Flanked by the famous white cliffs, Dover has for thousands of years been the launch pad for visitors coming to and from Britain by boat. Once a thriving town, modern Dover is slightly more subdued and the ghostly shop fronts are a very different change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of London. There's no denying the world's busiest passenger port still wears its battle scars, but durable Dover has plenty of redeeming features to win your favour, whether it's the few first or last moments of Englishness you encounter before ferrying onwards.
An imposing symbol of Britain's wartime resistance, Dover's dominating white cliffs are undoubtedly one of its main attractions. Admire from afar or, if you have a spare couple of hours, take the scenic walk from the Gateway Visitor Centre all the way along the cliffs where you can encounter wildlife and stumble upon sites like the old Langdon Convict Prison. Taking second place on the list of Dover's main attractions is the 12th Century Dover Castle. Spread out over 35-acres, the castle is both one of England's largest, oldest and arguably most diverse – inside the grounds you will find a Roman lighthouse, a Saxon church and a Norman keep.
Eat and Drink
Home to countless restaurants, among most popular on Dover's dining scene are the classic British pubs, seafood restaurants and affordable Asian eats. One of the most exceptional eateries in town is Blakes of Dover. Doubling as a microbrewery, Blakes is unique for a Dover pub and also houses a cosy Bed and Breakfast. Another popular place to eat and drink in Dover is Archer's Public House. For 'location, location, location', head to St Margaret-at-Cliffe, just off the coast road between Dover and Deal. If you're clever enough to have a map or GPS handy, see if you can track down hidden epicurean gems such as the Blue Bird Tea Rooms and The Pines Garden Tea Room.
Where to Stay
Given Dover's role as a port city, there is a good selection of hotels for you to choose from. One of the best places to stay in Dover is the Hilton Garden Inn, also home to an excellent restaurant and indoor pool. Just a few steps from the beach you'll find Best Western, housed in a grand historic building. The rooms themselves show no sign of aging however, and those with sea views are hard to beat! Slightly further afield is the Ramada Hotel, a 4-star abode with elegant rooms and a popular restaurant. Even further beyond the city limits is The White Cliffs Hotel – located nearby at St Margaret-at-Cliff, it's perfect quiet retreat for those wanting to linger longer until the next boat out.
Though they may share names, shopping options in Dover aren't quite akin to what you'll find somewhere like Dover Street Market in London. Closed shop-fronts might keep your accountant happy, but the retail scene isn't as dire as it may first appear. Plenty of interesting purchases can be nabbed if you dig a little deeper. The best place to start your shopping journey is at the town's main shopping streets, High and Biggin. From there, head to Castleton Retail Park, just north-west of the town centre. Dover's one-stop shopping destination, Castleton Retail Park is home to more than 80 businesses selling everything from fashion to food and everything in between.
Dover Like a Local
There's nowhere better to experience the great local tradition of eating fish and chips than by the seaside. The 19th Century was when “chippies” became a common site at British coastal resorts, and Dover is home to more than its fair share of excellent establishments. One of the best is Scoops Fish and Chip shop, who call themselves “traditional” but are loved for their gluten-free options too. Just as tasty is Whitfied Fish and Chip shop, located close to the Ramada Hotel. To skip the takeaway containers (and queues), The Bay Restaurant have a mighty fine fish and chips on their sit-down menu.