Dover is one of Britain’s main cross-channel ports, famous for its stunning chalk cliffs, the White Cliffs.
Despite the opening of the Channel Tunnel to Calais, many visitors to the country still prefer to arrive by ferry for the spectacular views of Kent’s lovely coastline, and a stopover in Dover is certainly a worthwhile option to consider.
Although many people pass through Dover on their route to somewhere else, the historic town is well worth a visit.
One of the most popular things to do when roaming through the town centre is to visit the mediaeval town hall, Maison Dieu Hall, which was established in 1203 by Hubert de Burgh as a pilgrim hostel.
Dover, like all of England, was greatly impacted by its Roman past, and a variety of Roman-era attractions may be found here. These include the magnificent Castle Hill lighthouse and the Roman Painted House.
Dover was a bastion against European assaults for centuries after the Romans left until WWII (when the town sustained catastrophic damage as a result of its function as a naval station).
Today, you may study about this time period at one of the many museums and historic places in and around town.
See our list of the top attractions and things to do in Dover for additional suggestions on where to go.
The huge castle crowns the sheer chalk cliffs of Dover, which have been a proud emblem of England’s “splendid isolation” for ages, as well as the first indication of home for returning mariners.
The western cliffs hold Shakespeare’s name since King Lear ends here, and the well-known quote evoked by the sight of the cliffs, “This beautiful stone set in the silver sea,” is from Richard II.
The National Trust’s Gateway to the White Cliffs Visitor Centre, which features displays, interpretive signage about the region, and programmes about its flora and animals, is the finest site to start touring in the area.
It also provides spectacular views of five miles of stunning shoreline and farmland, as well as marine activities on the world’s busiest shipping channel.
It is also possible to visit Fan Bay Deep Shelter from the centre, a magnificent network of tunnels created during WWII beneath the artillery battery above.
The White Cliffs are also immensely popular with walkers and bikers, with several well-marked paths connecting the area’s main attractions (there’s even an annual Walking Festival, as well as trekking programmes for youngsters).
Dover’s Langdon Cliffs address
Dover Castle, perched high above the English Channel, was built in 1168 by Henry II on the site of ramparts that were already 1,000 years old.
The central Norman keep, which was erected in 1180, holds the majority of the castle’s displays, including the Great Tower with its ornately furnished rooms.
Costumed guides, mediaeval feasts in the banqueting hall, and military reenactments are all part of the entertainment.
The remnants of the Roman Lighthouse and the chapel of St. Mary in Castro close to Colton’s Gate, built from Roman bricks by the Saxons in the year 1000 and incorporated into the castle complex, are also worth seeing.
The excellent Wartime Tunnels Uncovered is another excellent on-site activity. The tunnels beneath Dover Castle, which were built during Napoleonic times to give cover from enemy fire, are available to the public and feature displays chronicling their history.
More recently, during WWII, they served as the command and control centre for the evacuation of British and French soldiers from Dunkirk.
The Underground Hospital, a replica of the wartime surgery that treated the numerous troops stationed in the region, is another tube location to explore.
Castle Hill, England is the location.
The majestic Victorian lighthouse situated atop the White Cliffs of Dover was erected in 1843 and was utilised by Marconi for the world’s first successful radio navigation attempts.
It was built to warn seafarers of the changing Goodwin Sands while guiding them across the Straits of Dover, and it is also known as the world’s first lighthouse to show an electric light.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to France from the vistas of the English Channel. Inside, interpretative displays highlight the effort needed in keeping the lighthouse operational, including the unusual mechanism that caused the lighthouse to flash (there’s also a great on-site tearoom).
Dover’s The Front, St. Margaret’s Bay
Have you ever wondered what happened to all the chalk dug up during the Channel Tunnel’s construction? So, there’s no need to ponder any longer.
Samphire Hoe is a 74-acre nature reserve at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff, halfway between Dover and Folkestone, that was built using the many tonnes of earth dug during the tunnel’s construction.
It’s currently one of the greatest spots to take in the drama of the spectacular White Cliffs as they rise above you. Samphire Hoe is particularly well-known for its bird-watching and sea-angling opportunities.
This must-see destination is easily accessible, with attractive, easy-to-walk pathways and vistas. On-site, there is a tea kiosk and an education centre.
Dover’s Western Heights began in 1779, at a time when England was fearful of French invasion, and expanded to become one of the island nation’s greatest network of fortifications.
It is made up of multiple ditches and forts that span down the coast from Dover Castle and have a number of major strong points that may still be seen today.
The huge Drop Redoubt and Citadel, as well as the dry moats that connected them, are among them. There are guided tours of the redoubt available.
The Grand Shaft, on the other hand, is unquestionably the most spectacular feature here. This extraordinary construction, which consisted of a unique 140-foot triple staircase physically carved into the cliffs, functioned as a shortcut for men stationed on the Western Heights to the town, should they be necessary to protect the latter.
If at all possible, plan your visit for the third Sunday of each month from April to November, when the shaft is available to the public.
Dover’s address is Drop Redoubt Road.
The Roman Painted House was erected in AD 200 as part of a vast estate that served as a hostel for tourists crossing the English Channel.
It is England’s best-preserved Roman Period House, with over 50 buildings discovered to date, including a number of distinctive painted walls.
A total of 400 square feet of murals, as well as an extensive under-floor heating system, have survived the decades. A number of intriguing objects from Roman Dover, which was known as “Dubris” at the time, are also on show. A picnic space in the garden is accessible for tourists to utilise.
Dover’s address is 25 New Street.
The Dover Museum, housed in the family tourist centre in Market Square, has three floors of artefacts and displays documenting the town’s rich history, from its Roman beginnings to the present day.
It is also the location of the world’s oldest known seagoing watercraft, a Bronze Age wooden boat. The vessel, which is thought to be around 3,000 years old, is the subject of an excellent display pertaining to that era in Dover’s history.
Other features include an excellent collection of Saxon-era relics and jewellery, as well as several scale models showing the town at different crucial moments in its history, such as bombardment from occupied France during WWII.
Dover’s Market Square address
A memorial to French pilot Louis Blériot has been erected at Northfall Meadow, a tiny wooded area northeast of Dover Castle. In 1909, Blériot became the first person to fly across the English Channel in a “heavier than air” aircraft (more than 100 years after an air balloon had made the trip).
The granite memorial is extremely remarkable in that it was created in the shape of Blériot’s plane, which is currently on display in the Museé des Arts Métiers in Paris. In Calais, where the pilot’s voyage began, a companion memorial marker has been placed.
Dover’s address is 14 Upper Road, Guston.
Pines Garden, located in St. Margaret’s Bay, approximately four miles from Dover, is a six-acre sustainable garden with a magnificent waterfall and surrounding lake.
Exploring the grass labyrinth and organic kitchen garden, which boasts more than 40 different varieties of organic fruit and vegetables, are some enjoyable things to do here.
On-site, there’s also a popular tearoom and the award-winning Pines Calyx, a meeting facility constructed into the hill using centuries-old traditions.
St. Margaret’s Museum is located just across from Pines Garden’s main entrance. This fascinating museum contains a nice collection of WWII-related relics. Hellfire Corner is particularly noteworthy.
This superb museum, named after the devastating air assaults that took place over this stretch of Kentish coastline during the Battle of Britain, contains period costumes, relics, and an air raid bunker.
Beach Road, St. Margaret’s Bay, Dover.
Deal Castle (approximately 11 miles north of Dover) was built for Henry VIII in 1540 and is largely regarded as one of the best Tudor fortresses in England. It is also one of the oldest and most ornate of a network of coastal forts that stretches down the English Channel.
Visitors may tour the entire castle, which is as much a stately residence as it is a fortification, and then wander around the lovely grounds and gardens.
Spend some time seeing the charming mediaeval town of Deal, one of the historic defensive and trading ports that comprised the Confederation of Cinque Ports. The town also has wonderful walking and bike routes.
Deal’s address is Marine Road.
This English Heritage monument, approximately 15 miles north of Dover in Ramsgate, symbolises not just the beginning of Roman control in the British Isles, but also its conclusion.
Richborough’s spectacular Roman town ruin was where the Romans started their victorious conquest of Britain in AD 43 and also where they fled centuries later when it became untenable to control the British.
The enormous remnants of the walls and defensive ditches are well worth visiting, and a pleasant boat excursion that recounts the path travelled by the Romans when they arrived is possible (weather permitting). On-site, there is a museum and a shop.
Sandwich’s address is Richborough Road.
The Dover Transport Museum, located within a 10-minute drive from Dover town centre, provides a fantastic few hours’ distraction for both young and elderly.
The antique vehicles are the stars here, with the museum’s huge rooms housing a large collection of everything from buses to cabs to automobiles and motorcycles.
The halls are lined with intriguing reconstructions of storefronts and signage from many eras, ranging from the early days of public transportation to the two world wars and current modes of transportation.
The marine collection, which includes exhibitions and models linked to Dover’s rich past as an essential ferry link with Europe, as well as the recent Channel Tunnel building, is particularly interesting.
There’s also a large model train layout that the youngsters may operate on their own. A classic Romany Caravan, as well as a plethora of model automobiles to admire, and a substantial collection of relics connected to various eras of the town’s history, ranging from kitchenware to small appliances, are also on display.
Willingdon Rd, Whitfield, Dover, DE