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The port city of Dover, England is famous for the White Cliffs of Dover, as well as its ferry connection to France. While the city does have more than its fair share of trucks & industrial areas thanks to the port & ferries, there’s still plenty to see & do in Dover, making it a nice day trip from London. You can either take a full-day Dover day trip or combine it with other nearby sights such as Canterbury & Leeds Castle on your own or via a group tour. This Dover travel guide contains details on how to get to Dover, things to see & do in Dover, where to eat & drink in Dover, & more.
Getting to Dover from London
Public Transportation from London to Dover
There are frequent trains from London St. Pancras to Dover Priory, with a travel time of just over an hour on the fastest trains. Book ahead for the cheapest fares.
There are also buses available from London, however, these take over 2 hours & also potentially subject you to travel delays based on port traffic.
Dover Tours from London
There are plenty of Dover day trip tours leaving from London. These Dover tours are often combined with Canterbury, Leeds Castle, and other coastal spots. There are also some tours that only visit Dover. If you’ve also got these other spots on your list & have limited time, a Kent day trip tour is a good way of seeing them all. Find the best Dover tours here.
Things to do in Dover (Hiking, tourist attractions, food & drink, & more)
Dover is filled with history & beautiful scenery. Here are the best Dover activities, including options for people who love the outdoors and those who don’t.Book your hotel in Kent now!
Walk the White Cliffs of Dover
No day trip to Dover is complete without seeing the White Cliffs of Dover. The chalk cliffs tower up to 350 feet above the English Channel. While they’re partially visible from the waterfront, there’s nothing like a nice hike along the cliffs.
If you’re visiting Dover as part of a tour, the bus will take you to the car park. Otherwise, the visitor’s center can be reached on foot. That part of the walk is uphill and provides “lovely” views of the port traffic, complete with idling trucks and diesel exhaust.
But once you’ve reached the car park & cafe, it’s really a nice coastal walk from there. There are several options, with the longest walk being to the South Foreland Lighthouse. Once you’re past the sounds of the port, you can hear birds chirping, especially during nesting season.
The White Cliffs of Dover walk to the lighthouse takes about 45-60 minutes, depending on how many stops you make to take in the scenery. The path does go up and down a bit, but none of the climbs are too bad.
At the lighthouse, there’s a cafe & shop, though sadly no pub. While that seems like a missed opportunity, it’s also probably a bad idea to sell people beer & then have them take a cliffside hike.
If you want to add to your walk (and tides permitting), the Langdon Steps go all the way down to the beach, where you can see the cliffs towering above you. Just remember that once you’re down, you have to make it back up – and Dover is filled with climbs.
Visit Dover Castle
Dover Castle is one of the largest castles in England. Although the castle itself was first built in the 11th century following William the Conqueror’s invasion, this hilltop has been an important defensive location for thousands of years thanks to its prominent location above the coast. Buy tickets for Dover castle here.
Visit the Western Heights
Another area with historic defensive sites in Dover is the Western Heights. Yes, it’s another area that will require an uphill climb.
Also part of the North Downs Way, there are staircases & trails heading upward to the Western Heights from near the train station. The area is dotted with hills & former military fortifications.
One highlight is the Drop Redoubt, a fort that was built during the Napoleonic Wars.
Another is the Grand Shaft, which was built to facilitate troop movement from the waterfront up into the Western Heights. Unfortunately, the Grand Shaft only has a limited seasonal opening. It’s not otherwise possible to get directly from the Western Heights down to the shore. This will make more sense when you see the white cliffs towering above you from the Dover harbor.
Walk the Dover waterfront & beach
While the Dover coastline is mostly devoted to the port & related industrial facilities, the sections nearest to the city center are pleasant to visit when the weather is decent. There’s a small beach plus waterfront cafes and bars along the Dover Promenade.
Visit the Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery
For a nice introduction to Dover’s extensive history, there’s no better place to visit than the Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery. It’s located at the tourist information center.
The free museum covers everything from the first settlements of Britain to the first Roman landings over 2,000 years ago to the evacuation of Dunkirk across the English Channel during World War II.
One of the highlights is the remarkably preserved Bronze Age Boat.
Read more about the Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery.
Places to eat & drink in Dover
Along the Dover Promenade there are several restaurants, often specializing in seafood. The Dover Patrol, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips, & Cullins Yard are some of the most popular spots.
Il Rustico & La Scala are highly rated for Italian, while Momo Hub has outstanding Nepalese food.
Like many places in England, it’s easy to find a standard pub for lunch & a pint in Dover. There are also several good craft beer spots including Breakwater Brewery & The Hoptimist, while The Thirsty Scarecrow Micropub also has cider.
Take a ferry to France
If you’re staying in Dover for longer (or if you just want to quickly visit France for a few hours), there are frequent ferries from Dover to Calais. The fastest journeys take about 90 minutes.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Dover, check out these Dover hotels.