Once a place has been awarded World Heritage status it makes it quite hard to keep a secret, but it seems that not everyone has realised there are so many great reasons to visit the beautiful Jurassic Coast.

The region spans the Devon and Dorset borders on the South Coast and has been a popular holiday location for families for generations. Whether you are a frequent visitor or someone just thinking about the area for a holiday, read on for the top reasons to visit the Jurassic Coast in 2023.

East Devon panorama
A panoramic view of East Devon. © Alison Day

Spring on the Jurassic Coast – Perfect for Walking and Fossil Hunting

With the new holiday season on the horizon the area is starting to wake up and literally blow away the winter cobwebs.

The weather may be a bit unpredictable but at this time of year but walking is one of the most popular ways to spend time. As the days get longer from Easter and beyond, there is plenty of daylight for really good walks.

The choice of routes along the coast or just inland is almost limitless and there are locations to cater for all abilities. Choose from long point-to-point walks such as Orcombe Point and its landmark Geo Needle in Exmouth to Sidmouth, your fitness may be tested on the hills but you can enjoy a bus ride back) or shorter take circular walks to a fabulous view point such as Abbotsbury to St Catherine’s Chapel.

Orcombe Point Geoneedle

Orcombe Point Geoneedle. © Steve Belasco

If the steep climbs prove a challenge too far, there are also plenty of places to enjoy easier, buggy friendly and all terrain wheelchair routes. Stonebarrow Hill near Charmouth has accessible paths as does part of the route to Peak Hill and Salcombe Hill both sides of Sidmouth. For a leisurely walk many of the coastal towns have long esplanades which also offer a choice of coffee shops and cafes to enjoy. The pretty fishing harbour at West Bay offers views made popular by Broadchurch, and Lyme Regis with its iconic Cobb wall and sea defences has over a mile of coast-hugging pavements.

For a lovely beach walk, Charmouth has two options and is well known for its fossils and popular Heritage Centre.  Plan ahead though if you want to walk in the sand, as with its extreme high and low tides you may miss the best part of the beach.  

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach. © Lee Chizell

Summer - Beach Days, Rock pooling and Watersports

As the weather and the sea temperature start to rise the beaches start to come alive again. Of course there are many hardy folk out there that think nothing of sea swimming all year round, but I have to admit I am not one of them.

For families and friends, a relaxing day on the beach is a great way to spend time, with maybe a quick cooling dip. Choose your beach depending on your favourite activities and the facilities you would like.

Lyme Regis and Exmouth are popular for their safe sandy beaches, beach side facilities and choice of watersports such as paddleboarding and kayak hire. These beaches and Sidmouth have life guards in the summer which you may find reassuring.

For a day out with few facilities, there are more remote beaches such as Cogden near Bridport or Branscombe near Beer.

I for one am not a fan of sandy beaches, and two of my favourites are Seaton and Budleigh Salterton. Both have long sloping pebble banks which go quite steeply into the sea. Better for confident swimmers or paddle boarders where you can be sure to find a space away from the crowds.

Another popular past time for all ages is rock pooling. Most beaches from Charmouth to Exmouth will reveal their watery secrets at low tide. Some of the best places are Broad Ledge at Lyme Regis, Jacobs Ladder at Sidmouth and Maer Rocks in Exmouth.

Colyton Station Seaton Tramway

Seaton Tramway's Colyton Station. © Alison Day

Autumn  - Wildlife, Woodlands and Hill Forts

With the weather often still in the early 20 degrees, Autumn days are perfect for walking and exploring but a wet weather back up plan or a good set of waterproofs are essential! All along the Jurassic Coast and a short distance inland there are range of historic houses and monuments, hill forts and wonderful beech woodlands. 

Locals love the views from the Hardy Monument and on select days you can climb the tower and see right along the coast on a clear day. Colmer’s Hill near Bridport is another popular walk and view point. Enjoy tropical gardens at Abbotsbury, try the unique Seaton Tramway or wander around the popular Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth. If you enjoy bird watching there are nature reserves at Seaton Wetlands, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth that welcome migrating birds.

Lyme Regis Museum cabinet

Lyme Regis Museum. © Matt Austin

Winter Days Out - Explore Heritage, History and Crafts

Once again as the seasons change and we head into winter you can combine interesting indoor attractions such as West Bay Discovery Centre, Axminster Heritage Centre and museums in Bridport and Lyme Regis with a visit to one of many independent artisan coffee shops.

Check out local towns like Honiton or West Bay for antiques or Colyton and Ottery St Mary for fascinating vintage shops. There are also lots of lovely seasonal markets and crafts fairs which are especially popular in November as well as Christmas light displays at Sidmouth Connaught Gardens and Abbotsbury Gardens.

Before you travel to the area, why not check out events at some of the delightful local theatre venues. Offering a wide range of performances from music, comedy and films to pantomimes, local theatres such as the Electric Palace, Axminster Guildhall, Lyme Regis Marine Theatre and Honiton Beehive are great places to support.

Hive Beach cliffs

Hive Beach Cliffs. © Lex McKee

The Jurassic Coast – Perfect All Year Round

The pace of life along the Jurassic Coast is relaxed, there’s no need to rush around! From weekend breaks to romantic escapes and family holidays, you are sure to find plenty of things you and your family to enjoy on the Jurassic Coast. Wind down and relax, enjoy the sea views and indulge with ice creams and fish and chips while you take in the sunsets.

Top Reasons to Visit the Jurassic Coast has been written by Clare Mackenney. You can find ideas for local days out, walks and seasonal event on her popular website Flip Flops or Wellies.




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