Dover is probably best known for two main attractions: its white cliffs and Dover Castle

But though many visitors probably only visit the castle and view the cliffs before returning to London, it is worth also exploring the town on foot to see its impressive harbour, many old pubs and historic Market Square. Plus, there’s a unique bronze age boat in Dover Museum and an outlet shopping centre on the seafront near several good restaurants. And if you have your own transport, there are other castles in the area that are also worth visiting.

 

Getting there by Train

To visit Dover Castle, get a taxi from Dover Priory station

Trains depart from London Waterloo East to Dover Priory every half hour (on the hour and half past). Journey time is around one and a half to two hours.

view map of Dover

Dover Castle

Dover Castle dates from the rebuilding work during Henry II’s reign, but the site has been of vital importance since the Iron Age.

The first castle was probably an Anglo-Saxon fortress and, on the arrival of William the Conqueror, the existing fortifications were improved with the building of an earthwork castle.

Work began on the castle in the latter part of the 12th century with the construction of the Keep (or Great Tower) – the largest in Britain.

The White Cliffs

The white cliffs are made from chalk, being the compressed shells of sea creatures that were turned into sediment 80 million years ago.

They are the first thing seen by visitors coming to Dover by sea, and are mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear.

However, most people probably associate the cliffs with the famous wartime song by Vera Lynn, “Blue Birds over the White Cliffs of Dover”.

click to view map and street view

Secret Wartime Tunnels

Hidden deep inside the famous White Cliffs and under Dover Castle are a vast network of underground tunnels, first constructed in the Middle Ages.

During the Napoleonic Wars, these tunnels were greatly extended to provide barracks for the great numbers of soldiers called to Dover to prepare for invasion from the French.

This massive underground complex also played an important role in the Second World War, being used as the nerve centre for planning the evacuation of troops from France.

After the war, the tunnels were prepared for possible use as a regional government centre in the event of a nuclear attack on London.

The tunnels were only opened to the public in the 1990’s.