The largest castle in Britain, Dover Castle is over 900 years old and was once integral to the strategic defence of the country. The castle itself is impressive, commanding the eyeline of the town with its towers, walls, ditches and mounds.
Construction began in the 1180s by King Henry II, but the form of the castle has adapted and changed over the years to suit the demands of war, defence and weaponry. It played a significant part in both world wars with the Napoleonic tunnels running underneath being used to house the Naval command centre and a hospital during World War ll.
Today Dover Castle is a monument of national importance and a Grade l listed building. Owned by English Heritage, you can spend a whole day here admiring the architecture and engineering of Dover’s heritage.
Starting inside, venture to the underground hospital to follow the journey of a wounded World War ll pilot into a reconstruction of the sights, smells and sounds of a wartime hospital. In the great tower, explore the medieval history of the castle and follow King Henry II on his quest to bring it all to life. If you want to dig deeper into the castle’s connection with war, the World War l fire command post tells the story of Dover’s significance during the war and you can even watch authentic gun drills every weekend between July–September. If you’re a film buff, Dover Castle has been used as the location for many – including The Avengers, The Other Boleyn Girl and Into the Woods. The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Queen’s Regiment Museum is also located in Dover Castle.
One of the most interesting areas in the castle is Operation Dynamo: Rescue From Dunkirk which details the spectacle of the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940. The evacuation was masterminded and carried out in the castle tunnels where today, state-of-the-art special effects, storytelling and real film footage bring the rescue to life. This is a tour lasting around 50 minutes and is led by a knowledgeable member of the team. Tours are frequent, setting off every 15–20 minutes.
If you want to spend a whole day here, there are plenty of food and beverage options. The main restaurant NAAFI was once used to feed soldiers and now serves a selection of hot food cooked fresh on-site using locally sourced produce. If you want a more relaxed lunch, The Great Tower Café sells sandwiches and other light lunches plus a range of cakes. If you’re taking the tour of Operation Dynamo, you can also stop for a coffee and a cake in Tunnels Tearoom.
The castle is open at different times depending on the season, so make sure you check the website to see when you can visit during your stay in one of our hotels in Dover. Entry is around £20 for an adult and £12 for a child which includes the tunnel tour.