Things to do in Portland
The Isle of Portland is steeped in history, from its World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, to its active Second World War dockyards. It's no wonder there's so much to see and do here. Plus, the natural scenery is simply breath-taking.
Looking for things to do in Portland? Keep reading to discover activities that will make you race to pack a lunch and get your shoes on, ready to go.
1. Chesil Beach Centre
Address: A354, Weymouth DT4 9XE
Fun fact: Portland is an island that only joins the mainland via Chesil Beach, an 18-mile beach barrier forming part of the famous Jurassic Coast.
Before you head out onto this rugged spot with the family, pop into the Chesil Beach Centre first. Discover everything there is to know about the beach's rich history and wildlife! There's plenty of paid parking nearby and conveniently, a bridge from the centre to the beach. For wheelchair users, there are paved surfaces to make getting around easier.
After a day of fossil hunting and exploring the sands (with your pooch, if you like) head back to the centre where a welcoming cafe will be there to greet you, serving up delicious, locally sourced food and drink to fill hungry bellies.
2. Fancy's Family Farm
Address: Glacis, Portland DT5 1FR
Feel like getting up close with Portland Sheep, goats, and ducks? Flock to Fancy's Family Farm! Run entirely by donations, this blissful little farm is free to enter every day of the year until October. See a working farm in action, explore the beautiful surrounding farmland, and even spot native lizards, slow worms, and adders (careful though, adders are poisonous!)
Lots of cuddly animals will delight your little ones and there are even pots of animal food available to buy. If your bellies start rumbling too, stop by the on-site cafe for hot and cold refreshments, including products made with the farm's own meat and eggs.
Your purchases help keep the farm running and allow the volunteers to continue to care for rescued animals, too. As things to do in Portland go, this one's guaranteed to have everyone leaving with smiles on their faces.
3. Portland Bill Lighthouse
Address: Bill Lighthouse, Old Coastguard Cottages, Portland DT5 2JT
Portland Bill Lighthouse has been part of the Portland skyline for generations. It's still in service! To learn about the rich 500-year history of the lighthouse and its former keeper, there's a complete visitor centre featuring artefacts and interactive displays that are as fun as they are fascinating.
You'll need tickets to access the lighthouse and visitor centre, but family discounts are available. There's plenty of nearby parking, too. Just make sure little ones are able to walk up and down the lighthouse steps safely, and wear comfy clothes fit for exploring!
4. Portland Castle
Address: Liberty Rd, Castletown, Portland DT5 1AZ
Once one of Henry VIII's most important forts and a significant coastal defence, Portland Castle is now open to kids, adults, and even furry friends alike. As you make your way around, take in the sight, sounds, and smells with a free audio tour to fully immerse yourself (included with your entry ticket). Learn about the wars this castle has seen in its hundreds of years and get up close to cannons and the authentic Tudor kitchen.
Have a stroll around the beautifully maintained gardens and admire the stunning sea views. Breathing in all that sea air and aromas from the herb garden is sure to leave you feeling peckish—the Captain's Tearoom caters to all dietary requirements and is the perfect way to round off your day out.
5. Castletown D-Day Centre
Address: Admiralty Buildings, Castletown, Portland DT5 1BD
Step back in time and experience an authentic recreation of the dockyard as it was in 1944, in the thick of World War Two. The D-Day Centre in Castletown is one of the most immersive things to do in Portland, packed full of real weapons, vehicles, and artefacts from the time the troops sailed from Dorset to Normandy.
Guests are encouraged to don a helmet, get hands-on with guns, and even climb inside a real Sherman tank! Getting into the wartime spirit is made even easier thanks to volunteers in full costume who are happy to give you a tour. You'll need a ticket to enter, but between the historic venue and interactive displays, you'll be glad you went! Free parking is available nearby.
6. Portland Museum
Address: 217 Wakeham, Easton, Portland DT5 1HS
Uncover the unique, rich history of the Isle of Portland at the quaint Portland Museum, nestled in a pair of 17th-century cottages. The collections celebrate the people, stone, maritime, and famous Jurassic history of Portland in the photos, displays, and artefacts within. The museum is open all year round and boasts a cosy dog-friendly sheltered garden for picnics, an ice-cream shop, and free parking.
When you're looking for things to do in Portland, where else can you find dinosaurs, Viking shipwrecks, and world-famous scientists all in one place?
7. Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve
Address: 14 Tradecroft, Portland DT5 2LN
A unique place to explore, Tout Quarry was a working site until it closed in the 1980s. Left to let nature claim it back, it's now teeming with life. Mined limestone rocks are either covered in wildflowers and rare plants or sculpted into pieces of art that are scattered around the site. Park the car in the available car park and set off on foot to see what you can find in the natural grasslands.
You'll want to pop on some comfortable walking shoes and keep your dogs on a lead, as there are potentially tricky areas of rock that are challenging to navigate. No matter what time of year you visit, there are gravel and paved paths crisscrossing their way all over the site so there's always somewhere new to explore. Even spot the rare silver-studded blue butterfly if you have a keen eye!
8. Moonfleet Adventure Sailing
Address: 6 Hamm Beach Rd, Portland DT5 1DX
For a truly unique day trip for budding seafarers, book a trip on the tall ship Moonfleet! It departs from Portland Marina and takes you out along the Jurassic Coastline.
Be as hands-on as you like—the whole family can try their hands at all onboard activities like anchoring, sailing, and taking the helm. Or if you fancy sitting back, you can relax as you take in the sights of Dorset from the sea. You'll want to bring a packed lunch and comfy clothes that are appropriate for the time of year you visit. Time to set sail!