The French commune of Dunkirk brings the past and the present together, offering a unique holiday experience and a gateway to the North Sea. Located in northern France, the port of Dunkirk is the third-largest in the country and is surrounded by historical monuments and plenty of things to do and see.
Discover the best of Dunkirk on Ferryhopper, including its best sights, activities and culinary delights. Learn more about how to reach Dunkirk and all the ferry routes in the North Sea, and book ferry tickets online!
Hints of beautiful architecture in Dunkirk, France
Vacation in Dunkirk
As a beautiful year-round holiday destination, Dunkirk is family-friendly, providing visitors with many group activities to enjoy, both indoors and outdoors. Here, you can discover unique culinary delights and historical sights that cannot be found anywhere else in French.
Even though the coastline of Dunkirk blooms in the summer, paying a visit in the off-season is also a fantastic idea. From January to April, for example, you get to experience the carnival of Dunkirk, which lasts around 3 months. Impressive, isn’t it?
How to get to Dunkirk
This historical seaside paradise is easily accessible through numerous ways and means of transport. Our personal favorite, naturally, is traveling to Dunkirk by ferry!
There are daily ferry connections from Dover in the United Kingdom to Dunkirk in France. To find detailed information about ferries to Dunkirk, check out our relevant section below.
Other ways of getting to Dunkirk are by bus, train and plane. There are various bus lines from neighboring French cities, as well as Brussels in Belgium. The latter is a great option if you wish to reach Brussels by train or plane and then resume your journey to Dunkirk by bus.
As for flight connections, the nearest airport reference point is Lille Airport (around 85 km away).
What to do in Dunkirk
There’s not a single tourist activity that Dunkirk doesn’t cover. From contemporary art and sightseeing to outdoor activities, water sports, open markets and exploring the city’s maritime history, Dunkirk caters to all tastes.
Once-in-a-lifetime activities await you here, with aerial tours over the city and boarding historical ships. If you aren’t a fan of history but you still feel like going on an adventure, Dunkirk may surprise you with its multifaceted character.
Whether you choose to plan a day trip to Dunkirk before resuming your trip elsewhere or wish to stay longer, there are countless things to do and see. Depending on the season, there might be different events and festivals taking place, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly and make the best of your time in Dunkirk!
The imposing city hall of Dunkirk on a sunny day
Sightseeing and activities in Dunkirk
Don’t worry about taking your time exploring Dunkirk. Its historical heritage is reflected everywhere. With its harbor, museums and unique lighthouse, sightseeing in Dunkirk is a fantastic activity for lovers of history, culture and art. We recommend checking out the following:
- Dunkirk War Museum, where you can learn everything about the historical Operation Dynamo
- Dunkirk Battlefield Tour, a great way to visit the historical sites of Operation Dynamo
- Princess Elizabeth Little Ship, close to the city center
- The Choir of Light (or Chapel of Light), an artistic achievement made by the British sculptor Anthony Caro
- The Engraving Museum, the only French museum devoted to engraving and printed works
- The Bourbourg Prison, listed as a Historical Monument
- The automated Dunkirk Lighthouse, the tallest of its kind in all of France
Now if you wish to break a sweat, we have some exciting outdoor activities in Dunkirk to recommend:
- Operation Dynamo Aerial Tour, which lasts 15 minutes and gives you amazing views and historical insight
- Boat ride in Gravelines, an old town southwest of Dunkirk that is also a World Heritage Site
- Explore the countless sandy coasts of Dunkirk and go for a swim, sunbathe and hike through beautiful sand dunes
- Try out water sports, such as sand yachting, which is beginner-friendly and one of a kind
Fun fact: to get in the right mood for your trip to Dunkirk, consider watching the 2017 movie of the same name. Certain scenes were actually filmed here, so take it up to yourself to track down the filming locations in real life!
Nightlife in Dunkirk
As nightfall draws near, you might want to take a break from guided tours, historical sightseeing and adrenaline-pumping activities. Thankfully, there is a wide range of entertainment options available.
There are plenty of restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs to choose from, depending on your preferences. We highly recommend dining at a restaurant with beautiful sea views and enjoying a glass of French wine. There are also party events and exciting festivals taking place in Dunkirk to dance the night away! The most important, of all is the Dunkirk Festival!
A peaceful stretch of sand on the coast of Dunkirk
Food in Dunkirk
The cuisine of Dunkirk is highly influenced by Flemish traditions and offers mouthwatering delights!
The team of Ferryhopper suggests that you try out coq à la bière (chicken in beer sauce) and the popular Dunkirk mussels. Make sure to visit restaurants that offer “fish of the day” dishes and taste the city’s seafood delicacies!
Plenty of dining spots prepare other traditional French dishes, so visiting Dunkirk is a great opportunity to explore the country’s eccentric cuisine and tasty sweets!
Useful information about Dunkirk
The modern amenities of Dunkirk are here to fulfill all of your needs. When it comes to accommodation, there are numerous hotels, Bed & Breakfasts and gîtes, which can range from special hostels to holiday houses in the countryside.
If you’re traveling with a camper, making a stop in Dunkirk is a great holiday idea. You can also find parking lots that provide accommodation options for campers and all the necessary visitor services.
As for other services, you can find many ATMs, medical clinics, pharmacies and hospitals, as well as information offices about the port and the city in general.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Dunkirk
Here are some phone numbers that might prove useful during your holidays in Dunkirk:
- Dunkirk Port Authority: +3332828787
- Lillie Airport (closest airport reference point): +33 320 496 747
- Bike station: +33632420763
- Dunkerque Grand Littoral (local bus network): +33328590078
- Municipal police: +33328262717, +33328262860
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Dunkirk
Getting around Dunkirk is smooth sailing! There is a great (and free!) bus network that helps you move around in the city and even reach Belgium! You can usually find 5 main bus lines with frequent departures.
Alternatively, the city is bike-friendly and includes countless trails to explore on two wheels! If you want to travel to Dunkirk with your car or wish to rent one upon arrival, there are plenty of rental services and convenient parking lots.
The colorful and uniquely structured Bains Dunkerquois
Ports in Dunkirk
Dunkirk is the third-largest port in France. To this day, it retains its importance, taking advantage of its strategic position. From here, you can cross the North Sea and reach the United Kingdom.
Though there is controlled access to the port of Dunkirk, moving around the port area is easy and convenient, and there are even guided tours to learn more about its historical heritage.
Dunkirk ferry: schedules and tickets
Traveling by ferry to Dunkirk in France is the best way to connect with the city’s important maritime history. You can smoothly get there from Dover in the United Kingdom. Specifically:
- Dover - Dunkirk ferry: catching a ferry from Dover to Dunkirk is possible throughout the year, with up to 12 daily connections that are operated by DFDS. Usually, the estimated travel time to Dunkirk is around 3 hours.
Ferry tip: for additional ferry routes across the North Sea, have a look at our interactive Map of ferries and plan the trip of your dreams!
Sunset view of the beautiful Dunkirk Lighthouse in the port area
Where to book ferry tickets to Dunkirk online
Interested in traveling to the historical city and port of Dunkirk by ferry? Discover all available ferry connections on Ferryhopper, find the one that suits you best and travel to France by ferry hassle-free!