Harwich Town stopover

Brief guide for cruise and ferry passengers

Harwich Pier With Felixstowe Container Port Across River
Harwich Pier with Felixstowe container port across river

Harwich Town is worthwhile to visit in its own right. If you are going on a cruise, if you take a Harwich hotel the night before, you have the ingredients for a satisfying short relaxed stay after a long journey.

Harwich Old Town itself is at the end of a peninsular. It has few shops or commerce not connected to the port. There is a strong port atmosphere as you wander the historical streets. Lack of commerce and traffic make it a pleasant place to visit.

The town is a historically important port which has provided a sheltered anchorage for shipping through the ages. The Old Town of Harwich is a conservation area containing many historic buildings right up until the recent world wars.

Overview of Harwich Town

Harwich Dovercourt Beach
Harwich Dovercourt Beach

There is an interesting Harwich Maritime Heritage Trail - you can pick up a leaflet covering the route at many places, including the cruise terminal itself. Included are several small museums, fortifications and other places of interest.

For American visitors, Harwich was the home of Christopher Jones, captain of the Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to North America. There is a small free Mayflower museum and you can view (from the outside) the home of Christopher Jones a short walk away.

The focus for visitors to the Old Town is the pier, called Ha'penny Pier. You get good views from the pier of river traffic and you can see the cruise terminal downstream. From the pier there is a ferry service to the other side of the river and pleasure cruises. The Mayflower Museum is also sited on the pier.

Just south of the Old Town is Dovercourt, half way between Harwich Old Town and Harwich International where the ferry and cruise terminals are. There is a nice coastal walk between the old town of Harwich and Dovercourt passing many items of historic interest. Dovercourt is a pleasant low key beach resort, a stark contrast to the old town and small harbour, and is where you will find many of the hotels and shops providing basic needs. Dovercourt has its own train station situated between Harwich Town and Harwich International.

Note: The cruise and ferry terminals are 2 or 3 miles by road from Harwich Town and Old Port.

Getting around Harwich & day trips from Harwich

Home of Christopher Jones Master of The Mayflower At Harwich
Home of Christopher Jones Master of The Mayflower

The rail service from Harwich Cruise & Ferry Terminals at the International Port is broadly hourly and makes the short journey into Harwich, stopping at Dovercourt and the terminus at Harwich Old Town.

This is supplemented by a local bus service with a couple of routes connecting Harwich, Dovercourt and the International Port. These buses run every 30 minutes but do not run on Sundays and do not start until after 9am and stop running early evening.

The regular ferry plies two routes across the river and pleasure boats leave from the pier in the Old Town.

From Harwich there are regular buses to Colchester.

Colchester is England's oldest recorded town, particularly pre-eminent about 2,000 years ago when England was part of the Roman Empire. There are several worthwhile museums and the visitor centre makes available themed walks.

The hourly trains from Harwich and Dovercourt run to Manningtree, not far from Colchester.

From Manningtree Station there is a pleasant countryside walk of a couple of miles to Flatford, famous as the location for many of the painter Constables most famous painting.

It's an idyllic countryside and riverside location, now much of it owned by the National Trust. There are guided walks, cream teas and a Constable exhibition in and around the visitor centre.

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