The Jurassic coast is a phenomenon of nature. This spectacular coastline has literally been 185 million years in the making.
One noticeable aspect of the Jurassic coast is that its beaches tend to be a pebble. However littered amongst the many wonderfully coloured and shaped stones, are fossils from bygone days of the dinosaurs.
If you’re staying in a lodge in Devon or Dorset, you’ll have countless options for days out and places to visit. We’ve put together our list of favourite seaside towns on the Jurassic coast.
The top 5 days out on the beautiful Jurassic coast of Devon and Dorset
Why are these the best seaside towns on the Jurassic coast? The reason we’ve chosen these locations is that they all offer something unique. If you’re looking for a quiet beach to soak up the scenery or if you’re in search of a more traditional British seaside town, that’s bustling with plenty to see and do then you’ll find it on our list.
Yes there is a small seaside town in Devon called Beer. Located about 15 miles east of Exeter on the Jurassic coast, Beer is a fantastic place. There seems to be a real calmness about Beer, compared to other towns in the region. Perhaps because there isn’t much of a high street. Visitors will find some small boutique shops, a few restaurants and 3 pubs. The fish and chip shop is also well worth a visit and a really good thing to do is take your meal down to the beach and enjoy the sea views.
Beer has a spectacular beach surrounded by cliffs. It almost feels like a cove. The local fishermen can often be seen heading out or returning with their catch. The beach has a couple of small cafe-type eateries, with plenty of tables and benches. When the sun is shining, Beer is a hard place to beat. If it’s kiss me quick hats and donkey rides you’re after then you’ll be disappointed. Beer is the total opposite. The town is a small, quaint and peaceful location and well worth a visit.
For a busier seaside town in Devon, Exmouth just about tops the bill. Strangely the beach is sand, unlike many others in the area.
One of the best times to visit Exmouth is early in the morning in the height of summer; just as the shops and cafes are about to open. The water is still and glistens under the sunshine and feels like pure tranquillity. Exmouth enjoys stunning views across. The water that looks out to Starcross and Dawlish.
The cafes, ice cream parlours, bars and shops soon spring into life and the town can become very busy.
Water sports fans can windsurf, paddleboard, kayak and swim, whilst beach lovers can enjoy the 2-mile stretch of sand, to top up the suntan.
Exmouth is a short 5-minute walk. The town square known as The Strand is surrounded by bars and cafes and the marina is a nice peaceful stroll away.
Be sure to visit Krispies fish and chip shop. Perhaps the only chippy that serves battered chips!
The smallest place on our list of best seaside towns to visit on the Jurassic coast, Branscombe has a tiny population of just over 500 people, which actually makes it a village. Branscombe however is a beautiful place to visit and boasts an idyllic coastline.
The pebbled beach sits beneath rolling hills and cliffs. The Jurassic coastal path is easy to access from the seafront.
Driving down to the beach, visitors will find a car park, with ample space. Be sure to get a ticket as the car park is monitored by cameras.
The beach is long and children will love exploring the rock pools and dipping their toes into the water.
Sat overlooking the beach is a fantastic cafe called The Sea Shanty. With cakes, teas, coffee and meals as well as beers and wines, the Sea Shanty is the perfect spot for relaxing on a stunning beach front.
Branscombe also has a lovely country pub called The Masons arms. This 14th Century traditional bar has a quaint thatched roof and serves modern British food. They often have a good selection of ales and wines. The Masons arms is a short stroll from the beach and it also has its own parking.
Often referred to as the gateway to the Jurassic coast, Sidmouth Town would make an excellent day out for those staying in a lodge nearby. This regency town has a lovely pebbled beach with plenty of things to do. You’ll often find people swimming in the sea or paddle boarding near the shoreline. The raised esplanade runs alongside the beach and is a safe walking area for those with young children.
Sidmouth has charming boutique shops and independent cafes. There is somewhat of a slow pace to life in Sidmouth and a nice glass of wine on the seafront is the perfect way to spend a summer holiday.
The town has a few shops and places to buy ice cream, one of which is a parlour called Taste which often has long queues for their ice cream, but it’s well worth the wait.
Sidmouth also has access to the Jurrasic coastal walk and for those who don’t mind a hilly climb, the views from Peak hill that overlook the town and coast are simply spectacular. Sidmouth has a small museum and Connaught Gardens is a lovely area with flowers and pathways that again overlook the coast. The garden also has a small cafe to keep refreshed in the warm sunshine.
In August Sidmouth plays host to its famous Folk Festival. A week’s entertainment of live music, street shows and stalls. During this week the town can get quite busy however the atmosphere is always good and everyone seems to have a nice time.
#5 Lyme Regis
Just heading over the Devon and Dorset border is the town of Lyme Regis. For dinosaur lovers and fossil hunters, Lyme Regis is the perfect place to visit. The town has a dinosaur museum, showcasing some incredible finds and children can spend hours searching the pebbled beach.
The beach on Lyme Regis is both pebble and sand so there is something for everyone. The esplanade can get busy during the peak months as there are numerous bars, restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlours as you would expect from a seaside town on the Jurassic coast.
At the end of the esplanade is the famous Lyme Regis cobb. A stunning harbour wall dating back to the 1300s. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the Cobb and take in the stunning views of the seafront.
The grassed hill overlooking the beach has a crazy golf course and this seaside town on the Jurassic coast has museums and small independent shops to leisurely saunter around.
Visiting the Jurassic Coast FAQs
The coastline is nearly 100 miles long, stretching from Devon into Dorset.
Visitors travelling in by road from the north can access the South West on the M5 Motorway. Once at Exeter there are clear signs to the various towns along the coast. During the peak holiday season, the smaller roads can become busy.
Holidaymakers arriving from the East have the option of the M4, A303 or A35. The A35 hugs part of the coastline and has some wonderful views of the cliffs and sea.
Absolutely yes! There are paths along the the route. There are numerous cliffs so be prepared for some steep climbs. Nevertheless once at the top the views will be worth the effort. There are plenty of opportunity for refreshments along the way.
Yes. You’ll often find people sea fishing, stood from the esplanades during quieter times. Its not uncommon to see people fishing stood on the beach in Branscombe. For something a little different, why not book yourself onto a Mackerel fishing trip and sail out on a boat to find your catch. These excursions are available in Exmouth.
The annual festival is usually held in August. There are numerous camping spots around the town and local lodges, cabins and other accommodation quickly get booked up during this busy week.
Nothing to do with the alcoholic drink. The word Beer originates from a traditional word Beare meaning woodland, which surrounded the town.
Fossils that are found on the beach are generally fine to keep. If fossils are taken from private land this could become a problem. When searching for fossils try and stay clear of the cliff face. Its best to leave these ones to the professionals.
About the author:
Author Matt has been visiting Devon for years and is the go-to guy for Devon information. At times it seems like he’s been to every fish and chip shop and ice cream shop along the coast with his in-depth knowledge of the area.
You can read Matts’s guide to the best lodge breaks in Devon here if you are looking for a luxury break.