Dunkirk Travel Guide

Dunkirk travel guide

About Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a historic seaside resort located in the Nord department – or northern region – of France, just 10km from the Belgian border. In addition to being an excellent jumping-off point for travels further into France, Belgium and beyond, it is an excellent holiday district in its own right, featuring picturesque beaches, mouth watering food and a vibrant shopping district to keep the whole family entertained.

DFDS Seaways offers great-value ferries from Dover-Dunkirk all day, every day, with an average crossing time of around two hours. If you’re planning to bring you car to Dunkirk, check out our tips for driving in France before you go. 

Historic Beaches

The vast sandy beaches of Dunkirk aren’t just a paradise for holidaymakers; they’re also the site of one of the most significant events of the Second World War. During a 9-day operation in 1940, over 340,000 French and British soldiers were rescued from advancing German troops by a swiftly assembled fleet of around seven hundred vessels.

Today, history enthusiasts can pay a visit to the Dunkirk War Museum, which tells the full fascinating story of this incredible rescue mission. The Dunkirk Town Cemetery also includes an extensive war memorial commemorating over 4,500 soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the campaign of 1939-1940.
The beaches of Dunkirk are also a popular spot for kite-surfers, sand-surfers and wind-surfers, with gorgeous natural views perfect for long walks or a relaxing afternoon by the sea.

If history is of interest to you when visiting Dunkirk, there are number of surrounding areas which also offer significant historic value, particulary in regards to the WWI Centenary which is coming up in 2014.

Shopping in Dunkirk

Dunkirk town features a vibrant shopping district with over 400 shops, from leading international brands to local traders and artisans. Free parking is in plentiful supply next to the town’s two covered shopping malls – the Centre Marine and the Pole Marine.

Dunkirk is also the home of the largest Auchan Hypermarket in France, where you can pick up all manner of goods at great value prices – from groceries and alcohol to clothes and electronics.  

More information on Auchan hypermarket

Eating in Dunkirk

Thanks to its location, Dunkirk boasts a unique combination of traditional Flemish cooking and excellent seafood. Nothing beats a delicious plate of local moules-frites accompanied by an ice-cold beer or glass of chilled white wine.

The town centre is packed with mouth watering dining opportunities, from picturesque French café’s to luxurious restaurants. So whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a 4-course gastronomic extravaganza, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for.

Golfing in Dunkirk

Dunkirk’s recently re-landscaped 27-hole golf course is now a must for any golfing enthusiast. Nine highly original new holes have been added, inspired by the design of Dunkirk’s 17th century military fortifications.

Driving off artillery towers and bastions, and navigating moats and lakes all make for an unforgettable golfing experience. The course is situated just 15km from the ferry terminal and 5km from the town centre.

Dunkirk Carnival

This unique and colourful carnival is one of the biggest and oldest on the Continent. Dating back to 1676, the carnival includes over lively 40 street parades with marching bands, 60 balls, competitions, music, traditional food and drink, plus a lot of dressing up and friendly mischievousness!

Running from mid January until late March each year, the carnival has its own charter, rules and traditions aimed at maximising participation – including from foreign visitors.

More information on Dunkirk carnival

Surrounding area

On arrival in Dunkirk, you’re perfectly situated to visit a number of the surrounding villages, all boasting traditional Flemish architecture and beautiful scenery to be explored on foot, by bike, canal or even horseback.

Why not enjoy a day trip or even a stopover in one of these beautiful destinations?

Tourist Office Information

For additional information on accommodation and restaurants in Dunkirk, visit the Tourist Office website at  www.dunkerque-tourisme.fr or call the tourist office on

Our ferries to Dunkirk

DFDS Seaways provides ferry services to Dunkirk from Dover with a crossing time of just under 2 hours with up to 12 ferry sailings per day in both directions. We offer great ferry fares and have regular special offers , so book a great value ferry fare between Dover and Dunkirk online with DFDS Seaways. 

We also run regular ferry services into France from Dover to Calais , Portsmouth to Le Havre and Newhaven to Dieppe . Take a look at our Ferries to France homepage for all the information you need.


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