Imagine scenic, chalk-white cliffs and waves crashing against the shore; a multitude of boats, all of different shapes and sizes making their way out of the harbor; a majestic medieval castle rising above the cliff, overlooking the sea – this is the historical town of Dover. The port town of Dover is famous for its towering chalk Dover cliffs and the Dover Castle, also known as the ‘Key to England’ because of its formidable defensive fortifications. Dover is just two hours away or 82 miles from the hustle and bustle of London, making it an ideal destination for a day trip from London! Before you set off from London to Dover, here are a quick few things you'd like to know.
London to Dover Day Trip Experience
London to Dover Day Trip
Board your luxury coach to the Leeds Castle, where you will learn all about its history (and the history of its occupants, the Tudors!) from your friendly tour guide. Next, visit the ancient city of Canterbury, the setting of ‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Geoffrey Chaucer, and explore its roots in English Christianity. After a quick lunch, head off to Dover to admire the majestic chalk cliffs and the Dover Castle. Last, stop at Greenwich, from where you will embark on a ride on the serene River Thames. Don’t miss views of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral!
Dover Day Trip Itinerary Summary
• Admire the Leeds Castle and its beautiful estate
• Take in the beauty of the stained glass panels of the Canterbury Cathedral
• Visit the majestic white chalk cliffs of Dover and the Castle
• Stop at Greenwich and soak in its incredible maritime history and significance
• Catch stunning views of London while floating serenely down the river Thames
London To Dover Day Trip - Know Before You Go
Distance and Duration from London to Dover
The distance from London to Dover is around 82 miles, or 77 miles from the centre of London, which can take 2 hours to travel if there isn’t much traffic. It would be a safer bet to start early in the morning to avoid traffic and to spend more time exploring the town, if you are travelling by car.
Choosing between Guided and Self Guided Tours
While self-guided tours may seem like a better option if you’re more independent and want to save money, guided tours are probably the smarter option – not only will you have a friendly and informative guide with you, but you’ll learn more about your surrounding area and may even pick up some handy tips as to where to eat and how to travel. Your trip will be hassle-free with a tour guide.
Best time to visit Dover
Dover’s climate is quite similar to the rest of the United Kingdom, and is generally pleasant year round. The best time to visit is generally from May to October, when the weather is warm and ranges from 45 to 60F. However, do note that the summer tends to be the rainy season, and showers are quite common during the late summer season.
Transport Options from London to Dover
London to Dover by Train
London to Dover by train is covered by three lines- London St. Pancras, Charing Cross via London Bridge and Victoria, and Gatwick ; all of which are at least hourly trains. The St. Pancras line is the fastest, taking only 65 minutes. However, it is also the most expensive. The train from Gatwick is the cheapest option. Make sure to choose the option closest to your accommodation in London to avoid additional travel time. You can check the train timings and schedule from London to Dover here.
Duration : 65 minutes minimum
London to Dover by Bus
London to Dover by bus is a convinient and comfortable option. The London terminus is Victoria Coach Station, about 600 yards from Victoria train and Underground stations. The buses, operated by the National Bus service, do not pick-up or drop at hotels or elsewhere in London. They stop at the Dover Ferry Terminal first, and then the Dover Town Centre.
Duration : 3 hours
London to Dover by Car
London to Dover by car is approximately 86 miles and takes about 1.5 hours without traffic, if starting off from Whitehall, Westminster. A good route to take is through Old Kent Road, Eltham Road and through Greenwich. Hiring a private car ay cost anywhere between 100 to 200 GBP. This is an expensive option considering the cost of renting a car, fuel costs and parking in Dover. However, since Dover is a scenic port town, having a car at your disposal is quite convinient.
Duration : 1 hour 49 minutes
London to Dover by Cycle
Cycling from London to Dover is quite a popular option, especially for fitness enthusiasts and those looking to spend time on the road with friends. A commonly used London to Dover cycle route (no cycling trails or green lanes) is through Dartford, Rochester, Faversham and Canterbury – don’t miss wandering around the medieval city of Canterbury before relaxing in Dover!
Duration : 8 hours
London to Dover Guided Day Tours
By opting for a guided tour from London to Dover, not only do you learn a lot more than you would have otherwise, thanks to your friendly tour guide, the cost of visiting sites along the way like Greenwich and Leeds Castle is also covered. Picking this option is the best if you’re travelling with family and children.
Duration of day tour : 10 hours
Top things to do in Dover - Day trip itinerary
There's just the right number of thing to do in Dover for one day. Here are a few things to do in Dover over a day's time.
This medieval castle was founded in the 11th century and is also called ‘Key to England’ due to its significance with respect to defense. The Dover Castle is the largest castle in England and it has withstood several invasions over the centuries. Its site can be dated back to the Bronze Age. Don’t miss the Royal Chapel and St. Mary in Castro within the castle!
White Cliffs of Dover
These cliffs are so named because of its chalky composition, with streaks of black flint. This eight-mile stretch offers a gorgeous view of the English strait from the top, and sandy beaches from the bottom. The Dover Cliffs have been referenced multiple times in great works of literature like Shakespeare’s King Lear, and is also an iconic landmark for sailors entering England.
Fan Bay Deep Shelter
These Secret Wartime Tunnels are a series of tunnels constructed during World War II, 23 metres down the White Cliffs of Dover. Carved in just a hundred days by the Royal Engineers, these tunnels were constructed for the Fan Bay gun batteries and was reinforced by heavy duty iron gir
La Salle Verte
La Salle Verte is a cozy spot to grab some lunch and a coffee if you’re in Dover. Located on Cannon Street, this restaurant is decorated with local artwork on the walls, and is also involved in several community projects. They even have live music in the evenings, hence falling into the list of the top things to do in Dover.
Founded in 1836, this museum tells the story of Dover and its history, and included collections dating back from the prehistoric times . Don’t miss the Bronze Age boat that is estimated to be nearly 3000 years old!. The Dover Museum also has a temporary exhibition section with local art, and a section about the history of Dover town.
Tips for your London to Dover Day Trip
- If you’re visiting around late summer/early fall, be sure to carry raincoats and umbrellas, as it may rain often during this time.
- Make sure to visit the South Foreland Lighthouse, and walk along the two-mile stretch of cliffs. You’ll get to see some incredible views!
- If you’re interested in seeing more Castles, and are a little adventurous, you can walk to the Deal Castle, around 8 miles from Dover.
- If you’re on a tight schedule, it may be faster for you to travel from London to Dover by train.
Other Day Trips from London
London to Stonehenge
If you’ve ever wanted to see the historic Stonehenge, this is the trip for you. Pick this tour and walk down the cobbled streets of the quaint and quiet town that is the home of Queen Elizabeth II, and make sure to visit Windsor Castle, the home of English monarchy. Next stop is the Stonehenge, on the Salisbury wind plains. This mysterious circle of stones is a must-visit, even more so if you’re interested in all the myths and stories surrounding it. Finish your tour at Bath, and stop by at the famous Roman Baths that flows with water from Britain’s only hot spring. Read more about the London to Stonehenge Day trip here.
London to Oxford
Are you a Harry Potter fan? On this tour, you’ll get to see Christchurch College where the Harry Potter movies were filmed – in particular, the Great Hall! Let the magic continue as you walk through the streets of Cambridge and and Oxford. Be sure to visit the Bridge of Sighs, the spectacular King’s College Chapel, Cavendish Laboratory (29 scientists from this lab have won Nobel Prizes!), and the oldest college, Peterhouse, built in 1284! These charming college towns make for the perfect day trip. It even includes a freshly packed lunch, and free WiF on the bus!.Read more about the London to Oxford Day trip here
London to Cotswolds
Leave behind the daily craziness of London, and delve into the scenic beauty of Cotswolds through this scenic tour. At a mere thirty minutes from London, the Cotswolds include a variety of historic villages, like the village of Buford and Bibury. Stop by at the latter for a delicious two course meal, and continue till Bourton-on-the-water and Stow-on-the-Wold. Be sure to listen to your guide, as he narrates tales of the sleepy but beautiful villages. Don’t miss the small, cozy tea shops, and the incredible ales at these villages. Read more about the London to Cotswolds Day trip here
• Lunch in Cotswolds & Walking Tour of Villages
• Stratford, Oxford, Cotswolds & Warwick Castle Custom Day Trip