From beautiful beaches and Jurassic Coast fossils to the picturesque Marshwood Vale countryside, there are so many great things to do in and around Charmouth!
This small seaside village sometimes feels like a bit of a hidden gem in Dorset – especially given the popularity of Lyme Regis, which is right next door.
But the town’s sheltered shingle beaches, family-friendly holiday parks, and peaceful setting make this a favourite with both locals and visitors.
Charmouth sits on the mouth of the River Char (hence the name), which cuts the beach in two as it flows down to the sea.
Set on the Jurassic Coast UNESCO site, the village is surrounded by impressive cliffs and unique coastal attractions – including the highest point on the south coast, Golden Cap. The towering orange cliffs at West Bay are a short drive away, as are the quarry caves Beer.
This area is also a well-known fossil hunting destination. The neighbouring town of Lyme Regis was the birthplace of the Victorian palaeontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning, who unearthed the first ichthyosaur fossil in the cliffs between Lyme and Charmouth.
Today, the beaches of both towns are still littered with fossils. You can often spot them loose amongst the shingle, especially ammonites, which are the most common. Make sure you visit the local museums to witness some of the area’s most impressive discoveries.
Whether you’re looking for adventures, countryside rambles, cute villages, or relaxing beach days, there’s plenty to enjoy in the area around Charmouth. Below, you’ll find a complete local’s guide to the best things to do in and near Charmouth…
Things to do in Charmouth: Map
Top Things to do in Charmouth
Relax on Charmouth Beach
Charmouth is a seaside town, so of course one of the best things to do here is enjoy a day at the beach!
The beach is actually divided into two beaches by the River Char, which meets the sea here. West Beach is has a mix of sand, shingle, and pebbles, while East Beach is more sand.
Stay away from the base of the cliffs at the eastern end, as landslides and rockfalls do happen occasionally.
Sitting in a sheltered bay, with the beach gently shelving into the sea, these lovely beaches are ideal for swimming. However, there are no lifeguards, so do take care. In terms of facilities, there’s a beach cafe, as well as several shops and restaurants in the village, and there are toilets behind the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.
Go Fossil Hunting
Along with its neighbour Lyme Regis, Charmouth is one of the best locations on the Jurassic Coast to look for fossils. This section of the coast is named because it was formed during the Triassic Period. This means that the cliffs are full of fossils, which regularly wash out onto the beach – especially after bad weather!
Please be aware: it is forbidden (and very dangerous) to hammer the cliffs at Charmouth and Lyme Regis. The best, and safest, location to look for fossils is in the loose pebbles and shingle of the beach. Walk along the beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth at low tide and you’re very likely to see several fossils as you go. Just be sure to check tide times, so you don’t get cut off before your return!
The best way to look for fossils is on an organised fossil hunting walk with an expert guide. These can be arranged through the Charmouth Heritage Centre or the Lyme Regis Museum.
Learn More at Charmouth Heritage Centre
Speaking of Charmouth Heritage Centre, this is a great place to learn more about local history – including fossils and marine life. And with free entry, this really is one of the best things to do while you’re in Charmouth!
The centre has a huge collection of fossils, including the skeleton of an ichthyosaur which was featured in the BBC documentary ‘Attenborough and the Sea Dragon’.
Climb the Highest Point on the South Coast at Golden Cap
Just along the coast from Charmouth lies a towering cliff called Golden Cap. At 191m (627ft), this is the highest point on the south coast of England – so you can enjoy some incredible views along the Jurassic Coast from its summit.
Try my 4-mile circular walk from Seatown, which will take you up to the top of Golden Cap and around the stunning Golden Cap Estate. The estate is managed by the National Trust and filled with peaceful farmland, meadows, and woodland.
Nearby, you can also visit the ruins of a 13th-century chapel; all that remains of the “lost” village of Stanton St Gabriel, originally a Saxon settlement.
Have an Adventure at The Tunnel Tree Tops
The peaceful Tunnel woodlands, just north of Charmouth, are home to a surprising secret. The Tunnel Tree Tops is an exciting high ropes and zip wire adventure course, designed for all the family!
Challenge yourself with a high ropes course featuring 11 rope and wooden elements, including 3 zip wires. It’s a really fun day out – and a great way to add a unique adventure to your Charmouth holiday.
Take a Day Trip to Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis and Charmouth lie so close together that it’s possible to walk between the two seaside towns in about an hour.
If you’re based in Charmouth, a day trip to Lyme Regis is a must. This is a beautiful little town full of historic buildings, quaint streets, and quirky shops.
Visit the Lyme Regis Muesum, take a walk along The Cobb (the town’s scenic harbour), meet local sea life at the Marine Aquarium, or simply wander the pretty streets, exploring Lyme’s many boutique shops and art galleries. Read my guide to the best things to do in Lyme Regis for more ideas!
Getting from Charmouth to Lyme Regis
As mentioned above, you can walk between the two towns along the beach. It takes around an hour, but at high tide, the route is often cut off. Be sure to check tide times before setting off, and ask at tourist information if you’re unsure.
Alternatively, you can drive from Charmouth to Lyme Regis in about 9 minutes. I recommend the Monmouth Beach carpark or the Charmouth Road Pay and Display Car Park. You can also take a bus (the X51, X53, and LPR all operate between the towns) which takes about 15-25 minutes.
Have A Picnic on Stonebarrow Hill
Stonebarrow Hill lies on the Golden Cap Estate, just outside of Charmouth. From its summit, you can enjoy some incredible views of the coast and the surrounding countryside, as well as Golden Cap itself.
Take a picnic up to make the most of the view, or pick up refreshments from the small National Trust shop and café (but check it’s open first).
You can also use Stonebarrow as a starting point for an easier version of the Golden Cap walk, ideal if you want to visit this Jurassic Coast highlight without a difficult hike!
Hike Along the Jurassic Coast
As I’ve already said, Charmouth is right on the UNESCO Jurassic Coast. It also sits on the popular South West Coast Path, England’s longest national trail. So this is a prime location for some incredible hiking and cliff walks. There are loads to choose from, but here’s a handful to get you started…
- Lyme Regis to Charmouth – 5 miles (8km) circular. Take the inland cliff path there, and walk back along the beach.
- Chideock to Charmouth – 5.4 miles (8.6 km) one way. You can climb Golden Cap along the way.
- Eype Mouth to Seatown – 4.3 miles (7.0 km). The route goes via Doghouse Hill, West Dorset’s oldest human settlement, and Thorncombe Beacon.
READ MORE: 15 Short Dorset Coast Walks Under 4 Miles
Walk the River Char to Whitchurch Canonicorum
If you prefer a countryside ramble, try the walk along the River Char to the quaint village of Whitchurch Canonicorum. Known as the “capital of Marshwood Vale”, this tiny village has a population of just 684!
Despite its small size, the village has some interesting history to discover. Also known as the Cathedral of the Vale, the ancient Church of St. Candida and Holy Cross is the only parish church in Britain to contain the remains of a saint. Inside the church is a 13th-century shrine containing the remains of the obscure St. Wite.
This was one of just two shrines in Britain to survive the Reformation with its relics intact, the other being the remains of Saint Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.
Visit the Cannington Viaduct
Once part of the now closed Lyme Regis branch line, the Cannington Viaduct is now a Grade-11 listed structure dating back to around 1900. At 203 yards long and 92 feet high, it’s a pretty impressive structure, surrounded by the idyllic countryside west of Lyme Regis and Charmouth.
Although you can’t walk across the viaduct, you can walk or cycle underneath it. Try this 12.5–mile circular bike route from Uplyme, or this 2-mile circular walk from Uplyme.
Discover Coney’s Castle and Lambert’s Castle
Lambert’s Castle and Coney’s Castle are two Iron Age hill forts near the village of Fishpond, a short distance north of Charmouth. The two forts are less than a mile apart, so you can visit both in a day.
According to the National Trust, which manages both sites, Lambert’s Castle was constructed by the local tribe around 2,500 years ago. Climb to the top to enjoy the views across the Marshwood Vale and out to sea.
Spring is an ideal time to visit Coney’s Castle, when the ancient woodlands here are covered with bluebells. These are one of the best bluebell woods in Dorset so don’t miss them!
Great Days Out Near Charmouth
As well as neighbouring Lyme Regis, mentioned above, there are some lovely spots and fun attractions near Charmouth for a great day out…
- Bridport and West Bay – for history, shopping, and towering orange cliffs.
- Weymouth and the Isle of Portland – for sandy beaches, watersports, and historic harbours.
- Dorchester – visit the county town for a historic high street, multiple museums, and literary locations.
- Cerne Abbas – walk around Giant’s Hill for an enormous chalk hill figure of a nude giant!
- SEA LIFE Weymouth – a fun aquarium which makes a great day out for families.
Are there any other fun things to do in and around Charmouth? Scroll down to leave a comment with your recommendations!