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Established by King James I in 1606, the Port of Dover in Kent remains one of country’s busiest and most important transit hubs. The closest port to France—located 21 miles (34 kilometers) across the English Channel—Dover in southeast England is frequented by ferries, cruise ships, and an array of cargo services.
Nestled amid the English coast’s white cliffs, the Port of Dover is the busiest ferry terminal in Europe and a busy cruise port. In use from ancient Roman times, the port played an important role in both world wars. Now split into two sections—Western and Eastern Docks—the port has two passenger terminals equipped with accessible bathrooms, eateries, Wi-Fi access, and currency exchanges. The port processes about 13 million passengers and five million vehicles yearly.
Dover shore excursions provide an opportunity to disembark in the UK for a day and discover the region’s key sights, while private transfers whisk arriving passengers straight to London or to Heathrow Airport.
Visitors making the trip to continental Europe must present valid travel documents, including passports, prior to boarding their vessels.
Vehicles entering the port may be searched for contraband prior to boarding; individual and baggage searches are also commonplace.
In most cases, pets are allowed aboard ferry services.
To reach the Port of Dover from London by car, travel along the M20 and merge onto the A20 at Folkestone; continue until you see signs for the port. Alternatively, high-speed trains travel from London to Dover Priory Station, located one mile (1.6 kilometers) from the port.
The Port of Dover is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Check-in for most services closes between 45 minutes to one hour prior to departure time, so it’s recommended to arrive well in advance.
Though Dover Port is known more for its utility as a port than as a tourist attraction, there are still things to see nearby, including two of England’s quintessential landmarks. The White Cliffs of Dover—chalky hills that soar 350 feet (106 meters) above the sea—have become a symbol of the country. Dover Castle, which dates to the 11th century, is one of England’s great medieval castles.