Lulworth Cove in Dorset is a quaint village with many picturesque and traditional cottages. A large car park serves the bustling lane which leads down to the oyster-shaped cove and is lined with shops and restaurants. The cove itself is largely shingle with a few patches of golden sand. The swimming in the crystal-clear water is very protected, so a great spot for young children. Over the ridge is Stair Hole, a small rocky cove with arches out to the sea, showing how Lulworth Cove would have looked when it started to form many thousands of years ago.
As well as the beautiful beach, there is a great range of activities and attractions in and around Lulworth to keep you busy during a stay in one of our Lulworth holiday cottages. We have chosen 11 of our favourite things to do in and around Lulworth Cove for some inspiration.
Durdle Door is probably the world’s most famous rock arch and Dorset’s most photographed landmark. A must visit for any holiday in Dorset, walk up the steep path from Durdle Door car park and then the steps to the shingle beach, and spend the day soaking up the views.
When the tide is out you are able to stroll along the beach past Scratchy Bottom and onto Bat’s Head with its small rock arch at the far end of the beach. You can also walk down a steep path at Scratchy Bottom to the sea. Remember to always check the tide times to avoid being cut off!
Neighbouring Durdle Door is Man O’War Beach which is protected by a rock reef and great for snorkelling if you have time. And sandwiched between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are two lesser known beaches: St Oswald's Bay is a shingle beach accessed down a steep path from the top of Lulworth Cove car park, a walk that is not for the faint-hearted.
Monkey World is an ape rescue centre set in 65 acres of Dorset countryside. It is home to 250 rescued or endangered primates. Many have been abused in their past life and brought here to live out their days. They are all stars of the hugely successful TV series Monkey Life, which chronicles life at the centre.
There is plenty for all the family to see and do at the park. You can view the 20 different species housed around the park, listen to regular talks from the keepers or even book a personalised tour. There are picnic areas and cafes dotted around and as extra entertainment for the kids, there is a small play area at the entrance as well as a large children’s adventure play area at the far end – perfect to bribe the kids with on the way around.
The Tank Museum has two of the best advertising tag lines that scream 'a great day out for the family': “The biggest day out in history” and “Not all museums are QUIET." The museum charts the rise of the tank and its role in warfare since its first use in World War I. There are nine indoor exhibitions displaying over 300 vehicles. But, the most fun is the outdoor arena, with explosions and tanks rolling into action (always check the events calendar). There are regular events all year, the highlights of which being Tank Fest and Tiger Day; plus, various personal experiences can be booked.
Even though everyone assumes that Lulworth Castle is at Lulworth Cove, in fact, it is in the neighbouring village of East Lulworth a short distance inland. It was built as a hunting lodge in the 18th-century and was then destroyed by a fire in 1929. In more recent years, it has been partially restored by the Weld Estate and English Heritage. The castle now has exhibitions showing examples of life as it would have been at the castle. However, the star turn is the climb up the tower and the panoramic view of the Dorset countryside – we personally don’t think that there is a better view in the county!
The 18th century Catholic Chapel that sits in the grounds has an amazing ceiling mural to view. The castle’s park provides well-signed footpaths, that enable you to wander to your heart’s content. There is also a children’s playground and tea rooms that you can visit. In the village itself, the Weld Arms offers a great thatched country pub experience and boasts a massive pub garden. Next door is Past and Presents, a treasure trove of a gift shop and café.
Clouds Hill was once T.E Lawrence’s rural retreat. Otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia, he was made world famous in the David Lean film of the same name which depicts his exploits in the Sinai Desert during the First World War. The tiny cottage is tucked away in woodland on the edge of the army camp at Bovington and was his escape from camp life. Here he could relax and entertain a select group of friends, whilst still living at the camp. Step back in time and view how he lived his spartan life. He was discharged in February 1935 from the RAF and then tragically died riding his motorbike on local roads in May the same year.
Mupe Bay is a secluded bay in the Lulworth Ranges, which are open most weekends and during the school holidays. Whilst the world and his wife are walking from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, you just need to head along the coast in the opposite direction to reach it. Mupe Bay is probably Lulworth Cove’s best-kept secret.
Most days, even in the peak of summer, you will find very few people on the beach and only a few moored boats in the cove with their owners having lunch. There are rock stacks to climb, rock pools to explore and spectacular snorkelling to be had. On a good day, you would think you were on a deserted Greek Island rather than a short walk from the busy Lulworth Cove.
Which route you take depends on where you are parked in East Lulworth. The most obvious is to pay for parking at the huge car park near Lulworth Cove, then walk along the beach to the far end and follow the coast path across the cliffs until you see a small footpath heading down to Mupe Bay. If you find yourself going up steep cliffs paths you have gone too far! There are other routes, but they all involve some steep ‘ups and downs’ and are not for the faint-hearted. A great alternative is to paddle a sea kayak round from Lulworth Cove, which is amazing in the right conditions.
Also located in the Lulworth Ranges, is Worbarrow Bay which faces Mupe Bay. Via Tyneham Village the drive is very scenic with panoramic views across rolling countryside and out to sea. You then drop down off the ridge into a bowl with Tyneham Village at the bottom. The villagers were forced to evacuate in December 1943 for D-Day training. They assumed that they would return after the war, but this never happened.
Today you can wander through Dorset’s lost ghost village, where ruins of the original homes remain. The schoolhouse and church are still standing to this day enabling you to see how it would have been left in 1943. Worbarrow Bay is an easy, flat, mile-long walk from Tyneham Village to the sea. The beach is shelving shingle with crystal-clear water on a good day. You can climb Worbarrow Tout which is a small promontory that provides great views along the coast to Portland. This is another beach to escape the crowds of Lulworth Cove or Studland’s beaches – just don’t tell everyone!
Both the sea kayaking tours and coasteering are operated out of the main Lulworth Cove car park by Jurassic Coast Activities. They are a fun way to get a unique view of the iconic landmarks of Lulworth Cove and/or Durdle Door. You can book a full or half day option and then just be prepared to get wet and have some fun.
9. Buy and then cook fresh fish from Cove Fish
This small shack on the way down to the beach sells freshly caught fish by the local fisherman. You can actually see the fishing boats that landed your tea moored out in the cove from the front door of the shack. This is the place to buy a Dorset crab or lobster and anything else that has just been brought in on the morning catch. You won’t find anything fresher, but if you did want to see what they have on sale, just give them a call in advance and place your order 01929 400807.
Off the beaten track and therefore a locals’ favourite, Moreton Tea Rooms is situated in the tiny village of Moreton which sits on the River Frome. Most visitors drive to the village and then enjoy the walks or cycle rides from here. For the younger of us, there is the ford where during the summer months children paddle in the river looking for fish and other adventures.
After enjoying the rural and river adventures, everyone heads to the tea rooms for refreshments. Located in the old Victorian school, this light and airy restaurant with a secluded garden is an ideal spot to while away an afternoon or evening enjoying local produce all cooked on-site and to order. It’s a hidden gem.
A quintessential thatched English pub, The Sailors Return is surrounded by rolling hills in a quiet rural village. The Sailors Return is tucked away in the tiny village of East Chaldon. There are great walks all around the village and for the more adventurous, you can climb up the hills and join the South West Coast Path.
The pub is long and narrow with a bustling bar at one end, which is always filled with a mix of locals and visitors – dogs are welcome in the bar too. The rest of the pub is largely for dining with a mixture of rooms and tables available. There is a large garden outside which is ideal for enjoying a sundowner whilst watching the tractors and harvesters working into the early evening.
There is an extensive range of beers and wines available and the staff are always able to make knowledgeable recommendations if you don’t recognise any of the local ales or gins. The menu is sourced as locally as possible with an ever-changing daily specials board. It’s always best to book in advance and just remember they are usually closed on a Monday - everyone needs a day off!
Need somewhere to stay in Lulworth?
With so many things to do in Lulworth, you’ll be needing a relaxing home-from-home to rest your tired feet after your adventures. Whether you are travelling as a couple, a family or bringing the dog, our collection of cosy holiday cottages in Lulworth will offer everyone the perfect Dorset holiday.