Whether you’re looking for a family day out or a dreamy couples’ beach break, the picturesque Jurassic Coast makes for the perfect day trip or weekend staycation. The long coastal stretch is home to an array of quaint spots, including the blissful Orcombe Point and the picturesque chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks near Swanage. There’s plenty to see whatever the weather.
With its vast array of sights and its status as England’s only natural World Heritage Site, it’s no surprise that the Jurassic Coast draws in 22 million visitors each year. Read on to discover more about the Jurassic Coast, including where it is, the activities on offer, where to stay and how to get there.
Located on the south coast of England, the World Heritage Site stretches a vast 95 miles across south Devon and Dorset, from Exmouth in the west all the way to beachy Studland Bay in the east.
There’s no better way to explore the Jurassic Coast than by foot. There are train stations dotted all along the way, and buses to take you to all the important sights, so leave your car behind and hop on a train to explore all that the Jurassic Coast has to offer.
Continue your exploration of the Jurassic Coast by bus, with unlimited travel on the Jurassic Coaster or the Purbeck Breezer. Hop on and off along the way at must-see spots including Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Or for a blast from the past, enjoy a heritage steam and diesel train journey aboard Swanage Railway.
The train from London to the Jurassic Coast takes just over three hours. Take a South Western Railway train from London Waterloo to Weymouth or change at Bournemouth to get a connecting train. You could also take a direct train to Exeter and begin your adventure from there.
Buy your tickets in advance to get the best prices, and click here to see all of our train times and routes.
Things to do on the Jurassic Coast
Perfect for geography buffs and lovers of a certain dinosaur film franchise, take a step back in time as you admire formations spanning across three geological time periods: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous – dating as far back as 65 million years. Schools, groups and solo explorers can enjoy educational days out along the stretch, dipping into museums that feature fossils and magical findings from the coast, or embarking on geological coastal walks and tours to learn more.
There are ample activities to scout out along the Jurassic Coast, from sea safaris and water sports to walking and cycling.
Top sights on the Jurassic Coast
Some of the coastal must-sees include the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door, the ancient Corfe Castle and the Old Harry Rocks. Take a trip to Lulworth Cove and its charming village, too, before heading to fossil-hunting hotspot Lyme Regis.
Cinephiles, the coast has formed the backdrop to a multitude of films and TV shows over the years, so set-spot to your heart’s content with our Railway Movie Trail. Book boffins can enjoy seeing the sights of many well-known classic books come to life too.
Walking the Jurassic Coast
See the hidden gems of the Jurassic Coast by foot, where there are walking trails for hikers and leisurely strollers alike.
Explore the glorious 95-mile stretch by following the South West Coast Path National Trail. This takes you all the way from Old Harry Rocks to Exmouth and features cliff-top views and calm coastal walks along the way.
Alternatively, explore one of Dorset’s most iconic landmarks and follow the mostly-flat 70-minute Chesil Beach Walk, which is the perfect family walk and follows the stunning shingle beach.
Traverse 15 miles from Burton Bradstock to West Bay along a picturesque path. Landslides that eroded 20,000 years ago formed the golden sandstone cliffs that make for the backdrop of this Jurassic Coast walk.
Hop on and off the Jurassic Coaster bus in West Dorset, which stops by every walking trail.
Cycling along the Jurassic Coast
Make the most of the Jurassic Coast’s well-connected National Cycle Network and weave through the towns and villages by bike. Route 2 offers an east-to-west coast path, while route 26 connects Weymouth with Dorchester. Take your bike with you on the train or head to a cycle hire shop along the coast to grab a mountain bike for cycling the Jurassic Coast’s many bridleways.
Aside from the phenomenal views, there are plenty of other attractions and activities to enjoy along the Jurassic Coast.
Whether you’re more into cruises or water sports, book a water-based excursion with one of the area’s many providers including City Cruises Poole, Moonfleet Sailing Dorset and RED Rock Leisure. Or enjoy a spot of fishing to catch your supper by heading to Weymouth Angling Centre for all the gear you’ll need.
Immerse yourself in history and learn all about the Jurassic Coast at Wareham town museum, Fairlynch museum in East Devon, The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre or – one that’s sure to be a hit with little ones – The Dinosaur Museum.
Steeped in history, kids will love foraging for fossils in the Jurassic Coast, which has rock formations that are up to 65 million years old so there’s plenty of treasures to be found – read our fossil hunting guide to get you started.
Stay safe on your adventures by paying attention to any warning signs you spot and avoid cliff edges and bases to prevent injury from falling or falling rocks. Be aware of tide times, and in case of an emergency on the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Find out more about staying safe on the Jurassic Coast.
Food and drinks
There are plenty of places to eat and drink on your visit, that are conveniently accessible from South Western Railway stops.
Dig into sumptuous, locally sourced seafood suppers at Fish n Fritz and The Harbour Terrace at Weymouth Harbour, or at The Boat That Rocks in Portland.
For a treat, enjoy traditional British offerings at Saveur or a fancy Italian meal at Al Molo, both in Weymouth. Morton’s Manor Restaurant is an award-winning culinary treat for travellers to Corfe Castle, and Coast Restaurant in the Grand Hotel Swanage has something for everyone.
For fuss-free food and drink after a long day of exploring, The Esplanade in Weymouth is home to a range of bars and eateries, and at every coastal stop you’ll find independent cafes to fuel up at. Favourites include Swanage Pizza and Burgers and Taste Café at Chesil Beach.
Places to stay on Jurassic Coast
From hotels to campsites, there’s no shortage of places to stay, no matter your budget. Here are some options that are all accessible by train or bus – ideal for a car-free getaway.
Leave the hassle behind when you come for your staycation by staying at a hotel. The four-star Bay View Hotel in Weymouth is perfect if you want to be beside the seaside, while the Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorchester, complete with spa, is a great option if you fancy some pampering.
If you’d prefer a bed and breakfast, the quaint Abbey House in Weymouth offers fairytale-style rooms for an idyllic night away, or if you like the added independence of self-catering, book a stay in one of Dorset Hideaway’s holiday cottages.
Adventurers can rest their heads in one of the region’s many campsites and holiday parks. Weymouth has them in abundance: book a spot at Higher Moor Campsite, Freshwater Beach Holiday Park or Elweaze Farm.
Jurassic Coast accessibility
For accessibility information ahead of your visit, be sure to research the specific areas along the coast that you’re visiting.
We recommend that you also research prices and times for certain attractions in advance, so visit the Jurassic Coast site for more information.