Europe, Travel

A visit to Dover Castle and the Secret Wartime Tunnels

We had some unseasonably warm weather over the early May bank holiday weekend so we booked a last minute trip to Kent to visit Dover Castle. It had been on my English Heritage wishlist and I was keen to finally visit after a previous attempt had been thwarted by bad weather.

We stayed overnight in Broadstairs and then made our way to the castle in the morning, although it is possible to visit Dover Castle on a day trip from London. Regular trains run from London Bridge to Dover Priory, which is about a mile from the castle.

When we arrived the queue for the war tunnels was already forming, so an English Heritage staff member advised us to check out the castle first and tour the tunnels later. The tunnels can only be visited by guided tour and can’t be pre-booked.

Here’s a little peak inside the castle…

And the view from the top of the castle is stunning. My previous visits to Dover to catch the ferry have been rather grey and miserable so it was glorious to see the city in the beautiful sunshine.

We wandered around outside a bit more, gradually making our way back down the hill towards the war tunnels…

Admiring the exterior of the castle along the way…

We also had a peek inside the church…

We visited Dover Castle on a bank holiday weekend so it was extremely busy. Unfortunately this meant the queues for the tunnel tours were very long and we weren’t able to join a tour until late in the afternoon. There are two underground tours you can do – the underground hospital and the secret wartime tunnels. We only had enough time to do one so we chose the war tunnels tour.

The tour lasts around 50 minutes and goes into detail about Operation ‘Dynamo’. This was the codename for the rescue operation and evacuation of soldiers from Dunkirk, which was masterminded within these tunnels. I found the tour to be very interesting and informative, but sadly they don’t let you take any photos.

Visitor information

  • Dover Castle is open daily during summer and on weekends during winter. Check the English Heritage website for the latest information.
  • Entry is free for English Heritage members. If you’re not an English Heritage member it is definitely worth signing up if you want to visit Dover Castle, as standard adult entry is £20. An adult yearly membership is £56 so you’d only have to visit a few more properties to make the money back.
  • If you are visiting on a weekend/school holidays, I recommend getting to the castle at opening time and doing the underground tours first. After the tours you then have the rest of the day to explore the castle and grounds. Allow at least 4 hours for your visit.
  • Plenty of parking is available on site and there is a dedicated motorcycle parking spot on the top level of the car park. If arriving by train, Dover Castle is about a 25 minute uphill walk from the train station.
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