Why we love the Jurassic Coast
Welcome to dinosaur territory. Over 200 million years old, the Jurassic Coast’s beaches and rocks are strewn with ancient fossils and footprints – yours to discover on walks, bike rides and picnics. So rich are these paleontological treasures, that the coast has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, with an abundance of fossil-hunting tours and museums too.
But that’s not all. This 95-mile (152km) coastline – which stretches between Exmouth and Studland Bay on the southern shore of England – is where mighty sea cliffs meet quaint harbour towns and wildlife-filled coves. There are countless ways to explore: from kayaking between the chalk-white towers of Old Harry Rocks and swimming in West Bay’s clear waters, to watching the sunset over the sea from Portland Bill Lighthouse.
Wherever you venture, here’s what to look out for, and the best places to stay.
Go hunting for fossils
Ichthyosaur bones, swirling ammonites, bullet-shaped belemnites – what treasures lie under your feet? Fossils are often found on the beaches between Lyme Regis and Charmouth, putting 200 million years of history at your fingertips. Consider joining a guided tour: when it comes to spotting and identifying your finds, an expert eye is invaluable.
Unleash some pedal power
Saddle up! The fantastic National Cycle Network runs right through the region: Route 2 hugs the seafront between Studland and Exmouth, while Route 26 links up Weymouth and Dorchester. An e-bike will boost your leg power, while mountain bikes are ideal for off-road adventures in the Purbeck Hills. Cycle hire is available in all the main towns.
Find your perfect hike
From short-but-sweet strolls around harbours and beaches, to long-distance trails across clifftops and forests, the Jurassic Coast is rich in rewarding rambles. Maybe you’ll climb Golden Cap’s sea-breezy peaks or hike the South West Coast Path between Old Harry Rocks and Exmouth? There are several wheelchair-accessible routes too, such as Durlston Country Park’s Woodland Trail.
Hang out by the harbour
For rich history, great food and plenty of seaside fun, head to the Jurassic Coast’s towns and villages. Each has their own unique charms, such as Lyme Regis’s fascinating fossil shops and museums, Seaton’s heritage tram and nature reserve, and Weymouth’s long beach and lively harbour. Summer is always a buzzing time, with theatre shows, festivals and funfairs.
Spy dolphins and puffins
Keep an eye on the waves: dolphins are often spotted on this wild coastline, especially between spring and autumn. According to experts, Lyme Bay is home to a pod of white beaked dolphins, while bottlenose, rissos and common dolphins frequent the waters too. Book a wildlife cruise for the best chance of seeing them, alongside puffins, cormorants and razorbills.
Step into the unknown
If you’re craving adventure, you’ll be spoiled for choice on the Jurassic Coast – from scuba diving on shipwrecks around Weymouth and Portland, to windsurfing, paddleboarding and kayaking through hidden coves. For nimble-footed explorers, there’s abseiling and coasteering on the Purbeck peninsula – or why not try ‘cliff camping’ for a night of pure adrenaline?
Things to do on the Jurassic Coast
Featured things to do
Love a long walk? Follow the South West Coast Path around the island of Portland, for 13 miles (21km) of stirring sea views and wildflower-strewn cliffs.Learn more about Portland
On warm summer evenings, Lulworth Castle, Corfe Castle and Durlston Country Park host outdoor cinema and theatre shows in their magnificent grounds.Learn more about Corfe Castle
September is festival time! Seafeast brings BBQ lobster and live music to Weymouth’s seafront, while Swanage Folk Festival celebrates traditional dancing and songs.Learn more about Seafeast
The summer crowds are long gone, but Durdle Door and Chesil Beach are still breathtaking: wrap up for a seaside stroll, before a toasty fish-and-chip supper.Learn more about Durdle Door
Places to stay on the Jurassic Coast
Weymouth and Purbeck
The Jurassic Coast’s easternmost region, Purbeck puts you within easy reach of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, while Weymouth is a lively seaside hub.
With its pretty towns and villages such as Sidmouth, Seaton and Beer (yes, Beer!), East Devon offers seaside B&Bs, hotels and holiday rentals galore.
From a stroll along the South West Coast Path, to high adrenaline watersports on the sea, this seaside resort has it all. Tuck into tasty local produce or try your hand at crabbing at its harbour.
Getting to the Jurassic Coast
Road trippers love the region’s coastal routes and clifftop viewpoints, but it’s easy to explore by public transport too. The likes of Weymouth, Axminster and Exmouth have good rail links, with onward connections by bus – while Swanage Railway’s heritage steam and diesel trains call at Corfe Castle and Harman’s Cross. The local network of electric car charging points is ever-growing.
It’s simple to get around by bus: the Purbeck Breezer and Jurassic Coaster offer hop-on-hop-off services, while the rest of the coast is well-linked, too.
By foot or bike
Instead of a short walk or cycling trip, why not plan a multi-day adventure? If you’re travelling with bags, let a luggage service transport them from A to B.
Want to know more?
Find all the latest travel advice, insider tips and thrilling days out on the Jurassic Coast’s official website.