The seaside town of Lyme Regis in West Dorset is also known as ‘The Pearl of Dorset’, situated on Lyme Bay on the English Channel coast.
Tens of thousands of tourists flock to the Dorset coast in the summer months for its sunny weather, breathtaking coastline and interesting history.
The Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site, stretching from Exmouth in Devon, to Studland Bay in Dorset, with Lyme Regis sitting slap bang in the middle.
This prime location on England’s most stunning coastline is why the town grows in popularity each year and is constantly expanding its offerings for holiday makers and day trippers.
Below is a comprehensive breakdown of all there is to do in Lyme Regis, including where to stay, the best restaurants and local points of interest.
Top Activities in Lyme Regis
Hunting for fossils on the Jurassic Coast is a popular pastime amongst locals and tourists alike, all trying to find a little piece of history.
Winter is said to be the best time to look for fossils, so it could be a great way to spend an afternoon if you are planning a short break in Lyme Regis during the colder months.
Coastal Walks and Hiking
This area is a great place to keep fit and capture some amazing photos, with miles and miles of coastline to explore all year round. From short walks along the harbour which is commonly known as ‘The Cobb’, to testing hikes along the cliff face, Dorset caters for all kinds of walkers with varying fitness levels.
Lyme Regis to Charmouth is a popular 4 mile walk which traces along cliffs and sandy beaches, guaranteeing unbeatable views.
Visit a Museum
Lyme Regis is home to a number of fantastic museums which include.
Lyme Regis Museum – Housing an extensive fossil collection and an exhibit detailing the life of famous fossil collector and paleontologist, Mary Anning. Here you can also learn more about the town’s history and gain further insight into Earth sciences which have impacted the area.
Dinosaurland Fossil Museum – With over 12,000 specimens of bones and fossils, this museum is a must visit for any dinosaur enthusiasts in the family.
Town Mill Museum – This ancient water mill has provided the townsfolk with flour since the 1300s and is still in operation to this day. Guests can enjoy a guided tour to learn about its history before sampling the wares at the on-site bakery, deli and brewery.
Enjoy Local Seafood
The Dorset coast provides some of the best seafood in England, with many award winning restaurants in the area serving up locally sourced fish and fresh shellfish.
The streets of Lyme Regis are home to many independent shops which have created a boutique shopping experience by the sea.
Homemade jewellery, coastal souvenirs, vintage clothing and toys can all be purchased while you stroll the town’s quaint streets.
Visit art galleries and an historic theatre
Becoming somewhat of an artisan hub over the decades, Lyme Regis has some fantastic art galleries for you to browse if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Most of the artwork here is affordable so you can take away a souvenir which won’t just get lost in the back of a cupboard.
Galleries in Lyme Regis include; Coombe Street Gallery, Blue Lias Gallery and the Town Mill Galleries.
Sitting on the seafront is also the 125 year old Marine Theatre which is still in use, hosting events such as; comedy shows, music gigs, film showings, plays and art events.
The Best Beaches near Lyme Regis
Town Beach comprises of two sections, the north end and the Cobb end.
The north end is a pebble beach, with thousands of tonnes of pebbles imported as part of the coastal protection scheme. Whereas the Cobb end is a traditional sandy beach, with most of the sand imported from France – perfect for sunbathing as the area is unaffected by high tide.
This section of the beach is also in close proximity to cafes, pubs, restaurants and kiosks.
Named after the Duke of Monmouth who landed here in 1685 from the Netherlands with the intention of becoming King of England.
This shingle beach stretches over a kilometer, southwest of the Cobb wall. Many caravans and chalets are based in this area, as well as the local power boat and boat building clubs.
Church Cliff Beach
Popular for its rock pools in low tide, Church Cliff Beach provides protection to Lyme Regis harbour and the River Lym runs into its bay. Although, be warned, in high tide this beach is completely covered.
East Cliff Beach
Located northwest of Lyme Regis, on the way to Charmouth, East Cliff Beach should be visited with some caution as it can be completely cut off by high tide and the cliffs are prone to mudslides and falling debris. However, this is one of the best areas for fossil collecting.
Family Activities in Dorset
Aquariums and Wildlife Parks
The Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium might be small but this family-run gem is very popular with the kids for its interactive exhibits and the fun and informative way it teaches children about the local marine life.
Here you can hold starfish, feed mullets and have your picture taken with crabs and lobsters, as well as viewing lots of different species in the various tanks and pools.
For a double dose of nature, a visit to Axe Valley Wildlife Park is highly recommended.
A small farm-based zoo. The Exhibits here include; meerkats, lemurs, zebras, wildcats, otters, reptiles, exotic birds and more.
An 18-hole mini golf course can be found at the picturesque setting of Lister Gardens, where you can also play table tennis and practice on the putting green.
These gardens have won numerous awards and are located directly on the seafront.
Enjoy a Family Fishing Trip
Whether you want to cast off from the bay or go out on a boat, Lyme Regis is the perfect location for a morning fishing trip.
The town was traditionally a fishing village before it became a popular tourist destination and you can easily book a deep sea fishing trip or a private charter at the harbour.
For a taster you can also opt for a 1 hour mackerel trip to help you find your sea legs.
Take a ride on a High Speed Boat
A RIB, is a Rigid Inflatable Boat and can achieve very high speeds to satisfy any thrill seekers in the group.
Lyme RIB rides provide a few different options which range from a relaxing two hour excursion, to a 30 minute adrenaline pumping, speed cruise.
Unusual Things to do in Dorset
Walking with llamas along the Jurassic Coast is not something you can do every weekend, so don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll with these friendly animals.
A truly memorable, if not slightly weird experience.
See a Banksy
A painting of a Crane catching a goldfish in Lyme Regis has been confirmed as a genuine Banksy.
This unique street art is located in Lynch, near the River Lym and attracts Banksy fans from all over the country.
Tyneham Ghost Village
This village was evacuated in 1943 so it could be used for vital military training during WWII and has remained deserted ever since, now serving as one of the counties more unusual tourist attractions, allowing guests to step back in time.
The village is over an hour away from Lyme Regis by car.
Watch Military Tanks
The Bovington Tank Range is a training centre for tanks, armoured vehicles and other weaponised machinery which provides a free and entertaining spectacle.
Guests can just park up by the roadside for front row seats, with information boards providing details about each tank on display.
The site also has an impressive museum and holds an annual festival, named TANKFEST, with tank racing, firepower demonstrations and reenactments of battles.
Tout Quarry Sculpture Park
This abandoned stone quarry has been given a new lease of life as a sculpture park and nature reserve, featuring over 60 weird & wonderful, hidden carvings.
Searching for each sculpture is a fun way to spend an afternoon, while admiring the views of Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour.
Best Places to Stay in Lyme Regis
The Pilot Boat – This boutique hotel in Lyme Regis provides adults-only accommodation with an on-site bar, restaurant and water sports facility. Just 50 yards from the beachfront, this hotel is nautically decorated and earns rave reviews.
Rock Point Inn – This endearing inn, sitting right on the harbour has been recently renovated to upgrade its guest rooms, bar and restaurant while retaining its traditional, seaside charm.
Dower House Hotel – A pet friendly hotel with a heated outdoor pool, Dower House Hotel is perfect for any visitors who are looking to hike with their pooch.
Clovelly Guest house – A well located and stylish guest house which provides homely comforts and modern amenities. Guests particularly like the help yourself breakfast available throughout the day.
St Andrews House B&B – Offering great views, this B&B is popular for its outdoor space which allows guests to have BBQs on the open sun terrace. Situated just a ten minute walk from the seafront in Lyme Regis.
Highest Rated Restaurants in Lyme Regis
The Whole Hog – The name is pretty self explanatory – an affordable hog roast cooked to perfection, with all the trimmings. Set in an historic building and using traditional methods, The Whole Hog offers a truly British experience.
Red Panda – An Asian Fusion restaurant with meat or vegan Bao Bao (steamed) buns which have foodies coming back again and again.
Millside – Another fine dining option in Lyme Regis, Millside cooks up the best oysters & scallops in the area and locals can’t get enough of the signature Tomahawk Steaks.
Poco Pizza – Specialising in rustic wood-fired pizzas, Poco Pizza sits right on the beach and only uses the freshest Italian ingredients.
Lyme Regis Festivals
April – Lyme Regis Beer Festival & Easter Bonnet Parade
May – Lyme Regis Fossil Festival & Jazz Jurassica
June – Masters Gig Regatta
July – Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society Show, Morris Dancing Day & Lifeboat Week
August – Regatta and Carnival Week, Water Polo Sea Championship, Lyme Regis Folk Weekend
September – Food Rocks
November – Fireworks and Beach Bonfire
December – Switch on of the Christmas Lights
Places to Visit near Lyme Regis
A local treasure, Forde Abbey has been designated as a world heritage site since 1951. Completed in the 12th century, this perfect example of gothic architecture features impeccable gardens and wonderfully preserved tapestries.
The seaside town of Weymouth is recognisable for its multi-coloured beach huts and the Georgian buildings in its centre, one of the most picturesque resorts in England.
Facing Lyme Bay, the fishing harbour and civil parish of Seaton has a secluded shingle beach and is the starting point of the Seaton Tramway, a novel way to explore the local area.
Charmouth is a traditional, unspoilt seaside town and is home to another superb beach which is famous for its fossil collecting – just an hour’s walk from Lyme Regis.
Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast really does have it all, from luxury hotels and fine dining, to nature and water sports, making it perfect for a romantic break or a family holiday. We hope this guide has given you a taster of what the town and the area has to offer and we look forward to hearing about your experiences in the comments below.