The Jurassic Coast road trip is known as one of the best routes in England. The drive along the Jurassic Coast unveils one of the most photographed sites in England, Durdle Door, and will take you from seaside village to coastal view in just a few miles.
– Durdle Door, one of the most popular spots on your Jurassic Coast road trip
Before I did this road trip in Dorset, I hadn’t driven the Jurassic Coast before. This was my opportunity to see the incredible scenery and wonderful stops first hand.
I’d been invited to work with Vauxhall, to show off their new Mokka X 4×4. I decided that a Jurassic Coast road trip was the best way to put it to the test.
So, here’s how you can have a fun weekend exploring the Jurassic Coast, in a 4×4, with a few of my tales and learnings weaved in for good measure.
Watch the Jurassic Coast road trip video!
My Jurassic Coast Road Trip Route
Six hours drive and around 200 miles.
The Jurassic Coast would be an awesome route to do in a motorhome. Check out the motorhomes for hire at Luna Motorhome Hire, choose your favourite and off you go. They have motorhomes to suit 2-6 people, all with a unique style. There’s loads of stuff included in your rental, so take a look (after you’ve read this!)
– The Lulworth Estate, our final destination
DAY ONE: Southsea > Emsworth > Beaulieu > Brockenhurst > Christchurch > Bournemouth
DAY TWO: Sandbanks > Studland > Swanage > Lyme Regis > Sidmouth
DAY THREE: Durdle Door > Southsea
Starting point: Southsea, Portsmouth
You know I love Southsea right? I’ve gone on about it enough since I moved here nearly TWO months ago. It’s the ideal place to start your Jurassic Coast road trip in my eyes, you could spend a few days exploring here beforehand if you have the time.
Vauxhall dropped off the Mokka X, with instructions for me to have an adventure and try out the long list of cool functionalities in the car. Such as…
- You can use the in car On Star as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Link up your Apple Maps to show on the screen, or use Google Maps (my preference)
- Remote locking (great for the old ‘did-I-lock-the-car’ paranoia – it reached from my bedroom window)
- Different controls to get your seat just how you wanted
- And here’s the link to all the others
My favourite was the fact you could link up Spotify and control it on the screen. AWESOME.
Anyway, the route.
I went to get my friend Chloe from Emsworth – a pretty town 10 miles away in the wrong direction, but worth a look if you have the time – and get started with the Jurassic Coast road trip.
First stop: Beaulieu in the New Forest
Approximately an hour’s drive from Southsea
The village of Beaulieu in the New Forest is famous for its Top Gear Museum, country hotels and ponies that roam free with their right of way. We only had time for the ponies on this trip though.
Beaulieu is so pretty, and on a sunny day would be a beautiful place to stop for a coffee and look round. It was a bit overcast when we were there so we carried on (and I wanted coffee).
And then: Brockenhurst
15 minutes drive
I went to Brockenhurst with friends last October for my birthday and loved it there, especially at The Pig. And so that was the first place I wanted to go back to.
– Photo from Bosham, but works well here don’t you think?
I think it was the design of the car – the fact that you’re so high up when you’re in it, but I felt strong on the road. Driving through the New Forest was a breeze and I think what the Mokka X really gave was confidence. Being that high up in a 4×4 was pretty sweet.
Anyway, all the excitement and adventure of the Apple Car Play, the donkeys and the car meant it was time for a coffee, cookie and flapjack next to the fire. As you can see in the video above.
And onto: Christchurch
25 minutes drive
Yay, we’ve arrived in Dorset, and the start of the Jurassic Coast.
I’d been wanting to visit Christchurch in Dorset for a while now, and never been. It’s usually associated with old people to be honest. I did see a few mobility scooters but if I’m ever in one of those, I’d probably head down this way too. I see what they’re doing.
We had a quick drive round Christchurch town and then headed for Avon Beach for lunch, where we’d spotted ‘The Noisy Lobster’. One crab sandwich and one fish finger sarnie later, shared between us, and we were ready to hike up to walk the Coastal Path.
I love road trips.
You get to hang out with your chosen friend, it’s not about drinking or partying or any of that nonsense – just getting back to nature and talking, with only the beautiful landscape for distraction. I need to do more of these in the UK for sure.
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There’s a ferry in Christchurch – you can get over to Mudeford. Our plan to go on it was thwarted though by the fact that we only had about 70p between us and there’s no ATM round the lobster pots and fishing boats of the marina.
So we left.
Stayed over in: Bournemouth
20 minutes drive
Bournemouth: another famous British seaside town I’d never been to before now.
Well, now I have.
We stayed at the Cottonwood Boutique Hotel which was weirdly good value for the Thursday before Easter at £53 for a family room, because, more beds.
Nice place. Right on the beach and just a walk away from Bournemouth Pier, the town centre and all the fun of the beach front. We went on the Bournemouth Big Wheel – how adventurous are we?! And enjoyed the views from up there, before heading off in search of food.
Our hearts that were so set on sushi soon plummeted when found out Sushi and Roll was a takeaway, surrounded by chain restaurants. Lucky for us – as we realised later – we went to NEO Restaurant as a second choice, neither of us particularly excited. But, oh my days, that beef brisket. Tender, perfectly cooked and served with the tastiest of all the gravy.
My friend Chloe reckoned she had the best risotto she’d ever had. Definitely recommend.
Although, it is pretty fancy. You might not want to turn up in your Nikes and puffer jacket like I did.
Bound for: Sandbanks
We left our hotel in Bournemouth in search of breakfast and decided to lord it up in Sandbanks – apparently the fourth most expensive place to live, in the world.
Absolutely infested with millionaires.
D’you know what the Sandbanks moneyed don’t have though? Anywhere decent for breakfast.
They also don’t have manners. The drivers on this small peninsula were notably more aggressive than anywhere else – we even got the V sign from one Land Rover owner who’d obviously got out of his gold-plated four-poster bed the wrong side, despite us being completely in the right.
So, we got outta there.
You can take the ferry from Sandbanks to Swanage in just four minutes and £4, which is what we did.
Breakfast time: Swanage
Although, we found out on the other side that the toll people don’t take card and so I now have some sort of bailiff collector note I have to pay within 7 days or they’ll hunt me down.
Just as a word of warning for you.
We drove through Studland Bay – four miles of sandy beaches and heathland – admiring the view and questioning why neither of us had ever been before. Stunning.
Coming down into Swanage town and seeing the sun reflecting off the sea in front of us was pretty special. I liked it here. We found an free hour’s parking and went in search of a cash point and coffee.
Java Coffee House was our saviour, with toasted cheese scones and Americanos all round. I’ll come back here one day, but for now, time was ticking.
Lunch time: Studland
And so, just two hours later, there we were scoffing a chorizo flat bread outside our second Pig of the trip – Pig on the Beach. To be fair, we had ‘hiked’ / ambled along the Coastal Path in that time, enjoying such beautiful scenery like this.
Top tip for you: explore.
Many people were just sticking to the path, and seeing as it was Easter Friday it was quite busy. Chloe and I though, being the adventurers that we are, we were drawn to the coast and off roaded our walk to end up scenes like the below.
We also followed our nose to a bacon and halloumi beach shack (next time) and found a little beach with just a few of those in the know kicking back and relaxing the sunshine.
We did it for the fudge: Lyme Regis
The highlight of our next stop, Lyme Regis, was when both of us were let loose on the fudge pick n mix and managed to get exactly 100g, so £1.75, in our bags by eye. I mean, that kind of precision takes years of practice.
I was proud of us.
Lyme Regis was actually where I wanted to stay that night but seeing as it was Easter weekend everywhere had been booked out. And after being there, we were kind of glad. Not sure if I missed something here but I don’t really get the hype.
Do correct me if I’m wrong though…
READ MORE: Check out Dorset Travel Guide’s 21 Things to Do in Lyme Regis for more ideas.
Where we stayed: Sidmouth
We got into Sidmouth at around 5pm. We’d left the sun and heat in Dorset and Devon looked kind of grim to be honest. Of course we tried not to let that affect our thoughts, but y’know, it did. Sidmouth is famous for its red cliffs and our hotel, Duke’s, was right in the middle of the beach strip.
We checked in and walked round the town to find a spot for dinner. We ended up at The Loft, with unfortunately a bad menu choice of the seafood platter. A few strips of salmon and tasteless prawns later and we were left staring at the steaks being brought out around us, wondering where we’d gone wrong.
Unfortunately that Friday night saw me hanging out the window at 2am shouting at the drunk teenagers below to be quiet. Chloe made me come back in, pointing out that that was us till about two years ago. Not the teenage part, obviously.
We had very little sleep. Just don’t ever stay in room 9 at Duke’s ok?
Final destination: Durdle Door
We made it!
Durdle Door in Dorset is basically a natural archway in the water, but a very, very famous one. There’s a sandy beach and beautiful coastal walks all round, or you can stand and admire. Or sit, as we did.
In peak season it’s mega busy here, so get there early if you want a good view, or even a spot on the beach. And don’t just stay to the beach, there’s lots round here to explore.
Road trip apps to download
My Vauxhall app
See if your car has any kind of app. If you travel with Vauxhall you can download their app which connects to the car so you can control the music and help to run the car as you like it. It also has your user manual, if ever you need to refer to it.
Obviously and of course. I way prefer Google Maps to Apple and seeing as the car supported both, I went with Google. Get your locations up while you have WiFi and you don’t need to use 3G.
How good is the RinGo app? I forgot how annoying it was to make sure you have coins for parking – especially with the new £1 coins. With the RinGo app you can pay for parking online. Just make sure you don’t tick the text message warning box – 20p a time!
Top tip for your Jurassic Coast road trip
– Take money, as in cash. We couldn’t do a ferry ride we wanted because we had no cash, and then didn’t have money for parking meters. So annoying.
– Enjoy the journey! There’s some beautiful scenery round these parts, make the most of it.