One of the most famous beach resorts in
France, a day trip to Calais is very popular with British tourists. From Calais, there are excellent links to the rest of Europe, making it the perfect place to begin a trip to France,
Germany or other European destinations.
Travelling to Calais is easy with 20 daily
sailings to and from Dover which take just 90 minutes, so it really couldn’t be easier! Calais is also just a short drive away from our port in Dunkirk, if that is a more convenient entry point for you.
Why visit Calais?
Even if Calais is just the start or the end point for your visit to France there are many reasons to explore the town.
For example it may be best known as a destination for day trippers looking to stock up on great-value beer and wine from the many supermarkets and hypermarkets near Calais but there’s also a lot more to recommend it. For example there are plenty of other shops selling everything from designer fashions to locally-made lace goods and from Lalique porcelain to hand-made chocolates.
Visit and you will soon discover that Calais is separated into two distinct parts, the old town, known as Calais-Nord, and the modern town, known as St-Pierre. Calais-Nord is located on a unique man-made island bordered by canals and harbours, while St-Pierre lies further to the south, and houses the city’s bustling shopping and restaurant district where you can sample some of the region’s famous cuisine. Being by the sea there is a superb choice of the very freshest seafood as well as a huge number of regional cheese dishes.
What to see in Calais
While many people either pay a flying visit to Calais to visit the hypermarket or shops or simply head straight off to their eventual destination, there are plenty of places to visit and events to enjoy in and around the city. Here are six you really shouldn’t miss:
Calais Lighthouse – Standing at 51 metres and with a 271-step spiral staircase to the top, ascending the Calais Lighthouse isn’t a task for the faint hearted, but the spectacular views across the English Channel from the very top are well worth the effort.
Rodin’s Six Burghers – The most famous landmark in Calais, this unique sculpture depicts the six French Freedom Fighters who in 1347 surrendered themselves to England’s King Edward III to be hanged, in the hope that their city would be granted freedom from the English rulers in return. The King’s wife Queen Philippa de Haunault took pity on the men and begged for their lives to be spared, although Calais would remain under English rule for another two centuries.
Notre Dame Church – Calais’ oldest church is a striking mixture of Flemish and English architectural styles. Heavily damaged during World War II, the ancient building has recently been the subject of significant renovations.
Fort Nieulay – Long ago, when much of Calais was just marshy land, a single road via the River Hames was the only entrance point for visitors. The Nieulay Bridge, which connected Calais with the west, was protected by a small fort that was designed in such a way that it could flood the land in front of the town in case of enemy attack, making it virtually impossible for invaders to breach the city. Today, the ruins of the Nieulay Fort form an integral part of a beautiful surrounding park.
The Calais Christmas Extravaganza is held on the last day of November each year and includes street performers, a grand procession and a market selling local arts and crafts. The culmination of the event is the switching on of the spectacular Calais Christmas Lights by the Mayor.
The sandy beaches of Calais are an ideal spot for spending a sunny day. Rows of white beach huts and soft sand make for the perfect picnic location, while the seafront plays host to numerous fun activities for the whole family, including beach volleyball, windsurfing, a mini golf centre and seasonal funfairs. There are also some excellent cycle paths for active sightseeing.
Where to stay in Calais
Calais has a number of hotels, apartments and hostels both in the city and nearby. For a full list then please check out our partner
Our ferries to France
DFDS Seaways provides a Dover to Calais ferry service with a crossing time of around 90 minutes, with up to 10 ferries per day in both directions. We offer competitive fares and run regular special offers, with voyages running from early morning to overnight 365 days a year.
We also run regular ferry services into France from
Dover to Dunkirk and
Newhaven to Dieppe. Take a look at our
Ferries to France homepage for more information about our services.
For more information, visit the Calais Tourist Information Office which can be found at 12 Bd Clémenceau, 62100, Calais or visit their website before you visit.
Prices are subject to availability. Credit card & telephone booking fees apply. Terms & Conditions apply.
It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named as Europe's and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator in the 2015 World Travel Awards. We've won these awards for 5 years running.