Getting to Barcelona from England without flying, without your own transport… and with a dog


I made the mistake of leaving Spain and coming back to England for a short period of time. More foolishly still, I brought Sweep – my most beloved and awesome hairy progeny with me. Schoolboy error.

Getting here was bad enough with transport. The drive is very long and must feel interminable if you are a small handsome puppy.

I balk at the idea of flying with a pet – unless they are small enough (generally below 8 kilograms) and can fly in the hold with you. The idea of putting my baby in a box and handing him over to a stranger where he will be bumped and roughly handled before he even gets on the plane – where he will endure that very unnatural sensation of flying without me or Jacob there to comfort him, makes me very uneasy. I would only consider it as a very last option. I’ve seen the way they handle luggage.

My dilemma was getting Sweep back to Spain without my own transport and without flying. Britanny Ferries have one very pet friendly craft called the Cap Finistere, which runs between Portsmouth and Bilbao twice a week and takes 22hours. However, they do not permit foot passengers. Why? God only knows. It’s ridiculous. So, this option was out. If you do have your own transport and you do have a dog and want to book a pet friendly cabins then you have to phone to book one. But hoorah, it means that you can keep your precious one with you and if you take the overnight crossing, you can both spend the majority of the time asleep. It’s costly, but you don’t seem to save that much money going via France once you account for fuel costs, food, sanity and sundries. It’s a lot less stress free for your dog and his/her taller two-legged counterparts. Costs vary depending on the size of your vehicle.

So, the only other option is to get a ferry from Dover to Calais. Your best friend will have to be in a box of adequate dimensions (they must be able to turn around and stand up straight – see website for details). You will be separated from him or her, but the crossing is only 1.5 hours.

Once you arrive in Calais, you will need to walk from the ferry terminal to Calais Ville train station, which will take you fifteen minutes. You can try finding a taxi that will take you (I’ve not tried this) but I know in other countries such as Spain, Greece, Germany and England – taxi drivers are not always keen to take dogs.

From Calais Ville station you can take a train to Boulougne where you will pick up a connection to Paris Gare du Nord.

Then you’ll need to get yourself from Gare du Nord to Paris Austerlitz.

Finally from there, you can take the trenhotel from Paris to Barcelona. They allow dogs but you will either have to take a reclining seat or pay for an entire sleeper, so this could cost a few hundred pounds. Once on this, you can relax. They will take your passport and travel documents when you get on and make up your beds and then you can go to sleep and wake up just before you get to Barcelona. It’s actually a really lovely experience. It’s just the bits before that seem overwhelming.

Here is an example of some timings:

Arrive Calais at 13:40hrs
Depart Calais Ville station at 14:33hrs
Arrive Boulougne at 15:09hrs
Depart Boulougne at 15:36
Arrive Paris Gare du Nord at 18:23hrs

The overnight Trenhotel departs from Paris Austerlitz at 20:41hrs and arrives in Barcelona (Estacion de Franca) at 08:26hrs the following day.

To book the trenhotel (from the UK) call 08448 484 064. More details are available on

You can find a hotel in Barcelona by clicking here.

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