The Jurassic Coast – the only World Heritage Site in England – has a natural beauty that truly speaks volumes.
If you’re looking for a trip with a combination of relaxation and exploration, the Jurassic Coast is definitely for you – with its many beaches, fossil hunts, charming towns, and geology galore.
The coast stretches out over 90 miles, and although every inch of this magical place holds historic significance and unique formations, some locations simply stand out more than others.
You’ll fall in love with these 14 most beautiful places scattered throughout the Jurassic Coast – just don’t forget to bring your camera!
Table of Contents
1. Old Harry Rocks
Located at the eastern edge of the Jurassic Coast, Old Harry Rocks is a unique formation of chalk-like rocks that jet out into the sea to create a beautifully unique sight.
Once a single large formation, Old Harry Rocks has endured centuries of erosion – which has repeatedly transformed its appearances over the years into the remnants you see today.
It’s amazing to think that these chalk rocks were created by the build-up of plankton skeletons over the course of nearly 40 million years.
There are many legends as to how these iconic rocks got their name – but the most notable is that a pirate named Harry Paye once used the rocks to hide away from passing merchant ships.
To marvel at this strange structure by foot, you can venture through the grassy fields in Studland or Swanage where you’ll have unparalleled views of Old Harry Rocks and the wide sweeping Jurassic Coast.
However, if you’d like an even closer look at the famous rocks, you can book a Jurassic Coast cruise through the City Cruises Poole.
When you get hungry, you can go to the Knoll Beach Cafe to enjoy a quick bite with breathtaking views overlooking Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay.
2. Kimmeridge Bay
Easily one of the most popular destinations to visit along the Jurassic Coast, Kimmeridge Bay is a gem of a location filled with unique geology and historical significance.
With rocks that have been resting here for over 150 million years, it only makes sense that a few fossils are lying around – and the good news is, if you happen to stumble upon one, you’re allowed to take it home!
However, it’s important to note that you aren’t allowed to alter the rocks in any way – so if you find a fossil embedded into a rock (and you most likely will), you should simply observe it. Regardless, it’s an amazing sight to see ancient fossils up close and personal.
Surfing is another popular activity along the bay, and there are three locations to choose from so that surfers of all experience levels can enjoy their time on the water.
If you enjoyed your time looking for fossils out on the bay, then you have to stop by the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life, where you can admire over 2,500 fossils that have been excavated from the bay over the last 35 years.
While in the area, head over to the Wild Seas Centre to learn more about marine life along the Jurassic Coast through the use of interactive displays and conversations with the area’s marine wardens.
Don’t forget to stop by the Clavell Tower and check out this early 19th-century structure and consider booking a night’s stay to score a view of the coast that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
3. Budleigh Salterton
Even though Budleigh Salterton is located at the starting point of the Jurassic Coast, the town manages to maintain its small-town charm and humble atmosphere.
Everything about this town is picturesque, from its pebble-filled beach to its quaint streets that are filled with a large variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Spend some time in the great outdoors marveling at all the beautiful sights on any of the trails available – like the Cliff Trail, which leads to Sandy Bay, and the River Otter Trail, which lines the river.
Explore a historic smugglers cellar at the Fairlynch Museum and admire the displays that give light to how the area has changed throughout the centuries.
Many visitors take to Pebble Beach for the opportunity to swim or partake in watersports in the crystal clear waters while taking in the views of the Jurassic Coast.
Nestled between the country and the coast, the town is known for its amazingly fresh produce and boasts a large selection of restaurants to please all kinds of taste buds.
However, it’s highly recommended to stop into the town’s famous Fish and Chip Shop for the best-fried fish money can buy.
With adorable little towns like Otterton and East Budleigh just a stone’s throw away, you can always venture out to explore the cultures and communities of Budleigh Salterton’s neighbors.
Home to multiple World Heritage Sites along the Jurassic Coast, the small village of Lulworth has an overflowing amount of attractions and beauty to offer.
Considering its variety of natural wonders, it only makes sense that this part of the Jurassic Coast sees nearly half a million visitors a year – so don’t expect to have the place to yourself.
- One of the most popular wonders here is the Durdle Door, a grand arch formed by years of erosion. The arch stands tall at 200 feet above sea level – and is considered to be the most picturesque location in Dorset.
- If you head inland, you’ll come across Monkey World – which houses over 250 primates who have been rescued from abusive lives and released to spend the rest of their days with the help of their educated keepers.
- Swing by East Lulworth to admire the early 20th century Lulworth Castle and admire the many ceiling murals and charming tea rooms.
- A close runner-up for the village’s most beautiful natural wonder is the equally popular Lulworth Cove – which is a marvel of unique geological features caused by centuries of erosion and ice melt. Stop by the Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre to learn more about the interesting formations found within the cove, before heading out to explore them on your own.
- From the center of the cove’s sandy shores, you can head east to the one-of-a-kind formations at Worbarrow Bay and the strangely deserted town of Tyneham – or head west to the famous Dursley Door.
- If you’re looking for something more relaxing, lay out a towel at the cove’s Mupe Bay where you can admire the views of the coast with ease.
Kayak out to the sea from the depths of Lulworth Cove, explore the remnants of the Fossil Forest, enjoy a seafood meal on Man O’ War beach, or venture off to find other formations like the Lulworth Crumple and the Stairhole.
Located along the Jurassic Coast, the waterfront town of Sidmouth is a wonderful sight – and boasts a large variety of attractions, from its picturesque beaches to its charming downtown streets.
One of the most notable features in Sidmouth is the red-washed cliffs that line the coast and date as far back as the Triassic period. The best way to admire these sandstone landforms is by going for a walk along the Millennium Walkway, which just so happens to line the stunning Sidmouth Beach.
Sidmouth Beach is the perfect destination to bring the family, with its inviting combination of shingles and sand as well as calm waters ready for swimming. From the sandy shores, you can make the short climb up Jacob’s Ladder to reach the Connaught Gardens – where you can marvel at the breathtaking views overlooking the coast.
The town is also in the perfect location to walk to other nearby villages popular amongst the Jurassic Coast through the use of the South West Coast Path.
Swing by the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary to hang out with a bunch of rescued donkeys with the option to pet and feed them at your leisure in between mazes, trails, and more.
Once a favorite resort destination to the young Queen Victoria during the 19th century, Sidmouth boasts a stunning architectural presence that makes every inch of its confines truly beautiful.
Spend a few hours shopping amongst the many boutiques that line the high street, attend one of the frequent local festivals, and indulge in a tasty treat from one of the many popular cafes.
6. Portland Bill
Located at the southernmost tip of the Isle of Portland and the county of Dorset, the Portland Bill is known for its dangerous waters and iconic lighthouse.
The bill was the cause of many shipwrecks – and precautions were attempted as early as Roman times to try to lessen the blow of its shallow reefs and harsh waters. However, little worked until the lighthouse was established in the early 1900s.
The 100+-year-old lighthouse also houses a visitor center, where you learn about its history through the use of interactive displays and climb to the top for out-of-this-world views of the Jurassic Coast.
Keep in mind, you’ll need to be able to climb over 150 steps to reach the top – but there are plenty of picturesque windows along the way to motivate you to keep moving. Those who are willing to climb to the top will even earn themselves a badge for taking the exhausting journey up and back down.
While visiting the lighthouse’s center, the adventurous soul can enjoy a lively simulation of what it was like for ships to sail on a stormy night through an already treacherous sea.
If you wish to explore the area even further, you can always go for a walk amongst one of the area’s many trails – like the Pulpit Rock Trail, which leads to a strange rock formation nestled high above the coast, and a nameless trail, that leads to the ancient cranes still used to this day for lobster fishing.
Not far off is the Lobster Spot – so, when you get hungry, you can enjoy a dish of freshly caught seafood or head to the Pulpit Inn for something more pub-style.
7. Chesil Beach
Stretching out nearly 20 miles along the Jurassic Coast, Chesil Beach is considered to have one of the most beautiful views in all of Britain.
The shore is made up entirely of pebbles but ranges dramatically in size from one side to another. Legend has it that pirates that landed here could simply grab a handful of rocks to determine their location along the shore.
This isn’t the kind of beach that you’ll want to lay out your towel and soak up the sun – but rather a place where you can marvel at the untouched beauty of a wild place that answers to no one.
Stop by the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre to learn more about this unique beach, grab a bite to eat at the Taste Cafe, and set up a time to venture out on the Fleet Explorer.
Just past this interesting beach is the Fleet Lagoon – which is one of the last saline lakes completely undisturbed from outside influences in the entire world. You can spend hours admiring the diverse selection of birds that call the lagoon home, like egrets and greenshanks, before heading out on the Fleet Explorer to venture off into its depths.
The lagoon is also known for being one of the many testing grounds for bombs during World War II and remnants of its military presence can still be found throughout your exploration.
Once a sleepy fishing village, the small town of Beer has flourished thanks to its prime location along the historic Jurassic Coast – but this hasn’t made its quaint streets any less charming.
Even though it’s recent years of touristy transformation, fishing is still one of the most popular things to do here. The village of Beer still boasts a vibrant slew of fishing boats coming and going from its shore and bringing in the latest catches to be sold at local seafood restaurants.
It was here that that famous smuggler, Jack Rattenbury, laid down his roots – and where the lace used in Queen Victoria’s iconic wedding dress was sewn.
The village itself may be small, but the coastal boardwalk trails are endless – so you’ll have a large selection of options when it comes to taking in the views of the Jurassic Coast.
On the other hand, you can always spend a few hours soaking up the sun from a lounge chair along the pebble-filled Beer Beach for a more leisurely view of the coast.
Even more interesting is the Beer Quarry Caves, where you can take a guided tour into its depths and explore the remnants of a once prosperous quarry during Roman times.
Stop by the Fine Foundation Centre to observe tanks filled with the area’s most common marine life and learn more about the unique geology that makes Beer rocks such a popular material in construction across the world.
But don’t be fooled – there are also plenty of options when it comes to dining with a plethora of high-class restaurants, cozy cafes, fresh seafood shops, and lively pubs to choose from.
9. West Bay
Bordering the western edge of the popular Chesil Beach, West Bay is a beautiful sight made up of golden bluffs coated in sand and a wide sweeping shoreline perfect for a day in the sun.
Speaking of sandy shores – there are two lovely beaches to choose from, each offering its own benefits like the stellar view of the cliffside at East Beach and the peaceful solitude found at West Beach.
However, as beautiful as the golden cliff wall might be, you should keep a safe distance at all times – as the wall is extremely unstable and prone to frequent rockfalls.
Swimming is more plausible at West Beach, thanks to the strong current and aggressive waves that control the water at East Beach – but no matter what you decide to do, make sure to dedicate a few minutes to admire the East Cliff, which stands as a staple to the magical wonders of the Jurassic Coast.
Go for a walk down either of the two piers located along the bay and take time to admire the local fishermen busy at work on your way back to the vibrant cottages that line the seafront.
Head over to the Methodist church, now since turned into the West Bay Discovery Centre, to interact with displays and explore walking trails that teach you about the bay’s history.
Just a stone’s throw away is the charming town of Bridport with extra-wide streets that make strolling through the weekly markets spacious and pleasurable.
The town is known as the market capital of the Jurassic Coast, with vibrant street markets dating back over 400 years in the making.
Located at the center of the Jurassic Coast, Charmouth is a charming area filled with natural beauty and colorful streets that make it one of the most popular destinations along this World Heritage Site.
However, one attraction stands out amongst the rest – and makes visitors migrate back time and time again in hopes of marveling at new discoveries. All the excitement can be found along Charmouth Beach, where the rugged cliffside suffers from constant erosion from the rough sea.
The crumbling cliffs reveal hidden fossils that have been stored within its walls for centuries – and you can spend hours exploring the area to find one for yourself.
You’re almost guaranteed to see at least one fossil along your travels, as the beach is known for releasing large groups every day.
There are plenty of guided activities that take place throughout the year including fossil hunts, walks, and talks for a more informative approach to your exploration.
Swing by the Visitor Centre to check out some of the most unique and exciting fossils that have been found along Charmouth’s sandy shore before heading out to hunt for some yourself.
After you’ve channeled your inner geologist, make your way into town to admire the humble neighborhood filled with adorable cottages, beachfront shops, and tasty restaurants.
11. Lyme Regis
Everything about Lyme Regis screams relaxing beach vacation, with its pastel-colored houses just steps away from the sandy shore, and the smell of freshly cooked seafood never too far away.
Unlike most of the beaches along the Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis has a beach made completely free of pebbles, so you can spend hours digging your toes in the sand and building sandcastles – but if those pebbly beaches call out to you, you’re in luck, because the town also has a second beach more typical to the coast’s rocky style.
Whichever beach you decide to lay your towel on, just make sure you keep your eyes peeled for fossils – because they have a way of popping up along the shoreline.
Stretch your legs on any (or multiple) of the town’s many coastal trails with options leading to a historic Cobb and viewpoints overlooking the picturesque area. If you choose to trek along the main coastal path with its many ups and downs, consider packing a lunch to stop for a scenic picnic along the way.
Mountain leaders are available and excited to teach new visitors about the town’s rich history on a variety of walking tours that almost always end in a fossil hunt.
The waters here are perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking, and going on boat trips if you find yourself drawn to the sea, plus the Lyme Bay RIB Rides offers excursions for the more adventurous.
Just make sure you save enough time to visit the iconic Lyme Regis Philpot Museum, where you can appreciate all things dinosaurs as you walk through interactive exhibits and countless fossil displays.
12. The Undercliffs Reserve
Created by the major landslip that altered the earth in 1839, the Undercliffs Reserve is a miraculous sight of unique geology, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The reserve stretches out over seven miles and offers breathtaking views of both its unusual formation and the wide sweeping front of the Jurassic Coast.
Considering its extreme alternation, a large variety of wildlife and plant species have managed to grow around its edges, adding to its natural beauty.
One of the most popular ways to take it all in is by trekking along a portion of the South West Coast Path, but just keep in mind that this is a strenuous journey. You’ll need to climb and maneuver through rocky terrain and venture close to the unstable edges of the reserve – but the views are worth every step of the journey.
Even with the reserve being one of the most popular destinations along the Jurassic Coast, it manages to maintain a sense of untamed and wildlands.
Like much of the Jurassic Coast, guided tours are available along the reserve to provide guests with an educational and unique way to explore the area.
13. Golden Cap
Nestled between the picturesque towns of Charmouth and Bridport, the Golden Cap is a prime example of how the Jurassic Coast got its name.
The Golden sits atop the iconic red sandstone cliffs that line the coast and get its flat appearance from the layering of rocks dating back to the Jurassic period. It’s also known as the highest point along the southern coast with a whopping height of 627 feet above sea level.
You’ll notice that the giant rock that makes up the Golden Cap varies in color from dark grey to gold, simply because of the layering that has taken place over the centuries.
From the top of the cap, you can enjoy wide-sweeping views that stretch out along the coast to the famous Portland Bill and breathtaking Star Point.
It’s here that you’ll find the memorial of the Earl of Antrim, who made it his mission to maintain the natural beauty of the land by creating a national trust to combat the rise of housing developments.
14. Hive Beach
Named after its unique geology, Hive Beach is a beautiful place to get a feel for the Jurassic Coast – and there’s nothing quite like spending the day sunbathing on its shingle shore.
As lovely as this beach might be, it can be extremely dangerous for those who don’t take precautions, like at most of the locations along the wild Jurassic Coast.
Spend all the time you need admiring the endless views and skipping rocks out on the sea – but don’t attempt to swim in these crystal clear waters, as the tides are strong – and the waves are stronger.
Go for a walk along the eastern side of the cliff walls (the western side suffers from rock falls) to marvel at the dotted formations that give the beach its name while also remaining on the hunt for fossils.
Stop by the beach-side cafe for an exquisite menu of freshly caught seafood ranging from quick bites, like a crab sandwich, to a full course meal, like the Monkfish dinner platter.
If you end up with some extra time on your hands, consider making the short uphill journey to Bind Barrow, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.