wales, the Midlands, the North of England, and from Scotland will pass through central London and may involve a change of railway station via the Tube network. The journey from Birmingham takes 3½ hours. Cardiff takes nearly 5 hours to reach, while Edinburgh clocks in at just under 7 hours.