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In this post, I’ll give you the rundown on everything you need to know about doing the white cliffs of Dover walks.
The White Cliffs of Dover reside on the very edge of England. They mark the spot where Great Britain is the closest to continental Europe. In fact, on a clear day, you can see straight to France.
For more on Dover, you should also read my day trip to Dover guide.
Made from soft white limestone, the massive vertical white cliffs seem to rise straight out of the water. They offer one of the best coastal walks in the country, with stunning sea views guiding your path. They’re the perfect place to take a UK weekend getaway or even just a day trip.
If you’re planning a visit, this guide includes all the things you need to know, from the different walks offered to what you’ll see along the way.
Let’s get into the finer details of what you can expect on your White Cliffs of Dover walk.
Best Time to Visit the White Cliffs of Dover
The best time to visit Dover’s white cliffs comes down to your weather preference. Summer to early Autumn (May – October) produces the warmest temperatures. This is also when you’ll see wildflowers in bloom and butterflies about.
However, the colder months are just as magical, and you’ll experience fewer tourists, which is always a plus.
The National Trust White Cliffs of Dover | Times & Prices
The White Cliffs of Dover are open year-round. For official hours, visit their website.
At the National Trust The White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre, you’ll find a car park, cafe, souvenir shop, and public toilets. Parking is £5 per day (free for National Trust members).
Weekends and bank holidays are the busiest time to visit the White Cliffs of Dover coastline, and there’s always a chance the car park may fill up. If this is when you’re scheduling a trip, try and arrive early to secure a parking spot.
Hiking the White Cliffs of Dover | What You’ll Need
Before we get into the ins and outs of the Dover White Cliffs, let’s first go over a few outdoor staples you’ll appreciate having with you on your excursion.
Comfortable shoes: Happy feet are comfortable feet. Since you’ll be doing a fair share of walking, make sure to wear a pair of lightweight hiking shoes. The walking isn’t strenuous, but you’ll go up and down a few hills and cross some uneven terrain.
I can’t recommend having comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a lot while doing the Dover cliffs walk. I did 35,000 steps that day! And without the correct footwear, I don’t think I would have been able to walk that much or enjoy my white cliffs of Dover hike.
Rain jacket: In the UK, the weather can change in an instance, especially near the coastline. A rain jacket will keep you warm and protected from the rain and wind.
Reusable Water bottle: With all of the walking you’ll be doing, you’re bound to get thirsty. This CamelBak water bottle is lightweight, leak-proof, and easy to grip. It’s perfect for all outings.
Camera: With a landscape as dramatic as the Cliffs of Dover, you’ll definitely want a camera with you. I had my trusty Fuji X-T4 camera with me, and it’s the camera that all the images in this post were taken on. This mirrorless digital camera is great for outdoor photography. Your pictures will turn out crystal clear.
How to Get to White Cliffs of Dover From London
Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover is a popular day trip from London. Here are the options you’ll have for travelling between these two areas.
London to Dover by Car
Driving is the most convenient way to get to the White Cliffs of Dover from London. It takes just a little under two hours (78 miles) to reach the National Trust White Cliffs Visitor Centre, where you’ll find the car park.
London to Dover by Train
Several train routes that run from London to Dover. The closest train station to the white cliffs is Dover Priory.
The fast train departs from St Pancras Station and takes one hour and four minutes. You can also hop on the train in London at Victoria Station or Charing Cross Station. Both of these routes take just under two hours and include one change.
Train tickets will cost between £25 – £70 depending on the day of the week and if you’re travelling during peak season and if you had book, your ticket in advance.
Once you arrive at Dover Priory Station, you’ll need to walk the rest of the way or take a taxi. It takes about 40 minutes (2 miles) to reach the visitor centre on foot. It’s an easy walk and labelled with proper signage.
London to Dover by Bus
This is the cheapest way to get to Dover, costing just £5 each way. You’ll catch the National Express bus from Victoria Coach Station and arrive in just under three hours.
London to the White Cliffs of Dover Tours
You can also book a White Cliffs of Dover tour. Just keep in mind that these options include other stops, and you’re free time to explore the cliffs will be more limited. But you’ll learn a lot about the area and its history and see spots you’d never think to look for!
Here are three tour options from London:
Walking Along the White Cliffs of Dover | What You’ll See
During spring and early summer, colourful wildflowers are found in high abundance. They provide the perfect habitat for about thirty species of butterfly.
Migratory birds can also be seen as they fly inland from across the English Channel. Ravens, jackdaws, skylarks, fulmars, and black-legged kittiwakes are among the most popular birds spotted.
You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for a grazing population of Exmoor ponies. This horse breed is native to the British isles.
From certain points along the White Cliffs Walkway, you’ll also be able to see glimpses of imposing Dover Castle.
White Cliffs of Dover Walks
There are several Dover cliff walks you can take. All of them are fairly easy, some are just longer than others. And, as long as it’s not too muddy, the terrain shouldn’t be difficult to traverse.
This is just a short walk from the visitor centre. It takes 20 minutes (one way) and is wheelchair friendly. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the sea as well as the bustling Dover Port, and even France on a clear day.
Walking Route to Fan Bay Deep Shelter
This 40-minute walk (one way) takes you from the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre to Fan Bay Deep Shelter. Constructed during WWII (1940 – 1941), this historical attraction is a tunnel complex located 23 meters below ground.
It was made to store Fan Bay Battery artillery batteries. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time as you travel down into the Dover cliffs.
You’ll need to climb about 125 steep steps to reach the tunnels, so make sure to wear suitable shoes. Sandals and heels are not permitted.
Tickets for the tunnels are sold at the tunnel entrance (cash only). They cost £10 for adults and £5 for children. National Trust Members visit for free.
Visitor Centre to South Foreland Lighthouse | South Foreland Lighthouse walk
The scenic walking path from the visitor centre to the South Foreland Lighthouse is the most popular route for visitors and the route I choose. If you’re glancing at a White Cliffs of Dover walking map, it runs more or less parallel to the sea.
It takes 50 minutes to reach the lighthouse, so your journey will take just under two hours for a roundtrip. But, keep in mind that you’ll want to stop along the way to take pictures and admire the wealth of wildlife in the area.
If you like this you’ll like my visiting Seven Sisters Cliffs guide
Reaching South Foreland Lighthouse
Once you reach the South Foreland Lighthouse, break up your cliff walk with a fun activity. Here are the options you’ll have available.
Take a tour: Go on a guided tour and learn about the history of this Victorian lighthouse. Tours last 30 minutes and end with a stunning balcony view from inside the structure.
Have a picnic: The large grassy lawn surrounding the lighthouse is the perfect area for a picnic. Pack a few picnic supplies and rest your feet for a while.
Play a game: There are free old school games you can play, like skittles, quoits, and noughts and crosses. You can also borrow a kite for free. Enquire inside the lighthouse visitor reception for games and kites.
Visit Mrs Knott’s Tearoom: This quaint cafe sits just outside the lighthouse. It’s decorated with old fashioned furnishings and offers beautiful views of the English Channel. There are also public toilets next to the tearoom.
Foreland Lighthouse to St Margaret’s Bay
From Foreland Lighthouse, you can continue your journey for another mile to the scenic St Margaret’s Bay. Along the way, you’ll pass the St Margaret’s Bay Windmill. This structure was
Built-in 1929 to generate electricity for the house connected to it.
End your Dover cliffs walking excursion at St Margaret’s Bay Beach. Relax on the pebbled stones, or if you’re feeling brave, have a refreshing swim! With a stunning backdrop of the white cliffs on either side, you’ll be able to truly experience all of their natural beauty.
The walk back to the visitors centre is roughly three miles and you’ll follow the same route you arrive on. Or, if you like me you don’t feel like making the return trip, you can always take the bus or a taxi back. I took the bus back to Dover, and they are contactless so you can use your debit card or phone to get on them.
The White Cliffs of Dover Walk: Final Thoughts
If you’re visiting Dover, exploring this spectacular part of the British coast is a must. Admire panoramic views of the blue sea, lush greenery, and stunning white cliff edges – all in one location.
With the different White Cliffs of Dover walks, you can spend a whole day discovering the area, or even just a couple of hours. The trails are suitable for all fitness levels and easy to follow. For a fun outing in the English countryside immersed in nature, you can’t go wrong.
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