Dover is famous for its white cliffs and when approaching England by ship they are a lovely, iconic greeting to the United Kingdom. While a busy ferry port connecting England with France, Dover is a relatively quiet cruise ship port, used for embarkation and disembarkation.
Once a chic seaside resort, Dover has never really recovered from being bombed during World War II and these days most people choose to stay further along the lovely south-east coast in the pretty Georgian town of Brighton or in medieval Rye or in Canterbury with its famous cathedral, or to head up to London which is a couple of hours travel north.
Within Dover the main attraction is the castle built by Henry II in the 12th century, one of the oldest in England. In 1539, Henry VIII built nearby moated Walmer Castle, also worth a visit.
How to Get to London
Dover is very well-served by links with London. By train the trip is around two hours and from Dover Priory Station you can choose to go to either London Victoria – the closest for Buckingham Palace, or London Charing Cross – the closest for the Thames River, Trafalgar Square and the West End. There are also regular bus services to London Victoria which are cheaper but slower. Gatwick Airport is the closest air link and has an excellent train service.
Private rental cars are easily organized. Taxis are available but will be prohibitively expensive to travel all the way to London although to move locally in Dover they are inexpensive. A taxi from the port to the rail or bus station or between docks is easy and recommended, also to visit the castles. Cruise ships come in at the western docks, ferries to France leave from the eastern docks.
One Day in London
London has so much to see it’s good to have a list of priorities before you set out. Both London Victoria and London Charing Cross Stations have many underground train (Tube) links to get your around the city. If you have one day, buy a Day Travel Card which means you can use all train and bus routes. Pick up a tube map at the station. Bus routes can be more of a mystery although the view from the top of a double decker bus is wonderful.
For a good overview of London’s iconic sights head for the Thames River’s Victoria Embankment (Charing Cross or Embankment Station) and walk across one of the bridges. Waterloo Bridge gives wonderful views from Big Ben to the Tower Bridge. The London Eye also has great views.
There are open top bus tours you can do and if you like walking you can head from the river, past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, across to The Mall and St James’s Palace, to Buckingham Palace and on to Hyde Park. Or reverse this order (start from Victoria or Green Park tube station) to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which happens every other day (check the schedule) at 11.30am. Between London and Dover are some interesting places to visit such as the grand house Sissinghurst with its lovely garden.
The language is English and the currency is the British Pound (or quid in local slang). Dover is a well-equipped tourist city with internet cafes and currency exchanges at both the port and in the city, and ATMs (which take only 4 digit numeric PINs). Some taxis at Dover port may accept your euros or dollars but at an unfavorable exchange rate so it’s best to use local currency.