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Things to see and do at South Foreland Lighthouse

South Foreland Lighthouse in Kent seen from a wildflower meadow.
Explore South Foreland Lighthouse | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

A landmark on the White Cliffs, South Foreland Lighthouse was built to warn mariners of shifting sands and guide them safely through the Strait of Dover. Take a tour of the lighthouse to discover its fascinating past, or simply enjoy the view from the lawn whilst playing some light-hearted family games.

Getting to South Foreland Lighthouse

There's no direct vehicle access to the lighthouse. Parking is available at the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre, a two mile walk along the cliff. We have a trail guide for this walk for you to download and you can also download our useful map. Please see our Arriving and Parking at the White Cliffs of Dover page for more information.

We use livestock to graze some of the chalk downland and their location changes occasionally. If you would like to walk your dog along the cliffs, or if you are just curious to know where they are, please see our page Visiting White Cliffs and the Lighthouse with your dog.

Image of a group of people having a picnic in long grass in the summer
Visitors enjoying a picnic in the grass | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Activities at South Foreland

Whether it’s a sunny day or overcast and windy, why not try one of our free fun activities? Entertain the whole family with a game of skittles, quoits, or giant noughts and crosses. You could borrow a skipping rope, or a kite to fly. Just ask at the shop.

Our iconic site will help you make the most of being outdoors and help the family tick off a few of the 50 things to do before you're 11¾!

Need to relax after all that fun? There's our 1950's themed tea rooms, or you could enjoy an ice cream and a cold drink from the shop at one of our many picnic benches.

Enjoy your picnic

You’re welcome to bring your picnic to South Foreland Lighthouse. There are plenty of benches and lots of spaces to spread your blankets, break out the food and drink and enjoy a great picnic with your family, with some lovely views.

Our shop and tea rooms should be able to help if you’ve forgotten something, or if you’d just like a little extra takeaway treat.

Barbeques and open fires

Open fires of any kind, including barbeques and gas cookers are not permitted anywhere on site.

Please help us keep South Foreland Lighthouse and The White Cliffs of Dover beautiful for everyone and take all your litter and food remains home after your picnic, as these can harm the delicate wildlife on the chalk downland.


Please do not attempt to fly your drone at South Foreland Lighthouse or The White Cliffs of Dover. The National Trust does not permit privately-owned drones to be flown anywhere over its property. See Flying drones at our places for more information. The Port of Dover has also established legally enforceable regulations that define a restricted flying zone. These regulations cover a large part of Dover town centre, the port area, and all the land at South Foreland and The White Cliffs of Dover as well as the cliffs themselves and the nearby sea. Further details and a map are available at: Operations - Port of Dover.

Image of the entrance to South Foreland lighthouse restored the colours as left by Trinity House.
The lighthouse tower entrance, restored to the original colours specified by Trinity House | © National Trust/Tom Nisbet

Tours of the Lighthouse

Find out more about the Goodwin Sands and the hundreds of shipwrecks that resulted in the need for a lighthouse at South Foreland. Discover the rotating optic installed in 1904, which still turns easily and smoothly. Admire the simple yet sophisticated clockwork mechanism, used to turn the lens and make the lighthouse flash with its characteristic signature.

On one of our fascinating guided tours you’ll also learn how South Foreland was a place of innovation and firsts in the worlds of electricity and radio. Tours start at 11 am and run throughout the day to 5 pm as needed, so there’s no need to pre-book. Just call at the shop for your tour ticket (free for members).

Views from the top

A guided tour of the lighthouse ends with the chance to step out onto the balcony to take in the view from the top. See the cliffs stretch out for miles all around you, get a bird’s eye view of St Margaret’s village and a completely uninterrupted view across the Channel – on a clear day you can even see the town of Calais in France.

Family visitors flying kites by the South Foreland Lighthouse, Kent, on a sunny day in August
Family visitors flying kites by the South Foreland Lighthouse | © National Trust Images/Solent News and Photography Agency

'50 things to do before you're 11¾'

The National Trust's '50 things to do before you're 11¾' is a checklist of activities that will encourage kids to get mucky, discover their wild side and most of all enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. There are lots of activities that can be ticked off at South Foreland Lighthouse, here are a few recommendations to get you started:

No. 7. Fly a kite

Borrow a kite and fly it in the grounds of the lighthouse - not too close to the flagpole, please! See how long you can keep the kite in the air.

No. 9. Eat a picnic in the wild

Spread your picnic blanket or grab a picnic bench and enjoy the great outdoors. Does your food or drink taste different?

No. 33. Go cloud watching

Choose a warm, summer’s day when there are plenty of clouds in the sky. Find a nice comfy spot to lie back and look up at the clouds. What can you see?

Some clouds are white and fluffy, like cotton wool, and others are grey and thin. They move, they change shape and no two clouds are ever exactly the same! Use your imagination to pick out shapes and pictures in the clouds as they drift by. Do they resemble anything, like animals, trees or cartoon characters?

No. 34. Discover wild animal clues

There are lots of different things that you can look for when you're on the trail of an animal or bird. Keep an eye out for footprints, feathers, fur and poo and you might find something sooner than you think.

No. 48. Keep a nature diary

Keep a record of your amazing adventures in nature, capturing your memories of the animals and plants you’ve seen. Decide how you’ll record your experiences of nature, will you use words, pictures, sounds or a mixture of everything? You could even write a poem or a story about your adventures. To get you started we've listed some of the plants and creatures you may find as you explore and you can even download an identification sheet if you're not sure what they are.

Find yourself a diary, a scrapbook or a sound recorder and get started. Make a note of all the things you’ve seen and done in nature, whether it’s a picnic in the wild, or getting to know a wild animal. Which activity did you enjoy the most?

Image of the interior of Mrs Knotts Tea Room with tables and chairs and flowered wallpaper in a 1950's style
Mrs Knott's Tea Room | © National Trust / David Lewing

Mrs Knotts Tearoom

The tearoom was converted from one of the lighthouse keeper's cottages. It is named after George and Catherine Knott who were keepers at South Foreland Lighthouse and lived there with their 13 children.

The 1950s-themed tearooms capture a quintessentially quirky environment, often associated with the lonely existence of lighthouse staff. After your walk, relax to the sounds of George Formby, Ray Noble and Vera Lynn, coming from our vintage record player. Enjoy your freshly brewed real leaf tea or coffee with a range of fresh cakes and pastries made in our White Cliffs kitchen and delivered daily. Here, we show off the best of British tastes, so why not enjoy a traditional Victoria sponge oozing with raspberry jam or try one of our fresh scones with jam and cream; or, if you prefer, cream and jam!


Fancy an ice cream, a cold drink or a sandwich - or maybe a gift for someone special? Come and browse our shop in the grounds of the lighthouse. Built in one of the historic lighthouse buildings, dating from around 1790, there's bound to be something of interest. Or you could browse our collection of second-hand books in the Marconi Hut, just a few yards from the shop. The collection changes constantly and there's something for all tastes.

A view of the South Foreland Lighthouse in the distance, with a visitor lying in the grass taking photos of the poppies

Discover more at South Foreland Lighthouse

Find out when South Foreland Lighthouse is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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