When I tell people we visited Dover, England, the most common response is, “WHY?”
Apparently, Dover is not a popular place to vacation. I’m not even sure how we ended up booking a trip there; most likely we found a really good deal and just “yolo-d.”
But before we booked our tickets, I’d never heard of the place. Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent in South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies southeast of Canterbury. It actually is a great place for a day trip. Below you can check out our agenda from a.m. to p.m. We made it back to London in time for dinner.
Our train was just a over an hour from central London to Dover. We left from London St. Pancras and ended at Dover Priory. We paid fifteen pounds round trip per person (book in advance) and left at 6:00 a.m. so that we could spend the whole day there.
The Allotment – Eats
The first thing we did when we got to Dover was eat. I mean, is that really so surprising? We were walking toward the White Cliffs and stopped by this cute-looking brunch space, The Allotment. Usually we TripAdvisor everything before we go in, but this time we decided to just try it out. We had full English breakfasts and lattes for less than twenty pounds (*gasp*), so our wallets and stomachs were content.
Old St. James Church and St. James’ Street – Activity
During our day in Dover, my husband pointed out interesting architecture all around us. You can click these links to learn more about Dover architecture and monuments. We walked to the Old St. James Church and enjoyed the ruins (makes for great pictures, am i right?) before heading off to the Cliffs.
White Cliffs of Dover – Activity
This was the main reason we headed to Dover. Tourists often get these confused with the White Cliffs of Moher, which are in Ireland. People say the White Cliffs of Dover rival the views of the Grand Canyon, and some even like the Dover Cliffs more than the Moher Cliffs. These views were absolutely breathtaking. Walk along the paths in the early evening so that you can watch the sunset on your way back. Spend time taking in all the colors and the smell of the ocean. I hope that when you visit, the weather is beautiful and sunny. We didn’t get so lucky. It was sprinkling most of the time until the end of our trek, when it poured for a minute. I will say that the rain mixed with the views of the Cliffs and the water was absolutely surreal.
National Trust Café and Shop – Activity & Eats
On our way back from the White Cliffs, we enjoyed hot tea and shortbread at the café near the entrance/exit of the trek. The café has a variety of bites and drinks, which makes for a perfect cooldown after a long walk through the Cliffs. Try their cream tea (scone, jam, clotted cream) for just £3.25. All their cakes and treats are also homemade, such as a classic Victoria sponge, flapjacks, shortbread, orange and lemon cake, raspberry and coconut cake, and many more.
Dover Castle – Activity
The castle is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m., so you definitely want to check out this space before you head to the Cliffs. The castle tour prices are reasonable, but they don’t offer student discounts, unfortunately. The history of this space is incredible. According to the website, the great fortress of Dover Castle, known as the “key to England,” played a crucial role in defense for over nine centuries, a span equaled only by the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. My favorite part of the castle tour is definitely the terrace. You get such a brilliant view of Dover if you go when there’s still light outside. You can take a tour of the castle and also the tunnels in the mountains! There’s more information below about the tunnels.
Tunnels in the Mountains – Activity
The Napoleonic tunnels were brought back into service during WWII. Over the next few years, the tunnels were extended to serve as both a hospital and headquarters, responsible for guarding the Straits of Dover and involved in preparing for the 1944 invasion of Europe. Later, during the Cold War, the network of tunnels was transformed into the secret location of one of Britain’s Regional Seats of Government, with the role of organizing life in the event of a nuclear attack. You can walk through all of these tunnels during the 45-minute tour. When walk to the castle, the tunnel entrance is on the right side with a giant sign and pretty animated tour guide, so you can’t miss it.
Definitely plan on going to Dover, England!