Tucked away where a fold of Dorset landscape meets the sea, Weymouth offers classic seaside charm.
There’s more to it than that, of course: it's also home to the festival-style family camping phenomenon typified by Eweleaze Farm. And then there’s the Isle of Portland, connected to Weymouth by the stunning Chesil Beach. You’re also in the heart of the Jurassic Coast here. A day may not be enough - but if you are giving summer a big send off, you can save when you book in advance.
When you buy your train ticket to Weymouth station, add PlusBus for unlimited bus travel for the day. The Jurassic Coaster is in fact a series of buses operated by FirstBus that you can catch from the King’s Statue, just 150 metres along the esplanade from the station, and will whisk you to Exeter in one direction or Poole in the other, with many beachy stops in between. You can order taxis from local firm Weyline.
Weymouth's chief attraction is, of course, its beach. Glorious sands stretch all the way along Weymouth’s Georgian seafront, and on a hot summer’s day there’s no better way to pass the time. There are also lots of beach events to come for throughout the year, including the Annual Beach Kite Festival, international volleyball tournaments and some great firework displays. The high season can get rather busy - which is when the locals tend to catch a bus to the shingle Chesil Beach, or small and friendly Bowleaze Cove in the other direction.
The SEA LIFE Adventure Park is an absorbing aquarium and adventure playground, with 14 acres of attractions and interactive activities for families to enjoy – book online for the best prices, and take advantage of the fantastic 2-for-1 offer when you buy your train ticket.
It’s not always appreciated that there’s a flourishing independent music scene in Weymouth, with many musicians living in the surrounding area and descending on the city after dark. Keep your eyes open for posters for one of the many pubs that has live music, or try The Boot Inn, to catch some local artists.
The rugged coastline that once made Weymouth a haven for smugglers and wreckers can be explored along the majestic South West Coast Path. It offers walking as fine as anywhere in the country, with wildlife and bird-watching opportunities. For dedicated twitchers, the RSPB’s Radipole Lake is a glorious bird sanctuary in the heart of the town, a short walk from Weymouth station. For the more adventurous, there’s a 13-mile round Portland walk that is delightful. Fans of hit ITV drama Broadchurch may fancy a visit to the place it’s made – West Bay is a 45-minute bus ride along the coast westwards.
Not many come to Weymouth solely to shop, but there are two main shopping streets with a range of familiar and independent shops, and among the plethora of souvenir, rock and beach shops you’ll find the rather fantastic Phils Vinyl Vault where vinyl and band merchandise can be bought. Continuing the vintage theme, just over the town bridge is the Brewers Quay Emporium, where several antique and collectables traders are gathered under one roof.
If you fancied trying your hand at a spot of fishing, the Weymouth Angling Centre has everything you might need for fishing or crabbing, along with some sage advice on how to proceed.
Like any good seaside town, Weymouth offers a wide variety of fresh fish eateries and seafront cafés, pubs and food markets. Just opposite the station The Handmade Pie And Ale House offers exactly the delights you would imagine, and is a great place for a quick break.
If you're in search of more sophistication you could head to the quite brilliant Al Molo, where Italy meets fine dining. Those with an eye for something unusual might like to try the Jailhouse Cafe – fully open to the public but situated in HMP Portland and staffed by inmates. The food is good, the view is stunning, the endeavour is worthy, and you’ll have a story to tell when you get home.
The Bay View Hotel ranks consistently highly with its guests and is situated on the seafront with magnificent views. It's ideal for exploring Weymouth and reasonably priced to boot.
If you’re after something with a more countryside feel, the Abbey House in nearby Abbotsbury is also very highly recommended, and offers tranquility amid delightful views of the Dorset countryside.
And if you want to stay somewhere completely amazing, nearby Wareham has what may be the country’s only Bus’n’Breakfast, where you can stay on board a transformed 1970s Canadian schoolbus parked in a field.