Lyme Regis is a little town in West Dorset in England steeped in history. This little town gives a big impact with its breathtaking scenery, historic center and iconic harbour and Cobb. It is no wonder it is often referred to as the ‘Pearl of Dorset’, situated at the heart of the world famous Jurassic Coast.
Lyme Regis is a historic seaside town and fishing port. Located at the mouth of the river Lym, Lyme was titled its full name, ‘Lyme Regis’ in 1284 by King Edward I. Because of the Cobb, which acts as both a harbour and a breakwater, Lyme regis became an important shipbuilding centre and port. Nowadays, it is more of a tourist attraction and weekend escape, but it has thankfully retained all of its charm and tranquility.
Whatever your age, and whatever the time of year, you can be sure to find something to entertain you whilst visiting Lyme Regis. From cutesy cafes and vintage shops, to a bustling harbour, gastronomic delights, cultural events all year round, interesting walking trails and hiking paths and palaeontology - great for those history geeks and fossil hunters among us!
To get to Lyme Regis, there are a number of options and it is completely dependent on your trip. Are you going to Lyme Regis for the day, which is entirely possible from London, or are you planning to stay there for a little longer? Here are the options:
If you are coming from London, it is possible to get to Lyme by train. There are direct trains from London Waterloo to Axminster and then from here you will need to get a bus from Axminster to Lyme Regis. There is one train an hour from London Waterloo and then the buses run hourly to Lyme Regis from Axminster (X51, X53).
If you are coming from elsewhere in the UK, you will need to arrive into Axminster as that is the closest train station. National Rail Enquiries is a good website for planning journeys by train, checking prices and buying tickets online, or I prefer the trainline.com as their prices tend to be cheaper. Also checkout Trainpal which allows you to split up your journey to make your fare even cheaper. If you are going to be using alot of trains whilst in England, it may be an idea to register for a railcard first. You can do this via the Railcard website, and the 26-30 railcard is now digital only, meaning it is downloaded straight to your phone, giving you ⅓ off all rail fares!
Travelling by bus around the U.K. is cheaper than the train, it just takes ALOT longer! You can get a bus from London but it will take you 5-7 hours! If you did want to do that, or you are coming from elsewhere in the UK, check out the National Express and Go Euro (now Omio) websites. You can also use Check My Bus to compare fares across different bus companies. To go to Lyme Regis from London, you will need to depart from Hammersmith Bus Station (Stop H) or Victoria Coach Station. The bus will take you via Dorchester and then on to the Lyme Regis, right to the centre.
If you are coming to the UK from abroad and going directly to Lyme Regis, the nearest airports are either Exeter or Bristol or even Southampton. That being said you can also fly into London and follow the directions above. Whichever airport you fly into, you will need to take a train and a bus to arrive in Lyme Regis. I find the website Rome2rio really helpful when planning longer distance journeys. Skyscanner is a great website to use for searching flight deals. Remember if you are booking flights, book through our partners over at Hotels that Help, where a percentage of your money goes towards helping homelessness in the UK - at no extra cost to you.
For some of you, driving may be the easiest option and there is plenty of parking in Lyme Regis. Some are more expensive than others, but there are a couple of long stay car parks very close to the beach (Holmbush Car Park) that let you park all day for only £2!
There is no better way to explore Lyme Regis than walking. The town itself is tiny so it is very easy to walk around, as long as you don’t mind a few hills. And you can walk all along the beachfront and down to the sea if you wanted to go for a swim or a paddle. There are also many incredible walking routes along the Jurassic coast but you will need to drive to the starting point of these - such as Durdle Door and West Lulworth for the famous hike along the coast.
As mentioned above, Lyme Regis is tiny and there are a lot of hills to get back up from the beach but cycling around the surrounding areas is breathtaking. So if you have a bike and you are a keen cyclist - Lyme Regis and the surrounding areas offer the perfect landscape for you!
There is no need to drive once you arrive in Lyme Regis, but if you wanted to explore neighbouring towns (like Seaton, West Bay) or get yourself to a starting point for a walk along the Jurassic Coast (West Lulworth), a car comes in very handy!
Escape the hustle and bustle of Lyme Regis and spend some time exploring The Town Mill. A 5 minute walk from the beach, The Town Mill is nestled around a beautiful cobbled courtyard.
Milling has taken place in Lyme Regis for almost a millennium. But from 1850 onwards, The Town Mill struggled, especially with cheaper inports coming into Lyme. So, in 1991 the local district council announced plans to demolish The Town Mill. But the locals opposed, and after rallying together, they managed to raise over £500,000 to save it. To this day, The Town Mill is the only volunteer-run non commercial mill that mills every day of the year! Amazing!
Not only does it hold a piece of Lyme Regis history, The Town Mill is now home to a micro-brewery, a pottery room, a workshop (so you can see the process and work of the mill), a lovely little garden, galleries and a couple of cafes. It is also where you will find the Town Mill Restaurant - more on this in the ‘What and Where to eat’ section at the end of this travel guide.
An absolute must do on your visit to Lyme Regis.
The Dinosaurland Museum is owned by a lovely husband and wife couple. Steve (the husband) is a paleontologist and together they have created the largest collection of fossils in the UK.
Located in one of the oldest buildings of Lyme Regis, there is a natural history section (if you are queasy about stuffed animals this probably isn’t for you), there are countless fossil collections with excellent and detailed descriptions and as you venture upstairs you are taken through a brilliant timeline of history, complete with statues, animations and pictures. It costs £5 for entry and all the money goes back to the running of the museum (the museum receives no other funding). A great activity if you are on your own, with friends or with children!
If the sun is shining, the Lyme beaches are a great way to kick back and relax. Although in high summer, they can get very busy - so head down there early to secure your spot. Lyme Regis has a few different options in terms of beaches.
There is the Town Beach, Monmouth Beach, Church Cliff Beach and then East Cliff Beach.
The Town Beach is the most popular in Lyme Regis and therefore gets very busy in high tourist season. If you can’t find a spot, continue down the main beach walk, passed the Lyme Regis tourist information centre and you will find the other beaches - although some are pebble beaches which don’t offer the comfort of the sandy town beach!
*Please note that during May-September, you cannot take dogs on the beach. However, if you walk down towards the Theatre, just passed it on the sea front is a little pebble beach. You can let your dog off here to enjoy a nice paddle in the sea.
The harbour for Lyme Regis is also known as ‘The Cobb’. It is steeped in history and played an important part in the success of Lyme Regis as a valuable seaside port. To get to the Cobb, you can either walk West to it from the square along the Marine Parade or if you are coming from one of the main car parks (Holmbush and Cobb) just walk down the hill and towards the harbour. You can walk all the way to the end of the Cobb and enjoy incredible views across the sea, but only if the weather conditions permit and it is safe to do so! Remember Louisa from Jane Austen's novel Persuasion falls off the steps and gets concussed!
One of the buildings on the Cobb has been converted into a marine aquarium which is worth checking out too - but it is nothing special.
The Lyme Regis museum offers an added service of organised fossil walks, where you will learn all about the area and Mary Anning, the famous early paleontologist who once lived at the site of the museum. Walks leave from outside of the museum and it is advised to arrive 10 minutes before the walk departs. You will go out to the beach to the East of Lyme and it is all pebbles so you will need good walking shoes or wellies. Make sure you take a rucksack for gathering up your fossils! Follow this link to learn more.
Cost is £11 per person.
Unleash the water baby within you and rent a kayak for the day. Just head down to the main beach and you will see the sign saying ‘Kayaks for rent’. Expect to pay £10 per hour.
Or if you fancy going a little further afield, it is possible to rent a boat. Whether you just want to enjoy the scenery, or you enjoy / want to try your hand at mackerel fishing, a boat trip is a great activity when visiting Lyme Regis. You can book online via this link, or if you are in Lyme Regis, you can book and pay for your trip in advance at the Deli Weli convenience store on Cobb square on the approach to the harbour.
Prices vary depending on what you would like to do.
The Marine Theatre is right on the seafront, just past the main beach walk, making it an appealing venue for both audience members and performers.
Whilst it is called a theatre, their offerings are diverse and varied. From films, to bands, comedians, plays, screenings and community led events. Check out their website for what is on over the coming months.
If you are looking for a nice walk away from the beach, why not take a stroll down the River Lyme. The starting point is my the Town Mill. So head there and you will start seeing walking signs for the River Lym and Uplyme. You could end your wander at the Talbot Arms - a gorgeous village pub with a cute beer garden, backing on to the river.
Or if you are starting in the village of Uplyme, you can use this gentle wander to take you to the harbour of Lyme Regis. If you are starting in Uplyme, head to the Talbot Arms car park and you will see the footpath signs. You will stroll passed open fields and chocolate box cottages and then through wooded areas alongside the river before reaching the lower reaches of the river. It will take between 20-30 minutes and you will come out by the Town Mill. From here, just head down to the sea!
And if you don't feel like walking back to your starting point (whether that is Lyme Regis or Uplyme) there are regular buses that run between the two.
The walk is 2.4km (1.5 miles) and for the route, check out this article.
The Cannington Viaduct in Uplyme is an amazing piece of architecture and only a short walk from Lyme Regis. The Cannington Viaduct formed part of the Lyme Regis railway line connecting Lyme Regis with the main rail network of Axminster. Sadly, the Cannington Viaduct closed in the 60’s, but this impressive structure had been in use since 1903 and helped bring many visitors to Lyme Regis, including the famous female paleontologist Mary Anning. There are plenty of walks around the area. One option is to start in the Uplyme Village Hall car park (close to the Talbot Arms pub) and look for the footpath which takes you to the edge of the cricket pavilion and into the opposite field. It is then a short (2 mile) circular walk back to the village hall. For the route, check out the blog Flipflops or Wellies. For a slightly longer route, before you reach the village hall, you will pass the Talbot Arms. Beside their beer garden is the 1.5 mile walk to Lyme Regis harbour and it is gorgeous (very well sign posted) - all along the River Lym and through wooded areas and alongside pretty chocolate box cottages.
Seaton is a gorgeous little seaside town and fishing harbor in East Devon, a short 15 minute drive from Lyme Regis harbour. There is a shingle beach stretching for around a mile and it has a cute little harbour, much like Lyme Regis. You can take a vintage tram ride on the Seaton Tramway, head to Seaton Jurassic to discover fossils and be taken on a journey to prehistoric times or if you are partial to a glass of beer, why not check out the Beer Quarry Caves - the main source in England for beer stone!
The Jurassic Coast has been famously labelled as England's most beautiful coastline and they are not wrong. With its imposing white chalk cliffs and bright blue waters, it is a very special place.
If you are a keen hiker, there are plenty of walks and trails to keep you busy. Head to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove to really experience pure English beauty (1 hour drive). We wrote a blog post on a hiking trail around Durdle Door as well as a couple others in the South West of England, head over to our article: ‘5 Best Day Hikes From London’ for more details.
Or perhaps you would rather take life at a slower pace and relax on the beach. Whatever you are looking for, this stretch of coastline has it all.
When it comes to accommodation options in Lyme Regis, there is plenty on offer! From hotels, to country cottages, to holiday lets, caravan parks, hostels and camping, there is something for everyone!
I can’t personally recommend anywhere as I house sat for my 2 weeks in Lyme Regis, but here are some useful websites:
For hotels in Lyme Regis click here
For Guesthouses and B&Bs, click here
For Self catering, click here
For glamping, camping and caravans, check out this page
You may also want to consider staying in the pretty village of Uplyme, which is a short 20 minute walk to the beach in Lyme Regis. The town is quiet, full to the brim with cutesy cottages and B&B's, many of which are based along the River Lyme. It is heaven.
Or why don’t you do as I did and housesit? You can sign up to Trusted House Sitters using this link. It costs £89 for a year, or if you use my discount code, it will only cost you £66 for an ENTIRE YEAR of free accommodation, WORLDWIDE.
And you get to meet some pretty cool people along the way who are able to give you some really good insights into the place you are visiting.
And if you are looking after a dog, who better to explore the beach of Lyme Regis and surrounding areas with?
If you want to explore this option some more (and absolutely should) you may find my recent post on house sitting helpful.
If you are looking for a quick bite or food on the go, head down to the beach front and pick yourself up some good old British Fish and Chips… and then why not follow that with an Ice Cream? You are by the coast after all! There are plenty of options, the hardest part is choosing one! Although we loved the one down the main beach front, just before turning to go up to Broad street. You will see it on your left, with a black and white tarpaulin cover, The Alcove Ice Cream stand.
The Millside Restaurant: Set back from the beachfront, this restaurant offers the perfect setting to sit back and relax. Situated inside the rejuvenated town mill, The Millside restaurant offers local, homemade food at an affordable price. They made their own bread, pasta, cakes and ice cream and use only local suppliers. *Please note that during November, the restaurant will be closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Hix Oyster and Fish House: Sits right on the beach front, offering incredible views of the sea. It is easily one of the most picturesque spots in Lyme Regis to enjoy freshly caught seafood. The setting is informal with simple wooden tables but their impact is huge. And they are big supporters of sustainable fishing and using only locally sourced produce. So for those seafood lovers among us, this is definitely a restaurant you want to check out.
Pilot Boat Inn Restaurant: Set off the edge of the beach, this restaurant has recently relaunched after an extensive renovation. Whilst the service is not super quick, they offer excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner options. They also have a good selection of vegetarian meals. They have an open plan kitchen, a pizza oven and a great terrace - perfect in the summer! Open 8-11pm and on Sunday evenings which is rare in Lyme Regis!
The Gallery Cafe: Just up from the beach and harbor on Broad Street, this cafe does simple food exceptionally well. The atmosphere is relaxed, cozy and friendly, with great service and delicious homemade cakes, sandwiches and of course fish a traditional crab salad.The cafe is compact and it can get busy so if a close knit and intimate space isn’t your thing, perhaps head somewhere else. As with most places in Lyme Regis, the cafe is dog friendly, so expect lots of dogs hanging around - which we loved!
Tierra Kitchen: Is an amazing vegetarian cafe with a beautifully thought out menu. This is my top choice for Lyme Regis (although the Gallery Cafe comes a very close second!) Tierra Kitchen offer vegetarian dishes packed with flavour and they have an amazing deli as well! Inside it offers a vintage rustic feel, and outside when the sun is shining, you are surrounded by a pretty terrace and lots of flowers. Don't miss out!
With so many beautiful beaches being enjoyed, sadly that means litter. Litter from tourists but also plastic waste that comes in from our seas and onto our beaches. If you have the time and dates match up, why not get involved in a beach clean up. You will be helping save our planet and you can meet some pretty awesome people.