Day Trips to France

Day Trips to France

At DFDS Seaways, our ferries to France could see you, your family and your vehicle across the English Channel in less than two hours. Our Dover Dunkirk and Dover Calais return services run throughout the day from early morning to late night – making us the perfect travel option for a European day trip.

The key to a successful day trip is to make the most of the time you have. You’d be surprised at the beautiful resorts and attractions within a short distance of our Calais and Dunkirk ports.


Day Trips to Calais

The bustling port town of Calais is itself a highly popular tourist resort with plenty of things to do and see over the course of a day trip or weekend break. The coastline features miles of beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for enjoying a relaxing summer day.

The town itself features stunning renaissance-style architecture, including the famous town hall clock tower, which is visible for miles out to sea and opens to visitors throughout the day. There’s also a fine art museum featuring classic works by Picasso, Rodin and Dubuffet.  A cast of Rodin’s famous statue of the Burghers of Calais also sits outside the town hall.

Calais is also a vibrant shopping town, with dozens of restaurants and outlet stores catering to all styles and tastes. The Rue Royale high street has been extensively renovated over the past few years, and now houses a range of boutiques, cafes and bars.

At DFDS Seaways our Dover-Calais ferry service runs up to 24 times per day from early morning to late night. For more information about day trips to Calais, take a look at our Calais Travel Guide.


Day Trips to Dunkirk

An official capital of culture for 2013, the port town of Dunkirk offers vast sandy beaches, extensive shopping and dining opportunities and a rich legacy for students of history, particularly due to the key role the town played in World War II.

Dunkirk was famously the scene of the mass evacuation of French and British troops from advancing German forces in 1940, one of the most important rescue operations in World War II and in European military history. The event is commemorated by the Operation Dynamo Museum, which opens daily between April and September.  The town cemetery is also the home of an extensive war memorial commemorating over 4,500 soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the 1939-1940 campaign.

The town is also a popular golfing resort, with a unique 27-hole golf course just 15km from the ferry terminal. Other attractions include the Port Museum, which explores the rich maritime heritage of the town, and a gorgeous town centre featuring a fascinating mix of French and Flemish architecture.

At DFDS Seaways our Dover to Dunkirk ferry service runs up to 24 times per day from early morning to late night, with an average crossing time of around 2 hours. For more information about day trips to Dunkirk, take a look at our Dunkirk Travel Guide.


Other day trip locations

If you’re bringing a vehicle to Dunkirk or Calais, there are numerous alternative resorts and attractions just a short driving distance away, including:

• Lille – The 2004 European capital of culture and France’s fourth-largest metropolis, the city of Lille features a huge range of attractions including the Fine Art Museum, The Museum of Natural History and the Contemporary Sacred Arts Centre. Lille is 49.1 miles from Dunkirk, approximately 1 hour’s drive.

• Let Touquet – The seaside resort of Le Touquet is a famous resort that has played host to film stars and royalty alike. Activities include golfing, sand yachting, sailing and riding, plus miles of gorgeous natural landscape perfect for walking and cycling. The town itself features a covered market where you can sample a range of mouth-watering French delicacies. La Touquet is less than an hour’s drive from Calais (43.1 miles).

• Bruges – You don’t need to stay in France for your continental day trip! Because Dunkirk sits just 6.2 miles from the Belgian border, you can be exploring the historic town of Bruges in less than an hour. Often referred to as ‘The Venice of the North’, Bruges is home to stunning architecture and gorgeous canal-lined streets, perfect for a Romantic day out with a difference. Bruges sits 45.9miles from Calais, for a driving time of around 55 minutes.


Alternative routes

Did you know that when you you’re booking a ferry to Dunkirk or Calais, you have the option of booking your return via either port? For a small amendment fee you can also transfer your ticket after booking, subject to availability. So why not make the most of your day or weekend by exploring a little further afield without worrying about getting back on time? We also offer ferries to France from Newhaven to Dieppe and Portsmouth to Le Havre, though these sailings take a little longer and may be better suited to longer trips.