Places to visit on Portland and things to do

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite places to go in and around Weymouth, Portland and beyond. Whether you’re looking for fun, sports, history, culture, shopping, lounging or wildlife, Weymouth, Portland and Dorset has something for everyone!

Within walking distance (or within sight) of Crabbers’ Wharf

The Castletown D-Day Centre

Castletown D-Day Centre is an authentic recreation of the busy wartime dockyard on the Isle of Portland, from which in 1944, thousands of American troops of the 5th US Corps and the US 1st infantry, embarked, bound for the heavily-defended beaches of Nazi-occupied France.

The centre features an impressive array of original WW2 artefacts, weapons and wartime vehicles, including a full-size replica Spitfire, a Bofors 40mm gun and even a restored Sherman tank.

Check the Centre’s website or Facebook page for opening times and entrance prices.

The Underwater Curiosity Park

In 14 metres of water, the Underwater Curiosity Park offers novice and experienced scuba divers plenty to experience. The 500m2 area is protected from southerly, south westerly and westerly winds by the Isle of Portland and by the harbour breakwater to the north.

The Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caissons

In 2017 we were proud to honour the Royal Navy, the America armed forces and the local Weymouth and Portland community by commissioning six life-size statues representing two British sailors, two dockyard workers and two American GIs. With the help of Portland Port, the statues were installed on one of Portland Harbour’s two remaining Phoenix Caissons, built as part of the artificial Mulberry Harbours towed across to France during World War II.

Portland Castle

Owned and managed by English Heritage, Portland Castle was built in the early 1540s as part of Henry VIII’s sea defences against French and Spanish invasions. The audio tour included in the entrance price helps bring the castle’s fascinating history to life.

The National Sailing Academy

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy hosted sailing and windsurfing events at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. From Crabbers’ Wharf it’s a level 10-minute walk along the harbourside to the Academy.

Chesil Beach

In total, Chesil Beach is 18 miles long, stretching from Portland to West Bay. It’s estimated that the beach holds 180 billion pebbles. Interestingly, the pebbles at the Portland end of the beach are fist-sized, while at West Bay they are more like pea gravel. 

The visitor centre is operated by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, giving visitors a fascinating insight into the shingle bank and the Fleet lagoon that it protects.

Osprey Leisure Centre

If the weather’s not being kind, but you’re still keen to swim, the Osprey Leisure Centre is just a minute’s walk along the road.

Hiring paddleboards and kayaks

Adventure4All – pre-booked paddleboard (SUP) rentals from nearby Portland Marina.

Weymouth Watersports – SUP sessions, kayak rental and safaris from Portland harbour.

Jurassic Coast Activities – SUP and kayak hire from Overcombe Beach in Weymouth.

Within 15 minutes by car or public transport

Portland Bill

Hang onto your hats at Portland Bill – the southernmost tip of the Isle of Portland. It’s almost always windy here, which means it’s an ideal spot to blow away the cobwebs!

The iconic red and white lighthouse started guiding ships through Portland’s hazardous waters in 1906. Trinity House opens the lighthouse to visitors (please check their website for opening times before you visit) if you have nerves strong enough to climb the 153 steps to the top!

Weymouth Beach

Weymouth’s award-winning, sandy beach was made famous by George III who visited many times in the late 1700s to bathe in the waters.

Holidaymakers have been flocking to Weymouth ever since, and today there’s room for swimmers, sunbathers, donkeys and fairground rides. You’re never far from an ice cream opportunity, and the shallow waters make it the perfect family day out.

Weymouth Harbourside

Don’t be put off visiting the historic harbourside by the fact that it’s believed the Black Death arrived in England via a rat arriving on a boat from France!

Today the harbour hosts boats of all shapes and sizes. The harbourside cafes and restaurants are a good spot to watch them sail by, or see the Town Bridge open to let taller craft pass through to the Inner Harbour.

Weymouth Town

A popular destination on rainy days, Weymouth’s town centre has a range of shops, cafes and restaurants, a cinema, and a swimming pool.

Nothe Fort

Built in 1872, the fort gives you incredible 360O views over the Weymouth and Portland harbours it was designed to protect.

It houses a fascinating museum, with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Check the Nothe Fort website for opening times and prices.

Further afield

The Jurassic Coast

Crabbers’ Wharf sits at the heart of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which stretches along 95 miles from Swanage to Exmouth in Devon.

The incredible stretch of the coast offers an almost complete record of the Mesozoic Era (c 250-65 million years ago!). Fossil-hunting is very popular along the coast. The best places to get involved include the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, where you can see the amazing fossil collections, learn how to find your own fossils on the beach, or join a guided fossil-hunting walk.

Dorchester

Dorset’s county town of Dorchester has bustling shops and a weekly market. It’s a must-visit for Thomas Hardy fans, as the town features as Casterbridge in novels of Dorset’s most famous son.

Abbotsbury

It’s not every day that you can help feed 600 swans! The Swannery at Abbotsbury is the only place in the world where you can walk through a nesting colony of free-flying mute swans.

Abbotsbury also has a lovely sub-tropical garden and children’s farm – all in all, a great day out!

Bridport and West Bay

Travel west from Crabbers’ Wharf along the stunning coast road and you’ll reach West Bay and then Bridport.

If you were a ‘Broadchurch’ fan, chances are you’ll recognise the iconic sandstone cliffs of West Bay. They were the backdrop for the TV series which were filmed locally.

Bridport is known as a quirky market town, with a lovely mix of independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

Monkey World

A renowned ape rescue centre, Monkey World is a sure-fire family favourite. Learn about chimpanzees, orang-utans and a host of other apes, then let your own little monkeys let off steam on the enormous climbing frame.

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