Guide to the Jurassic Coast

Beaches, Coastal, Destinations

Posted by Courtney Kelly on 15th July 2022

Resplendent Durdle Door

Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is an area unlike any other in the UK. It’s a spellbinding region that caters to the varying curiosities of visitors, be it a cliff-top walk with far-reaching ocean views, a beach day with a difference, or the fossil hunting that the area is famous for.

If you’re wondering what to see on a Jurassic Coast holiday, you’re in luck. Whether you’re visiting as a family, as a couple with a dog or just as a group of friends, there are 95 miles of vibrant coastline to explore, allowing you to step back through time to discover some of the region’s incredible history.

With so much to explore at this incredible geological wonder and so many Jurassic Coast things to do still on your bucket list, you’re going to need somewhere to sleep for the (ammo)nite! Browse our collection of cottages on the Jurassic Coast below.

All Jurassic Coast cottages

Ammonite fossils encased in rock

At the south of Dorset, near Swanage, the Jurassic Coast stretches 95 miles west and even enters the county of Devon at Exmouth.

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site and has been since 2001. This is largely in part to its exceptional geology which in turn has led to it becoming a fossil hunter’s paradise. Yet there is more to this special place with wildlife enthusiasts flocking to the area, as well as holidaymakers who wish to visit Dorset’s attractive villages and sand and shingle beaches.

The Jurassic period, which was 199.6 million to 145.5 million years ago, was typified by an abundance of life and some of this former life has been captured in the rock formations found along this stretch of coastline. However, many rocks date back to the older Triassic and younger Cretaceous periods, so if you want to impress your friends, you might want to refer to it as the Mesozoic Coast, which encompasses all three periods.

A child searching for fossils

Things to do on the Jurassic Coast

If you’re thinking of visiting the Jurassic Coast, you’re likely a lover of the sea; if not venturing into it, then at least viewing it from a respectable distance. And that’s just as well because the best of what this famous expanse has to offer revolves around the shoreline and the beauty it embodies. From strolls on the South West Coast Path to playing fetch with Fido on Mudeford Sandbank, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

An impressive ammonite on the Dorset coast

Fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast

Possibly the main reason for travellers frequenting this coast, fossil hunting on Dorset’s shores has been steadily growing more popular ever since Mary Anning’s fateful discoveries put Dorset’s beaches on the map. It was in Lyme Regis in the early 19th century where the first ever specimens of the ichthyosaur were found. Read more about Lyme Regis and other great Dorset beaches for fossil hunting here.

Jurassic Coast fossil hunting

Walking the dog near Durdle Door

Dorset’s dog-friendly beaches

It can’t all be about the ammonites and Cretaceous conversations; you might need to find somewhere to take your own little dino-paw! Luckily, some of the beaches that budding palaeontologists would want to visit accept furry four-pawed friends too. And the ones where you might not find many fossils, like Durdle Door and Steamer Point Beach, are so captivating that you won’t even mind having an afternoon off from relic rummaging.

Dorset's dog-friendly beaches

Lulworth Cove

The most beautiful beaches in Dorset

So, you’ve found your fossils and now you’re looking to take in Dorset’s most beautiful beaches: some being popular coves and some being lesser-known stretches of sand. You could stay close to fossil-obsessed Lyme Regis whilst still keeping away from the crowds at Cobb Beach, or move further east and head to the incredible coves of Lulworth and Man O’War Beach. There are these and so many more waiting to be visited.

Dorset's beautiful beaches

Old Harry Rocks

The best of Dorset’s coastal walks

If you’ve done your fair share of beach walking (or even if you haven’t), you might want to treat yourself to a slightly different kind of walk along and near the Dorset coastline. RSPB Arne, for example, is close to Poole Harbour and incorporates a gorgeous nature reserve as well as Arne Bay. Other harbours to explore include Portland and West Bay, the latter’s beach being a central filming location for ITV’s Broadchurch. For cliff-top rambles with sensational views, try Old Harry Rocks or the amusingly named Scratch Arse Ware and Dancing Ledge walk.

Walking Dorset's coast

Self-catering holidays on the Jurassic Coast

Once you’re done reading about all the amazing things to do on the Jurassic Coast, why not browse our fantastic selection of self-catering holiday lets in the region? From dog-friendly cottages on the Jurassic Coast to Jurassic Coast luxury abodes, we have the accommodation to suit you on your Dorset coastal getaway.

All Jurassic Coast cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.