Dunkirk is one of the most famous port towns in
France and Europe, and has been for generations. Synonymous for British tourists with the famous evacuation in the Second World War, it is a port town steeped in history.
DFDS operate 24 daily sailings from
Dover to Dunkirk, so you’re sure to find a sailing which suits your plans. Crossings take just 2 hours, but if you prefer then you can take the slightly-shorter
sailing to Calais and drive along the coast.
Why visit Dunkirk?
Dunkirk is the northernmost town in France and is just six miles from the border with Belgium. Its close links with the neighbouring country are even evident in its name which comes from the Flemish words for “dune” and “church”.
It also has the third largest port in France, after Le Havre and Marseilles and it’s this, as well as its position, that made it such an important part of the Second World War.
Today trips to Dunkirk reward the visitor in so many ways. For example there is stunning scenery along the coastline, as well as long sandy beaches, and although much of the town centre was destroyed in the war and subsequently rebuilt old parts do remain. For example the magnificent 58 metre belfry dates back to 1440 – and it’s also where you’ll find all the Dunkirk tourist information you could need.
Cuisine plays as important a role as it does in the rest of France and you’ll also find a distinctive Flemish influence. For example one of the most popular dishes is coq à la bière, chicken in a creamy beer sauce.
What to see in Dunkirk
Visit Dunkirk and you'll find a whole host of attractions. For example Dunkirk beaches are 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.
The sweeping coastline isn’t just a hotspot 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.
Head to Dunkirk’s belfry, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 14300s, for a stunning panoramic view of the harbour and the city. You can also visit the Museé des Beaux-Arts with its collection of French art or the Museé Portuaire, which details harbour life in the city.
Dunkirk’s unique and colourful carnival is one of the biggest and oldest on the Continent. Dating back to 1676, the carnival runs from mid-January to late March and 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!
Dunkirk holidays are also great for outdoor types, with beautiful scenery for hiking, cycling, kayaking and more. The recently renovated, 27-hole golf course is also a must for any keen golfers, as the new 9 holes are highly original, inspired by Dunkirk's military fortifications.
Many tourists head to Dunkirk to pick up produce that they can’t get in the UK. Excellent quality wine and beer are available at knock-down prices in many supermarkets in Dunkirk including the Pidou Superstore, just next to the port, making it the perfect place to stop off and stock up on the way home.
Where to stay in Dunkirk
Check our accommodation partner
booking.com for a list of excellent places to stay around Dunkirk, whether you’re looking for high-end luxury or a more budget option.
Why not enjoy a day trip or even a stopover in one of these beautiful destinations?
Bergues ( Tourist Office
Gravelines ( The Banks of the Aa Tourist Office
Hondschoote ( Tourist Office
+33 (0)188.8.131.52.00 )
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 00.33.3.28.66.79.21
Prices are subject to availability. Credit card & telephone booking fees apply. Terms & Conditions apply.
We’re honoured to be named Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2017 at the World Travel Awards. We have been Europe’s and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator for 6 years running now!