All of our self catering holiday cottages are within 10 miles of the coast. With over 20 beaches stretching over 60 miles of Dorset coast there are Dorset beaches for everyone. A self catering beach holiday is a wonderful way to relax and unwind. In Dorset there are quiet, sandy, child friendly options scattered all along the coast and there are rugged rocky outcrops only accessible by way of a long walk or by boat.
Detailed below are 10 of the most famous and accessible Dorset beaches (from East to West), followed by a summary of the best of the rest.
A further guide to our hidden gems can be found in our Dorset’s Secret Beaches blog article.
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Vast sandy beaches, run by the National Trust, separated into four: Shell, Knoll, Middle & South Beach. Multiple paid parking areas servicing each beach. All beaches have seasonal cafes & toilets. Knoll & Middle beach have baby changing facilities. Dogs permitted 1 Oct – 30 Apr on all beaches. Dogs on leads permitted on South Beach all year round.
The National Trust Studland Beach Guide
Swanage is a long sandy Blue Flag beach surrounded by a traditional English seaside town. The beach is served by several car parks. The town is full of pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops. There is a beautiful pier. Rental of all beach equipment is available on the sand. Public toilets and baby changing available. Dogs permitted 1st Oct–30th Apr.
The Guide to Swanage from the Swanage and Purbeck Hospitality Association
Large rock ledges form the base of this shingle beach making it an ideal for diving and snorkelling in summer and surfing in winter. Parking is in a private car park. The bay is a marine wildlife reserve complete with underwater nature trail! Toilets are available in the marine reserve centre. Nearest cafe/shop in village. Dogs permitted all year.
Further information for Kimmeridge Beach on the Isle of Purbeck
Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door
Two of the most iconic pieces of coastline in the country. Three beaches in this area: Lulworth Cove, Man ’o War and Durdle Door; all are pebble. 3 beaches served by two large car parks. All beaches have all facilities, at Durdle these are a distance from the beach. Lulworth has several pubs, restaurants and cafes. Dogs permitted all year.
The Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door Guide
One the most well known of the Dorset beaches, this huge sandy beach is surrounded by the pretty town of Weymouth. A truly nostalgic seaside experience with donkey rides and deckchairs on the promenade! Surrounded by cafes, restaurants and pubs. Parking is spread through several car parks in the town. A dog paradise from 1 Oct–30 Apr! Dogs permitted all year at Pavillion end and Preston Beach.
More information on Weymouth beach and town
Chesil Beach – Fleet to Cogden
Chesil Beach is an 18 mile long pebble bank stretching from Portland all the way to Burton Bradstock this beach is a fisherman’s paradise. Key places to visit are Abbotsbury and West Bexington. Due to steep shelves only advised for stronger swimmers. Villages with parking dotted all along.Dogs are permitted all year. See below for Burton Bradstock.
Chesil Beach & The Fleet Lagoon
Burton Bradstock Beach
Also known as Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock is an immensely popular beach with tourists and locals alike. Mostly pebble and shingle the beach is run by the National Trust. It’s home to Hive Beach Cafe which provides fantastic meals and take away drinks. A large paid car park is directly on the beach. Toilets available. Dogs permitted 1 Oct–30 Apr.
The National Trust page on Burton Bradstock Beach
Another of the more famous Dorset beaches, West Bay consists of one small and one very large pebble beach that surround a quaint traditional fishing harbour that will be instantly recognisable to viewers of the TV series Broadchurch. There are several pubs, cafes and restaurants in the village itself. There are several paid parking options. Dogs are allowed in some areas all year, and restricted from certain areas in summer.
The Guide to West Bay & Bridport
A shingle and sand beach famous for fossil collecting. The popular and informative heritage centre (by the car park) can arrange guided fossil hunts. There are toilet facilities at the beach and a cafe. In the nearby village there are several pubs and dining options. No dogs allowed in summer months. Dogs permitted on all beaches from 1 Oct–30 Apr.
Charmouth Beach, Village & Heritage Centre
Lyme Regis Beach
A pebble beach and a sandy beach, sheltered so very child friendly. Immensely popular seaside town with many pubs, restaurants and cafes. Several paid car parks. A long promenade with famous beach huts to the side and ending in the famous Cobb. Mackerel fishing boat trips are popular here. Toilets available. Dogs on leads permitted 1 Nov–30 Mar.
Lyme Regis: The Pearl of Dorset