Durdle Door is a spectacular natural arch that slices through the golden cliffs along England’s Jurassic Coast.
This impressive limestone structure, crafted by nature over millions of years, has become the poster child of Dorset’s coastline, and it’s one of the most popular places to visit in the county.
Geology fans, hikers, beachgoers – come summer, tourists flock to Durdle Door, and it’s a good idea to come armed with the best know-how to make the most of your time here!
I live near Dorset in East Devon, and Durdle Door is one of my favourite coastal spots in the region.
So here’s all you need to know about visiting this geological marvel!
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A Brief History of Durdle Door
Stepping onto Durdle Door is like turning the pages of a massive, open-air history book.
This natural arch, etched into the limestone coastline, is a handiwork of geological forces over a staggering 140 million years, which is the rough age of this part of the Jurassic Coast (the oldest parts, near where I live in Exmouth, are up to 250 million years!).
The name ‘Durdle‘ is derived from an Old English word ‘thirl,’ meaning a pierced hole, aptly describing the distinctive archway that the sea has bored through the rock.
Durdle Door’s an ever-evolving phenomenon, and in a few million years it’ll look completely different to what it does today.
Getting to Durdle Door
Located near Lulworth in Dorset, Durdle Door is relatively accessible.
Most tourists visit by car, with the A352 leading from Dorchester.
Upon arrival, you’ll find a well-maintained car park. Remember to bring some coins as it’s pay-and-display.
Visiting by public transport is just about possible too!
Trains from London Waterloo to Wool run regularly, and from Wool, it’s a quick taxi ride to Durdle Door.
Don’t want to pay for a taxi? The Jurassic Coaster bus service connects Wool and Durdle Door. In fact, it runs from Weymouth to Portland Bill.
Day trips to Durdle Door
If you’re staying in Bournemouth, the easiest way to see Durdle Door is on an organised day or half-day trip.
Starting at just £35, these trips take in Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Check out one of these tours by clicking here.
Or, you could opt for a longer tour that ventures further up the coastline. Take a look at this full-day tour of the Jurassic Coast, which includes Durdle Door.
Best Time to Visit Durdle Door
At Durdle Door, each season has its own charm!
It’s most popular in the summer months, with long, sunny days perfect for beach picnics, sunbathing, and wild swimming.
The arch glimmers under the summer sun, and sunsets here are immense.
That being said, Durdle Door can be incredibly busy in the summer season – particularly in the school holidays.
Prefer a slice of tranquillity? Visit during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November).
These periods can offer the sweet spot between milder temperatures than winter but fewer crowds than summer.
Plus, the landscape around Durdle Door shifts with the season—whether it’s the fresh bloom of wildflowers in spring or the russet tones of autumn.
Don’t discount Durdle Door in winter, too.
The weather’s a little less reliable, but brisk, sunny days can happen – and even on the wilder days, there’s a raw beauty in the dramatic seascape!
Wild swimming might be off the cards, but as long as the weather’s not too bad the coast path stays open – enjoy bracing coastal walks and possibly get the beach almost to yourself!
Things to do at Durdle Door
So, what’s the best way to enjoy Durdle Door? There are a few things to do on and around the beach, including:
- Walk the South West Coast Path: Wander along this part of England’s longest national trail for stunning views of the Jurassic Coast – you could even make your way to the neighbouring Lulworth Cove (just over a mile’s walk).
- Relax on the beach: Spend some time on Durdle Door Beach, soaking in the sea and sand.
- Photography: Whether you’re a pro with a DSLR or just snapping shots on your phone, you’ll take some great pictures at Durdle Door.
- Swimming: The RNLI advises against swimming at Durdle Door due to there being no lifeguard cover, but on calm days taking a dip might be possible for experienced swimmers.
- Wildlife Spotting: Keep your eyes peeled for an array of coastal birdlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin out at sea!
- Stargazing: If you’re visiting outside of peak summer times, clear nights offer excellent opportunities for stargazing.
- Visit Man O’War Beach: Man O’War Beach is right next to Durdle Door, and you can easily see both on the same trip!
Nearby Attractions to Durdle Door
While Durdle Door is possibly Dorset’s star attraction, there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area as well! Here are a few of my favourites!
- Lulworth Cove: Just a stone’s throw away from Durdle Door, this cove offers a tranquil beach that’s almost completely circular and a picturesque village.
- Corfe Castle: The ruins of this medieval castle provide a fascinating insight into English history.
- Lulworth Castle and Park: Explore the grand Lulworth Castle and its extensive grounds for a taste of Dorset’s heritage.
- The Tank Museum: For those interested in military history, this museum is home to one of the world’s best collections of tanks.
- Monkey World: A rescue centre for apes and monkeys, offering an informative and entertaining day out for families.
- Old Harry Rocks: These impressive chalk stacks are a sight to behold and mark the end of the Jurassic Coast. Check out my full guide by clicking here.
Where to stay near Durdle Door
Want to stay in the area – and perhaps be the first person to step on Durdle Door beach in the morning? Here are some of the best accommodations close to the attraction.
In the primest of prime locations ( literally above Durdle Door), this family-friendly park offers a variety of accommodation options, including camping pitches, glamping pods, and static caravans.
The park’s facilities include a shop, restaurant, and children’s play area.
Overlooking the picturesque Lulworth Cove (another one of the best places to visit in the area!), the Lulworth Cove Inn boasts comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine, and a cosy bar.
Experience refined luxury and comfort at the Limestone Hotel in nearby West Lulworth.
This boutique hotel offers stylish rooms, a sophisticated restaurant serving gourmet cuisine, and attentive service.
What to Bring for Your Visit to Durdle Door
Doing a day trip to Durdle Door? Here are the items that I recommend bringing:
- Sturdy Footwear: The terrain around Durdle Door can be uneven and rocky, so opt for comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots.
- Sun cream and Hat: The English sun can be deceptively strong! Don’t forget sun cream and a baseball cap to protect yourself.
- Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly, including layers for unpredictable conditions.
- Swimwear and Towel: If you plan to take a dip in the sea or relax on the beach, don’t forget your swimwear and a towel!
- Water and snacks: Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle and pack some snacks for energy during your visit – options to buy food around Durdle Door are limited.
- Camera or Binoculars: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the beauty of Durdle Door and the surrounding landscape, or bring binoculars to observe wildlife.
- Day pack: Carry your belongings comfortably in a day pack!
- Cash: Some parking in Dorset is cash-only, so it’s a good idea to have some small change.
Like anywhere on the British coast, you’re at the whims of nature, and it’s essential to take steps to stay safe.
As I live by the coast, I have these tips ingrained in me, but it’s surprising how many tourists ignore these basic safety tips.
There have been various serious accidents at Durdle Door over the years, so please do consider all the below advice!
- Check tide times: Wherever you are on the coast, it’s always a good idea to be aware of whether the tide’s going in or out. Bear this in mind particularly if you’re getting close to the rocks at Durdle Door.
- Stay away from cliff edges: The cliffs around Durdle Door can be unstable – a woman fell to her death here in 2021 – so keep a safe distance from the edges and follow any signage or barriers. I’d also recommend keeping dogs on leads if you’re walking right by the cliff edge.
- Be mindful of weather conditions: The weather can change quickly along the coast, so be prepared for sudden shifts. If the weather’s particularly wild, stay off the high cliffs.
- Swim safely: The RNLI doesn’t recommend swimming at Durdle Door because there is no lifeguard. If it’s a calm day and you’re experienced at sea swimming, you should be ok, but only swim to your abilities and don’t go too far out. If you’re not a confident swimmer and don’t know what to do if caught in a rip, then I’d recommend sticking to paddling.
- Don’t swim through the arch: Durdle Door’s arch looks inviting, but strong currents zoom through the arch which makes it unsafe for swimming.
Preserving Durdle Door
Durdle Door is part of a protected World Heritage Site, and it’s incredibly important to respect this to help preserve it.
Respect the rules, keep the area clean, and leave no trace so it’s here for future generations to love!
Durdle Door in popular culture
Hollywood goes to Dorset! Durdle Door’s striking presence has caused it to be the muse for various films and TV shows, including:
- Film: The striking beauty of Durdle Door has graced the silver screen, featuring in films like “Nanny McPhee” and “Far from the Madding Crowd”.
- Music Videos: Durdle Door’s surreal presence has caught the attention of musicians and directors, making appearances in music videos by artists like Billy Ocean, Tears for Fears, and Cliff Richard.
FAQs about visiting Durdle Door
Why is Durdle Door so famous?
Durdle Door is famous for its unique limestone arch formation, which is one of the main icons of the Jurassic Coast. Postcard-perfect views from ancient cliffs and the picturesque beach make it one of the most iconic attractions on the South coast.
Is Durdle Door free to visit?
Yes, Durdle Door is free to visit – there is no entrance fee to access the beach, the viewpoints or the cliffs above. However, parking charges apply in the nearby car park (and they’re quite pricey!).
Is Durdle Door easy to get to?
Reaching Durdle Door requires a short walk from the car park down a steep path. The terrain can be uneven, and proper footwear is recommended. It may pose a challenge for those with mobility issues.
Where is Durdle Door near?
Durdle Door is on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England, close to the village of West Lulworth and within reach of other popular destinations on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast such as Lulworth Cove and Weymouth. In fact, you can walk on the South West Coast Path to Lulworth Cove!
Can I swim through the arch at Durdle Door?
No, swimming through the arch is not recommended due to strong currents and the risk of injury. In fact, the RNLI recommends against swimming at the beach at all, and personally I think it should only be attempted by those who have experience with sea swimming.
Can I bring my dog to Durdle Door?
Yes, dogs are welcome at Durdle Door year-round, although on busy days you might wish to keep them on a lead. I’d recommend keeping them on a lead if you’re hiking along the cliff path above the beach, as there have been incidents of dogs falling off the cliffs.
Are there facilities at Durdle Door?
There are toilet facilities near the car park at Durdle Door – although this is a fair walk from the beach! There are limited refreshment options on-site. It’s recommended to bring your own food and drinks or visit nearby villages for dining options.
Is camping allowed near Durdle Door?
Camping is not permitted at Durdle Door itself. However, there is a campsite with views of the iconic arch – Durdle Door Holiday Park is immensely popular in the summer months. By staying here, you could be the first people at the rocky arch in the morning!
Are there lifeguards on the beach at Durdle Door?
No, there are no lifeguards stationed at Durdle Door Beach, which means that it’s essential to take appropriate precautions while swimming – potentially avoiding going in if you’re not a confident swimmer or if the water is particularly rough.
Can I visit Durdle Door by public transportation?
You can! The nearest train station is in Wool, and from there, you can take a taxi or the X50 bus to Durdle Door, which takes around 20-30 minutes. Wool connects to Weymouth and London, so you can technically visit Durdle Door by public transport all the way from London!
Are you ready to visit Durdle Door?
Whether you want to photograph the limestone arch, bask on the pristine beach or enjoy some nearby hikes, Durdle Door delivers.
It’s no local secret, but I think it deserves its prestige as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Dorset – just don’t forget to explore the rest as well!