Abbotsbury is a very old village, settled amongst the hills behind the great Chesil Bank, and is one of Dorset’s finest, with a history going back some 6,000 years. It has been influenced by man from the Neolithic Age and is overlooked by an Iron Age hill fort.

High above the village on a lonely hill stands the 14th century St Catherine’s Chapel, built as a place of pilgrimage and retreat by the monks of the former Abbotsbury Abbey. From here there are superb views of Chesil Beach below. Abbotsbury today features thatched cottages built from local stone, some dating from the 16th century.

How to Get There

The Jurassic Coaster bus service runs through Abbotsbury. The nearest railway station is at Weymouth, nine miles away. By road, Abbotsbury is on the B3157 coastal road, halfway between Weymouth and Bridport.

For more information, visit our Travel page.

Abbotsbury sunset
St Catherine's Chapel, Abbotsbury, at sunset. © Steve Belasco -

Where to Stay

We recommend booking a cottage in or around Abbotsbury with one of our brilliant Business Partners such as or Dorset Hideaways.

For a comprehensive list of local options, visit our Accommodation page.

Abbotsbury village
Abbotsbury village. © Steve Belasco -

Things to Do

Abbotsbury - wide - Mark Simons
Abbotsbury and Chesil Beach. © Mark Simons

Abbotsbury Swannery

Abbotsbury is world-renowned for its swannery. The popular bird sanctuary is 600 years old and home to over 600 flying swans. It is the only place in the world where you can literally walk among the breeding, nesting and hatching birds.

Abbotsbury Swannery
Abbotsbury Swannery. © Abbotsbury Tourism

Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens

A short walk from the village is Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens. Founded in 1765, the gardens have developed into a 20-acre site filled with exotic plants.

There are formal and informal gardens, woodland walks and walled gardens. Abbotsbury’s central position along Chesil Beach also makes it a great base to explore the rich wildlife of the Fleet Lagoon.

The Jurassic Coast Trust has collaborated with Abbotsbury Tourism to produce a family-friendly “Jurassic Trail” through the Gardens, available at the entrance for a suggested donation of £2.

The rope bridge at Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens. © Abbotsbury Tourism

Need to Know: St. Catherine’s Chapel

One of the most spectacular views on the entire Jurassic Coast is from St. Catherine’s Chapel, a beautiful old church that overlooks Abbotsbury village.


From here, you can look east to Portland, and see how it curves downwards like a giant wedge. You can turn your head and see over to the rolling cliffs of West Bay, Golden Cap and beyond.

St Catherine
St Catherine's Chapel. © Garry Knight