Walk along the stunning White Cliffs, sample seafood on Folkestone’s Harbour Arm and explore Churchill’s WWII tunnels on a UK cruise from Dover, famous for its rich wartime history thanks to its easy access to the south of England and its capital, London. 

In close proximity to some of the south coast’s most prolific tourist attractions, Dover is a popular port when choosing a cruise around the British Isles. Here, we take a look at our top five things to see and do while cruising from or visiting Dover on your next UK Staycation

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The famous Folkestone Harbour Arm with its colourful sign

The White Cliffs of Dover

An image often seen in WWI and WWII films and synonymous with the name ‘Vera Lynn’, The White Cliffs of Dover are to Kentish folk what the Statue of Liberty is to New Yorkers. The magnificent white chalk cliffs are a stark symbol of British wartime defence and are without a doubt a breathtaking scene, especially when sailing towards them from the Strait of Dover on a cruise around the UK. 

Whether choosing to arrive a day early to experience these wonderful sights before you step on board for your cruise or heading ashore while in port for a routine stop, it’ll be difficult not to witness the green topped cliffs, particularly on a bright sunny day, where the glistening waves from the seas below reflect like kaleidoscopes onto their face.

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Walk along the top and peer over the cliff’s edge down into the busy port below and on a clear day, see Calais while enjoying an ice cream or a picnic while perched on a blanket. The cliffs make up part of the North Downs, a stunning 131-mile long path that runs from Surrey to Kent, with the Kent Downs section (including the White Cliffs) being classed as an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) so you’ll be sure to discover plenty of wildlife and lush floral and fauna, the perfect way to start a scenic cruise of the British Isles with Fred. Olsen .

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Folkestone Harbour Arm and Triennial

Just a few miles from Dover’s cruise terminal, head to the sunny town of Folkestone and explore its rich artistic culture while wandering along the Harbour Arm where you can sample some freshly caught seafood from Chummy’s and revel in some of the unique artistic pieces that are placed throughout the town’s Creative Quarter. 

The Folkestone Triennial, as its name suggests takes place every three years, although, due to the pandemic, 2020’s instalment has been moved to 2021. Take a that departs from or calls in Dover between 22nd July and 2nd November and head over to Folkestone for a day of exploration and enrichment while exploring the fifth instalment of this magnificent curation. Visit over one hundred colourful beach huts carefully designed by Bangladesh artist Rana Begum and marvel at a selection of medically influenced ceramic sculptures by world renowned sculptor, Stephanie Bergman. These, plus many more installations make Folkestone’s Triennial one of a kind. 

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If art isn’t really your thing, a walk along Folkestone’s Harbour Arm is another popular activity for visitors and locals alike, and any visit to the town wouldn’t be complete without one! Take a stroll to the lighthouse for a chilled glass of champagne, grab some food from the Big Greek Bus or listen to live music as you watch the tide go out with a cold beer or G&T.

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WWII Tunnels

If you’re interested in WWII history, a visit to the huge system of wartime tunnels hiding in the White Cliffs is the perfect excursion for you to experience while enjoying a UK cruise from Dover. Dating back to the Napoleonic War, the tunnels were used during WWII as a command post and featured heavily in the retrieval of thousands of British and allied soldiers from Dunkirk in May 1940, known to many as Operation Dynamo.

Head deep into the cliffs and experience what it would have been like to be part of the enormous rescue mission, with real life footage from the tunnels during this time and special projections and dramatic effects that will be sure to transport you back in time. 

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Further along, you’ll visit The Annexe, an underground military hospital used by the Royal Army Medical Corps during the war. See some of the original equipment used and get a sense of what it was like to require urgent medical assistance during this period. Through the audio equipment handed to you on your arrival, you’ll listen to real life stories from medical staff and survivors who fought for their lives and survived thanks to this unique system of tunnels. 

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Battle of Britain Memorial Museum

Perched on the cliffs above the English Channel and just a ten-minute drive from Dover, The Battle of Britain Memorial Museum in Capel-Le-Ferne pays homage to those who sadly lost their lives during the famous Battle of Britain. 

A ‘peaceful place perfect for reflection’, the museum is often honoured with flypasts from some of the Spitfires that took part in the battle and the gentle hum that accompanies this beautiful sight is a well known and well loved sound to the locals that, without fail, always look skyward when they hear the memorable noise. 

Take some time to quietly reflect as you stand next to the seated airman looking out across the channel, surrounded by military badges from all of the squadrons who took part in the fight. In The Wing, you’ll find the National Memorial to the few and take part in the Scramble Experience, a new interaction attraction that depicts what it was like to be part of the battle. The museum itself is perfect for adults and children alike, with plenty of activities to help them learn about the part these heroes played in one of the UK’s most memorable battles.

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Dover Castle

Approaching Dover from the English Channel gives you the perfect opportunity to view one of Dover’s historical highlights in all of her magnificent glory and we’re not talking about the White Cliffs. Standing majestically on top of the chalky white landmarks is Dover Castle, a 2000-year old fortress teeming with historical significance that offers visitors the chance to learn all about the role she has played from way back to Roman times.

Inside the castle, you’ll find age old suits of armour, grand stone rooms with quaint windows that look out across the English Channel and steep staircases that will transport you back in time. Visit the Great Tower and immerse yourself in medieval history and discover the UK’s oldest standing lighthouse before heading out to explore the lush grounds that surround this architectural wonder, with defence walls and hidden passageways that will keep you and your family entertained for hours. 

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On a nice day, look out over the shimmering seas to France while you enjoy some food from The Naffi and spend a few minutes reflecting on the history of England’s greatest fortress. The castle is the ideal place for adults and their families to get interactive and with so many things to see and do while you’re there, a visit here is a popular excursion for those on a cruise of the UK

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Find out more 

If you’d like to find out more about UK cruises that depart from or visit Dover, take a look around our website or call our knowledgeable team on 01737 646412.