town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England

Dover is a major port town in East Kent, facing into the English Channel. At just 21 mi (34 km) from the French port of Calais, it is the closest port to continental Europe on mainland Britain. It is most famous for its Castle, and for its white chalk cliffs which have been celebrated in song.

Understand edit

Dover town and castle
White cliffs of Dover and harbour wall

Dover has been a permanent settlement since at least the time of the Romans, who were the first to record its presence, giving it the name Portus Dubris. It also marked the start of Watling Street, a major Roman road. The Roman lighthouse built on the present-day site of Dover Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Britain. In medieval times Dover was one of the Cinque Ports responsible for England's maritime defence. The others silted up, while Dover remained important for trade and defence.

Visitor information edit

Get in edit

By car edit

The A2/M2 runs in from London and the Medway towns via Canterbury. The A20 is a continuation of the M20 from Folkestone. The A256 comes in from Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate.

By coach edit

National Express operates the 007 coach service from London Victoria Coach Station to Dover Pencester Road in the town, about 1 mi (1.6 km) from the ferry port. The 007 departs around seven times a day, and has intermediate stops at Canterbury, some north Kent towns, and local stops in South East London. It's both much cheaper and much slower than the train service, usually taking around 3 hours from London.

By train edit

Fare and timetable information is available from Southeastern, the sole train operator at Dover.

There is no shuttle bus between the station and the ferry port, so you will have to walk the roughly 1½ miles (2.25 km) or get a taxi. Welcome to Britain!

By boat edit

Due to its proximity to continental Europe, Dover is the busiest cross-Channel port in the UK, with 18 million passengers passing through its gates every year. Regular ferry services operate to Dover from Calais and Dunkirk.

The ferry between France and Dover costs around €40 each way if on foot, and around €100 each way for a car with two passengers, although big discounts are available if booked in advance or with special offers. Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries operate to and from Calais while DFDS Seaways sails from Calais and Dunkirk. As of March 2024, only P&O offers access to foot passengers, and that only a few times a day. P&0 is also usually cheaper, but is only able to do this by exploiting non-European labour working under conditions that would be illegal on land in either France or Britain.

Other routes operate from France to the UK, and might be cheaper, but won't be quicker.

Get around edit

By bus edit

Stagecoach East Kent are the main bus operator in the Dover area. Maps, timetables and fare information are available on their website. Stagecoach runs both urban, rural and inter-urban local buses, including regular buses to Deal, Folkestone, Canterbury and further afield.

By foot edit

Dover is small enough that much of it can reasonably be explored on foot. The main shops are in King Street, Cannon Street and Biggin Street.

See edit

The Battle of Britain Memorial
  • 1 Dover Castle, Castle Hill, CT16 1HU, +44 1304 211067. Known as the "Key to England", the castle has 2,000 years of history contained within its walls, including a Roman lighthouse, a Saxon church and a Norman keep. Below ground, a series of casements and tunnels have been dug into the chalk. From these tunnels, Operation Dynamo (the Dunkirk evacuation) was planned. adults £20.90, children £12.70, concessions £18.10.    
    • 2 Church of St Mary in Castro, Dover Castle, CT16 1HU, +44 1304 202979. 10th century Saxon church. However, it was renovated in the Victorian era as it was used to store coal prior to be resanticfied as a church.    
    • 3 Roman Lighthouse (Pharos) (next to the church). Oldest building still standing in the UK.
    • 4 The Great Tower, Dover Castle, CT16 1HU. Dover Castle's main keep was built by Henry II. The square design was intended as a symbol of authority to quell rebellion throughout the Angevin empire. The keep still has many rooms intact that have been recreated as they were in the 1200s including the throne room, royal bedrooms, armoury and kitchen. Climb the spiral staircase for a spectacular view from the top!
    • 5 PWWR & Queen's Regiment Museum, Castle Hill, CT16 1HU (next to The Great Tower in Dover Castle). A museum showcasing 400 years of military history including the American War of Independence, Boer War, Zulu War, World War I and II, as well as the current day. Free (donations recommended).

Do edit

There is a cliff-top 6-km walk from near the Eastern Docks to St Margaret's Bay. Or you could walk the scenic North Downs Way, a walking trail that follows the low hills that run alongside the coast.

  • 1 Samphire Hoe, Samphire Road, CT17 9FL (By car: signposted off the A20 (westbound from Dover), access via a traffic light-controlled single-track 2 tunnel (290 m). Parking £2 for two hours or more. By bus: Stagecoach route 61 leaves hourly from Priory Street; alight at St David's Avenue, from where you should 3 access a footpath which takes you 650 m (≈ ½ mile) to the tunnel mouth. By bike / on foot: National Cycle Route 2 and the North Downs Way pass just by the tunnel mouth.), +44 1304 225 649, . Daily 7AM-dusk. Visit the newest part of Great Britain! Under the White Cliffs of Dover, on the spoil heaps created by the Channel Tunnel's excavation, there is now a nature reserve, criss-crossed by wheelchair-accessible paths and cliffside trails. The globally-scarce chalk grasslands of Samphire Hoe are home to a rich flora and fauna, including rare orchids and hundreds of species of birds and insects. Great views of the cliffs and out to sea; on clear days it's possible to see the French coast. Anglers can purchase a fishing permit for the day or longer. Café open daily Easter-September, and picnic area available year-round. Clean and accessible toilets. Dogs must be kept on a lead. Free. One-day fishing licence £6 adult, £4 child.    
  • 2 East Kent Railway, Shepherdswell, Dover, CT15 7PD. Sundays. It was built to serve the Kent Coalfield which was closed in the 1980s. The line is just 4 miles long between Shepherdswell and Eyethorn, with various vintage (mostly diesel-powered) trains. The site also has two miniature railways, a model railway and woodland walk. A cafe is available at Shepherdswell. Whilst much smaller than the other railways in Kent the cost is also about a third of the larger lines. It is ideal for families with young children.

Buy edit

The town centre isn't that special. The main shops are in King Street, Cannon Street and Biggin Street.

Eat edit

  • 1 Marine Court Brewers Fayre, Marine Court, +44 870 990 6516. On Dover's seafront with views of Dover. Modern pub food.

Drink edit

  • 1 The Hoptimist, Bench Street, CT17 1JH, +447951700301. Friendly pub in the town centre serving local beers.
  • 2 Cinque Ports Arms, Clarence Place, Western Docks, CT17 9DQ, +44 1304 203907. Great Dover pub food: sandwiches, jackets and snacks - all freshly prepared to order.
  • 3 The Cricketers Pub, Crabble Avenue (from Dover town centre, go up the one way system to Buckland Bridge, turn left at first traffic lights and then first left into Crabble Avenue; the pub is opposite Dover Rugby and Football grounds), +44 1304 206396. M-W 3PM-midnight, Th-Su noon-1AM. The Cricketers is a friendly village pub catering for all ages, in the village of River, opposite the crabble cricket and rugby pitches. It is the home of home of Dover Football Club. The Cricketers has been an important focal point for the community for over 100 years.

Sleep edit

Go next edit

  • St Margaret's Bay is just a few miles east towards Deal. This bay breaks up the white cliffs with a small hillside village, a scenic beach, lots of parking and some eateries (including the Coastguard Pub, the closest pub to the continent). On a nice day, the afternoon sun lights up the white cliffs on the French side of the channel quite clearly.
  • Folkestone
  • Sandwich
  • Canterbury
  • Ashford
Routes through Dover
END  NW   SE    Calais
END  NW   SE    Dunkirk
LondonCanterbury  NW   SE  END
LondonFolkestone/Channel Tunnel  W   E  END

This city travel guide to Dover is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.