Visiting Dorset & The Jurassic Coast
I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t travelled a huge amount in the UK but of the places I have visited, Dorset is definitely up there as one of the most beautiful!
This region of the UK is situated on the south coast of England and is home to a diverse, stunning coastline which stretches for 95 miles: the Jurassic Coast. It begins in Exmouth in Devon and finishes at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage in Dorset.
The Jurassic Coast gets its name from the geology of the land that makes up this area. It dates back 145 million years ago to the Mesozoic Era, which is when the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were – and you can see evidence of all of these types of rock along the coastline. [If this all sounds a bit too scientific for you, the Jurassic Coast website has some useful easy-to-understand info!]
There’s loads to see and do here – I recommend booking as long as your calendar allows to explore this beautiful part of England. We visited Dorset and the Jurassic Coast for a long weekend in late September, along with our two dogs – so we wanted to make sure the activities we did were dog friendly.
Here’s how to see this part of England in a long weekend.
Jurassic Coast Itinerary: Getting to Dorset and Getting Around
Dorset is a 2 hour drive from London. There are good transport links to this area of the country, but if you want to maximise time in Dorset it’s recommendable to travel by car; transport links between the major sites aren’t as easy to come by.
- By Bus: The National Express Coach takes 3h45m from London to Weymouth and only costs £10-15 each way if you book in advance. You can purchase tickets through the National Express website.
- By Train: The train from London to Weymouth takes just over 3 hours and costs upwards of £50 one way but you can get cheaper tickets with a railcard. Search for train fares here.
- By Plane: The best airports to this area of England are London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Southampton or Bristol, depending on where you’re flying from. Search for flights with Skyscanner here.
- By Car: Getting around Dorset and the Jurassic Coast is easiest by car. I use AutoEurope to compare rental cars when I travel.
Jurassic Coast Itinerary: Where to stay in Dorset
I recommend staying in Weymouth or Dorchester for the duration of your long weekend in Dorset; then you’ll be slap bang in the middle of the sights to see on the Jurassic Coast. Browse Booking.com to find accommodation in the area or try AirBnB – use this link for £30 off your first AirBnB booking.
We stayed at a lovely little AirBnB in a village called Mosterton. This was a good location and we liked being in the countryside away from the crowds, with lots of great dog walking opportunities on our doorstop. However we were much further West than East, which meant we had a bit of a drive when visiting Old Harry Rocks.
Dorset & Jurassic Coast Itinerary
This itinerary is based on how we spent our time in Dorset. I was really keen to see the Jurassic Coast so wanted to make sure our itinerary allowed enough room for flexibility to see as much as possible.
In truth, you could easily spend a week in this area of England exploring all there is to see, but if you, like me, have a limited amount of annual leave to play with, this long weekend itinerary should work for you.
The great thing about this itinerary is that you can switch up which order to do the three days to however suits depending on the weather!
Day 1: Lyme Regis & West Bay
Spend your first day in Dorset exploring the West of the region.
Lyme Regis is a popular seaside town, which is quaint and pretty and very British! The houses are painted in different pastel colours, much like the beach huts along the sand. Spend the morning wandering around along the seafront.
Things to do in Lyme Regis:
- Wander along the Marine Parade to the Cobb – the marina where the boats are stationed.
- Go kayaking, paddle-boarding or on a RIB ride
- Visit the Lyme Regis Museum or Dinosaurland Fossil Museum
- Take a guided walk to find fossils on Fossil Beach
- Relax or walk along the beaches: Town Beach is the sandy beach by Lyme Regis town, Monmouth Beach is to the west of the Cobb. Charmouth Beach is a short drive away or you can hike there – the walk is about 4 miles long.
In the afternoon, drive to West Bay (it’s about a 30 min drive from Lyme Regis). This is a sleepy coastal town which is appealing for its necessity to relax, alongside its stunning scenery: the towering cliffs that stand on East Beach are an incredible sight, and were used as a filming location in !
Things to do in West Bay
- Grab a bite to eat from one of the many food stalls or at Rise cafe
- Wander the seafront and marina
- Hike along the coastline to the nearby village of Eype in the West (via the Jurassic Pier) or Burton Bradstock in the East (up East Cliff)
- Head to nearby Bridport and visit Bridport Museum
- If you’re partial to a tipple, visit Palmers Brewery or the Furleigh Wine Estate
Day 2: Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Corfe Castle & Old Harry Rocks
Day 2 on this itinerary is a jam-packed day so get a good night’s sleep the evening before and start early!
Durdle Door is one of the most iconic landmarks in Britain and it’s a very popular place to visit so arrive early to avoid the crowds. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular though; it’s stunning – particularly on a day with good weather! The walk from the car park to the viewpoint takes about five minutes but it’s fairly steep. From the viewpoint, you can follow the stairs down to the beaches either side of Durdle Door.
Tips for visiting Durdle Door
- Keep dogs on a lead, they are fine off the lead on the beaches though.
- Car parking at Durdle Door is pretty pricey – we paid £5 for ‘up to 4 hours.’
- From the car park you can walk across to Lulworth Cove – I highly recommend this!
Walking here from Durdle Door is a must – the views as you approach Lulworth are gorgeous! Lulworth is a very small town (if you can call it that) but there’s lots of cafes where you can grab some lunch. I had read that Lulworth is a quieter destination than Durdle Door but when I visited it was just as popular.
Tips for visiting Lulworth Cove
- Parking at Lulworth Cove is also pricey – the same prices as Durdle Door apply and you can’t use the same parking ticket for both locations.
- You can walk up the side of the cove for a great view.
- Don’t miss the Stair Hole – it’s like a mini Durdle Door.
After lunch continue East. Corfe Castle is actually the name of the small village where the thousand-year-old ruins of the castle of the same name are located. The castle stands atop a hill and is quite a sight as you approach it.
Tips for visiting Corfe Castle
- This is a National Trust site, tickets for adults cost £10 per person.
- There’s a couple of walking routes around the castle to maximise views of the landscape.
- Dogs on leads are welcome.
- For more information and to book entry tickets, visit the National Trust website.
Old Harry Rocks
This is one of the most stunning landscapes in Britain in my opinion, especially if you have a drone! Unfortunately I don’t have one, so I’ll appreciate this view through Instagammers instead! It’s still an enjoyable walk with some beautiful views from the ground.
Tips for visiting Old Harry Rocks
- Park at the National Trust car park near the Bankes Arms
- The walk starts from the Bankes Arms Inn (Pub) in Studland
- It’s a direct route there and back, or you can continue south to Swanage and walk a 2.5hour loop if you spend more time in the area
- Dogs must be kept on leads (wise because the drop off the cliffs is huge!)
Day 3: Weymouth & the Isle of Portland
On your final day in Dorset, visit Weymouth and the Isle of Portland.
I don’t know why I was expecting Weymouth to be a bit drab and grey, but it was not either of those things at all. Weymouth is cute and quaint; it’s colourful and quirky and it completely exceeded my expectations! Spend the morning wandering the Old Harbour and along the Esplanade, pop into a few of the boutique shops and pick up some souvenirs from your trip.
Things to do in Weymouth
- Wander along to Nothe Fort, which was built by the Victorians to protect Portland Harbour and is one of the best preserved forts of its kind.
- Relax on the beach – there’s a special dog area at one end.
- Visit Sandworld Sculpture Park for some truly interesting art
- Head to Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long shingle beach
- Visit the Secret Garden Cafe for lunch – it’s entirely vegetarian and vegan!
The Isle of Portland
In the afternoon, head over to the Isle of Portland to soak up some more of what Dorset has to offer. Don’t leave without seeing the famous Pulpit Rock – a coastal feature that was formed in the 1870s after a natural arch was cut away.
Things to do in Portland
- Visit one of the three lighthouses on the island – the most popular is the Portland Bill
- Get your adventure junkie on by trying one of many sports such as rock-climbing, abseiling, diving, sailing or kite surfing
- Go back in time and take a trip to Portland Castle
- Learn about the history of Portland at the Portland Museum
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My Sustainable Travel Tips and Recommendations
I try to avoid flying where possible, instead opting for overland options, but I always use Skyscanner to find cheap deals when I need to travel by plane. Choose to offset your flight with the airline when you purchase your tickets. Start your search here.
I use booking.com to find accommodation and usually stay in guesthouses, B&Bs and locally-run hotels. I also love using Airbnb but avoid using it in cities where there seems to be a monopoly of listings, as this causes local businesses to lose out on tourism income. You can use this link to get £25 off your first Airbnb booking.
I don’t often choose guided tours when I travel as I prefer to make things up as I go along, but for shorter trips where you are limited on time and to learn lots of new things about your destination, I really recommend them. I use Get Your Guide to find tours and activities on my travels – search for tours here.
Travel insurance is an essential for every trip – if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford to travel! You never know what might happen when you travel – from being robbed to breaking bones, you need to protect yourself. I use World Nomads travel insurance on my trips. I love it because you can extend your cover or even take out a new policy when you’re already overseas. Get a quote here.
Read more of my sustainable travel planning tips on this page.
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