About halfway between Axminster and Dorchester lies the coastal market town of Bridport in Dorset. And over the last 20 years it’s enjoyed a quiet but steady uplift not only in its reputation but also its property market. Some of that’s down to providing picture-perfect locations for TV series such as Broadchurch. Some of can be attributed to glowing magazine features, one of which coined the term ‘Notting Hill on Sea’. And some of it’s to do with the town ranking extremely well in the annual Sunday Times Best Places To Live list. But none of these things would mean much if the place didn’t actually live up to them in some way. If it were all just hype, it would eventually be exposed. The fact is that Bridport merits these accolades.

  1. What is Special About Bridport?
  2. Is Bridport a Nice Place to Live?
  3. Coastal Setting
  4. Arts Scene
  5. Landscape
  6. Architecture
  7. Market Days
  8. High Streets
  9. Food

What is Special About Bridport?

If it could be summed up in one word, it would be ‘character’. Bridport exists at the absolute perfect point in the spectrum of British market towns; at one end, they can be depressed, overlooked and run down and at the other, they become overly refined, titivated and somewhat sterile, with high streets full of starchy boutiques. Bridport is neither grimy nor excessively quaint. It has three intersecting high streets, West/East Street and South Street – they’re not overly dominated by national chains (though, conveniently, there is a Boots, Waterstones and a WHSmith) but instead populated by thriving independents.

Is Bridport a Nice Place to Live?

Yes. It’s friendly, community-minded, arts-driven and easy to get around, with a buoyant economy, a stunning coastline, proximity to other appealing places (e.g. Lyme Regis) and lots of greenery. Read on to discover our Best Things About Bridport.

Coastal Setting

While its town centre is inland, Bridport is just minutes away from large stretches of beautiful Jurassic coastline. West Bay, formerly known as Bridport Harbour, falls within one of the Dorset Areas of Oustanding Natural Beauty. Its striking, photogenic cliff face is a classic example of the way cliffs in this area are built up of visibly alternating sections of soft and hard material. West Bay is among the more built-up and tourist-attracting sections of coastline and an ideal place for buying fresh fish; for a wilder, less populous beach experience, there’s Eype, which is accessed via a winding, foliage-heavy coast road (great for picking wild berries in late summer and early autumn). Chesil Beach, immortalised in Ian McEwan’s 2007 novel, On Chesil Beach, is a long, dazzling stretch of shingle.

Arts Scene

Bridport punches above its weight in terms of the arts and was named Dorset Capital of Culture in 2024. The Bridport Arts Centre on South Street is a multimedia venue comprising dance, theatre, film, spoken word performances, visual arts and comedy. Further down the same street, you’ll find The Electric Palace, an art deco theatre that puts on a programme of live music, comedy, film screenings and theatrical productions. Budding visual artists interested in developing their talents in sculpture, painting, print-making, drawing and more can join the Bridport Art Society, founded in the 1950s, which has a schedule of workshops, meetings, demonstrations and exhibitions. There’s also an array of annual festivals, including the Bridport Folk Festival and, in November, the well-established and highly respected Bridport Literary Festival. There’s an abundance of arts-related group activities in the town, including book groups, poetry groups and writers’ groups. Bridport is also served by the u3a (University of the Third Age), a charitable organisation of locally-run learning opportunities for seniors and those not working full time.

Landscape

Bridport is doubly blessed – not only does it have a stunning coastal setting, but inland it’s beautiful too. There are several well-loved walks which are not only popular with locals but which draw people from far and wide, including from overseas. Colmer’s Hill, an extraordinary, tree-topped vision that’s among the first things you see when you drive into the town, is the site of one of the town’s best walks. It takes about half an hour to reach the peak, from where you can enjoy stunning views of the rolling countryside and the sea. The other must-do local walk is Golden Cap  a four-mile stretch of National Trust landscape that takes you from Seatown village up to the highest point in the entire south coast. And thanks to the fact that a river runs through Bridport, the River Brit, there are lots of pretty riverside walks. The surrounding countryside of Bridport is very beautiful – and, even better, it’s easily reached because the town does not have miles of dreary suburbia at its outskirts. One minute, you’re in the very centre, beneath the famous Clocktower, and within three or four minutes’ drive (or ten minutes’ walk), you could be in a green expanse of meadows and hills.

Architecture

Bridport’s architecture is mainly Georgian and you’ll go past attractive Regency houses as you come in or go out of the town. There’s a beautiful, early (pre-Renaissance) church, St Mary’s, on South Street. It was once a thriving rope-making town and, because rope had to be laid in the street, the pavements are wide, giving some of the town’s streets (especially parts of East, West and South Street) an appealing, boulevard-like quality.

Market Days

Bridport is a market town and twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays), its three main streets are teeming with stalls from 8am until the middle of the afternoon. You’ll find everything from clothing to hardware, bric-a-brac, food, plants and flowers, books, IT products, vinyl records and artworks. On the Saturday market, there’s an increase in the number of antique and vintage stalls that come to South Street. So plentiful are the stalls that it would be entirely possible to get everything you need on market days and never have to trouble the local supermarkets and shops.

High Streets

The town effectively has three high streets, with the intersecting point being the famous clocktower. There’s West Street, East Street and South Street. What’s great about it is is that for every famous chain (e.g. Costa), there’s at least two independents, and the latter include health food shops, second-hand bookshops, second-hand record shops, clothing boutiques, opticians, printers and more. Away from the high streets, there are plenty of other pockets of commerce, including St Michael’s Trading Estate, where there are artists’ studios, antique warehouses, the popular Clocktower Records and the Red Brick Cafe.

Food

Bridport is undoubtedly a town for foodies, both in terms of its shops and its restaurants. There are two butchers (including one, R J Balson & Son, thought to be the oldest in England), two health-food shops, a farm shop, an Italian bakery, Brassico Forno, independent greengrocers, coffee shops, gastro-pubs and a popular organic-produce/bakery, Rise. Restaurants options including sustainable seafood, Asian cuisine, Neapolitan pizza, fish and chips and more. Stray further from the town and the options multiply dramatically; the Seaside Boarding House, a restaurant/hotel that uses local seafood and produce in its menu and where you can order anything from a poached egg on toast to a six-course dinner, is currently one of the most popular food attractions.