© Paul Williams
The Jurassic Coast Explore this famous World Heritage Site
The world renowned Jurassic Coast should definitely be one of the places to visit during your stay in Dorset.
It stretches for 95 miles between Old Harry Rocks at Studland Bay in Dorset to Exmouth in East Devon and is a fantastic place to explore the geological features of this dramatic coastline - England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The South West Coast Path runs along the length of the Jurassic Coast and is a great way to see the amazing landmarks and far reaching coastal views of this part of Dorset. Be sure to visit the pretty seaside towns of Swanage, Lyme Regis or West Bay for something to eat or a chance to rest your feet.
Millions of years of history
The Jurassic Coast was granted UNESCO status for its outstanding geology, revealing 185 million years of Earth's history along its 95 mile stretch of coastline. It is well known for being one of the richest heritage sites for prehistoric remains.
The rocks and fossils found along the Dorset stretch of the Jurassic Coast are from the Jurassic and Cretaceous time periods - between 65 and 200 million years ago. For this reason it is a hot bed for fossil hunting, with hundreds of specimens having been discovered.
At Kimmeridge, the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life is home to a collection of fossils all found and preserved by one man - Dr Steve Etches MBE. He even discovered a new species! See the fossils, learn about how they were collected and if you're lucky you'll even see them being cleaned and conserved in the museum lab and workshop.
The Jurassic Coast sits on a world map of other natural World Heritage Sites including the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef and Galapagos Islands.
Dorset – the real ‘Jurassic Park’
You’ve seen the film, now visit Dorset for a Jurassic themed holiday!
There are many opportunities to take part in fossil hunting along the Jurassic Coast - you might even find your very own piece of history! Many guided walks are based around Lyme Regis and Charmouth, which was the stomping ground of Mary Anning, one of the world's most famous fossil hunters. You can take part in a supervised fossil hunting guided walk and learn the skills that Mary developed over 200 years ago.
For families, the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester will excite any young dinosaur fan with life sized replicas and lots of interactive fun! We can guarantee you’ll have a T-Rexiffic time!
Mary Anning - fossil hunter extraordinaire
Mary Anning was born in 1799 at Lyme Regis. Her father was an amateur fossil collector and by the age of 5 or 6, Mary would go out fossil collecting with him.
At the age of 12, Mary, along with her brother, discovered the first complete Ichthyosaur skeleton and another 12 years later was the first to discover a complete Plesiosaur. Her fossils were some of the most significant geological finds of the time and her ichthyosaur, plesiosaur and pterosaur are showcased at London's Natural History Museum.
You can find out more about Mary at the Lyme Regis Museum which is built on the site of her home and fossil shop.
Looking to plan a visit to the Jurassic Coast?
If you think the Jurassic Coast is all about fossils, think again! With stunning sea views, gorgeous sandy beaches and miles of coastal walks, why not make a holiday of it?
There are lots of things to do, events to see, and towns and villages to visit. The area has some of the best beaches, gardens and golf courses in the UK. Plus you'll find an amazing array of places to eat and drink such as restaurants, cafes and gastro pubs, many with fantastic views of the coast.
If you are searching for places to stay, you are in luck as the Jurassic Coast has accommodation perfect for any taste or budget. Whether you are looking for luxury hotels, quirky bed and breakfasts, exclusive holiday cottages or family friendly campsites, caravan parks and holiday parks - you will not be disappointed!
It is vital you keep yourself and others safe while visiting the coast, please take a moment to read the information below.
- The risk of landslides and rock falls increase following severe weather and sea conditions. Residents and visitors to the county are encouraged to follow safety advice along the coastline as landslides and rock falls can occur quickly and without warning. Tides have also re-shaped and stripped beaches around the coast meaning it is easier to be cut off by the incoming tides. More information about landslides and rock falls can be found on the Jurassic Coast website.
- Walking along coastal paths may be muddy and slippery in places - be sure to stay on official routes and follow warning signs at all times.
- You can find more information on World Heritage Sites in South West England, including the Jurassic Coast, the City of Bath, Cornish Mining and Stonehenge and Avebury, as well as the North Devon Biosphere and English Riviera GeoPark UNESCO sites, by visiting the Visit England website.
- Why not view our stunning video footage of the Dorset Coastline, truly amazing!
- Explore the Jurassic Coast by bus! The hop-on hop-off Jurassic Coaster bus is a perfect way to visit one of the Jurassic Coast attractions, walk a section of the South West Coast Path or just sit back and marvel at the views from the top deck.
Discover the best places to see or hunt for fossils on Dorset's Jurassic Coast.
Discover what to see and do on the world renowned Jurassic Coast.
Discover more about a brand new species of Ichthyosaur uncovered in Lyme Regis.
A great way to discover Dorset's famous Jurassic Coast is on a guided tour.
Discover the highlights of Dorset and the Jurassic Coast.
Find a place to stay on the Jurassic Coast.
Dorset's stunning coast is waiting to be explored.
There are plenty of fabulous countryside and coastal walks for you to enjoy.
Experience Dorset’s picturesque waterways and dramatic coast by boat.
There's a variety of fantastic restaurants in Dorset offering mouth watering menus.