June 19, 2019 Jurassic Coast, UK

Where to Visit in England: Jurassic Coast

turquoise waters in a cove next to Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch

Like my Eastern Europe trip, my trip to the stunning cliffs of Jurassic Coast was very much inspired by photos on Instagram haha. It's interesting to think about how much the platform has influenced tourism. While it brings stunning places to our attention, there's no doubt it's contributed to overtourism--which drives up costs for locals, destroys wildlife, and just generally makes lovely destinations much less pleasant. That said, the extra tourism--in moderation--can also revitalize dying cities.

Jurassic Coast is definitely a popular destination, and can get overcrowded in the later summer months. If I visit "Instagram destinations," I try to go in the off-season to avoid crowds, like I did with Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina (and of course I try to be respectful of the people and wildlife). June tends to still be slower at Jurassic Coast, and I had (luckily?) arrived during a period of horrendous weather, probably dissuading most people from traveling. 

In any case, here are my tips for visiting Jurassic Coast--for where to stay, eat, and go:

Where to Stay

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I decided on Bournemouth, a seaside town 2 hours away from London by train (it's also the home and resting place of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein--there's a semi-morbid, semi-touching story about how she's buried with her husband's heart; I encourage you to look it up). I rented an Airbnb, which was about $27/night, or £21 (if you don't have an Airbnb account yet, you can sign up with my referral link and get $48 off your stay). There are many Jurassic Coast tour companies that pick up in Bournemouth, so that worked well for me as I didn't have a car. For those with no car, staying in Wool is also an option, as there are buses that connect to popular Jurassic Coast sites.

I would've liked to stay in Weymouth, another seaside town known for its colorful houses, but it was 3 hours again from London, and housing was much more expensive. I did end up visiting Weymouth and found it charming though--it was much livelier than Bournemouth, but also felt more touristy. 

Where to Eat

If you stay in Bournemouth, I absolutely adored Café Thrive. They're a relatively affordable vegan restaurant in the city center with ample seating (perfect for working or catching up with friends). The seitan fried "chicken" sandwich was so rich and filling. 

Along the actual Jurassic Coast, there are several cafés and pubs where you can get something quick to eat. I just went for scones with jam and clotted cream (not vegan, but so good). 

Where to Go

Since I didn't have a car, I signed up for a tour with Discover Dorset. It was pretty pricey at £41 ($52), but there wasn't really another good way to see the iconic landscapes I came to England for. The tour was well-run and gave us the right amount of autonomy, but I was disappointed that we didn't really get to visit Old Harry Rocks, these gorgeous chalk cliffs. We stopped at a point in the very far distance and could barely seek the rock formations :/ Still, I found our driver very engaging and attentive--I felt sick in the morning, and he gave me some mints, switched my seat to the front, and checked in on me throughout the day. The other sites we saw were also lovely--here are my favorite stops:

Corfe Castle

a charming pub in Corfe Castle with hanging plants against a white exterior
the entrance of Corfe Castle and the castle ruins

Corfe Castle is both the name of the actual castle and the quaint town it's in. The castle is in ruins as it was besieged by Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Entry is about £10, but I didn't go in--my foot was giving me trouble that day, and I felt that I could see the ruins perfectly fine from the outside haha. 

The town itself is charming and is home to many pubs and shops. There's also a steam railway station with a tiny museum (if you can call it that) and a steam train that still carries passengers regularly!

Durdle Door

lush green English fields
Durdle Door on a cloudy day
horrendous wind at Durdle Door
the lush grass lining the cliffs of Jurassic Coast

Durdle Door is an iconic limestone arch along the coast. I shouldn't have been surprised, but getting to Durdle Door requires a 1/4 mile steep descent along a rocky path. There are actually miles of coastal paths connecting sites like Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, and had I been injury-free, I would've loved to do some trail running along them. The first image in this post is also from the Durdle Door area--I definitely found the coastline here most stunning.

There are stairs down to the beach in front of Durdle Door, and you can even swim there. Bring good walking shoes for this visit since the paths are uneven and steep!

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth cove's turquoise water
the charming town with white and brick houses by Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove is another beautiful natural rock formation. Unlike Durdle Door, it's right next to a town, so you can pick up an ice cream on a hot day, or some tea on a nasty day. I found the short walk to the cove much easier than the one to Durdle Door, though I'd still recommend sturdy shoes.

One thing I appreciated was the little museum/info center, where you could watch a video about the science behind the cove, and take a look at different fossils. 

If you're planning a trip to England and want to go somewhere other than London, or somewhere with more nature, I definitely recommend Jurassic Coast. It is possible to do a day trip from London, but I think it'd be pretty tiring. I'd stay at least a night or two, so you have a full day to explore the coastline. Bring some good athletic shoes, and you'll be all set for some lovely views and walks.

Happy travels,

Where to Visit in England: Jurassic Coast | imperfect idealist

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