While London is one of my favorite cities and I was privileged to get to stay there for an entire month, I definitely felt an itch to leave the city towards the end of my study abroad experience. After getting a taste of Dover on a tour trip, I decided I wanted to return to see the cliffs myself. Dover is located in SE England, across the English Channel from Calais, France. This is an easy and fun day trip for anyone looking to break away from the hustle and bustle of London. Here’s how we did our trip for less than £40.
Dover is a coastal town in the South-Eastern part of the UK, rich in history and stands across the English Channel from Calais, France. It’s most well known for its White Cliffs and its castle.
My friends and I were actually supposed to see the cliffs as a part of a tour package that we had gotten from our university. We visited Leeds Castle in the morning, Canterbury Cathedral mid-day, and made it to Dover in the afternoon. While we could see the cliffs and got to take a moment to sit on the rocky beach there, it wasn’t quite the experience with the cliffs that my friends and I desired. So, we decided to venture on our own.
Train from St. Pancras to Dover Priory
We decided to go on one of our last days there and head to Dover via the train. We purchased our tickets via Trainline because their site had both the cheapest tickets and the best times for us. We knew we each had to go to our morning class and be back before midnight, so we based our timing on that. We left at 13:53 (1:53pm) and arrived to Dover around 15:33 (3:33pm), so about an hour and a half. It was £13.60 for a one-way ticket. We added the plus bus for £2 each as well.
Getting to the cliffs
Ok, so fun fact, there’s a 2 mile hike from the station to the cliffs. A steep 2 mile hike. You have been warned.
Like I mentioned, we had purchased bus tickets… but we couldn’t figure out how to take the bus, so we ended up deciding to just go ahead and take the loss and walk. It wasn’t a terrible walk but we were definitely hurting the next day.
At the cliffs
When you get to the top, there’s a parking lot and then a cute visitor centre at beginning with snacks and souvenirs. I got my postcard (yes, I collect those – judge me later) and a snack, my friend got some jam.
There are multiple paths – you can walk closer to the edge or you can walk further away if you’re more comfortable with that. I’ve heard the different options are helpful on busy days to help with the amount of people there, but it seemed like we were some of the only people there that afternoon so we ultimately had free reign.
The South Foreland Lighthouse is a place to walk to if you want a destination! It’s a white lighthouse and is a nice place to stop and take a break. I read that there’s a tea room inside but it was closed when we got there. I think it took us an hour, maybe an hour and a half, to reach the lighthouse. We kept stopping to take photos, so you could probably get there in under an hour without distractions
The cliffs themselves are truly amazing. I just sat on the edge for a few minutes to take it all in. Coming from the Midwest, I didn’t grow up being near anything as beautiful as something like the cliffs.
Along the way back, I ran into some beautiful wild horses and even managed to snap a photo on my Instax Wide as well as my phone and Canon. I’m usually more of a city girl than a nature girl but moments like this made me really appreciate being in the outdoors.
Fun fact: my phone thought I was in Paris at one point! Which is funny but I unfortunately wasn’t able to use my phone for a while because of that – be careful of roaming charges.
Leaving the cliffs
So either my phone didn’t work right, or Uber doesn’t exist in Dover. We Googled the number for a local taxi company and had him give us a ride back down to the bottom, it was less than £10 and well worth it. We had him drive us right back to the train station.
Didn’t see much of the town at all, but I’ve heard we didn’t miss out on too much. There is also a beach, the War Tunnels, and Dover Castle that would be worth checking out if you have more time than we did! As well, you can take a ferry from Dover to Calais, France, which would be pretty cool.
We left Dover around 21:50 (9:50pm) and arrived back in London at 22:54 (10:54pm), which was a little faster since there were no other stops on the way back. It was another £13.60 for the way back.
Overall, seeing the cliffs was an amazing experience and one of my favorite days on my trip. I would definitely recommend visiting and spending even more time there if you can.