Come rain or shine, there is always something to do in Dover. From walking tours round historical pubs and buildings to independent cinemas and stunning countryside train rides, you’re never short of things to keep you occupied.
Activities in Dover
For an indoor activity that’s a little different, head to the Ceramics Café, a bright studio where children and adults alike can express themselves through the medium of art. Starting with a blank slate, you’ll leave this lovely little café with a unique painted ceramic design which is then fired in a kiln and available for collection within a couple of days. Located on Cherry Tree Avenue by the River Dour, costs are £2 per person, plus the cost of the item you wish to paint. Booking needs to be made in advance so make sure you check their website before you visit.
To learn all about Dover Castle’s relationship with World War ll, take part in the Secret Wartime Tour Tunnels at Dover Castle, where you will learn how the tunnels were used as both Naval headquarters and as a hospital during the height of both world wars. Entry is included with a ticket to Dover Castle and tours last just under an hour, leaving every 20 minutes.
Silver Screen Dover is a cinema with a difference. A lovely little theatre that harps back to the good old days, this is independently run which means it’s intimate – seating around 70 people – and comfortable with plenty of legroom and reasonable prices. The experience isn’t compromised here though; there is a great sound system, and all the latest blockbusters are on show. Located within Dover Discovery Centre on Market Street, tickets are around £5 for adults and £4 for children, so it’s much cheaper than its bigger rivals leaving you with money left over for popcorn and snacks – winner!
If keeping fit is important to you, even when you’re on holiday, Dover Leisure Centre has everything you need to work up a sweat. With a state-of-the-art gym, plenty of exercise classes, squash courts, football pitches and a swimming pool where under eights go free, there is lots to keep you occupied here. Located close to Dover Castle and the Matthew Webb statue, it costs very little to get involved, and the centre is open until 10pm on weekdays, and 5pm at weekends.
If you’re staying at our Dover East hotel, you might prefer to work out at Tides Leisure Centre and Indoor Tennis Centre, which is a 15-minute drive away. With a gym and swimming pool for the adults, and trampolining and a crèche for the kids, there’s plenty of active fun for all the family. If you love to volley on the tennis court, this is also a great place to do it. Open daily, there is a café on site serving healthy breakfasts, jacket potatoes and fresh salads.
If you would prefer to find your kicks outdoors, you won’t go wrong with Dover Sea Safari. A fantastically fun marine adventure, board a purpose-built speedboat for a powerboat ride. A number of tours are available here depending on what interests you – from a mission to find secret seals to a trip to Maunsell Forts – and all are well over an hour in length. A great outdoor activity in Dover for groups, trips range from £35–£80 per person and all need to be booked in advance through the Dover Sea Safari website.
Staying in the water, Dover Sea Sports Centre is located on a safe, square mile of sheltered water by Dover Marina. A hub of activity, you can go windsurfing, sailing, open water swimming, paddle boarding and more on this tranquil patch of water. Everything needs to be booked in advance on the Sea Sports Centre website and if all the heavy activity works up an appetite, make sure you head to Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant next door which serves up delicious fish caught fresh from the sea.
If snow sports are more your thing, the Folkestone Ski Centre has something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a pro at snowboarding and skiing, you can head straight to the 60-metre dry slope. If you’d like to learn more, people of all ages can learn here with classes for toddlers, tweens and adults starting at around £15 per hour. If you want to do something that’s fun for all the family, you can hop on a Sno-Ring – an inflatable raft that whizzes you down the slopes at a fairly fast speed. Folkestone Ski Centre can be found in Folkestone Sports Centre, a 20-minute drive from Dover town centre.
If you prefer to stay firmly on flat ground, The East Kent Railway is a great way to spend half a day in Dover. Running between Shepherdswell and Eythorne, this is a four-mile round trip that takes you on a scenic adventure showcasing the best of the Kent countryside. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Dover town centre, but it’s worth the trip. The line was constructed in the early 1900s to shift coal, so it holds a lot of historical significance which is all explained during the journey.
Sea Sports Centre
Dover Harbour Beach
A stunning shingle beach at the base of the White Cliffs of Dover, St Margaret’s Bay Beach is a sight to behold. With plenty of activity including water sports and rock pooling, there is lots to keep you entertained. Parking is available close to the beach, and a lovely little refreshment hut serves hot and cold drinks as well as ice creams to cool you down in summer. If you want to make a full day of it, be sure to take a wander round the beautiful village of St Margaret’s Bay. Steeped in history, there are some stunning walks here and it’s packed full of tempting places to grab a bite to eat.
Located by Dover Marina, Dover Harbour Beach is a pleasant shingle beach, ideal for a stroll to take in some of Dover’s most beautiful sights including the White Cliffs and Dover Castle. There are plenty of water sports on offer at the Sea Sports Centre here where you can choose from a wide variety of activities for all abilities and ages. The water is Marine Conservation Society recommended, so it’s lovely and clear and there are kiosks surrounding the beach selling a selection of light snacks, drinks and ice creams. You can also rent deckchairs for a spot of sunbathing if it’s a sunny day.
Further up the coast in Folkestone is Sunny Sands Beach, a small, but popular, sandy beach a 15-minute drive from Dover Marina. Located next to Folkestone Harbour, there is lots to see and do here so after you’ve spent an afternoon soaking up the sun and splashing in the sea, you won’t have far to go for a good pub lunch or cold pint of beer. As one of the closest beaches to London, Sunny Sands can get quite busy in summer, but it is generally well looked after so is always lovely and clean. There are no water sport activities but you can surf in the sea, and the sand is ideal for building sandcastles – the beach even hosts an annual sandcastle building competition.
Winding north from Dover to Deal is The Cliffs and Castles Route, an 11-mile National Cycle Route on safe roads that takes in the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover and some of the most iconic castles in Britain. Everything is well signposted here, and the route is best followed from the starting point at the Port of Dover to ensure you see absolutely everything it has to offer. A little warning though, there are two routes you can take from the seafront to Dover Castle and both are pretty steep.
Another route that takes in the stunning sight of Dover’s cliffs is the Skylark Trail. Taking you from Walmer Station in Deal to Guston and Dover, there are some stunning views of the Kentish countryside to be seen on this 10-mile ride. There is also a great watering hole along the way where you can refuel with a nice bit of pub grub and a refreshing cup of tea.
If you’re a seasoned cyclist and are looking for something a bit longer, The Miner’s Cycle Trail is right up your street. A 30-mile ride that meanders through stunning countryside, it passes through many of the former mining villages in East Kent that are famous for their industrial heritage. A relatively new route in the area, it covers the lower parts of North Downs between Deal and Shepherdswell.
One of the most popular tours in the area is at the White Cliffs of Dover, and it’s easy to see why. This is one of the most iconic landscapes in Britain and is a breathtaking sight to see. Although the cliffs stretch for about 16 miles, you can do shorter walks to suit you. The views are gorgeous here no matter what time of year – or even day – you visit, and there is a wheelchair-friendly path too.
A self-guided sightseeing tour, the Historical Sights of Dover is a 5km walk starting at Dover Castle. From there it takes you on a journey through the rich history of this small town, passing by The Grand Shaft, Harbour Battery and seven more attractions. Taking around two hours, it ends by Dover Marina, where you can head for a spot of lunch and a drink looking out over the sea.
Known for its colourful pub history – and being one of the main locations for distributing illicit alcohol in the 1700s – Dover has many traditional pubs worth visiting. This self-guided Dover Pubs Tour takes you round the best of these including The Park Inn, The Louis Armstrong, and The Eight Bells. Covering a distance of 1.7km, this should only take an hour, but will probably last much longer if you stop off for a pint of real ale in each one!