Dunkirk is famous for the evacuation of allied troops also known as Operation Dynamo back in 1940. But you couldn’t imagine it, when you visit the beaches of Dunkirk and see a beautiful landscape in front of you. You can learn more about Operation Dynamo, explore the contemporary art museums, or just try some delicious French food, in this day trip to Dunkirk.  

We have used our experience of visiting this beautiful beach location of Dunkirk, to help you plan your day trip. We include tips on how to budget for your adventure, plus everything you need to know to help you enjoy your holiday with as little stress as possible. 

About 

In 1940, allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, with the German forces closing in.  

A brave decision made to extract these men from the beach and bring them back to British soil. This was named Operation Dynamo.  

Initially they expected to recover 45,000 men, but amazingly, by the 8th day they had extracted 338,226 men. A total of 800 naval and civilian boats helped with the rescue efforts. But not all could survive. It is estimated that about 68,000 soldiers didn’t make it and much of the equipment was left behind such as tanks, and vehicles.  

After the success of Operation Dynamo, Winston Churchill addressed the house of commons with his famous speech. ‘We will fight on the beaches’. The allied forces certainly fought for a further 5 years until World War II came to an end. 

Bev & Shams Adventures heading to Dunkirk on the ferry
Bev & Shams Adventures heading to Dunkirk on the ferry

When to visit Dunkirk 

France is seasonal, so it really is going to depend on when you would like to visit Dunkirk.  

If you are looking to travel to Dunkirk on a budget, then you’re better off travelling during off season or the shoulder months. But if you want to travel for the best weather, then the best time to travel is during the shoulder months or the summer.  

Travelling to Dunkirk in winter 

December – March 

Winters are cold and can be wet, but will come alive with Christmas markets and decoration.  

Travelling to Dunkirk in Spring 

April – June 

Spring brings warmer weathers but far fewer crowds.  

We visited Dunkirk during the spring and wow, it felt like we had the area to ourselves and the weather was still sunny and glorious. 

Travelling to Dunkirk in Summer 

July – August 

The most popular time to travel for locals and tourists due to the hot climates. Sit back and relax while basking in the sun on Dunkirk beach. 

Travelling to Dunkirk in Autumn 

September – November 

Conditions similar to spring, but the golden foliage and abundant local produce to eat. 

Related post: Should you get travel insurance

Is it safe to travel to Dunkirk? 

Yes, Dunkirk is a safe place to visit. Of course, every place has some level of crime, if anything, tourists may encounter pickpocketing or theft. But in our experience as two female travelers, we didn’t encounter any safety issues.  

Although we didn’t encounter any issues, it is always best to be cautious, we are aware of our surroundings, research before we travel and try not to put ourselves in a position which is unsafe.  

As female traveler’s, we have some great tips on how to stay safe while travelling. By following these tips, you should feel safer to travel, be that as a solo traveler, or traveling as part of a family or group.   

What is the currency in Dunkirk? 

The currency in Dunkirk is the € Euro 

Overseas travelers will need to convert their currency into the €s. It is recommended to take enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for overseas transactions. 

Things to do with a day trip to Dunkirk

There’s a number of things to see and do, but you may not be able to cover them all off in a day trip to Dunkirk. We have selected the best things to do in one day: 

Dunkirk Beach 

Cost: Free 

Dunkirk beach looks so peaceful, with yellow sandy beaches, the tide out as far as you can see. It is unimaginable that the beaches here, would have once had thousands of soldiers trying to climb on board those boats to take them to British soil and safety. 

Dunkirk beach
Dunkirk beach

Bring your bucket and spade, as this is an ideal location for families. 

Operation Dynamo Museum 

Cost: €8 (£6.86 – $9.49) per adult, €5 (£4.28 – $5.93) per child aged 12 to 18, under 12 go free 

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 6pm 

This amazing interactive museum, is a great way to learn more about Operation Dynamo and how successful it became in the war efforts. A factual video in both English and French offers more knowledgeable information surrounding the operation, with original footage.  

Artifacts such as uniforms worn by soldiers and offices, there’s even parts of plane engines and propellers that were abandoned on the beaches during the evacuation.  

To preserve the artifacts, it is not possible to touch items, unless directed to do so.  

Operation Dynamo Museum in Dunkirk
Operation Dynamo Museum in Dunkirk

If you enjoy learning more about World War II, just as much as we do, then you’ll love this museum.  

Did you want to explore another museum based on Operation Dynamo? Then we would recommend visiting Dover Castle in Dover UK. The war tunnels were the place that Winston Churchill organised and saw the events unfold in Dunkirk.  

We would also recommend visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau on your visit to Krakow, in Poland. An estimated 1.1 million people died as a result of mass genocide during World War II.  

How to get around Dunkirk 

Depending on where you arrive from, will depend on the best way to get to Dunkirk. We found it easy and simple to take the Ferry from Dover to Dunkirk via DFDS. We will go through more options on how to get to and around Dunkirk. 

Car 

Driving to Dunkirk is quite easy and the most convenient way to get in and around the area.  

The roads are much quieter in Dunkirk, compared to many towns and cities we’ve visited. In our experience parking in Dunkirk is readily available and in some places, free. The best place to park would be outside the Operation Dynamo Museum, parking is free.  

If you have never driven in France, then check out our tips on driving in France

Ferry 

From Dover, there are two ferry services. DFDS connects Dover to Dunkirk or Calais, while P&O ferries connect you with Calais.  

Taking the ferry was the most convenient way to get us across to France. Once we were in France, we just had to navigate to Dunkirk by car. 

Want to travel via ferry to Dunkirk? Then check out our review on DFDS, in which we provide information on travelling with them and if it is really worth it. 

Public transport 

There’s public transport in the form of buses and trains, that connect Dunkirk and the outer areas of the town. 

Tips on visiting Dunkirk on a budget 

Are you wanting to visit Dunkirk on a budget? We have you covered. 

Do you ever wonder how people travel so often? Or how people travel the world full time? That’s simple! Travellers like us, plan, research, save and budget our holidays. Do you want to travel as much as possible or full time? All you have to do, is follow our simple tips on how to travel on a budget.  

You’ll need to research where you want to go, when you want to travel, what you are prepared to spend on accommodation and how much you intend to spend per person per day for meals to establish your budget. Try some of these tips and techniques to be able to save more on your budget and travel more.  

  • Try travelling off season, as prices are often at their cheapest. By Booking off season, you could save more money compared to travelling during the summer months or school holidays.  
  • Book your flights in advance to pick up the best deals and book mid-week dates. Weekend travel tends to be more expensive.   
  • When shopping around for deals, search via incognito browser or clearing your browser history regularly. In our experience, we have shopped around for deals, before checking a week later and the price alters due to the tracking cookies. If you search in incognito browser, you should have a more accurate deal.   
  • By registering with airlines for airmiles, you collect airmiles for every booking you make with them. As you collect the miles, you can apply the points to future trips, upgrades, or free flights.  
  • This links with the above, with certain credit card providers, they’ll offer points on airmiles for purchases you make on the card. The more you spend, the more points you could receive which in turn gives more savings on travel deals, upgrades, or free flights.  
  • Many attractions offer discounts for online ticket purchases, plan your holiday by visiting the attractions website and book tickets where appropriate.   
  • Check out what attractions are free, or what days are free entry, that way you could save more money, but also keeping within your budget.  
  • Are there any free classes in the area that you could be interested in? You could learn more about the culture, by taking up a class, but you would still have an adventure.  
  • Accommodation can sometimes be a real budget killer, staying in a hostel is cheaper and a great way to meet new people.   
  • If a hostel is not ideal for you, research what types of accommodations available. You could pick up a bargain by staying in a small B&B or hotel.  
  • Public transport can be inexpensive, especially if you can pick up a discounted public transport card. In our experience however, walking is the cheapest and best way to get around. It’s healthy for you, and environmentally friendly. But by walking you can stumble upon a hidden gem that you may have passed by on public transport.   
  • Prior to your trip, research the places to eat, check out their menu and price before you travel. Once you have found the places you want to eat, within your budget range, then include this in your itinerary. It’s also a good idea to have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend per person, per day, per meal. Our budget is £10.00 per person, per meal, per day, totaling £30.00 per person per day. If we can find a place that serves what we like for less, then we are saving money even before we travel, bonus.  
  • We would also recommend buying groceries from the local supermarket. The food is often cheaper and buying food can last for a number of days, meaning your money has gone further just on food.  

Travelling really doesn’t have to be expensive, we have implemented these simple steps to allow us to still travel but have that adventure and so can you!  

France Travel Costs

Related post: Things to know before you go to France

Example of our expenses on our day trip to Dunkirk  

How much did we spend in Dunkirk? 

It cost us about £150.00 return for a vehicle and two passengers to Dunkirk.  

We set a budget for £10.00 per person per meal, but if you take a packed lunch or a picnic, you could easily spend about £5 for two people a meal.  

We knew that the entrance fee to Operation Dynamo Museum would cost us €8.00 per person. Plus, money in the event of an emergency. We therefore spent no more than £200.00, but you could easily visit Dunkirk for less than this. Just by booking the ferry tickets during off peak season, taking your own pack lunch or picnic and just paying €8 for the museum.  

This statue represents an hour glass in Dunkirk
This statue represents an hour glass in Dunkirk

Where to eat in Dunkirk 

Why spend money on eating out in Dunkirk, when you could make your own food. If you purchase the food from the local grocery store and make it, not only will it be healthier (you know what you’re putting into it) but it’s a good way to cut your budget in half. 

Sandwiches, pastas and salads make for a great packed lunch or picnic, while packing fruit and healthy snacks for on the go on your day trip to Dunkirk. Most of these foods are cheap to buy, easy to make and pack, ready for your adventures in Dunkirk. 

If you’re travelling as a couple or family/group, you could set your budget for less than £10.00 (€11.66 – $13.83) for the entire trip rather than £10.00+ per person per meal. 

I’m on holiday, why would I want to make my own food, when I could eat out in restaurants or cafes and eat French food? You need to decide what is more important. Spending all your savings on one adventure, or saving money, keeping to a tight budget, but still having an adventure and then having another travel adventure later in the year. 

If you wanted to eat French food but still stay on a budget, why not set yourself to have one meal in a restaurant or café and have your home cooked packed food for the other meal. That way you are still saving a little, but also indulging a little, by eating out.  

The best way to keep within your budget, is researching the places to eat before you go. Go online and check where you could eat and check their menus before you travel. This will give you a good idea on the prices for a main meal and drinks. If the price is above your budget, move onto the next place until you find somewhere that’s within your budget.  

To help you plan your trip, why not download our FREE travel planner that we are giving you, that way you can plan and budget for your holiday. Simply complete the planner as you plan and research your trip to Dunkirk. 

Don’t forget you need to maintain your hydration. This will increase your food and drinks budget. To keep things to a minimum, drink more water. Water is free and easy to come by. We have a water pouch plus reusable water bottles that we fill to keep us hydrated.    

Not everyone likes plain water, so add a little bit of fruit juice, again it is cheap and the best way to stay within your budget.   

You can easily set a budget of £10.00 per person per meal just as we did.   

Do you need ideas on where to eat in Dunkirk? Then check out these places: 

Sucre Sale 

Indoor and outside seating available. Sit outside (if the weather is dry) while you eat and admire the views across the beach and sea.  

The foods ok, many of the dishes include cheese. We ordered a chicken and camembert baguette and chicken and pineapple curry wrap.  

Strange huh having curry in a wrap, but it’s amazing. The pineapple just brings the dish together. We didn’t think the camembert paired well with the chicken and just wasn’t flavourful, but the French love their cheese.  

There’s plenty more restaurants, cafes and bars along the seafront, offering great food and views across the coast. 

What to pack for a day trip to Dunkirk?  

Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.   

You’re only going on a day trip so you won’t need to pack a suitcase, but you may wish to pack a spare set of clothes and the essential items. 

If you’re crossing the border, you’ll need to pack the all-important passport and tickets.  

Why not head over to our post on what to pack for a trip to France. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.    

Conclusion 

We have covered some exciting things to do, on a day trip to Dunkirk. Don’t want to miss out on travelling just because you feel it isn’t affordable? We have proven that it really is possible to travel on a budget. 

By making some small changes such as buying the food from the local grocery store or packing a lunch, you would be saving some money, compared to eating in a restaurant or café. 

AND, if you can budget and save money when you travel, you could travel more. 

We hope you enjoy visiting Dunkirk, learning more about Operation Dynamo and what affect World War II had on Dunkirk.  

Have you visited Dunkirk? What was your favourite thing to do in Dunkirk? Did you set a budget and keep to it? Is there somewhere you visited that we didn’t mention on your day trip to Dunkirk? Let us know, by leaving a comment below. 

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Day trip to Dunkirk on a Budget
Day trip to Dunkirk on a budget
Day trip to Dunkirk
Day trip to Dunkirk
Dunkirk on a budget
Dunkirk on a budget

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