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The 11 best things to do in Bridport and West Bay

The 11 best things to do in Bridport and West Bay

The 11 best things to do in Bridport and West Bay

Neighboured by picturesque coast and countryside, Bridport is a bustling market town nestled along the World Heritage Site’s Jurassic Coast in rural Dorset.

Perfect as a base for discovering the South West Coast Path, Bridport serves as a proud hub for artists, musicians and other creative folk, with its quirky shops and live music, theatre and comedy scene drawing in crowds from far and wide.

From eclectic fairs and festivals to delicious food and award-winning gelato ice cream, there’s so much to explore and uncover in this picturesque gem in Southwest England.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Bridport and West Bay.

1: Immerse yourself in the arts 

Bridport may only have a population of 15,000 but it packs a punch on the culture front. From monthly national acts playing the Electric Palace and Bridport Arts Centre to celebrated authors hosting talks at the Bridport Literary Festival, barely a week goes by without a must-see music, food or farming festival taking place in town. 

You’ll also find musicians in the local pubs with Bucky Doo Square hosting live music sessions on market days. Oh, and don’t forget about Dorset Art Weeks when many artists open their studios for viewings in late Spring. When it comes to art and culture, Bridport is a melting pot.

2: Discover West Bay

Broadchurch fans will instantly recognise this majestic harbour with its famous sandstone cliffs. Situated one and a half miles from Bridport, West Bay has been a favourite for holidaymakers for generations with people flocking here for lazy beach days, coastal walks, fishing trips, scuba diving, rounds of golf and much more.

There are twelve different kiosks in the harbour; highlights include fish soup from Rachel’s, a milkshake or gelato ice cream from much-loved artisanal gelato makers, Baboo Gelato and the seasonal specials from family favourite, Rise Café. 

Five minutes from the beach is Sladers Yard, a Georgian rope warehouse where fresh local food vendors and art by local artists are displayed in the pillared galleries. One of the highlights is the amazing woodwork by Petter Southall—the award-winning craftsman has been creating furniture from his studio here since 1991. 

3: Wander the markets

Taking place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Bridport Market is a lively street market selling everything from books and antiques to clothing, jewellery, lotions and plants.

And as Dorset is famous for its foodie scene, it’s no surprise that the market also delivers the gourmet goods. Favourites include fresh fruit and veg from Washingpool Farm, delicious Italian delicacies from Mercato Italiano (more about this gem later) and Spice & Rice for seriously good curries and street food.

4: Tickle your taste buds

Speaking of street food, you’ll find flavoursome food around Bridport seven days a week.

Tucked away down an alley by The Bull Hotel is Dorshi, an acclaimed Malaysian eatery specialising in dumpling dishes made using the finest local ingredients.

Meanwhile, Mercato Italiano is the must-visit pizzeria in the West Country with delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas, great music and happy crowds all on the menu.

Special mentions also go to Sundorbon (crowned Curry Life’s Best UK Restaurant in 2023); Soulshine for fresh coffee and sandwiches; and Klin Klan’s for tasty Thai food. 

5: Treat yourself to Baboo ice cream

Come rain or shine, there’s nothing quite like a cup or cone of the award-winning handmade gelato ice cream and sorbets from Baboo Gelato.

Locally sourced and made with organic milk and the best seasonal ingredients, Baboo’s artisanal ice cream comprises every flavour from Madagascan Vanilla to Piedmont Hazelnut Sorbet with non-dairy options also available.

The family-owned company’s rich gelato milkshakes are also renowned and let’s not forget the famous ‘croffle’: a toasted croissant in a waffle iron topped with gelato, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Just yum. 

Remember to pick up their delicious ice cream for dogs too; Baboo’s dairy-free Doggy Doggy Yum Yum is made from 100% natural ingredients and is the perfect frozen treat for your four-legged friend on a warm and sunny day.

With stores at either end of the iconic beach in West Bay, it’s only right to stop by. Ice cream delivery is also available.

6: Head west to Symondsbury

Only a mile away from Bridport is the quintessentially British village of Symondsbury complete with a church, cricket pitch and village school. 

Walk up Colmers Hill, an iconic hill sitting 417 feet high. A favourite among the townspeople, it’s topped by a grove of trees visible from miles around, making it one of the most recognisable spots on the West Dorset landscape. 

After taking the short but steep trek, reward yourself with tea at Symondsbury Kitchen and a meander around the surrounding independent galleries and boutiques.

7: Shop ‘til you drop

With unique independent stores abound, Bridport is a shopper’s paradise. 

For sartorial satisfaction, head to T Snook for classic hats and accessories or Smith & Smith for smart, everyday pieces.

Looking for a hit of homeware? Malabar is great for bedding and textiles, while Cilla & Camilla specialises in the loveliest kitchenwares and gifts.

Meanwhile, Clocktower Music is the place to go for second-hand vinyl records, while St Michael’s Trading Estate is a treat for anyone who enjoys vintage clothes, art and furniture.

8: Stretch your legs

If scenic walks are your thing, you’re spoilt for choice in and around Bridport and West Bay.

One of the more special routes is the walk from West Bay to Eype Beach, which overlooks the huge arching coastline from Portland Bill to Lyme Regis and beyond.

Walking up to Golden Cap also makes for a rewarding amble, as does the easy woodland walk around Langdon Hill.

9: Swim in the sea

It may be cold but plenty of hardy souls take the plunge and swim off East Beach in West Bay all year round. The scenic cliff backdrop makes it all worthwhile. 

But if chilly swims aren't your thing, consider rewinding at Seaside Sauna Haus, a wood-fired, beach-side sauna located at Seatown Beach.

The unspoiled, shingle beach at Eype Beach is also very lovely for swimming. But be warned: the traffic on the lane to get to and from can often be gridlocked during peak summer. 

10: Explore the coastal path

Boasting 630 miles of world-beating scenery, Bridport and West Bay leave you spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtakingly beautiful nature.

From the iconic Jurassic Cliffs to the picturesque and pebbly Chesil Beach that stretches 18 miles long, the many beautiful sights mean West Dorset is the gift that keeps on giving.

Please take care around the cliffs and take warnings of rock falls seriously—particularly in the rain and extreme weather, which can cause the cliffs to be less stable.

11: Enjoy the festivals

Fairs and festivals are aplenty in and around Bridport. In fact, in any given week you’ll find at least one fair, fête or festival taking place.

Fan favourites include Melplash Show, an annual agricultural show exhibiting everything from tractors and local charities to rare pigs and giant carrots.

The World Nettle Eating Competition, a cider-drenched knees-up that takes place in June, also deserves a special mention. 

Other things you’ll catch at the many fêtes and festivals around Bridport include everything from wild birds of prey and unruly terriers to lessons on how to shear a sheep! 

Over to you!

We hope our action-packed list has inspired you to venture over to Bridport and West Bay. And if you do pop by, call in to Baboo Gelato and say hello! We’d love to see you.

It’d be great to hear your feedback, too. Have we missed anything? What are your highlights of visiting Bridport and West Bay?

Get in touch today and we might even include your top picks in our post!

And if your friends are planning to visit West Dorset, spread the word about our article and other top picks for West Dorset including the 12 best things to do in Lyme Regis.

See you soon!

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images from Astrid IQ 

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