Calais is a noteworthy harbor of the European continent. Situated in northern France along the English Channel, Calais is known for its scenic cliffs and for its wide area of dunes. As a holiday destination, it remains unknown to many travelers, but we’re here to guide you through all the hidden gems of Calais!
On Ferryhopper, you can find detailed information about must-see places in Calais, the best beaches, local delicacies, and ferries to and from its port. Read our travel tips and book ferry tickets to Calais with ease!
Below, you can discover:
Ferry arriving at the port of Calais
Calais ferry port
With over 10 million passengers passing through the port each year, Calais is France's number one passenger and car ferry port. The Port of Calais accommodates everything, including cross-Channel ferries, cargo and cruise ships.
At the port you will find several visitor amenities, such as a bar and self-service restaurant, car hire companies, a tourist information desk, parking facilities, and even a children’s area with arcade games.
Ferries from Calais port: schedules and tickets
Ferries from Calais usually travel to Dover, England.
The majority of the ferry routes from Calais are operated by large ferries that have a garage for the transfer of vehicles.
We have collected here some useful information about Calais - Dover ferries in order to plan your trip in the best possible way:
Ferry from Calais to Dover
The ferry route from Calais to the coastal town of Dover runs up to 25 times a day throughout the year. The duration of the Calais - Dover ferry route is approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
The ferry companies that normally serve this route are DFDS, P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries.
Where is the ferry port in Calais?
The ferry port of Calais is located on the northern tip of France, in the department Pas de Calais, and faces across the Channel toward Dover.
How to get to Calais port?
The ferry terminal is easily accessible by car, bus, train, and on foot.
If you’re traveling by car, the port is linked to the French road network by 2 autoroutes, the A26/E15 and the A16/E40. The port and ferry terminal are well signposted from all directions. In front of the ferry terminal there’s also short-term parking.
If you’re traveling by bus, then you can take the free bus shuttle service, the Balad'In, which operates between the Port of Calais, the town center and the Calais-Ville railway station. Finally, the closest train station to the port is Calais Ville. The terminal is less than 20 minutes’ walk from the station.
Useful info: the port of Calais does not currently have parking spaces for medium and long term parking.
A red lighthouse at the port of Calais
Vacation in Calais
Calais is a charming port city perfect for a historical city break. It's a fantastic weekend getaway, ideal for stocking up on wine and cheese, and experiencing ocean views and fine cuisine on the French coastline.
Calais is also an ideal place for those who enjoy an active vacation, since there are many beautiful trails around the area. Its long expanse of wide sandy beach is absolutely safe for swimming for children and adults alike.
Finally, its variety of museums and attractions will convince you that Calais is much more than just a port.
How to get to Calais
You can reach Calais by car, train, plane, and ferry.
If you want to travel by car from the UK to mainland Europe, you can do so through the Channel Tunnel, which runs 24 hours between Folkestone and Coquelles (West of Calais).
Rail travel to Calais is also quite convenient. There are 2 railway stations in Calais: Calais-ville, an important station on the Nord Pas de Calais regional network, and Calais Fréthun International, served by TGV and Eurostar high-speed trains.
If you wish to get there by plane, the closest international airports are Lille-Lesquin (120 km) or Brussels-Zaventem (210 km).
Calais can also be directly reached by ferry from the port of Dover. Ferry frequency and availability may vary depending on seasonality.
The impressive town hall of Calais with a red brick and white limestone belfry
What to do in Calais
While Calais is often overlooked in the rush to board a cross channel ferry, it is definitely worth a visit. Take a stroll through the town center. The distinctive Hotel de Ville (town hall) and the famous statue of the "Six Burghers of Calais" will definitely grab your attention. Keep walking to see the Citadel's ancient walls and the Watchtower.
For the lovers of history - visit the church of Notre Dame and the Museum of Fine Arts. Also visit the World War II Museum at La Coupole, which is only a short drive from Calais.
No matter the time of year, going for a stroll or enjoying a sporting activity by the Calais seafront is a must! There’s even a huge playground, a mini golf course and an open-access skatepark for children. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the famous Calais Dragon which takes 48 passengers on a 45-minute journey.
If you have enough time, how does a road trip to the 134 m high Cap Blanc Nez sound to you? This is France’s most northerly cliff and it’s located just 10 km from Calais. This is also one of the most renowned birdwatching spots in Western Europe.
Tip: for an amazing 360° panoramic view of Calais and its hinterland, climb 271 steps up to the top of the Calais lighthouse.
Beaches in Calais
Calais and the surrounding coastline offer stunning vast expanses of fine white sand, chains of dunes, beachfront promenades, and spectacular high tides at certain times of the year.
Here are 6 beaches in Calais that you should visit:
- Calais: this is the main beach in Calais and one of the most popular ones in the north of France. With shallow, clear waters, plenty of visitor amenities, and lifeguards during summer, this beach is great for families with children. From here you can even see huge car ferries sailing majestically to and from Dover.
- Blériot: this 8 km long and wide sandy beach is the continuation of Calais beach. It is popular in the summer and safe for swimming. There is a statue of Hubert Latham at the western end of the beach.
- Sangatte: this 8 km long beach with fine sand will be appealing to those seeking solitude, since it stays uncrowded, as well as those who enjoy watersports. In fact, it is popular as a windsurfing and kitesurfing destination.
- Wissant: situated between Blanc Nez and the Capes Gris Nez, Plage de Wissant is a 25-minute drive from Calais. Stretching over 12 km, Wissant attracts many water sports lovers since various championships are held here in the winter months.You can also find WWII bunkers behind the beach.
- Cap Blanc-Nez: this rocky headland is also located 25 minutes from Calais. Sun-seekers must take a 10-minute walk from the free parking to the coast. There are many walking trails around the area leading to a number of massive WWII bunkers and there’s also a gray stone obelisk honoring the WWI Dover Patrol. Make sure to stay until sunset because the colors are magnificent!
- Boulogne-sur-Mer: located along Boulevard Sainte-Beuve, Boulogne-sur-Mer stretches from the city harbor to St. Martin's promenade, near which there is a yachting club. You may see the "white cliffs of Dover" glittering in the sunlight if you look across the sea.
View to the spectacular cliff of Cap Blanc-Nez on the Côte d'Opale coast
Sightseeing in Calais
Despite the fact that it was destroyed during WWII, Calais managed to save some of its ancient remarkable monuments. Visitors can explore its streets and admire historical buildings, step inside themed museums, and unwind in lovely gardens.
Here you can find a list of the top sightseeing in Calais:
- The Calais Town Hall
- The Burghers of Calais
- The Église Notre-Dame de Calais (The Church of Our Lady)
- The Tour du Guet, a 13th-century watchtower
- The Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode, a museum of lace
- The Second World War Museum
- The Calais lighthouse
- The Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer, the biggest aquarium in Europe
The bronze sculpture of the Burghers of Calais
Nightlife in Calais
The nightlife in Calais and in most of the towns around the region is on the quiet side.
The majority of the city's nightlife hot-spots are concentrated close to Place d'Armes, one of the largest city squares in Calais. Here you will find several pubs, clubs and discos.
In Calais you’ll even find a casino! Even if you’re not into gambling, it is worth a visit for a drink or two.
Food in Calais
Calais is the ideal place to enjoy fine cuisine on the French coastline. Situated in the center of Europe, its cuisine is inspired by Belgium, England and Poland. Most of the traditional dishes in Calais consist of cheese, potatoes and herrings.
During your stay in Calais, make sure to try the following delicacies:
- andouillette de Cambrai (sausage)
- maroilles cheese tart (a traditional savory tart)
- carbonade flamande (stew based on beef and eaten with spiced bread and french fries)
- anguille au vert à la Flamande (eel cooked with herbs)
- coq à la bière (chicken and beer stew)
- moules-frites (mussels and French fries)
- Calais beer
Tip: for dessert, make sure to visit the Artisan Boulanger on Rue Royale. It is famous for its local cake called Le Calais (with a macaroon pastry, coffee buttercream and almonds). Bon appetit!
A traditional French dish of moules et frites
Here are some more useful Calais tips to help make your holidays even more enjoyable:
- The best time of year to explore Calais is from May to late September, ensuring warmer temperatures.
- We would recommend checking out tide times and tide charts in Calais before your trip.
- The main shopping street in Calais is Rue Royale. Here you’ll be able to find French specialties like cheese, chocolate, biscuits, and crockery.
- In case you want to leave Calais with a few souvenirs, the typical product from the city is obviously lace! The products of the label "Les dessous de Calais," can be found, among other places, in the Museum for Lace and Fashion.
Useful information about Calais
Calais is the largest city in Pas-de-Calais with a spectacularly rich history and sightseeing offering many tourist services.
In Calais, you will find a variety of accommodation options depending on your style and budget, such as hotels, b&b’s and even campsites. The Cote d'Opale is one of the best places to stay in Calais for families looking for a beach break. However, if you want to go sightseeing, we would recommend staying close to Place d'Armes.
As for hospitals, there are several options in the center of Calais and the suburbs, so you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Calais
Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Calais:
- Calais Police Department: +12074542751
- Calais Port Authority: +33321462900
- Calais Hospital: +332074547521
- Calais Airport: +33321195680
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Calais
Calais's public transportation network is reliable, convenient and provides a number of different travel alternatives.
The Calais Opale Bus public transport network operates 13 routes in Calais and the neighboring towns. There’s also a free city center shuttle, Balad’in. These little yellow buses run from Monday to Saturday between the fishing port and Boulevard Lafayette. From Spring to Autumn you can also find Div’in, an open top double decker bus service which operates from outside the Theatre in Calais to the Cap Blanc Nez tourist site.
In Calais, there are 2 train stations. Calais-Fréthun is situated close to the Channel Tunnel and Calais-Ville is in the town. Both stations are linked by the Navette TER bus service.
For more flexibility, visitors can rent bicycles through Vél’in, a self-service bike hire system, with 38 stations located throughout the metropolitan area.
Where to book Calais ferry tickets online
On Ferryhopper, you can book ferry tickets from Calais to Dover at the best price, without any hidden fees! Find all the information you need about ferry schedules on our Map of ferries and get ready for an amazing journey.