Day Trips to Belgium and France with DFDS Seaways
Whether you’re after waffles in Wallonia, beer in Bruges or light shopping in Lille, your perfect day trip could be just a hop away across the Channel.
With prices from £19 day-return for a car and up to four people and up to 44 crossings a day on its Dover-France routes, DFDS Seaways offers an affordable and relaxing start and finish to your trip.
DFDS Seaway’s modern fleet of ferries on the Channel have been designed to ensure plain sailing when it comes to onboard entertainment, with soft play and TV areas for kids, and a range of eateries and an onboard shop for the adults.
DFDS Seaways also offers a choice of entry points into France, enabling you to sail into either Calais or Dunkirk, from where historical cities such as Bruges in Belgium or Lille in France are less than an hour’s drive away.
To book your ferry to Dunkirk or Calais, or for more information on DFDS Seaways’ services and offers, including travel guides, visit www.dfdsseaways.co.uk or call 0871 574 7241.
The Opal Coast
The Opal Coast is right on the doorstep of the UK and has lots of different activities for those looking for a thrilling day-trip. Activities available include sand yachting, kite surfing, sailing, cruise sailing and boat hire.
Adrenaline sports available include paragliding, paint ball, Jet Ski, quad biking, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, motor racing and parachuting. With so much on offer, why not spend the day seeking a thrill?
Just a short 90-minute ferry from Dover lies the charming town of Calais. With a lovely sandy beach, 19th century lighthouse and home to the Fine Art Museum featuring work by Picasso, Rodin and Dubuffet, it’s hard to believe that this destination can sometimes be overlooked as a day-trip destination.
With plenty to do and explore it’s a great destination for a spontaneous get-away for all the family. And, with a wide selection of wines, beers and local French produce available at the Calais hypermarkets, why not take the opportunity to stock up ahead of the festive period too?
Dunkerque Grand Littoral Golf Club
Dunkerque Grand Littoral Golf Club is a Blue Green site in Dunkirk and offers a great alternative for keen Kent golfers tee’d off with their own 18 holes.
Offering a spectacular 27-hole course, the Grand Littoral Golf Club offers a great game in the French countryside.
Le Touquet is situated south west of Calais, under an hour’s drive from the port. Known as one of France’s chicest resorts in the 1920s, Le Touquet is still referred to as a ‘Paris-Plage’(Paris-on-the-Sea), making it a real seaside treat!
In addition to a large sandy beach and a promenade with sand dunes for children to explore and enjoy, Aqualud – a fantastic 8,000 square-metre water park – is situated right next to the beach and is a real delight for the all the family.
And, if you choose to visit on either a Tuesday or Thursday, make sure to visit the market, Place du Marche Couvert, which offers an array of exquisite produce from the region.
Boulogne Sur Mer
Boulogne is the largest fishing port in France and less than a 30-minute drive from Calais. The beach is popular for flying kites and windsailing, which are two great family activities.
The beach also boasts an array of trampolines and a playground guaranteed to keep the kids entertained. And, if that wasn’t enough there’s also the Nausicaa Aquarium which is bound to keep a child’s boredom at bay!
But it’s not all about the children. For history lovers, the Basilica of Notre-Dame has crypts that date back to the 7thcentury and the 13th century Les Ramparts, (the medieval walls) can still be seen around the town today.
Dunkirk is a great destination for those looking to immerse themselves in history. It is the scene of the mass evacuation of British and French troops from German forces in WW2, known as Operation Dynamo. The Operation Dynamo War Museum is open from April to September and has equipment used in the evacuations, and the beaches still have the old ramparts.
The sandy dunes of Dunkirk also makes it a lovely beach to visit for the day with the family, and sampling some of the fish delights in the various local restaurants is an absolute must.
Step back in time with a visit to Parc Asterix, the fantastic theme park in Plaily, under a three-hour drive from Calais. Based on a series of French comic books and the exploits of main characters, Asterix and Obelix, the park has been a popular attraction for more than 20 years. Attractions include a wooden roller coaster, a steel roller coaster, the ‘spinning rapids’ and the park’s newest attraction, ‘Village Gaulois’, which is made to look like Asterix and Obelix’s home.
Adults (12 years and over) cost from 35€ and children (3 – 11) cost from 30€.
Named previously as the European Capital of Culture, Lille is a great city to spend the day exploring. Only an hour’s drive from Dunkirk, there are many museums and galleries to visit, such as The Museum of Fine Arts and The Natural History Museum.
If you fancy some cheap continental shopping, why not visit the factory outlets at Roubaix?
The McArthur Glen outlet boasts an array of over 65 factory shops, or there’s A l’Usine, an outlet which offers over 200 discounted brands including Levis and Nike. There’s two to choose from, but either one is a shopper’s paradise.
Named by Lonely Planet as one of its top cities to visit in 2011, Ghent is a stunning historical city, just over an hour’s drive from Dunkirk, It’s perfect for cycling, so it’s a great place to visit with your bikes or you can hire bikes for the day, allowing you to take in the fantastic views on two-wheels.
Only an hour’s drive from the port of Dunkirk, Bruges is a popular tourist city. While famous for its Christmas markets, Bruges has lots to offer all year round, with hundreds of beers to taste and master chocolatiers to visit, it is a gastronomical heaven. With a historic city centre, Bruges was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000 and has most of its medieval architecture intact. One of the most famous landmarks to visit is the 13th century Belfry.
Another must-visit is the Chocolate Museum, where chocoholics get to discover all about the production of all different kinds of chocolate. Depending on the time of year of your visit, be sure to check local festival listings, as there are many music, beer and film festivals that you won’t want to miss!
Plopsaland De Panne
Plopsaland De Panne is Belgium’s top theme park that offers over 50 attractions for a fun and exciting day trip. With key attractions including the Mega Mindy Zone, the SuperSplash, Anubis The Ride, Castle Yard and the SpringFlyer, there is plenty to keep the whole family amused. Only a short 20 minute drive from Dunkirk, Plopsaland De Panne is a must visit for the inquisitive family.
Costs from 27€ per adult and 8.50€ per child.
Antwerp Zoo is home to more than 5,000 exotic animals and is a unique and historic attraction in Belgium, with origins dating back to 1843. Attracting more than one million visitors per year, it’s less than a two-hour drive from the port of Dunkirk.
Boasting a huge array of animals from lions, leopards, tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, elk, fishes, birds, reptiles and insects, it will be a jam-packed day of animal spotting, so make sure you bring your camera!
Visiting the zoo is also a feel-good activity as all revenue from visitors goes directly to scientific research and nature conservation causes too.
Adults cost 22€ and children (3 – 18) cost 17€.
Less than two hours away from the port of Dunkirk lies the unique underwater world experience Aquatopia.
Much more than your average aquarium, Aquatopia offers seven worlds ready to be explored including rainforest, swamp, mangrove, coral reefs, ocean, lab and submarine. With more than 10,000 fish and 250 species of animals in natural environments, children will be thrilled, entertained and educated.
With additional facilities including an indoor playground with ball pool, this is guaranteed to tire kids out.
Adults cost 12.50€ and children (3 – 12) cost 8.50€.
For history lovers everywhere, a trip to Menin Gate, one of the most recognisable war memorials in all of Ypres, is an absolute must. The tribute is dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.
Menin Gate also offers picturesque views of Ypres as well as being a calm and commemorative place to pay your respects; all just an hour away from Dunkirk.
Other World War I sites worth a visit include Flanders Fields Museum, Tyne Cot Cemetery and Talbot House.