Folkestone is a member of the Cinque Ports, having been incorporated as a Corporate Limb of Dover. In 1629 the local inhabitants obtained a licence to build a port, prior to which, fishing boats were entirely reliant upon the natural protection of the natural harbour formed by the Pent Stream.
At the end of the 18th century the city became prosperous because of an increase in the fishing and shipping industries and, in the middle of the 19th century, Folkestone was one of the chief resorts of southern England, aided by the construction of the railway line from London. Numerous Victorian Hotels, including "The Grand" and "Metropole" are testament to this, together with no less than three railway stations.
Today, though, Folkestone remains as a faded shadow of its former grand self. Since the 1950s it has fallen into decline due in part to competition from Dover, the advent of the Channel Tunnel (with many new jobs in the area because of it convening in Ashford) and the ubiquitous package holiday.
Sandgate is a village at the west end of the town which has a popular beach.
The M20 links Folkestone with Ashford, the A259 runs south along the coast to Hastings and the A20 heads up the coast to Dover.
phone: +44 844 335 3535address: Satnav: CT18 8XXVehicle shuttle train from Calais. The crossing takes around 30 min. You will pass through all passport controls before you board in Calais; the same applies on the return journey. The terminal has an indoor waiting area with restaurants and cafés for departures. Vehicles arriving from France pass a filling station before exiting the terminal. For more information, see United_Kingdom#By_car.
From within the UKFolkestone Central station is in the town centre and is served by trains from London, and other towns in Kent. Fare and timetable information is available from Southeastern, tel. +44 8457 484950.
By busStagecoach is the bus company that operates in Folkestone. Timetables and fares are available from Stagecoach Buy your ticket from the driver when you board the bus. A £9.50 Mega rider plus ticket gives you unlimited travel within the Folkestone area for a week
Folkestone taxiphone: +44 1303 252000
The Channel Tunnel EntranceObserve from the hills to the northwest of Folkestone - the shuttle trains loading cars and lorries before their undersea trip to France. The Channel Tunnel is described as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World".
Battle of Britain MemorialA very touching memorial dedicated to the men who fought and died in Britain's most desperate hour. Vintage airplanes are also on display.
Lower Leas Coastal ParkOpen all year round, this is a wonderful seaside park containing an amphitheatre that provides free entertainment (mostly music and theatre) all throughout each summertime. Arrive early if you want to find a good seat! There is a large children's adventure play area along the seafront, suitable for most ages. The beaches throughout Kent, including Folkestone and Shepway have won awards for cleanliness and adhere strictly to European water quality standards
Ride the Cliff LiftVictorian engineered water-powered carriage ride, open weekends for transport between The Leas promenade and the stony beach/Lower Leas Coastal Park. (This lift is always under threat of closure, and so I would check before planning to use it).
Sports FacilitiesThere is a large swimming pool (with a flume) at the sports centre behind Radnor park, where there is also one of Kent's only dry ski-slopes.
- A recommended itinerary: there's nothing better than on a warm sunny weekend day in summer than to spend a morning browsing shops in the town centre, take a walk down the Old High Street into the artist's quarter, spill out into the harbour - get some locally caught fish and chips or some wonderful locally-caught seafood from the harbour stalls and then walk to the right, around the shore to the coastal park, stop by and listen to great live music in the amphitheatre, walk up the Zig-Zag path or take the Victorian lift up to the relaxing Leas promenade for some fantastic panoramic views of the coastline, pop into the Grand or Metropole for a refreshing drink in sophisticated surroundings and look at some artwork. In the evening, visit any of the restaurants in the town or nearby Sandgate and catch a show at the Leas Cliff Hall or in the more intimate Silver Screen Cinema in the town centre (next to Waterstone's bookshop).
phone: +44 1303 212070address: 4-5 Fish MarketAn excellent place for seafood. Its prices are fair, and the service superb. There is a terrific view of the sea from every table, and there's a balcony.
Django's Cafe Barphone: +44 1303 256556address: 17 Rendezvous StIt sells a wide range of food, and is great for sitting outside in the summer.
phone: +44 1303 227356address: 18-20 Rendezvous StAll-you-can-eat Chinese food.
phone: +44 1303 211128address: 2 Castle Hill AveAll-you-can-eat Chinese food.
Papas Fish Restaurant and Takeawayphone: +44 1303 242578address: 110 Sandgate RdExcellent fish and chips. Friendly service.
phone: +44 1303 864345address: Canterbury Road, EtchinghillA 16th-century coaching inn, village pub and highly popular restaurant. Terrific food, real ales, oak beams & cosy atmosphere. Piped music questionable.
One of the most popular drinking establishments in the town is the former Baptist Galleries building, and before that a Baptist church, now a magnificently restored Wetherspoon pub, complete, some say, with its own resident ghost! Bar vasa along the sea front between sandgate and seabrook is a superb trendy bar to have a drink at with friends and family and you have the fantastic view of the sea across the road. This trendy bar has out side seating for the summer weather or a cosy warm seat inside on a cold winters day.
phone: +44 1303 298450address: Cheriton High StOn its own on edge of business park but good convenient stop over for channel tunnel and Dover ferries.
phone: +44 871 222 0048address: Marine ParadeBuilt next to the harbour, this hotel has declined somewhat since it was built in the heydays of 1970s. Renovations have however shaped up the hotel to be a good mid-range option.
- Canterbury – the famous cathedral housing Beckett's remains, a museum celebrating Chaucer's Canterbury tales, a number of Roman things, as well as some decent shops and cafes
- Dover – the remains of a Roman villa, and the white cliffs experience museum
- Hythe – small town with canal and access to Port Lympe zoo and a petting farm
- France – zip across the channel to Calais