Hi my lovely readers!
Dover is best known for the White Cliffs of Dover, Dover Castle and the Port of Dover, the cross-channel ferry port that connects the UK with France.
This ferry link is vital as many of our goods are transported via ferry from mainland Europe to the UK. Dover keeps the nation supplied and running so to speak.
Additionally, it’s a popular transportation link for Brits to go to France with their car and caravans. The crossing is rather short and France is a popular tourist destination that can be spotted easily in the distance.
One day gives you a decent amount of time to explore the main attractions in Dover such as Dover Castle, walk along the coastline to see the famous White Cliffs and sit down to watch the ferry terminals and hopefully spot a cruise ship or two.
How to spend one day in Dover
My day at Dover started with the castle visit, which I was very much looking forward to. as it was on my list of places that I wanted to visit. Dover Castle sits on the top of Castel Hill by the sea overlooking the Port of Dover and the Straits of Dover, the shortest sea crossing between England and France, also continental Europe. This location was of vital strategic importance for many reasons throughout the history of the castle.
Dover Castle was found by King Henry II towards the end of the 12th century, almost 900 years ago. He needed an impressive place to welcome important guests coming from mainland Europe to entertain them and demonstrate his power. Also, Dover Castle is situated close to Canterbury.
Due to its excellent location, Dover Castle served as a base to spot enemies during Medieval times, the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, WWI and WWII.
Over the years, the castle was transformed to adapt to new needs and war times to defend Britain. Underground tunnels and bob shelters run underneath the castle grounds, buildings were strengthened and altered to protect officers and staff from possible bomb attacks from the air, army barracks and training grounds were established and much more was added to the castle grounds during WWI and WWII.
Dover Castle certainly played its role over centuries. It’s a unique castle that displays its history of when it first served as a place for entertainment and hosting guests to defence post in more recent history.
You can spend a good few hours exploring the inside of the castle, which is furnished in the period of medieval times; visiting the small exhibitions located in the castle walls and of course exploring the war bunkers, tunnels and grounds, some of which provide excellent views of the city and the ports.
As there’s so much to see, I would recommend visiting Dover Castle when it opens first thing in the morning to be able to fit in the rest. There’s a restaurant and cafe onsite and you can find plenty of picnic tables in different areas of the grounds. Some of them are situated close to the big guns that were used for shooting down enemy aircrafts, from which you get great views. That’s a nice setting for having a picnic and lunch if you ask me.
- Opening times: 10 am to 6 pm
- Admission: Adults £12.50, Children (5-17 years) £7.50, Concession £11.25
- For more information please visit: English Heritage Dover Castle
- How to get there: By car – Castle Hill, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HU. By Train – The closest train station is Dover Priory (1 mile).
WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER
After our castle visit we had some lunch and afterwards, full of energy once more, headed straight to the White Cliffs of Dover for a nice walk. There’s a car park managed by the National Trust that is free for members, non-members pay a small fee of £5. Toilet facilities, a cafe and shop are close to the car park, but they’re only open until 5 pm. Therefore, if you come late these might close before you get back to the car park when you finish your walk, which is what happened to me.
The White Cliffs of Dover are a well known landmark that are part of the North Downs formation, dominating the English coastline and facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are made out of chalk, hence their white appearance and are up to 350 feet high in places.
There’s a lovely public footpath on the top of the cliffs with marvellous views. My partner and I decided to walk to South Foreland Lighthouse Saint Margaret’s Bay and back, which is approximately 4 miles long in total and took us around 2.5 hours or so as we of course stopped a few times along the way to take and admire the views.
The lighthouse is open, but we didn’t feel like going up to the top. If you’re feeling a bit exhausted after the walk and need a pic me up such as a small snack or a cuppa, there’s a cute little cafe by the lighthouse with some tables outside to rest.
On the way to the lighthouse you’ll also come across the Fan Bay Deep Shelter dug into cliffs. These are tunnel complexes that were build during WWII. Sadly they were closed during my visit due to Covid, but I’m keen to return one day and take a tour of the tunnels. I heard you have to wear a hard hat and a head torch while exploring the tunnels and in my opinion anything where I have to wear a helmet sounds interesting. 🙂
From the top of the cliffs you can see all the way to France, which is actually not far away at all and you get to spot the last remains of some ship wrecks on the beach. Wildlife is everywhere and for me it was fun to watch the seagulls nesting in the cliffs and just hoovering around as they made full use of the wind.
I must warn you though, the cliffs are very brittle and huge chunks of the actual coastal path have broken away. You can see where the path used to be. Therefore, don’t walk to close to the edge, be cautious.
For more information please visit: White Cliffs of Dover
PORT OF DOVER
On the way back to the car park, we stopped to watch the ferry terminal in action and there was certainly a lot going on. Lorries kept on coming of the ferry one after another and another and it was really interesting to see how smooth the operation was, where the lorries were going and also just what sorts of lorries were coming of.
I was very impressed and for some reason it was rather therapeutic to watch them come of the ferry and getting on. There were more lorries getting of though as it was the weekend I assume and it was not too busy, but I can imagine it being busier during the week.
I was also lucky to spot a Disney cruise ship next to the ferry terminal, where the cruise terminal is situated. I got really excited as I haven’t seen a cruise ship for a long time.
And that pretty much concluded my lovely day out in Dover. We got to Dover Castle when it opened around 10 am and finished the walk on the cliffs around 6 pm. A full day out of learning, nature, exercise and fun.
What do you make of these activities in Dover? Is Dover on your list?
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