The Isle of Portland is the Jurassic Coast’s most southerly point, and is joined to the mainland by just a thin strip at the southern end of the sweeping arc of Chesil Beach. Its isolated location and beautiful scenery make it a real explorer’s island, while the comparatively mild climate enables a wide variety of flora and fauna to thrive.

The best way to explore this fascinating island is on foot. The South West Coast Path loops around the island, and there is an excellent network of inland pathways giving superb access to a wide variety of features. The buildings on the island are rich in history, while Portland Bill at the southern tip features no fewer than three lighthouse structures. Only one of these remains operational, and includes a recently refurbished visitor centre.

Many parts of the island, including the whole of the coastline, are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon are of international conservation importance and home to nearly 300 species of bird, over 30 species of butterfly and 720 species of moth. Chesil Beach itself has intrigued geologists for centuries and is one of the finest examples of a barrier beach anywhere in the world. The excellent Chesil Beach Centre tells the story of the region’s unique geology.

How to Get There

There are regular bus services from Weymouth to Portland. The nearest railway station is Weymouth, about four miles north of the island, which connects to Dorchester, stations in Purbeck, and runs directly to London Waterloo.

By road the island is reached via the A354 which runs south from Dorchester.

For further information, visit our Travel page.

portland bill
Portland Bill from the sea. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

Where to Stay

We recommend the beautiful Heights Hotel, which offers stunning 360 degree views across the island.

We also suggest booking a cottage with one of our brilliant Business Partners such as holidaycottages.co.uk.

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

Bottlenose dolphin and three lighthouses, Portland Bill
Bottlenose dolphin and three lighthouses, Portland. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

Things to Do

A yacht passes Portland Bill
A yacht passes Portland Bill. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

Chesil Beach Centre

At The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, you can learn more about the formation of this huge barrier beach and the rich wildlife and history associated with it. There is a bridge from the Centre across the Fleet Lagoon to the great beach. The Fleet Observer runs daily boat trips on the Fleet Lagoon in the summer months, weather permitting.

The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, Photo: Vicky Ashby
The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre. © Vicky Ashby

Walking

Portland makes a superb year-round walking destination. It is criss-crossed by accessible walking paths that take in its spectacular geology and panoramic views. Pick yourself up an OS Map from our online shop to begin your Portland adventure.

Chesil beach from Portland
Chesil beach from Portland. © Ollie Taylor

Need to know: Portland Bill Lighthouse

Portland Bill Lighthouse is open to the public for tours, and features a visitor centre in the former lighthouse keeper’s quarters. Tours for visitors last around 45 minutes, and it is possible to climb the 153 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the spectacular view across the Jurassic Coast.

 

Portland Bill Lighthouse.