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Best Day Trip to Dover Itinerary

Dover, England is a beautiful coastal city located on the English Channel whose strategic position to France has made it an important port for centuries. A day trip to Dover will allow you to see what makes this location such a tourist favorite. There are 4 main things to do in Dover and it all can be easily seen in one day.

BEST Things to Do on a day trip to Dover

Things to do on a Day Trip to Dover, England

A day trip to Dover allows you the opportunity to visit historical landmarks like Dover Castle and the secret wartime tunnels, along with seeing the iconic White Cliffs.

1. Dover Castle

One of the most popular things to do in Dover is visiting Dover Castle. The castle is in remarkable shape and touring it is a real treat.

Dover Castle was originally built as a fortification in the 11th century.

Its location on the English Channel made it a strategic defensive hold for over 20 centuries.

Around 1180, King Henry II remodeled the fort to become a palace where he could entertain guests, like the pilgrims who were on their way to Canterbury.

View from Dover Castle

One of the best things about a day trip to Dover Castle is the view.

From the top, you can see in all directions, each giving a different view. You’ll see the English Channel, the countryside and the city of Dover.

Dover Castle Rooms

Inside Dover Castle, you will be able to explore the Great Tower. There are six main rooms decorated including Henry II’s private chamber.

Dover Castle Throne

You will find that there are many interactive features in Dover Castle. Kids can dress up and play pretend and the staff is in costume ready to answer questions and explain the features of the castle.

Roman Tower in Dover

Adjacent to Dover Castle is a Roman Lighthouse that dates back to 50 AD and an Anglo-Saxon church. At that time, the Romans built a large fort here to guard the harbor.

The Roman Lighthouse once stood 6 stories, but now has been reduced to only 4.

Medieval Tunnels in Dover

2. Dover Tunnels

During the 13th century, King John had a series of underground tunnels built on the grounds of Dover Castle to serve as a place to hold troops.

These Dover Castle tunnels ended up being used later during WWII as a Naval Operation Center.

You will want to plan for 3-4 hours at Dover Castle to fully enjoy the castle, the grounds, and the tunnels. 

Dover Castle Tickets

Tickets are FREE to those on the English Heritage Pass. If you don’t get the pass, make sure that you purchase your Dover Castle Tickets in advance. 

White Cliffs of Dover

3. White Cliffs of Dover

The second half of your day trip from London to Dover should be spent admiring Langdon Cliffs. Just 1.5 miles from Dover Castle, the best way to get here is by taxi (unless of course, you are driving).

Seeing the white cliffs is one of the most popular things to do in Dover, England and photos here are always picturesque.

Wild Horses at Dover Cliffs

Along the route, you might even spot some of the wild horses that roam the trail.

The first place that you come to while walking the paths is the Fan Bay Deep Shelter. This is a World War II tunnel complex that you can explore.

What you need to know in advance

  • Tickets for the tunnels are sold at the Fan Bay tunnel entrance
  • Tours leave every 30 minutes
  • Credit cards are not accepted
  • Only 12 people per tour 
  • Must be above the age of 12 years
  • NO Bathroom sites on location
  • There are lots of steep stairs
  • Wear appropriate walking shoes
  • Tour takes 45 minutes to complete.

National Trust Members can visit for free but must show a valid membership card at the tunnel entrance.

South Foreland Lighthouse

4. South Foreland Lighthouse

Further down the trail is the South Foreland Lighthouse. This Victorian lighthouse is a beauty and you might want to stop in for a treat at Mrs. Knott’s tea room.

The lighthouse is about a 2-mile walk from the car park, so if you don’t think you can make it all the way, there is a secondary way to reach the lighthouse.

If you have a car, you can park at St Margaret’s Bay then walk to the Pines Gardens and St Margaret’s Museum continuing along Beach Road through South Foreland Valley to the lighthouse. This walk is only 1 mile.

Be sure to download the white cliffs walking map to help you find your way!

If you are driving, there is a Car Parking Charge of £5 per car

Overall, this coastal town in England’s southeastern county of Kent is worth exploring! It is an easy day trip from London and worth checking out on its own or a combined trip to Canterbury.

Waterloo Train Station

How to get from London to Dover

You will find the day trip from London to Dover quite easy to plan.

Trains depart from London Waterloo East to Dover Priory every half hour (on the hour and half past).

The London to Dover Train takes around 1.5-2 hours.

The train station is about 1 mile from Dover Castle. You should consider getting a taxi to take you because the walk is all uphill.

English Heritage Pass for Overseas Guests

English Heritage Pass

When traveling to various sites in England, you might find that it is best to purchase the English Overseas Heritage Pass.

For a flat fee, you get entry to over 400 historic sites, including Dover Castle.

I’m not sure that I would purchase it just for a Dover day trip, but if you are visiting other sites in England, it will pay for itself in no time!

Have you been to Dover, England? What was your favorite part?

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