Visit the Isle of Portland wild, natural and beautiful
Portland is a part of Dorset like no other; wild, natural and ruggedly beautiful.
This unique, tied island marks the southernmost point on the Jurassic Coast and is joined to the mainland by Chesil Beach. Its isolated location, quaint villages and rocky, coastal scenery give the island its own special atmosphere, perfect for exploring.
An Island of Discovery
Just four miles long by a mile-and-a-half wide at its broadest point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t much to see here on this tiny isle – but you’d be wrong!
Steeped in maritime history and heritage, there are museums, castles and not one but three lighthouses to explore, not to mention the folklore and tales of pirates and smugglers to discover.
Portland’s coastline is a mecca for the sporty. And thank to the reliable winds, adventure seekers flock here to enjoy the many activities on offer including renowned rock-climbing, abseiling, diving and excellent sailing and kite surfing.
Walkers delight in the Portland loop of the South West Coast Path, which circles around the island mapping out an unmissable 9.5 mile trail of dramatic, rugged cliffs, nationally rare plants, hidden coves and stunning views.
Portland Bill and Pulpit Rock
The distinctive red and white striped Portland Bill Lighthouse and visitor centre is one of the island’s main draw. It is open in the peak season and if you're feeling energetic, you can climb the 153 steps to the top of the tower for some exceptional views of the coastline.
If you’re not a fan of heights, there’s still plenty to see from land level. Looking out to sea from Portland Bill fills you with a feeling of exhilaration, especially on a stormy day where the waves crash powerfully against the craggy shore and across the Portland Race. The local landmark Pulpit Rock is an easy walk from the lighthouse and nearby cafe.
A Paradise for Wildlife
Portland’s unique geology and position makes it home to an extraordinarily rich variety of birds, animals and plant life.
The Bill is the first point of landing for thousands of migrating birds and the Portland Bill Observatory is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Take a wander inland and you’ll discover butterfly havens, wildflowers and even the odd grazing goat! Did you know that there are 57 species of butterfly that occur in the British Isles and half of these can be seen on Portland?!
Corner Stone of History
Portland stone has been quarried on the island for many years and is used in prestigious buildings all around the world including London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and the United Nations HQ in New York.
Quarrying still continues on the island although many of the disused quarries have now been reclaimed by nature. Tout Quarry is one particularly well worth a visit; this reserve has been transformed into a stone sculpture park and over 60 works of art can be seen here for free, including designs by Antony Gormley.
Olympic Sailing Waters
Portland is known world-wide for its sailing waters - the National Sailing Academy is based here which was the host venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events.
As well as catering for skilled sailors the academy run lessons for beginners, so why not give it a go yourself and skim across the waters that saw Ben Ainslie become the most decorated sailor in Olympic history!
A short trip up to the north of the island near The Heights Hotel will take you to the Olympic rings, one of the best viewpoints on the island. Wait until the sun is setting and the rings become the foreground to the most spectacular view of Chesil Beach. If you’re looking for your next Instagram snap, it’s here!
Portland's Food and Drink
Fancy enjoying something to eat or drink with views over the water? Billy Winter's is a fantastic location for watching the sailing action out on the water or if you want to enjoy a few sundowners overlooking Chesil Beach, head over to The Crab House.
Plan you break to Portland
With so much to explore, you’ll have a fantastic break in Portland! You might like to download our Portland town map for some more information and inspiration, or head over to our Things to Do on Portland page for even more ideas.
Overlooking Portland Harbour in Dorset stands one of Henry VIII's finest coastal forts, built in the early 1540s to protect against French and Spanish invasion. Today it provides a great day out...
Tortuga is a 12m luxury sailing catamaran with space for up to 12 guests. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity sailing around Weymouth Bay with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast, whilst our crew take...
The Official Test Centre (OTC) is the windsurfing, kitesurfing and stand up paddling (SUP) centre located right on the water’s edge, within the grounds of the National Sailing Academy on...
Chesil Beach (previously known as Chesil Vista) is a 5* Holiday Park celebrating a breath-taking coastal location overlooking Portland and the Fleet with panoramic sea views. The fantastic on-park...
Situated on the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site coast. Clifftops luxury lodges are within the grounds of Portland’s Pennsylvania Castle and have uninterrupted sea views. Unique and...
Cove Park is a unique Dorset coastal park set in the grounds of Pennsylvania Castle Estate. Just next door to the Castle the park’s fine sea views and island setting promise total relaxation...
Cove Lodge represents the very definition of laid-back luxury. The lodge provides panoramic sea views, an elegant interior, and the perfect location for short breaks, or getaways with friends. Cove...
Sailing daily from Portland - check website for availability and to book Gift vouchers now available - Prices start at just £35 for a 2 hour cruise on the Tallship Moonfleet. Treat yourself to...
The Heights Hotel set on the summit of Portland with stunning sea and coastal views over Weymouth and Chesil beach towards Lyme Bay. A warm welcome awaits you at the hotel - whether you are staying...
There’s a great range of accommodation in Portland, holiday cottages, hotels, B&B's and fantastic holiday parks.
Lots of places to try the catch of the day whilst enjoying the amazing views.
Castles, quarries, lighthouse and one of the best watersports locations in the UK.
A 48 hour suggested itinerary, prefect for a short break to coastal Dorset.
Map of the Isle of Portland including places of interest, parking, toilets and the Portland Coast...
From music festivals and carnivals to country fairs and outdoor cinemas - you are spoilt for choice!
On Chesil Beach is a film adaptation of novel by Ian McEwan and stars Dorset's beautiful coast.