The best things to do in Weymouth, Dorset

Weymouth is a pretty seaside town located on the south west coast of England in Dorset.

With a long sandy beach, picturesque historic harbour, naval fort, and 350-acre country park, there’s plenty of things to do in Weymouth. Add to this its proximity to UNESCO World Heritage sites and the beautiful scenery along the Jurassic Coast, and there are many reasons to visit.

Read on for my pick of the best things to do in Weymouth, Dorset. At the end, I have included practical information on how to get to Weymouth, free things to do in Weymouth, and what to do on a rainy day.

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Where is Weymouth?

Weymouth is a seaside resort located in the county of Dorset, in southwest England. It is around 130 miles from London.

To the east along the coast is Poole, just over 20 miles away. Bournemouth is 27 miles away. To the west in the other direction is West Bay, 18 miles away, and Lyme Regis, around 30 miles away. All these coastal towns are also places to consider visiting while you’re in Weymouth, and all have lots of things to see and do.

The county town of Dorchester is inland, away from the coast, and is less than 8 miles away. It is also worth a visit.

Things to do in Weymouth, Dorset

Below I have listed some of the most popular things to do in Weymouth. And for a map of the town, click here.

Go to the beach

Weymouth beach in Dorset with building behind it
Weymouth beach in Dorset

Weymouth beach is a lovely sandy stretch that runs along Weymouth Bay and with a long esplanade behind it. It is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, as well as watersports, and plenty of facilities are available, including toilets. There are dog-free areas if this is your preference.

You’ll find a good selection of popular activities along the beach and something for the whole family. There are donkey rides to book during the summer months. These are near the Weymouth Pavilion Theatre at the pier and ferry dock end of the beach. There is also a Punch and Judy show, one of only three left in England.

Past the King George III statue and the War Memorial is a brightly coloured 19th-century Jubilee Clock. It commemorates Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. At the far end, there is a putting green and tennis courts.

You can also walk past the RSPB nature reserve and onto Bowleaze Cove. There is a small pebbly beach here and the Fantasy Island fun park.

The beach area is home to many pubs and restaurants, so you can easily spend an entire day here.

Stroll around the picturesque harbour area

The picturesque Weymouth Harbour is at the ferry port end of the beach.

This is a lovely area to explore, with boats and yachts moored up and traditional buildings and colourful houses lining the water along both the Custom House Quay side (the Weymouth Bay side) and the Trinity Road side (the Nothe Fort side). 

Part of Weymouth harbour with pretty buildings along one side and boats on the water
Part of Weymouth harbour

There are pubs and cafes here, as well as outdoor seating, from where you can sit and watch the boats coming and going. It’s a great place to stop for lunch, sample some local fresh fish, or sit looking out over the water with an ice cream.

Not far from the old harbour you can also visit the Weymouth Museum, a local history landmark with interesting exhibits and collections. The 19th-century Guildhall listed building is nearby.

Part of Weymouth Harbour with historic buildings and boats on the water
Part of Weymouth Harbour

Sail over to the spooky Nothe Fort

When you’re in the harbour area, you’re near Nothe Fort. This is a historic sea fort located across the water on a peninsular.

It’s one of the most popular places in Weymouth, so try to go if you can. You can take a boat trip to the fort in a traditional rowing boat from the Custom House Quay side of the harbour to Nothe Parade. It’s then just a short walk to the fort.

If, like me, you’re not a fan of small boats, don’t worry, the journey is only a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you walk across the Weymouth Town Bridge in the harbour and then along to the fort, a walk of less than a mile.

The fort was built over a 12-year period from 1860 and was a naval defence until the 1950s. You can now visit and walk around it, explore the underground tunnels and walk around the ramparts. There are wonderful views across the Jurassic Coast from here.

There is also a museum where you can learn about the fort’s history. And every other Sunday (usually at noon), you can watch the Fort Artillery in uniform firing the canons.

This is a great attraction for history buffs or anyone interested in military and naval history. As an added bonus, it’s also the place to go if you’re interested in the paranormal.

It’s said to be “one of the most haunted sites on the south coast” with tales of a whistling ghost roaming the fort and sightings of figures on the top of the fort.

Wander around Nothe Gardens

If you do go to Nothe Fort, it’s worth spending a bit more time there and going into Nothe Gardens.

While the fort is the main draw, the gardens are worth a visit in their own right. They’re a relaxing place to spend an hour or so, and there is a cafe, toilets and ice cream hut.

There are some stunning views over Weymouth Bay from the garden. Parts slope down to the water and some sheltered coves on the shoreline.

Walk or cycle the Rodwell Trail

If you’re interested in walking or cycling while you’re in Weymouth, put the Rodwell Trail on your list. This is an interesting trail that follows the route of the old railway line between Weymouth and Portland. It’s 2 miles long, so is easy to do if you’re only on a short break.

Parts of the path – for example, the section near Henry VIII’s Sandsfoot Castle – connect to the South West Coast Path. The coast path runs over 600 miles along the coastline of south west England. So, if you want to embark on a longer route, there are plenty to choose from. This website helps you plan different routes of varying durations and levels.

You can also slightly divert off the Rodwell Trail at times. The short walk up to Sandsfoot Castle is worth it. Although the Tudor Castle is in ruins, there is an award-winning garden and good views out to sea.

Visit the Isle of Portland

A visit to the Isle of Portland is one of the most popular Weymouth attractions. It’s just a short distance from Weymouth and can easily be visited in a day.

The Isle is a small island jutting into the English Channel that is connected to the mainland by Chesil Beach and with Portland Harbour at the end. The coastal walk around here is part of the South West Coastal Path.

There are a few different things to do on the island, depending on what you’re interested in – and at just 4 miles long and a mile and a half wide, it’s easy to take a short trip here if you’re staying in Weymouth. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Weymouth, and it’s one of the best places to see the stunning coastal scenery while in the town.

If you’re a fan of history, then you’ll enjoy Portland Castle. This is another of Henry VIII’s defensive forts and was built in the 16th century. You can explore inside the fort, wander around the gardens and take in the spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast from the top.

Part of Portland Castle with the sea on the background. Going here is one of the best things to do in Weymouth, Dorset
Part of Portland Castle

For more views, there’s also Portland Bill Lighthouse, built in the first decade of the 20th century and which stands 135 feet high. You can climb to the top and look out over the sea.

Portland Bill lighthouse on the rocks overlooking the sea
Portland Bill lighthouse

You can also visit Tout Quarry while here. It once quarried Portland Stone but is now a sculpture park and nature reserve. You can have some fun walking around the disused quarry trying to find the hidden sculptures (which include “Still Falling” by Anthony Gormley).

Walk (or take the miniature train) around Lodmoor Country Park

Weymouth has quite a few green spaces; one of the best is Lodmoor Country Park.

This large park (it spans 350 acres) is located on the outskirts of town. However, it’s just a 15-minute walk from the esplanade by the beach via Greenhill Gardens, a flower garden that looks out over the sea.

The park has several different areas and is ideal for getting some fresh air and exercise. It has plenty of family-friendly things to do, with nature trails to walk along, outdoor gyms, and play areas for children. There are plenty of places where you can get off the beaten track a little.

You can also play a bit of golf on the pitch and putt course, and on fine days, make use of the picnic and barbecue areas. On other days, there is a cafe and pub to go into.

The RSPB Nature Reserve is also in the park, and you can visit to spot birds and other wildlife (if you’re a keen ornithologist, there’s also the nearby RSPB Radipole Lake in Weymouth).

As you can see, there are loads of things to do here and some hidden gems – many of which are free for visitors. So it’s worth exploring the area if you have time.

But if you don’t fancy walking through the park, or have limited time, you can ride around it on the Rio Grande miniature railway. You can pick the train up from the train station. However, note that the carriages are small and open to the elements – so this might be less appealing on a rainy day!

See the fish at the Weymouth Sea Life Aquarium

Another attraction in Lodmoor Country Park is the Weymouth Sea Life Aquarium. It’s a big attraction covering 5 acres!

It has a fantastic selection of marine animals which you can see across different interactive themed zones. Among these, there’s a colony of Fairy Penguins to get up close to, colourful fish to see in The Shipwreck, seals in Seal Harbour, a tropical lagoon, and a turtle sanctuary.

You can also book VIP experiences and have some good fun feeding the sharks or otters. Or you may prefer breakfast with the seals!

You can book a ticket to the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park here.

See some unique sand sculptures

If you’ve been to Portland to see the hidden sculptures but now fancy something a bit different, visit the Sandworld Sculpture Park in Lodwell Country Park.

The park contains massive sculptures, the likes of which you’re unlikely to have seen anywhere else – because they’re all made out of sand! In the past, there have been Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sculptures, as well as ones with animals and ancient Greek myths. It’s a really unique place.

If you want to visit the park to see some of their amazing sand sculptures, check the website in advance. It closes for the winter, so you should time your visit to Weymouth to avoid disappointment.

See some of the Jurassic Coast’s famous features

The Jurassic Coast stretches almost 100 miles from East Devon to Dorset and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s known for its geological features, which are around 185 million years old.

You can walk various stretches of the Jurassic Coast (which forms part of the South West Coastal Path). However, you may prefer to dip in and out of different sections and head straight to the features that the coastal stretch is most famous for.

One such feature is Lulworth Cove. This stunning curved bay is a popular tourist attraction in the area and is said to be one of the top 10 best beaches in Dorset. It is near the village of West Lulworth, which can be reached by bus from Weymouth.

Lulworth Cove in Dorset
Lulworth Cove in Dorset

While in Lulworth, if you have time, walk through the Dorset countryside and up along the cliff top to Durdle Door. This natural limestone arch juts out into the water and has a small cove with a sandy beach next to it (another of Dorset’s top 10 beaches, according to the Beach Guide).

It’s worth the walk to see this! It’s one of my favourite places to visit in the area.

Durdle Door in Dorset jutting out into the sea
Durdle Door

After taking a look at the cove and Durdle Door, pop into the Visitor Centre in the car park at Lulworth. There’s some fascinating information here on the coastline and these geological features.

You can book a tour that will take you to both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door here.

Relax around the water lilies at Bennetts Water Gardens

If you like gardens, then you’ll love Bennetts Water Gardens. This is a beautiful garden set in 8 acres of land and is just a couple of miles to the west of Weymouth (buses run from the town centre to the gardens).

The gardens house the “National Plant Collection of Water Lilies” which float peacefully in a series of ponds across the site. There are also bridges, gazebos, a tropical house, and grassy areas to wander among the wild plants. It’s a tranquil place to relax in, particularly on a fine day. There is a cafe and picnic areas if you want to stay for a while.

Note that Bennetts Water Gardens is seasonal and is only open between late March and late September.

Feed the swans at Abbotsbury

The swans at Abbotsbury
The swans at Abbotsbury

Abbotsbury Swannery is a wonderful wildlife park located in the town of Abbotsbury. It’s less than 10 miles from Weymouth. If you don’t have a car, buses go to a nearby stop, which is just a short walk to the swannery.

This is the place to go if you want to see beautiful wildlife. The park covers an area of 25 acres and was created in the 11th century by Benedictine Monks. Today it is a popular tourist attraction and has been used in scenes for Harry Potter films.

The park is home to various swans who freely fly around the area (the website makes it very clear that the swannery is not a zoo). You can see the only colony of nesting Mute Swans here, and if you time it right, help feed the hundreds of birds here.

This is another local attraction that is seasonal – it closes for the winter and reopens in mid-March. So, do plan the timing of your trip if this is something you want to put on your list.

Go inland to Dorchester

If you’re looking for things to do near Weymouth, you might enjoy a trip inland to the county town of Dorchester.

Dorchester is a small market town with a historic centre, full of pretty stone buildings and a wide range of local shops to browse. There are many museums to visit, including the Dorset Museum, where you can see a variety of history, art, archeological, and nature collections related to Dorset.

There is also a Dinosaur Museum, a military museum, an exhibition of Egyptian mummies, and a museum dedicated to teddy bears.

And in recognition of the author Thomas Hardy’s links to the local area, you can visit the cottage where he was born and wrote some of his novels. This is a few miles outside of the centre, but if you’re a fan of his work, it’s worth the effort to get there (some buses run to the cottage).

Sail to the Channel Islands and France

You can take trips to Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands from Weymouth ferry port.

Guernsey is nearer, and the journey is just two hours. This means you could take a day trip here. The ferry docks in the capital, St. Peter Port, an attractive town with plenty to keep you occupied for the day.

My separate post outlines the things to do in Guernsey.

St. Peter Port in Guernsey from the water
St. Peter Port in Guernsey

You can also take the ferry to St. Malo in France.

Other information to help you plan short breaks in Weymouth

What is there to do in Weymouth on a rainy day?

Weymouth is a top attraction, whether or not the sun is shining.

However, you’ll have seen that some of the Weymouth attractions listed here are seasonal and don’t open over the winter months. And I doubt you’ll want to spend time on the beach if it is pouring with rain and wind! So, depending on what you want to do, winter might not be the best time to visit.

If you are travelling to Weymouth outside high season, or you are unlucky enough to experience bad weather, then there’s still plenty to do and you can still have a great day out in Weymouth.

You can visit Fort Nothe, go to Portland Castle, and walk to the top of Portland Bill lighthouse. You can also go to the aquarium and visit the museum.

For a day out, visit Dorchester, which has lots of things to see and do when the weather is poor.

And there are other nearby places to consider, including Lyme Regis, which has museums, galleries, tea rooms, and lots of independent shops to browse. It’s also worth seeing the waves whipping across the famous Cobb wall – but take care on top of it on a windy day.

The Cobb Wall in Lyme Regis which stretches out into the sea
The Cobb Wall in Lyme Regis

Free things to do in Weymouth

The beauty of a coastal resort like Weymouth is that there are plenty of free things to do.

You can spend time on the beach, wander around the harbour, swim in the sea and walk the Rodwell Trail and parts of the Jurassic Coast. Depending how far you walk, you’ll get to see some of the amazing geological structures that are nearby.

You can also explore the Fort Nothe area of the town – you don’t necessarily need to go inside. And the Lodmoor Country Park also has a variety of things to do that needn’t cost money.

So there are plenty of free things to do in Weymouth!

How to get to Weymouth

There are a few ways to get to Weymouth. You can drive, take the bus, or take the train.

If you’re driving, it’s about two and a half hours from London. Trains to Weymouth run from London Waterloo station, a journey time of less than three hours. If you’re travelling by train, you can also get to Weymouth from nearby towns such as Poole, Bournemouth, and Dorchester.

If you’re taking the bus, there are buses from Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester, and other towns in Dorset.

Other ideas for short breaks in the UK

If you’re interested in other ideas for short breaks in the UK, my website contains a number of posts you might find useful.

Other places in south west England that you might enjoy include the coastal towns of Lyme Regis, West Bay and Beer. The gorgeous Georgian city of Bath is also worth visiting.

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