The northernmost city of France, Dunkirk (locally spelled “Dunkerque”), is globally known for its important war history. It is where more than 338,000 Allied soldiers during the Second World War were evacuated as they were cornered by the German Nazis, an event known as “Operation Dynamo.” But did you know that Dunkirk also offers fabulous walks on its vast beaches and long boardwalk? When the weather is good, you’re up for a big treat on the beach!

How to Get to Dunkirk by Public Transport?

If you are travelling from Lille, the primary option is to take a TER regional train which departs from Lille-Flandres train station and ends in Dunkerque as the train line’s terminus. This journey takes about 1 hour (or a bit more depending on your train schedule) and costs around 15 EUR each way.

Alternatively, there is often an abundance of car-sharing ride options available on BlaBlaCar mobile app/website if you feel that inclined.

The cheapest trips are available with budget bus Flixbus, but they depart from Lille at 9pm in the evening.

Exploring Dunkirk on Foot

Upon exiting Dunkirk’s main train station, you will find a bus station on the left side. One of these bus lines offer free trips in the city centre. In my case, I decided to explore Dunkirk on foot as I did not think it was a big city.

From train station, I walked towards the direction of Rue de Fusiliers Marins which passes by a shopping centre called Centre Marine. I found this shopping mall useful as it had a Basic-Fit gym (where I could go), a Mcdonald’s with power outlets, and some other restaurants.

A road sign along the Rue de Fusiliers Marins in Dunkirk, France.

Passing the Centre Marine shopping centre, the view of a marina appeared with a floating boat restaurant called Princess Elizabeth.

The floating boat Princess Elizabeth restaurant seen in the distance.

Just a few walks down the boardwalk, I saw a huge building called the Communaute Urbaine de Dunkerque and behind it is a big marina called Port du Bassin du Commerce. On one of these sides, you will find a museum called Musee Maritime et Portuaire which exhibits some history of Dunkirk.

The Port du Bassin du Commerce in Dunkirk, France.

Walking along this marina was a nice experience as it had many boats, including those used in colonial times. There are also many restaurants around to note if you feel like eating.

From here, I continued to walk further down until I saw the a historical tower called the Tour de Leughenaer.

The tower of Laughener.

I took the road on the right towards a small Catholic chapel called Notre-Dame de Dunes which was built a long time ago.

Turning to left road, I continued to walk towards the Jardin de Sculptures which has interesting contemporary art installations. Behind the park, you will find the Musee Dunkerque 1940 Operation Dynamo, which was built to specifically remember and commemorate the important war history in Dunkirk, as what its name implies.

Musée Dunkerque 1940 Opération Dynamo is a must-visit museum to feel the historical essence of the city of Dunkirk.
A field artillery display outside of the Operation Dynamo Museum.

I did not know much about Operation Dynamo prior to my first visit to Dunkirk so I found it absolutely enriching and I highly recommend this museum to anyone who intend to visit Dunkirk.

A vantage point of the Bridge of the Battle of Texel near Dunkirk’s Port du Grand Large.
Port du Grand Large hosts a large marina with so many boats.
Characteristic houses near Dunkirk’s Port du Grand Large.

After I immersed into the Operation Dynamo, I continued my leisurely walk towards the Port du Grand Large, which offered many scenic views of the Port of Dunkirk, including a lighthouse and a view of the open sea.

The Port du Grand Large in Dunkirk, France.

Shortly, I traversed a bridge and saw a long, narrow boardwalk and the southern park of Dunkirk’s beach. It was here where I saw so many seagulls flying above me, contrasting with the deep blue colours of the sky, as the sound of nearby waves pampered my senses. I felt overjoyed walking along this boardwalk as it offered limitless views of the blue sea and horizon. Exactly what I came here for.

Fantastic views like this is what I would go to Dunkirk for!
The view of Dunkirk’s Digue du Canal Exutoire leading to the Malo-les-Bains beach.
On the left side of the boardwalk, there’s some sand dunes caused by the constant windy conditions in Dunkirk.

The narrow boardwalk is called the Digue du Canal Exutoire. Near the end of it, I saw some sand dunes. This area tends to be very windy so pay attention that the grains of sands could be blown away towards you or your face.

Nearby, there is also an architecturally prominent bridge connected to the Grand Large area called Paserelle du Grand Large, which is worth taking photo for or doing a selfie on. It is located near the Memorial des Allies which commemorates the Allied forces.

From the statues, I arrived at the Digue de la Mer, a boardwalk that is wide and feels infinitely long… which is great for people who love to walk like me.

The Digue de Mer is a long, scenic boardwalk on Dunkirk’s Malo-les-Bains beach.
Here’s an alternative view of Dunkirk’s Digue de Mer from Parc de Vent (Wind Park) area.

The right side has a long array of restaurants and cafes which I loved because I could easily stop for a sumptuous lunch, some drinks, or a simple cafe allongee with a crepe au nutella on the side. I did the latter exactly and it felt so unbelievably satisfying while enjoying the views of the Malo-les-Bains beach.

Here are the videos I took along my walks here:

Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk’s main beach, looks so wide and large that you can easily spend and entire day walking on the beach if you feel like it on a day with clear skies and sunshine.

Dunkirk’s immense Malo-les-Bains beach.
Dipping my feet in the sea water and walking on Malo-les-Bains huge beach are among my favourite things to do in Dunkirk during warmer months.
Here’s a glimpse of crowds enjoying the beach in Dunkirk during warmer months.

After relishing this fantastic beach for an entire afternoon, I slowly made my way back towards the Dunkirk train station, passing by Dunkirk’s city centre to see its beautiful cathedral and city all area.

The imposing Saint-Éloi Belfry of Dunkirk near the Catholic Church og Saint Eloi in Dunkirk, France.

Shortly, I proceeded to board another TER regional train back to Lille, feeling happy and absolutely satisfied.

TER ride plus a cup of coffee after a long, beautiful day outdoors equals perfection.

In my opinion, living anywhere in Lille Metropolitan has become more exciting thanks in part to the easy and close access to the northern beaches of France and the lovely Opal Coast.

During warmer months or on any season with blue skies and sunshine, I would definitely return to Dunkirk if I feel like I need “beach views” fix.

Have you been to Dunkirk? I would be happy to read your experience in the comments.

I participated at Dunkirk’s first Dynamorun running event which commemorated the Operation Dynamo.

Are you intending to travel to Dunkirk soon? Share your plans in the comments below.

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