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If you’re hankering for the sight of blue oceans, gorgeous beaches and picturesque towns, you’re going to love a Jurassic Coast road trip. This part of the UK is going to knock your socks off and give you the space you need to breathe and blow the cobwebs of this year away- jeez, don’t we all need a bit of that right now?
Whilst the Jurassic Coast stretches across Dorset and Devon, Tom and I decided to spend 3 days in Dorset to explore this area of the coast. We stayed in Bournemouth and found it to be a great base for our road trip and gave us the chance to visit a couple of other places as well.
Like Bath, it had taken me far too long to make my way to this part of the UK. about 15 years too long if I think about it. I first went to Dorset in secondary school for a geography field trip where I probably traipsed around in the unappreciative manner of most teenagers *sigh*. I had no idea what was right in front of me!
But after spending 3 days in Dorset as a marginally more mature, but definitely more appreciative adult, I can safely say you have to visit here. So if you’re looking for some inspiration for a fantastic weekend away, this Jurassic Coast road trip itinerary is perfect for you.
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- A first timers guide to Liverpool
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Where is the Jurrasic coast and what’s with the name?
The Jurassic Coast refers to a 95 mile stretch of coastland between at Old Harry Rocks in Swanage, Dorset and Orcombe Point in Exmouth, Devon. It’s England’s only natural World Heritage Site due to the outstanding value of landforms, rocks and fossils. Here you can find fossils dating back to 250 million years ago!
How to get to Dorset
The best way to explore Dorset and this part of the Jurassic coast is by car. Public transport to the main areas is very limited as most of what you’ll want to see is in the countryside. If you don’t have your own car then take a look at rentalcars.com. This comparison site will help you find the best car for the lowest price and they even price match if you find it cheaper elsewhere. The perfect way to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
Where to stay for a weekend in Dorset
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to visit Dorset, I recommend staying in Bournemouth. This seaside town is one of the old classic UK holiday destinations and it’s still a great place to stay today. We opted for a studio apartment on Air BnB a 5-minute drive from the seafront and it was perfect for our stay. For this Dorset itinerary, Bournemouth is a great base.
If you prefer a hotel, you’ll find the big chain hotels such as Mercure and Hilton and also plenty of boutique hotels and B&Bs. My go-to website for accommodation is booking.com as they have a great loyalty programme to get more discounts on future stays.
Your 3 day Dorset Itinerary and Jurassic Coast Road Trip
Day 1 – Bournemouth
Whether you decide to stay in Bournemouth or not, it’s a really lovely seaside town. The sandy beach is perfect for a sunbath on a sunny day and in the summer there are lifeguards if you fancy a dip. You’ll find all the usual highstreet shops in town as well as some quirky places to eat and grab a drink.
Start your day with a walk along the beach. With 7 miles of it you’ll be able to get some fresh sea air and enjoy the golden sands. The water here on a sunny day even looks blue which is so nice to see in the UK! With plenty of colourful beach huts and little shops to get a coffee (or ice cream, you’re on holiday after all) it’s easy to pass the keep on walking.
Of course, no British seaside is complete without a pier. Bournemouth’s is quite small but still has rides and arcades to enjoy. The beach is also popular with surfers and the pier provided a great place to watch them, too.
If you’ve watched some of my vlogs, you’ll probably know I LOVE a brewery, so it’s no surprise I sniffed one out in Bournemouth. The Brewhouse and Kitchen has a great selection of local craft beers and some great grub to go with it. I had one of their burgers along with their tasting paddle to sample some of their beers and it was great. They also have an awesome beer garden with beach huts to sit in.
After lunch, have a wander around the Lower Gardens which is just off of the seafront. There’s a mini-golf course in here if you fancy a game, but it’s also just a nice spot to have another walk around. Beware of the very tame squirrels though – they’re everywhere and are definitely used to being fed by people!
I always love to watch the sunset at the beach so stay until the evening and relax on the beach. When I visited there was an Aperol bar set up on the beach itself which was the perfect place to end the day in Bournemouth.
Day 2 – Poole to Old Harry Rocks
Just 20 mins away is the lovely seaside town of Poole. Famous for its large harbour and sandy beaches, Poole is a great place to get out and explore the waters and see the first part of the Jurassic Coast.
Tom and I went on a 2 hour Jurassic Coast Cruise that went around the harbour and all the way to Old Harry Rocks, the start of the Jurrasic Coast. We bought our tickets from one of the booths along the harbour front and got lucky with availability. If you’re visiting in peak season though, I recommend booking your tickets in advance online, which is super easy to do on the Get Your Guide website.
The cruise takes you past Sandbanks which is known for being one the most expensive places to buy a property and for having award-winning golden beaches. There is also a chain ferry that connects Sandbanks to Swanage that you can take your cars on which is pretty unique!
The cruise continues on to Old Harry Rocks before looping back round to head back to the harbour. I absolutely loved this cruise and for the bargain price of £15, I think it’s well worth it.
This is where you properly start your Jurassic Coast road trip! Drive on a little bit more (or take the chain ferry from Sandbanks) to Swanage. This beautiful little place is so quaint, peaceful and picture-postcard-esque. Think old stone buildings and a beautiful bay surrounded by cliffs and you’ve got Swanage.
The Swanage railway runs a beautiful steam train to Corfe Castle if you’re looking to do something different. If you don’t fancy a trip on it, you can still see it in the station which is pretty awesome.
Now, no trip to the coast is complete without some fish and chips. For a chippy lunch with a view, go to Wright on the Beach and sit on the benches outside.
For sunset with an extra punch, get over to Old Harry Rocks. On the way, you’ll pass Corfe Castle which sits on top of a hill and was built in the 11th century by William the Conquerer. It’s impressive, beautiful and if you have time, well worth a visit.
To get to these incredible cliff tops you will need to park up in the car park and walk for about 20 minutes. The views here are so beautiful and even though it’s a popular destination, it wasn’t too busy. It would be well worth it anyway. Get here an hour before sunset to really enjoy the golden light before the sun goes down.
Day 3 – Chesil Beach to Lulworth Cove
When you google Dorset, chances are you will see photos from one of the places you’re going to see today. These hot spots are going to be the perfect end to your weekend in Dorset. It takes just an hour to reach some of the best places to visit on the south west coast.
Your first stop is the incredible Chesil Beach. Chesil Beach is not your usual golden sand beach the coast at all, but it’s incredible. This 18 mile long beach is purely shingle but it’s so impressive and actually still really relaxing. The water here has some seriously strong currents so you can’t swim here but on the surface, the water looks so peaceful.
Chesil Beach is actually the link to your next stop, the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach joins this island to the mainland and is super pretty. Make your way straight up the winding roads to Portland Bill Lighthouse and take in the views of the island. There’s another great viewpoint as you make you way back down as well which you cannot miss out on.
Durdle Door is probably the most famous place to visit on the South West coast and you can’t spend the weekend in Dorset and not visit here. The natural beauty of the rock formation definitely makes for a beautiful setting but there’ also some epic walks you can do from here over the cliff tops.
Ont he walk down to Durdle Door is the rugged Man O’ War beach with beautiful clear blue waters. If you’re looking for a place to escape the crowds, this is where you should go. People will always flock to Durdle Door but I think this beach is just as impressive.
If you’re up for a bit of a walk to finish off your Jurassic Cost road trip, you can walk over the cliff to neighbouring Lulworth Cove. This pretty cove is another great place for a swim or to grab a bite to eat in one of the pubs or cafes. The perfect place to end your 3 days in Dorset!