The Jurassic Coast in the south of England is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site which is widely known for its geology, palaeontology and the sheer beauty of its dramatic coastline. The entire stretch of over 95 miles of coastline is dotted with incredible rock formations, staggering cliffs, millions of year old fossils, hiking trails, and historic seaside resorts. Many dinosaur fossils from the Jurassic period were discovered along this coast in the early 19th Century. This iconic part of Britain’s South Coast is extremely popular with tourists and consists of a large section of the coastline of Dorset and East Devon counties. Having lived in and explored this beautiful part of Britain, I have attempted to summarise what I believe are the top 10 most amazing things to do in the Jurassic Coast of England.
When to visit
The best time to visit the Jurassic Coast, like the rest of the United Kingdom, is in the summer months from June to August. Given the gloomy weather that the country is infamous for, the summer months provide relief with plenty of sunshine and less rainfall compared to the rest of the year. The temperatures are also milder making it perfect for getting into the turquoise waters of the Jurassic Coast. However, the summer months also bring in droves of tourist. As such, the beaches and popular attractions like the Durdle Door can get quite crowded.
April to May and September to October are shoulder seasons with far fewer crowds. This season can make for a wonderful trip if you are blessed with a sunny day. November to March is usually much colder, with occasional snowfall. However, you will have most of the sights all to yourself. Check Holiday Weather for more destination specific weather information.
The entire length of the Jurassic Coast is fairly accessible, both by public transport as well as via a well-connected road network. Bournemouth in Dorset and Exeter in Devon are great jumping points for the Jurrasic Coast trail and are themselves well connected with major English cities.
By Bus (Coach)
Note that the British prefer to call their inter-city buses as coaches. National Express offers several daily bus service connecting centrally located London’s Victoria Coach Station to Bournemouth and Poole in Dorset. These make excellent starting points for the eastern part of the Jurassic Coast. The buses to Poole usually call at Bournemouth. Prices start at around 10 GBP (~ 13.22 USD, 991 INR) one way per seat for the Restricted Fare type which offers no cancellation, refund, or change of dates and journey time is around 3 hours.
National Express also serves Weymouth, a resort town in Dorset, with a direct daily bus service from London’s Victoria Coach Station. The fares start at 6 GBP (~ 7.93 USD, 595 INR) for the Restricted Fare type and the journey time is around 3 hours 45 minutes. There are several daily buses connecting London’s Victoria Coach Station to Exeter’s Sidwell St. Station in Devon. This allows easy access to the western part of the Jurassic Coast. The fares start at 18 GBP (~ 23.79 USD, 1784.12 INR) for the Restricted Fare type and the journey time is around 4 hours 30 minutes. Finally, some of these services also connect to Heathrow Airport. There is a direct bus service from Gatwick Airport to Poole in Dorset.
Buses on the National Express network are air-conditioned and offer reclining seats, charging sockets and onboard toilet. National Express offers Coach Cards which are paid discount cards for the youth, the disabled, and the elderly. These offer discounts on fares for all bookings for as long as they are valid. There is an additional booking fee of 1 GBP (~ 1.32 USD, 99 INR) for tickets booked online and tickets delivered via SMS or Mail are charged extra for delivery. No delivery fee for eTickets.
Trains in the United Kingdom are operated by over 20 different private operators. While this might seem confusing at first, they are all co-branded together under National Rail with a uniform ticketing system. This also ensures that train journeys with multiple legs under different operators can be done with a single ticket. The same is true for passes and travel cards. The Jurassic Coast region of England is primarily served by the South Western Railway and the Great Western Railway.
Lines to the Jurassic Coast
The first line of the South Western Railway connects London’s Waterloo Station with Weymouth through Bournemouth, Poole, Wareham, and Dorchester South. Note that not all services run all the way to Weymouth and a few end at Bournemouth or Poole. Advance tickets on this route from London to Weymouth start at 19 GBP (~ 24.84 USD, 1863 INR) one way for the Standard Class with no changes or rescheduling allowed and restricted to a specific train. Open tickets, tickets booked at short notice, or tickets for first-class journeys can be priced much higher. Journey time is around 3 hours 15 minutes. There are multiple direct services throughout the day.
There is a second line of the South Western Railway connecting London’s Waterloo Station and a line of the Great Western Railway connecting London’s Paddington Station with Exeter’s St. David’s Station. These provide easy connectivity to the western end of the Jurassic Coast. The route from Paddington To Exeter is the shorter one with a journey time of under 2 hours 30 minutes and fares starting at 19 GBP (~ 24.84 USD, 1863 INR) one way for the Standard Class. The route from Waterloo to Exeter is around 3 hours 30 minutes and fares start at around 26 GBP (~ 34 USD, 2549 INR) one way for the Standard Class. There are multiple direct services for both the routes throughout the day.
Finally, there is a Great Western Railway line connecting Weymouth with Bristol Parkway Station via Dorchester and Bath. Services run multiple times a day with a journey time of under 3 hours and fares starting at 20 GBP (~ 26 USD, 1961 INR) one way for the Standard Class.
Tickets can be booked online directly via the National Rail website, via the individual train company websites, or via Trainline.com. Trainline applies a booking fee usually under 1 GBP (~ 1.32 USD, 99 INR) per ticket. National Rail or the private operators charge no booking fee when tickets are booked using their websites. You can either chose to print your tickets or show it on the apps of the various operators or Trainline. Links to all websites provided against names above.
Note that all fares mentioned here are the cheapest ones at the time of writing and will increase for tickets on the First Class, flexible open tickets, and tickets booked close to the date of travel. National Rail’s Map is a map of the complete train network in the United Kingdom. TravelLine is another great resource for train and bus travel planning in the UK. For more information, including multi-day tourist passes in the UK, refer to Seat61, my favourite train travel resource website for the UK and across the world.
Reaching the attractions in the Jurassic Coast by road is fairly easy. While no Motorways run near the Jurassic Coast, the M3 connects London to Southampton. This further connects to the M27 which then connects to the A31 & A338 finally reaching Bournemouth and Poole. From Poole, the A35 connects to Dorchester, and from Dorchester, the A354 connects to Weymouth and Portland. The A35 goes all the way to Charmouth from where the A3052 connects to Exeter in East Devon. On the other side, the Motorway M5 connects Exeter all the way up to Birmingham. Whether you are driving your own car or using a rental car, ensure to use satellite navigation and key in the exact destination because it is quite easy to get lost in some of the narrow and winding countryside roads. Use AA Routeplanner to plan your road trip in the UK.
The Jurassic Coaster operated by First Bus is one of the most popular ways of getting around in this region offering scenic rides and spectacular views of the landscape around. Route X54 connects Poole Station with Weymouth via Wareham, Lulworth Cove, and Durdle Door and is quite popular with tourists. Route X53 on the other end connects Axminster Railway Station to Weymouth via Charmouth and Bridport. Finally, Route 501 connects Portland to Weymouth. West Bay, where the famous British TV Series, Broadchurch was shot, is on the way of route X53. Some of these buses are double-decker and/or open-top providing a great way to enjoy the scenery.
A one-day unlimited ride ticket on any of the Jurassic Coaster buses cost 12 GBP (~ 15.71 USD, 1178 INR) for an adult or 20 GBP (~ 26 USD, 1961 INR) for a group up to 5 adults. Tickets can be bought using the First Bus app, online, or on the bus. All bus schedules, fares, and online booking options available on the First Bus website.
There are also the Purbeck Breezer buses which cover both the Poole-Bournemouth area as well as the eastern part of the Jurassic Coast. Route Breezer 30, which runs only during summers, connects Swanage to Dorchester via Wareham, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Weymouth. Route Breezer 40 connects Swanage to Poole via Corfe Castle. There is also the Route Breezer 50 which connects Bournemouth to Swanage via Sandbanks and includes a ferry crossing.
Ticketing is common with the More Bus network and can be used interchangeably. To visit the sights in the Jurassic Coast area, an ABC zone ticket would be required. A one day ABC zone ticket costs 9.2 GBP (~ 12.04 USD, 902 INR) both using the clickit2ride app and onboard. A Weekend ABC zone ticket for a consecutive Saturday and Sunday is priced at 16 GBP (~ 20.94 USD, 1569 INR). Check the fare zone map here. All bus schedules, fares, and route maps are available on the More Bus website.
Cruises can be an excellent way of seeing some of the sights of Jurassic Coast from the sea. City Cruises Poole offers multiple daily boat trips from Poole as well as Swanage covering the Jurassic Coast sights in the surrounding areas.
Poole to Swanage Cruise
The Poole to Swanage daily cruise is a round trip cruise from Poole harbour to Swanage and back. It stays ashore at Swanage for 2.5 hours or 5 hours (depending on your departure and return time). The cruise is 1 hour each way and includes live commentary and a licensed bar. While onboard, one can see Brownsea Island, the Studland Bay, and the Old Harry Rocks. You can even visit the Corfe Castle or the Durlston Country Park from Swanage if you plan to stay ashore for 5 hours. There is also a cruise in the opposite direction.
- Hours: Daily from 1st of April to 31st of October, departures at 10:30 AM, 1 PM, return from Swanage at 2:30 PM, 4:45 PM. Schedule changes every year. This is updated as of August 2020. Please check the website linked below for the latest update.
- Ticket: Adult – 17.5 GBP (~ 22.91 USD, 1716 INR), Child – 12 GBP (~ 15.71 USD, 1178 INR), Infant – free. Family and group tickets available.
Poole Jurassic Circular Cruise
The Poole Jurassic Circular Cruise starts and finishes in Poole. It offers views of the eastern end of the Jurassic Coastline including the Old Harry Rocks from the sea. It is a 2 hours 15 minutes round trip cruise and includes live commentary and a licensed bar.
- Hours: Daily from 1st of April to 31st of October, departures at 10:30 AM, 1 PM, 3:45 PM. Schedule changes every year. This is updated as of August 2020. Please check the website linked below for the latest update.
- Ticket: Adult – 15 GBP (~ 19.63 USD, 1471 INR), Child – 10.5 GBP (~ 13.74 USD, 1030 INR), Infant – free. Family and group tickets available.
Swanage Jurassic Circular Cruise
The Swanage Jurassic Circular Cruise is a round trip cruise from Swanage Pier to Poole and back. You do not get to disembark at Poole. Sights include the Studland Bay, the Old Harry Rocks, and Sandbanks. It is a 2 hours 15 minutes cruise and includes live commentary and a licensed bar.
- Hours: Daily from 1st of April to 31st of October, departures at 11:45 AM, 2:30 PM. Schedule changes every year. This is updated as of August 2020. Please check the website linked below for the latest update.
- Ticket: Adult – 15 GBP (~ 19.63 USD, 1471 INR), Child – 10.5 GBP (~ 13.74 USD, 1030 INR), Infant – free. Family and group tickets available.
Things to do in the Jurassic Coast of England
The Jurassic Coast is a treasure trove of incredible sights and things to do. The Cliffs are drop-dead gorgeous and the water around the coast is a brilliant shade of turquoise. In fact, I never knew England has such beautiful beaches and clear water before I visited the Jurassic Coast for the first time. I could have easily mistaken this part of the country for a Greek Island. Without much ado, here is my list of Top 10 things to in the Jurassic Coast.
Old Harry Rocks
These magnificently white chalk formations off the coast of the Isle of Purbeck mark the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. It consists of a stack and a stump geological formation and legend has it that it was named after a famous local pirate Harry Paye. Old Harry Rocks are located at the eastern end of Studland and the 1.5 Mile route from the village is popular with walkers and cyclists. The open grassy areas near the rock make for a great place to have a picnic on a sunny day beside the dramatic cliffs. It is open all year round and is free to enter. The nearest car park is at South Beach, Studland and is free for National Trust members.
- Direction: Take the Purber Breezer Bus 50 connecting Bournemouth with Swanage via Sandbanks and Studland. From Poole, you may take the Purbeck Breezer Bus 40 all the way to Swanage and take the Bus 50 going towards Bournemouth to get to Studland. An ABC zone ticket, as described in the section above, would be required for any of these buses. If you prefer to drive, you may park at the South Beach car park from which the rocks are a 1 Mile leisurely walk away.
- Hours: Open all year round
- Website / South West Coast Path (A walking route guide) / Purbeck Breezer Bus
- Ticket: Free to enter
Swanage is a quaint little seaside resort town located in the Isle of Purbeck on the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. It can be used as a base for exploring sights in the neighbouring regions and offers plenty to see and do. Below is a list of things that can be seen and done in this Victorian-era seaside tourist town.
Adjacent to the town and right next to the Swanage Pier, this is an easy beach to get to and is quite popular with tourists during the summer season. This golden sandy Swanage Beach has won the European Blue Flag and has plenty of dining and drinking establishments adjacent to it.
Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre
This is a museum highlighting the history of the town and the surrounding areas and provides a wonderful insight into the town’s Victorian past and its rise as a resort town.
- Location: Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre, The Square, Swanage, Dorset BH19 2LJ
- Hours: April to October – open daily, November to March – open on weekends only. Check website for hours
- Ticket: Admission is free for everyone
The historic pier in Swanage is where you will usually disembark if you get into the town by ferry. It offers wonderful vista looking out into the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and the English Channel. You can also see the Old Harry Rocks from the pier. The water near the pier is also a popular diving site and is the base for Britain’s oldest dive school – Divers Down.
Swanage Railway is a heritage steam railway which runs from Swanage to Norden Park & Ride through the Isle of Purbeck. The train follows a 6 miles route which was part of the now-closed Purbeck branch line extending from Wareham to Swanage. The route includes a station in the village of Corfe Castle. The line terminates at the Norden Park & Ride station which has the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum adjacent to it. The museum is free to enter for all. This steam train makes for a wonderful way to explore the Purbeck countryside.
- Hours: There are multiple trains daily in either direction and the entire journey from Swanage to Norden Park & Ride takes under 30 minutes. Check the website linked below for the latest schedule and prices.
- Ticket: Prices start at 16 GBP (~ 20.94 USD, 1569 INR) for a one-way journey between any of the stations for 2 people sharing a table.
Additionally, one can reach the Old Harry Rocks from Swanage via a 3-mile walk along the South West Coast Path. South of Swanage is the Durlston Country Park which offers excellent coastal walking trails, a castle, and a lighthouse. Swanage also offers plenty of water sports, sports fishing, and scuba diving options. Check the Visit Dorset page linked below for further details.
- Direction: The Purbeck Breezer Bus 40 connects Poole and Swanage and Bus 50 connects Bournemouth and Swanage. By road, A351 connects Wareham to Swanage via Corfe Castle. You can also reach Swanage from Poole using one of City Cruise Poole ferries.
- Website / Visit Dorset / Purbeck Breezer Bus
An iconic British Castle dating back to the 11th century, this fortification was built by William the Conqueror. It was partially demolished during the British Civil War in the 17th century. It is currently in ruins and only a fraction of its former self. Still, it manages to attract hordes of tourists during the summer months. Located on top of a natural hill, Corfe Castle provides plenty to explore among its ruins and offers commanding views over the Purbeck countryside. Also worth exploring is the surrounding village of the same name and its quaint little tea rooms. Do not forget to try the Purbeck specialities like local scones, fudge, ice cream, and cream tea. While Corfe Castle has its own car park which is free for National Trust members, it might be full at times during peak season. You may choose to park in the village on such occasions.
- Direction: The Purbeck Breezer Bus 40 connects Poole and Swanage and stops at Corfe Castle en route. From Bournemouth, one can board Bus 50 which connects to Swanage and then switch to Bus 40 going to towards Poole. The nearest railhead is Wareham which lies on the London Waterloo – Weymouth line. One may then jump on Bus 40 from Wareham station going towards Swanage. Finally, if you prefer to drive, note that the main approach is via A351 from Poole, Bournemouth etc. or directly from Swanage.
- Hours: April to September – 10 AM to 6 PM, October – 10 AM to 5 PM, November to March – 10 AM to 4 PM
- Website / Corfe Castle (National Trust) / Purbeck Breezer Bus
- Ticket: Adults – 10 GBP (~ 13.22 USD, 991 INR), Child – 5 GBP (~ 7.85 USD, 588 INR)
Durlston Country Park
The Durlston Country Park is a large 320-acre seaside park located 1 mile south of Swanage. This park boasts grassy meadows, seaside cliffs, expansive views over the English Channel, and several excellent walking trails. Start from the Victorian era Durlston Castle turned visitor centre featuring interactive audio-visual rooms, viewing of wildlife cameras, gallery exhibitions, a cafe, and a tourist shop. It also offers spectacular views of the Jurassic Coastline and out into the sea from the roof terrace. Also, do not forget to check out the historic Great Globe just down the path from the castle.
There are four clearly marked walking trails, all of which start from the visitor centre. Some areas of the park are accessible to the less mobile. The park is also famous for its wide variety of wildlife and flora and there are frequent sightings of dolphins out in the sea. Check the website below for the latest hours of operations, events, interactive trail maps, and activities planned in the Durlston Country Park.
- Direction: Access to Durlston Country Park is via Swanage. From Swanage, you may drive all the way up to the car park near the Park entrance. Or you may choose to take the Durlston Explorer bus D5 from Swanage which shuttles every half an hour during the summers. You can find the latest schedule on the website linked below.
- Hours: The countryside of the park remains open from sunrise to sunset. Castle – from April to October the castle remains open from 10:30 AM to 5 PM, from November to March the castle remains open from 1 PM to 4 PM.
- Ticket: Free for all, parking extra (check the website above for latest parking fees)
Durdle Door, a natural hard limestone arch standing vertically from the sea, is one of the Jurassic Coast’s most iconic and photographed sights. From the car park, it is a short walk down the natural cliff path to the Durdle Door beach and Man O’War beach located on either side of the Durdle Door. You may also choose to walk this section of the South West Coast Path. Walking east for about 30 minutes will bring you to Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole and is mostly a downhill walk. Walking west will bring you to the coastal hamlets of Osmington Mills and Ringstead.
Durdle Door Holiday Park, with direct access to the beaches, offers holiday homes on rent, as well as a pitch for camping and campervans. Check the website below for more information.
- Direction: Durdle Door can be reached directly by car or by using the Jurassic Coaster bus X54 from Poole or Weymouth. The route connects both Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
- Hours: Open all year round with no entry after dusk or after 10 PM, whichever is earlier. Also, no overnight camping is allowed at the beach or the car park. The Durdle Door pay & display car park is open from 9 AM to 6 PM from April to September. It is open from 9 AM to 4 PM from October to March.
- Website / Jurassic Coaster Bus / Durdle Door Holiday Park
- Ticket: Free for all, parking extra at the designated car park directly above Durdle Door. The premium parking area requires advance reservation, is closer to Durdle Door, and is accordingly priced higher compared to the Standard Parking area. Check the website above for the latest parking rates.
Part of the Lulworth Estate, which also includes Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove is a natural secluded cove formed at the end of the last Ice Age with the melting of the ice. It is free to access all year round. Start off at the Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre which is common to both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. It has an information centre and offers guides to help you explore the area. It also has on sight multiple displays and audiovisual aids to tell the story of these millions of years old unique geological formations.
From the Visitor Centre, the entire arc of the cove as well the beach inside the cove can be explored on foot. You may choose to walk the South West Coast Path eastwards from Lulworth Cove to see the geological formations of Worbarrow Bay and the abandoned village of Tyneham. Towards the west is Durdle Door. Also worth exploring, just west of Lulworth Cove, is the Stair Hole with its amazing rock formations shaped by erosion. Finally, Lulworth also offers plenty of outdoor activities including coasteering, mountain biking, cliff jumping among others.
- Direction: Lulworth Cove, like Durdle Door, can be reached directly by car or by using the Jurassic Coaster bus X54 from Poole or Weymouth. The route connects both Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
- Hours: Open all year round with overnight parking allowed for guests staying in the area. No camping allowed. The Visitor Centre is open from 10 AM to 6 PM during summers (April to September) and from 10 AM to 4 PM during winters (October to March).
- Website / Jurassic Coaster Bus / Lulworth Outdoors
- Ticket: Free for all, parking extra at the designated car park near Lulworth Cove. Check the website above for the latest parking rates.
Weymouth is one of England most popular seaside resort towns, made famous by King George III who was a regular visitor more than 200 years ago. Located centrally in the Jurassic Coast and with direct access from London, it’s not hard to see why Weymouth makes a great base for exploring the entire length of the World Heritage Site. This quaint little town has plenty to offer for visitors. Here are a few of my recommended thing to see and do.
The golden sand beach of Weymouth and it’s sheltered bay is great for swimming. So much so, that King George III used to come down to Weymouth hoping to cure his ailments in the supposedly therapeutic waters of Weymouth Beach. The Georgian Esplanade compliments the beach with a range of hotels, pubs, fish and chips eateries, fine dining restaurants, and cafes. Weymouth is known to be one of the places which receive the highest amount of sunshine in the whole of England. This award-winning beach plays host to a number of events and festivals along with rides for children, pedalos, and water activities.
Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park
The Sea Life Adventure Park in Weymouth is a marine park home to over 2000 creatures. This list includes penguins, otters, sea turtles, rays, jellyfish, and a variety of fishes including sharks. The Adventure Park also offers a number of activities for children, talks on marine life, feeding sessions, and several other experiences.
- Hours: The park is open from 10 AM to 4 PM daily. Timings for talks, feeding, and individual activities may vary. Check the website linked below for the latest schedule.
- Ticket: 19.1 GBP (~ 24.94 USD, 1849 INR) for adults when booked online. It costs 23.95 GBP (~ 31.27 USD, 2318 INR) if purchased on the day of visiting. Child tickets start at 15.1 GBP (~ 19.71 USD, 1462 INR). Children under 3 go free.
The historic Harbour of Weymouth offers plenty for visitors including traditional bars, restaurants, and street-side performances. Make sure to indulge in the sights and sounds of this old neighbourhood when in Weymouth.
Located near the eastern tip of the harbour, this Victorian-era fort was built to defend the Portland Harbour and offers expansive views over the Jurassic Coast. Experiences include displays and audiovisual exhibits, gun decks, and a series of underground passageways. Most areas in the fort are accessible.
- Address: Barrack Road, Weymouth DT4 8UF England
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM
- Ticket: 8 GBP (~ 10.45 USD, 775 INR) for adults and 2 GBP (~ 2.61 USD, 193 INR) for children. Children under 5 go free.
Apart from the attractions listed above, you also choose to visit the Bennetts Water Gardens – a landscaped garden with ponds filled with water lilies. Also worth visiting is Brewers Quay – a Victorian era redeveloped brewery in Weymouth Harbour. Last but not the least, the Isle of Portland is only a short drive or bus ride away from Weymouth. Sights in Portland include a castle, a beach, and a historic lighthouse.
- Direction: As described in the sections above, Weymouth directly connects by train to London (via Southampton, Bournemouth, and Polle) as well as Bristol (via Bath, and Dorchester). National Express buses also connect Weymouth with London. Both the X53 and X54 buses of the Jurassic Coaster terminate at Weymouth making it an excellent location to explore the length of the Jurassic Coast by bus. Finally, if you wish to drive into town, follow A35 towards Dorchester, and then connect to A354 and follow the signs into the town.
- We Are Weymouth/ Jurassic Coaster Bus / Visit Dorset
West Bay (Bridport Harbour)
Located at the western end of the Chesil Beach, West Bay was made famous by popular British TV drama Broadchurch. The spectacular golden cliffs of sandstone, also known as the East Cliff, became the location where many of the TV series’ scenes were shot. West Bay historically served as the harbour for the neighbouring town of Bridport’s export of ropes and nets. The harbourfront is dotted with 19th-century houses and offers plenty of options to drink and dine. The East Cliff near West Bay is one of Jurassic Coast’s most distinctive features and is popular with walkers. The Chesil Beach below the cliff connects West Bay with Portland via a continuous 18-mile long strip of golden sand. The free to enter West Bay Discovery Centre showcases the local culture and heritage through interactive displays.
Additional activities in the West Bay area include countryside walks (part of the South West Coast Path), fossil hunts, fishing trips, and scuba diving. You may also choose to include, as part of your trip, the historic market town of Bridport which is 1.5 miles inland. Make sure to visit the free to enter Bridport Museum which highlights the rope and netting heritage of Bridport.
- Direction: The X53 Jurassic Coaster connecting Axminster and Weymouth goes via West Bay and Bridport making this is an excellent stop on this popular Jurassic Coast bur route. By road, take the A35 and then follow the signs to Bridport and West Bay.
- West Bay Discovery Centre: Tuesdays to Thursdays and Saturdays – 11 AM to 1 PM, 2 PM to 4 PM.
Bridport Museum: Mondays to Fridays – 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturdays – 10 AM to 4 PM, closed on Sundays.
- Website / Jurassic Coaster Bus / Visit Dorset / West Bay Discovery Centre / Birdport Museum
Lyme Regis is a seaside resort town in West Dorset and is home to the famous Cobb Harbour. The “Cobb“, a large harbour wall has been featured in several Jane Austin novels as well as in a couple of movies. A walk along the 13th century Cobb on a clear day offers great views of the Jurassic Coast. The seafront is dotted with a number of sheltered beaches making them ideal for swimming as well as activities such as sailing and windsurfing. The walk along the South West Coast Path from Lyme Regis to Axmouth through Undercliff Nature Reserve makes for a great day out.
If fossil hunting is your thing, you must absolutely visit the Lyme Regis Museum which conducts regular fossil hunting walks. Admission to the museum is priced at 11.90 GBP (~ 15.63 USD, 1160 INR) for 2 visitors. Tickets for fossil walks cost extra. Check the website linked below for the latest schedule for walks and online booking options. The town even hosts a Fossil Festival every year on May Day bank holiday offering a host of activities and things to do. The website for the festival is mentioned in the section below.
- Direction: The X53 Jurassic Coaster connecting Axminster and Weymouth passes through Lyme Regis. The nearest railway station is at Axminster which is 5 miles to the north and is on the route connecting London Waterloo with Exeter. The road A3052 runs through Lyme Regis providing easy connectivity to the rest of the Jurassic Coast.
- Lyme Regis Museum: Wednesdays to Saturdays – 10 AM to 4 PM
- Website / Jurassic Coaster Bus / Visit Dorset / Lyme Regis Museum / Fossil Festival
The only destination making it to the list from Devon, Exmouth forms the western gateway to the Jurassic Coast. This seaside town is known to be Devon’s oldest holiday resort and is located just 12 miles south-east of Exeter, giving it easy access to the rest of the UK.
Just to the east of Exmouth is the Orcombe Point which marks the start of the Jurassic Coast. A Geoneedle was placed on the hilltop at this point in 2002 to inaugurate the World Heritage site. Exmouth’s 2-mile long sandy beach offers a ton of things to do including beach walks, kite surfing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Check the website for Exmouth Watersports below which offers paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, and kitesurfing lessons as well as tours in Exmouth.
Stuart Line Cruises offers boat trips around the coast near Exmouth to witness the oldest section of the Jurassic Coast and its deep red Triassic rocks from the sea. Its signature Jurassic Coast Cruise lasts 2 to 3 hours and is priced at 11 GBP (~ 14.44 USD, 1072 INR) for adults and 8 GBP (~ 10.45 USD, 775 INR) for children. There is another cruise on offer which goes all the way to Sidmouth and back with 3 hours ashore at Sidmouth. This cruise is priced at 12.5 GBP (~ 16.4 USD, 1218 INR) for adults and 7.5 GBP (~ 9.84 USD, 731 INR) for children. Additionally, Stuart Line offers cruises in the Exe River as well as seasonal and themed cruises. All cruises include live onboard commentary and a fully licensed bar. Check the website below for further information.
- Direction: There is a half-hourly train connecting Exmouth with Exeter which further connects with the rest of the UK. The journey takes about 35 minutes and tickets are priced at around 5 GBP (~ 6.57 USD, 487 INR). Check travel information from Exeter in the “Getting There” section.
The A376 road connects Exmouth with Exeter and it further connects to M5 motorway. Bus 157 connects Exmouth to Sidmouth, bus 357 to Budleigh Salterton, bus 57 to Exeter Bus Station, and bus 56 to Exeter Airport. Check Stagecoach website linked below for schedules, route maps, and fare information.
- Website / Visit South Devon / Stagecoach / Exmouth Watersports / Stuart Line Cruises
Other things to see and do in the Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast of England offers endless possibilities for things to do, see, and experience. As such, choosing a list of only 10 things which I believe make it to the top of an already amazing list is a hard task. Having said that, and if you can afford to spend some more time in this natural wonder of England, here are some additional gems which should be part of your itinerary.
Keates Quarry is a true hidden gem of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. This quarry is home to over 100 well preserved fossilised dinosaur tracks made by giant sauropod dinosaurs. It is located within a short drive from Swanage and Corfe Castle. Regular guided walks to Keates Quarry footprints site are held from the Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers. Check the Jurassic Coast website for further information.
Abbotsbury is an ancient village nestled on the hills beside the Chesil Bank. Here you can see century-old houses made from the local Purbeck stone, some dating back to the 16th century. Worth visiting is the 14th century St Catherine’s Chapel which sits on top of a hill overlooking the village. It offers spectacular views of the Chesil Beach and beyond. The Abbotsbury Swannery is a famous bird sanctuary near the village and is home to over 600 flying swans. The Jurassic Coaster bus X53 runs through the village of Abbotsbury.
This iron age seaside village of Charmouth is famous with fossil hunters and is located northeast of Lyme Regis. Must-sees include the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre which is free to enter and has on display an excellent collection of fossils. It also holds regular fossil walks. Located to the east of Charmouth, Stonebarrow offers great walking trails and picnic spots with splendid views of the Jurassic Coast from the hilltop. Walking further east on the South West Coast path will bring you to Golden Cap. This is the highest point on the south coast of England. Charmouth too is part of the Jurassic Coaster bus X53’s route.
Nestled beside giant red cliffs of the Triassic age, Sidmouth is another great destination in Devon east of Exmouth. The waters around Sidmouth are great for swimming as well as a host of water sports including sailing and windsurfing. Bus services connect Sidmouth with Exeter and Honiton, both of which have direct train services to London. Sidmouth can also be visited as part of a day trip with Stuart Line Cruise as described in the section above. Sights worth visiting include the Sidmouth Museum and The Arches Interpretation Centre.
Below is a map with pins for all the sights discussed above in this article.
The Jurassic Coast is, I believe, one of England’s best summer destinations and should be part of every British Itinerary. It can be also be used as a base for further exploring the South Coast of England including Cornwall and Devon, as well as a jumping point for the Guernsey and Jersey Islands.
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