Best known as a ferry port and for its iconic white cliffs, there’s so much more to Dover – from extraordinary history, to festivals, seaside excursions and all sorts of dining options. Four locals share their top tips with us

Great British Life: Derek Leach [Courtesy of Derek Leach]Derek Leach [Courtesy of Derek Leach]

Derek Leach – The Dover Society

Retired senior management executive Derek joined The Dover Society – 'passionate about Dover’s past, present and future’ - in the 1990s and was Chairman from 2004 until 2022. He’s also written many books about the town and helped to produce Dover’s Bluebird Heritage [self-guided walking] Trail.

Derek’s local life

‘My fascination for Dover’s history, plus friends and activities are what keep me very happily in this area.’

Taking a dip

In summer, I very much appreciate the fantastic Dover seafront and take advantage of the harbour to swim frequently. The iconic Dover Castle and White Cliffs make a fantastic backdrop.

Great British Life: The future looks exciting for the ancient Maison Dieu [courtesy Dover District Council] The future looks exciting for the ancient Maison Dieu [courtesy Dover District Council]

The Maison Dieu

I’ve been heavily involved with the £10.5million project to refurbish what was once Dover’s Town Hall. An 800-year-old, grade 1 listed building, originally a refuge run by monks for pilgrims and the elderly, it’s re-opening next year and I can’t wait!

A boat with a difference

The world’s oldest-known sea-going vessel is right here in Dover Museum. The Bronze Age boat – well worth a visit - was discovered in 1992 during work on the A20.

Park Life

Kearsney Parks, which encompasses Kearsney Abbey, Russell Gardens and Bushy Ruff, with their parkland, lakes and wildlife, attracts lots of visitors, but you can always find a quiet spot here. There are areas with wheelchair access, with a café and a children’s park too.

Great British Life: Joanna Jones [Credit Ute Schendel]Joanna Jones [Credit Ute Schendel]

Joanna Jones – artist and DAD director

After 20 years in Germany, artist Joanna returned to the UK in 1997 and settled in Dover. She is a director of Dover Arts Development [DAD], the organisation behind the town’s new arts festival, You can reach the world from Dover, which runs till October,

Joanna’s local life

‘Dover is a fascinating, exciting place, with the community feel of a village but a position at the forefront of history and politics. I love living here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.’

Wine and more

Vinoteq Wine Bar in Cannon St not only serves a well-chosen selection of wines from all over the world, it has an events space downstairs that plays host to live music, talks and discussion.

Great British Life: A view over Dover - Joanna Jones wouldn't want to live anywhere else [Credit Matthias Koch] A view over Dover - Joanna Jones wouldn't want to live anywhere else [Credit Matthias Koch]

Café Melange

Also in Cannon St, this friendly place is where I head for delicious Mediterranean food – souvalaki, falafel and really imaginative salads.

Superior stitches

Whether I want the hem of a pair of trousers taken up or a dress remodelled, the tailor at The Golden Stiches on Worthington Street always does an excellent job, and quickly too.

Global food

The International Supermarket on Pencester Road is an emporium of delicious things – the sort of place where you can find four different types of tahini and handful-sized bunches of mint. It’s surprisingly inexpensive and there’s a good in-house butcher too, so increasingly I’m doing more of my shopping there

Great British Life: Paul Harris [Courtesy of Paul Harris]Paul Harris [Courtesy of Paul Harris]

Paul Harris – author

Paul first became fascinated by Dover’s history when working in the town’s Job Centre back in the 1980s. Today he writes about the town and has a particular interest in its historic buildings.

Paul’s local life

There’s always something new to discover about Dover: despite its history, it doesn’t stay still. I’m impressed by some of the regeneration we’re seeing in local areas – the flats at Waterwheel House, for instance.


I always encourage visitors to walk along the new pier and watch the ships coming and going. Up on the cliffs, can walk all the way from there to the lighthouse at South Foreland, enjoying wonderful views across National Trust land as you do so.

Great British Life: Dover Castle [courtesy of Dover District Council]Dover Castle [courtesy of Dover District Council]

Dover Castle

Quite simply it’s incomparable – a thousand years of history in one place, and it’s even got an underground hospital. You could spend a whole day here and still not have seen everything.

Tasty treats

No-frills Chaplins on Church Street is great for a roast or cup of tea and a bacon sandwich at really reasonable prices – a good place to pop into for a refuel after you’ve been exploring.

Food and more

Right by the water on the esplanade is the Dover Patrol restaurant, with its light, bright interior, terrace overlooking the sea and a reputation for fresh fish, simply cooked. In the same building is Dover Sea Safari, which runs boat trips and seal-watching expeditions.

Great British Life: Christine Bingham [Courtesy of Christine Bingham]Christine Bingham [Courtesy of Christine Bingham]

Christine Bingham - teacher

Geography teacher Christine has lived in the town for almost 20 years, along with husband Phil and sons aged from 14 to 19.

Christine’s local life

More affordable than some of its better-known coastal neighbours, with period buildings plus lots of regeneration and a relaxed, friendly feel, in Dover everything we need is close at hand. We think it’s an undiscovered gem!

The Curve

The newly developed esplanade area is a great place for a walk or a cycle, and is home to live music and pop-up restaurants

Great British Life: The Marquis of Granby enjoys a great reputation credit Fleur Challis PhotographyThe Marquis of Granby enjoys a great reputation credit Fleur Challis Photography

The St James’ Redevelopment

This has really tidied up what was once a brown-field area – with convenient shops and a Cineworld, all close to the seafront in this retail and leisure park, making a visit there a really pleasant experience.

Just out of town

The Marquis of Granby is an award-winning pub with rooms in the village of Alkham, just a five- minute drive from Dover centre – and with lovely walks from its doorstep into the Kent Downs. The food here is really good, too, with a great Sunday roast.

Beer and pizza

Breakwater Brewery in St Martin’s Yard, Lorne Road, not only offers imaginative local ale, with flavours including plum stout, but delicious stone-baked pizza, too. It has a garden space and there’s often music at the weekend.