England, United Kingdom
Situated near the narrowest point in the English Channel, Dover is the historic entry point into England from continental Europe. The coastal town is well-known for its spectacular chalk cliffs, treasure-trove of wartime secrets, centuries-old castle, and ancient maritime history.
On Ferryhopper, you can find all the information you need for your holiday in Dover. Read about the best attractions and activities, the best beaches, the local delicacies, and ferries from its port. Discover our travel tips and book ferry tickets to Dover with ease!
Below, you can discover:
Ferries at the port of Dover
Dover ferry port
Today, the port of Dover is the busiest passenger ferry terminal in the world, seeing some 12 million people passing through it each year. It is also the busiest cruise liner terminal in Britain and a major port for freight.
People with ferry tickets to Dover primarily use the eastern side of the port, whereas cruise ships and small private vessels mostly use the western piers.
At the port you will find several visitor amenities, such as a passenger terminal building with kiosks and outlets, as well as special needs facilities. There are no parking facilities at the port, but wheelchair accessible minibuses are available.
Ferries from Dover port: schedules and tickets
Dover is the world's busiest roll on roll off ferry port. Ferries from Dover usually travel to Dunkirk and Calais, in France.
The majority of the ferry routes from Calais are operated by large ferries that have a garage for the transfer of vehicles. The ferry companies that normally operate from the port of Dover are DFDS, P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries.
We have collected here some useful information about Dover ferries in order to plan your trip in the best possible way:
Ferry from Dover to Calais
The Dover to Calais ferry runs up to 25 times a day throughout the year. The duration of the Dover - Calais ferry route is approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Note that on DFDS and Irish Ferries you can't travel from Dover to Calais as a foot passenger. You can only travel with a vehicle.
Ferry from Dover to Dunkirk
The Dover - Dunkirk route runs around 12 connections per day. The ferry takes about 3 hours to reach the port of Dunkirk.
Where is the ferry port in Dover?
Situated in the county of Kent on the English Channel, Dover is the closest English port to the European mainland.
How to get to Dover port?
The ferry terminal is easily accessible by car, train, bus, and on foot.
If you’re traveling by car, the M20 will provide the quickest and most direct route for most passengers heading to the port of Dover. Once at Folkestone, continue on the A20 to Dover ferry terminal which is well signposted.
If you’d rather take the train, the nearest railway station is Dover Priory. A short bus journey, a 30-minute walk, or a 5-minute taxi ride will then get you to the port.
The lighthouse at the end of the western pier at the port of Dover
Vacation in Dover
Dover is mostly known for its White Cliffs, the first sight people admire when arriving at the port of Dover and a magnificent iconic natural landmark. However, if you look a little closer you’ll discover countless more gems in this coastal town with a fascinating history.
Bordered by a stunning coastline and a picturesque countryside, this makes Dover ideal for exploring on foot or by bicycle and it also provides plenty of activity options.
Take in the spectacular views and unspoiled coast, travel the miles of signposted walking and cycling trails, and explore local history.
While Dover is a fantastic weekend escape throughout the whole year, it's probably best visited during the warmer, sunnier months.
Sailboat passing in front of the spectacular chalk cliffs of Dover
How to get to Dover
You can reach Dover by car, train, plane, and ferry.
If you want to travel by car from mainland Europe to the UK, you can do so through the Channel Tunnel, which is only 15 minutes away from Dover.
Rail travel to Dover is also quite convenient. Dover Priory is the main station serving the town of Dover. Trains from London take about 1 to 2 hours to reach the town.
In case you prefer traveling by plane, the closest international airports to Dover are Heathrow (approximately 1 hour 50 minutes away) and Gatwick (1 hour 30 minutes away).
Dover can also be directly reached by ferry from the port of Calais and Dunkirk. Ferry frequency and availability may vary depending on seasonality.
What to do in Dover
Dover is a historic town that is worth visiting even if it’s overlooked by many in the rush to board a cross channel ferry. History lovers should definitely consider staying 1-2 days in town to explore the famous Dover museum, the Dover castle (the biggest castle in England after Windsor), and the secret wartime tunnels.
With breath-taking views across the English Channel, Dover’s most iconic attraction is definitely its White Cliffs. After your stroll, if having tea inside a lighthouse sounds like a good idea to you, then make sure to visit Mrs. Knott’s Tea Room situated at South Foreland Lighthouse. You can only reach the lighthouse through a 3 km hike, but the delicious homemade cakes offered there will be a lovely reward for completing the journey.
Nature enthusiasts can also head to Samphire Hoe Country Park. This is a great place to do some walking, cycling or bird watching.
Tip: if you’d rather admire the White Cliffs of Dover from the water, then you can book a Sea Safari.
Beaches in Dover
If you’re the type of person that enjoys spending a little time at the beach, then you will be glad to discover that Dover and the surrounding area is home to some of the best beaches in Kent. Dover's beaches offer something for everyone, from tiny seaside villages with charming promenades to secluded coves typically only visited by locals.
Here are 5 beaches in Dover that you should visit:
- St. Margaret's: located a 10-minute drive from downtown Dover, St. Margaret’s bay is surrounded by stunning Kentish white cliffs. On low tide, this beach has soft sand and exposes plenty of rockpools. On a clear day, you can even see clearly across the English Channel all the way to France.
- Samphire Hoe: built up using the soil from the excavation of the Channel Tunnel, on Samphire Hoe you will discover fascinating wildlife, rare plants and spectacular landscapes. It is a perfect escape no matter the weather.
- Shakespeare: Shakespeare beach stretches to the west of Dover Harbor and it is the closest part of England to the French coast. Accessible by a short walk on a footpath, this beach is particularly popular for rockpooling and among dog owners.
- Kingsdown: located in the town of Deal, about 10 km from Dover, this beach is ideal for couples or friends since it’s secluded and offers no amenities. After you have a picnic, take a stroll along the historic pier.
- Tankerton: the Blue Flag Tankerton beach offers something for everyone as there’s a good range of nearby amenities. At low tide, a natural causeway known as The Street is excellent for paddling and rock pool exploring.
The rocky St. Margaret's bay on a cloudy afternoon
Sightseeing in Dover
Dover has, without a doubt, a fascinating history and rich heritage. From imposing coastal fortresses and the well-preserved ruins of a Roman villa to the Bronze Age Boat, you can glimpse into Dover's mysterious past and discover more about this magnificent region.
Here you can find a list of the top sightseeing in Dover:
- The Dover Castle
- The Dover Museum, housing the 3000-year-old Bronze Age boat
- The Dover Transport Museum
- The Roman Painted House
- The South Foreland Lighthouse
- The Maison Dieu Hall (Dover Town Hall)
- The White Cliffs of Dover
The British flag flying atop the Great Tower at Dover Castle
Nightlife in Dover
Dover might not be known for its world-class clubs, but it still has a lot to offer.
In the center of the small town you will find plenty of bars, pubs and local breweries. The majority of the city's nightlife hot-spots are concentrated close to Dover Marina. A must visit is Cullins Yard Wine Bar, thanks to its stunning views across the port.
Food in Dover
Thanks to Kent’s pristine coastlines, gorgeous countryside and farming heritage, Dover is blessed with some of the best-loved British foods. During your stay in Dover, make sure to try the following delicacies:
- huffkins (bread roll)
- Whitstable oysters
- Dover sole
- lamb's tail pie
- Kentish blue (a traditional English cheese)
- Kentish rarebit (bread topped with caramelized apples and melted cheese)
- Kentish ale (a local English brew)
Top view of oysters served on ice, a traditional Kentish dish
Useful information about Dover
Being the major ferry port in Kent, South East England, Dover offers many services to its visitors.
In Dover, you will find a variety of accommodation options depending on your style and budget, such as hotels, guesthouses, holiday parks, or campsites.
As for hospitals, there are a few options in the center of Dover and the suburbs, so you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Dover
Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Dover:
- Dover Port Authority: +441304240400
- Dover Police Station: +441622690690
- Buckland Hospital: +441304222510
- Dover taxi services: +441304228822
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Dover
Dover is pretty compact, so it’s easy to get around. The port of Dover can be reached on foot from the town center in about 20 minutes.
Public buses run frequently throughout the town and to a number of neighboring towns. Stagecoach provides the District's bus service. There are 12 lines and they cross Dover with a frequency ranging from 20 minutes to an hour.
Another option is the taxi. There are numerous taxi companies in the city, but they can get expensive!
Tip: if you prefer getting around Dover by car, you should know that in urban areas the speed limit is 48 km / h.
Where to book Dover ferry tickets online
On Ferryhopper, you can find all ferry routes from Dover. Compare prices, timetables and companies, and book cheap ferry tickets to Dover online with no hidden fees.