Durdle Door is one of the most enchanting beaches along the dramatic Jurassic coastline in Dorset. With its phenomenal limestone archway standing 200ft tall and jetting out into the sea, you can see why Durdle Door is on so many peoples UK bucket lists. You’ll have to carefully navigate a precipitous path to reach this beautiful landmark, but it’s worth the short trek no matter the season. Come for a fresh winters stroll, or pitch up with a picnic during the summer and listen to the waves crash against the pebbles.
But before you sit back and soak in the natural beauty of Durdle Door, here’s everything you need to know to help you plan your trip!
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Do you need to pay to visit Durdle Door beach?
No, entry to this Jurrasic Coast beach is free. However if you’ve arrived by car, then you’ll need to pay for parking.
Where is the carpark for Durdle Door?
There are two carparks to choose from, both of which fill up fairly rapidly. One is closer to Durdle Door and the other is slightly further away at Lulworth Cove. Regardless of which you choose, they both require a steep and uneven path to reach the cove.
The Durdle Door car park is situated in a campsite field at the top of the cliff called Durdle Door Holiday Park. Which usually has a snack waggon and ice-cream van, plus a couple of porta-loos for convenience.
Top tip: There are no toilets on the beach, so this will be the last chance to use one before you head down.
Parking here will give you the shortest and most direct walk to the beach. Making it the best option if you have young children in tow, or if you plan on bringing everything but the kitchen sink. It’s still a steep 900m walk down a dusty path with loose stones to reach the bay though. Flip flops or sandals aren’t the best choice for this walk, you may want to keep your trainers on or wear some walking boots for better traction.
We always park at Lulworth cove when we visit Durdle Door, mainly because we enjoy the longer coastal walk. Lulworth cove is very pretty too, and has a fish and chip shop, toilets, ice cream shops and a pub which can be nice to explore before or after your trip to Durdle Door.
Addresses & opening times for both Durdle Door Carparks:
Durdle Door carpark: Open 8am-9pm
Address: Durdle Door Holiday Park, Wareham, BH20 5PU
Lulworth cove carpark: Open 24 hours a day, but the overflow carpark gates are locked at 9pm.
Address: West Lulworth, Wareham, BH20 5RS
Car parking prices for 2023
Both Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove carparks cost the same price.
All day parking (up to 9pm) – £12
4 hours – £6
Motorbike – £2
Motorhomes/ large vehicles over 5.5m and up to 16 seats – £20
Both carparks are cashless. You can either do card payments or you can use the JustPark app.
How was the Durdle Door archway formed?
It’s taken centuries for mother nature to form Durdle Door’s iconic archway. Overtime, the salty sea has eroded a hole through the softer stone, leaving behind a perfect archway. As this erosion will forever continue, one day the famous arch will collapse and a sea stack will be all that remains. Although this isn’t likely to happen for hundreds of years yet, it’s sad to imagine it gone.
Where does Durdle Door get it’s name from?
‘Durdle’ is derived from the Old English word ’thirl’ which means pierce, bore or drill.
When is the best time to visit Durdle Door?
Although the scenery and colours will vary depending on the season you chose to visit. The Jurrasic Coast can be enjoyed all year round. If you’re craving some time relaxing on the beach, or swimming in the sea, then you’ll want to visit during the warmer summer months. Although this is the UK and our seasons are sometimes unpredictable!
Durdle Door will always be busiest during the school summer holidays (end of June-August) So visiting during the shoulder season (May & September) will hopefully bring fewer crowds, although people travel here from all over the South-West. For the best chance of crowd-less photos, arrive early morning or early evening.
Look at this incredible sunset we caught on our trudge back to the car one evening!
What is there to do at Durdle Door?
This is the most photographed beach in all of Dorset, so people flock here all year long to see it with their own eyes.
Walk – You can walk along the south west coastal path and soak in the impressive sea views.
Relax – This beach offers the perfect spot to relax, whilst you listen to the waves swell and crash against its pebbly shoreline.
Swim – Some people take themselves for a little swim through the iconic archway. Don’t forget to bring your quick drying towel!
Jump – We’ve watched some daredevils fling themselves off from the top of the arch into the sea below. Although, I’m not sure how safe this is!
Visit both beaches – Before you even reach the steps that lead you down to Durdle Door, you’ll have an option to visit Man O’War beach. This beach is on the opposite side of Durdle Door and seems to be far less popular. It may not have the impressive archway, but it’s still a beautiful beach to visit.
Man O’ War beach in Dorset
With most people skipping straight past this beach, you nearly always have the place to yourself!
All along the white chalky cliffs of Man O’ War beach, you’ll see small naturally formed caves. These have been known to collapse, so be aware that you’re taking that risk if you chose to enter them.
Can you swim at Durdle Door?
Yes you can, however its worth noting that there is no lifeguard on duty at this Dorset beach. Therefor, only enter the sea if you’re a strong swimmer.
This beach has a steep shelf with a strong undertow, which has sadly caused fatalities. If your children wish to enter the water, keep your eye on them and make sure they don’t get into trouble. Man O’War beach is safer for swimming, thanks to its calmer and shallower cove.
How to walk to Durdle Door Beach from Lulworth Cove
If you’re seeking that longer scenic walk, park up at Lulworth Cove and begin your trek along the South-West Coast path from there. You’ll start the walk by heading up this set of steep steps at the rear of the carpark. This first part has a decent incline and will get your blood pumping, but the rest of the way is downhill and offers some incredible sea views along the route.
Continue following along the coastal path and you’ll eventually get a fantastic view over to Man O’ War beach in the distance. On a sunny day the sea will be a tempting shade of turquoise.
Keep walking and you’ll arrive at a wooden gate where you’ll need to turn left down the path. To your right is the Durdle Door carpark so you’ll see lots of other people joining the route at this point.
This section of path is pretty steep, and usually dusty with loose stones under foot. Take your time walking down this section. We have witnessed many people styling out some slips and trips here! As you head further down, you’ll gain a better view over Man O’ War beach and eventually Durdle Door too. This steep path will take roughly 15 minutes to reach the top viewing platform/ area where you can admire the view before you continue down on to the beaches.
At this point you have the option to either head left for Man O’War, and right for Durdle Door.
The paths which lead you down to the beach are well maintained with proper steps. They are pretty steep and there is no handrail, so be careful with your footing. Durdle Door has a total of 143 steps down to the shore.
Is Durdle Door Wheelchair accessable?
You would possibly be able to get down to the top viewing spot. Although this is a very steep path! You would need help getting down and back up to the carpark again. The beach itself is inaccessible as its only steps that can get you down to the beach.
Are dogs allowed on the beach?
Dog are welcome on Durdle Door beach all throughout the year, so be prepared for dogs doing their zoomies after a paddle in the sea. There’s no bins here though, so you’ll need to take any of their mess back to the main carpark with you.
Can you fly drones?
Drone flying has been banned at Durdle Door. There is now a huge sign saying you’re not allowed to fly them here anymore.
Is it ok to have a BBQ on the beach?
Fires and BBQ’s are not permitted on the beach or at the carparks.
Other things to do nearby
If you’re looking for some other great places to see nearby. I recommend exploring these:
Studland Bay – A gorgeous white sandy beach that’s owned by the National Trust. The sea is really shallow so its perfect for children to splash around in. FYI, a section of this beach is a nudist beach.
Old Harry Rocks – A lovely little walk will take you across the fields onto the top of the cliff of Old Harry Rocks. Here you will get to see the impressive white cliffs and needle stacks.
Blue Pool – We stumbled across this place by chance, as we had never heard of it before. This stunning walk will take you through forests that circle an old quarry. The water here is super blue, which is how this place gained its name.
Places to eat in Lulworth Cove
If you’ve not packed a picnic, the best options for food will be over in Lulworth Cove. The fish and chip shop is always popular. I had cod bites and chips from there and it was delicious. The fish was fresh, and the chips weren’t a soggy disaster. If you’re wanting some traditional pub grub, then a little further down towards to cove you’ll see a pub called Lulworth Cove Inn. For something sweet, get yourself some silky gelato from Jakes Gelato I highly recommend the Bueno flavour!
Durdle Door Hotels and places to stay
For the very closest accommodation option, you’d need to pitch up your tent or hire a static caravan at the Durdle Door camping site. There aren’t any hotel options in Durdle Door, so you would need to head in to Lulworth Cove or West Lulworth instead.
If you’re happy to stay a little further away, Bournemouth is just under an hour away and will have the most accommodation options.