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As a person who normally lands in France and heads South I need some help .

A friend of old has just visited from Hamburg and has asked us back next year. She came over Hook of Holland/ Harwich as she was visiting relatives in Lincolnshire before travelling down to us in Hampshire. The questions are

What would be the best economical ferryroute and which operator?

What is the recommended route from the port to Hamburg avoiding tolls if possible?

Are there places that we should visit not too far from the suggested route?

Apart from hammering down the autobahns to Greece 25 years ago our knowledge of this part of Europe is nil so any help will be appreciated.

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From Hampshire there isn't much more than 100 miles difference between driving from the Harwich/Hook crossing and using Short Sea (or tunnel) via Dover.


On that basis, unless you can get a cheap and convenient H-H crossing, I would go for the much more frequent (and generally cheaper) crossing from Dover (which is what I do). You would have a choice of DFDS, P&O, MyFerry (ex Seafrance, and I would be careful of their financial status if booking), or the Tunnel.


Whichever way you go will (IMO) require at least one overnight stop, and if you decide you wish to overnight on the boat, which is more expensive, that may make H-H more attractive. Unless you really want to "push" it, Calais to Hamburg will require an overnight stop (location dependent on what time of day your crossing is).


The route North to Hamburg is virtually all Autoroute/Autobahn, and is toll-free throughout. Various routes are possible across Belgium and particularly through the Ruhr in Germany (as there are severl different motorways, and there isn't much to choose between them).


If I was choosing to overnight en-route, I would probably look at Munster, which is a convenient distance for an early start from Calais, has a reasonable campsite and Stellplatz on a bus route into the city, where it is possible to spend a pleasant day wandering round.


If you are heading into Hamburg, or indeed any other city, it would be best to obtain an emissions sticker (Umweltplakette), and to check the emissions status of your vehicle. If you search the forum on Umweltplakette and Berlin, you will find a link to a convenient method of buying in advance (for €6). All the motorways are exempt from emissions controls, but driving into certain cities is "controlled".

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Thanks for your comments. A trip round the M25 to get to Harwich has litte appeal and if the motorways from Calais to Hamburg are toll free that may be the answer.

Our friend looked totally blank when we asked about emission controls and "windsreen stickers" so assume Hamburg is not such an area unless there are different rules for the locals or cars! Anyway for the price it would be worthwhile getting one in case we stray into such an area. Do they have to be renewed on a periodic basis or do they last the life of the vehicle?

Thanks again.

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I believe Hamburg doesn't have an "umweltzone", so your friends won't fall foul of the requirement unless they choose to visit other cities/towns that do.


Much of the Ruhr area, for example, does comprise an Umweltzone, which you will probably have to traverse. All the motorways (through such zones) are, however, exempt, so not a problem unless you wish to leave the Autobahn.


If you can get a green sticker (effectively with a Euro IV compliant 'van) it is probably worth the €6 for peace of mind (and especially if you plan to visit Germany again, as the sticker is for the life of the 'van). Many zones are progressively moving to only allowing the Green (Euro IV) designation, so a yellow (Euro III) one is not likely to be of value for long.


All the motorways in Belgium and Germany are toll-free, the portions of the A16/A25 you will use in France (if you choose Calais as the route) are also toll-free.


Edit. the link posted by Ham above is the Berlin online source I've already mentioned. I've used it successfully, and turnround is usually a matter of days.

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Thanks again to you all for the further advice and I feel more confident about the situation . Been on the Berlin site but as I need to attach a copy of the logbookbefore sending the application I shall have to speak to " She who must be obeyed" as she understands such technical matters!!

I assume in the course of time if not already most EU countries will have " Umweltzones" as we already have it with London. With the so called United Europe is there a chance that the "Umwelt" sticker bought in Germany will be valid in similar zones in other EU countries or is registration at whatever the fee is in each country? I can guess the answer but prove me wrong!

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