Dover is a popular coastal destination in the UK, connecting Brits to France via the ferry. However, why not stay in Dover for a few days and enjoy these best things to do in Dover England.
Deriving its name from the River Dour, the historical port town of Dover is located at the narrowest part of the English channel and offers a vast array of natural, cultural and historical attractions that provide the avid explorer with endless adventure opportunities.
With its proximity to France, it has been an important town for centuries. Because of this it offers some unique architecture and a rich and varied history the remnants of which can still be seen today. It’s like an open air museum that is rich with things to see, do and taste.
Dover is ideal as a romantic weekend break away from the big cities, but does deserve more time if you have it.
If you’re planning a visit to this idyllic location don’t miss out on these memorable experiences:
1. Walk the White Cliffs of Dover
A historical landmark and inspiration for literature and lyrics the chalky white cliffs are the highlight of any trip to Dover. The Gateway White Cliffs Visitor Centre is the perfect place to begin your adventure. The Visitor Centre offers tourists breath-taking views across the channel and provides information on both the history of the area and its abundant fauna and flora.
Various marked and unmarked trails criss-cross the cliff tops offering several viewpoints over the channel. The trails link to the intriguing Fan Bay Deep Shelter and picturesque South Foreland Lighthouse. Informative tours are available for both these attractions.
2. Explore Dover Castle
A full day can easily be spent unearthing the nine centuries of history this one site has to offer. Founded in the 11th Century by Henry II the Medieval castle’s exhibits include furnished rooms and a series of tunnels to explore.
During WWII the tunnels were converted into a military command centre and underground hospital. A guided tour featuring sequential projections takes visitors back in time and gives them a sense of this bygone era.
3. Immerse yourself in history at the Dover Museum
For those interested in Dover’s local history the Dover Museum is an essential stop. Created in 1836 the museum is one of the oldest in the country and spans over three floors.
Much of the museum’s artefacts were lost during the Second World War, however it once again houses an impressive collection of records and artefacts including beautifully crafted Saxon jewellery and the world’s oldest known seagoing vessel.
4. Hop the Channel and visit France
You’re at the narrowest point in the English channel so why not take advantage of this golden opportunity to hop on the ferry Dover to Dunkirk to explore a little bit of France.
Visit some of the town’s historical landmarks including its two belfries, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stop by the Fine Arts Museum or enjoy some fun water activities at the beach. The city centre offers a vast array of shopping and culinary experiences to be savoured.
5. Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens
Take a break from your explorations and historical discoveries by breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the peace and tranquillity offered by the parklands of Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens.
Russell Gardens was originally designed by the renowned Edwardian landscape architect Thomas Mawson who took advantage of the steep terrain to create majestic terraces and other architectural garden features including a 170m long canal pond, Palladian style pergola bridges and a boathouse pavilion.
Kearsney Abbey is situated on the opposite side of the road and comprises 10 acres of open parkland planted in a more informal style. Today’s existence of the park can be attributed to a local banker, John Minet Fector, who built a mansion on the site between 1820 and 1822. Keep an eye out for the parks collection of specimen trees including Beech, Lime, Yew and what is believed to be some of the oldest specimens of Cedar of Lebanon in the country.
6. Have an afternoon tea
Something that you can’t miss when in England is the classic afternoon tea. It sounds like a simple cup of tea for a quick break in the middle of the day, but it is so much more than that.
Afternoon tea is what doing a tapeo is to the Spaniards and an aperitivo hour is for the Italians.
It is almost ritualistic in how it works. It involves, of course, a nice cuppa tea but served with finger foods like small sandwiches and some sweets. It’s not quite a meal, but it is far more than just a snack.
Usually the sandwiches are small triangles of crustless bread. It could be a ham and mustard sandwich, or an egg and mayonnaise. And they can get far more creative than that depending on where you go.
Then there will surely be scones served with clotted cream and jam and an assortment of small cakes.
7. Eat and Drink
Since afternoon tea is not enough to live on, you will want to try more of the local foods. Don’t miss the ales as they grow some of the finest hops in England in the Kent area around Dover.
For food, it is almost required to eat some of the local treats like Gypsy Pie, Kentish rarebit and some of the finest oysters in England. Even the sandwich was born near Dover so they have a way of making some of the most interesting sandwiches that go great with a local ale.