Dorset

Where is Dorset ?

Dorset is a diverse and beautiful county with awe-inspiring hillsides, dramatic cliffs, sweeping beaches, chocolate box villages, bustling towns, and quiet countryside. You need not have a hard time deciding your holiday plans. We have loads of holiday ideas and things to do based on your interests. Check out our list of the best places to visit, and the activities that are waiting for you. This guide is the key you need to unlock a new world of fun and adventure!

15 Places to Visit in Dorset

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove is a horseshoe shaped beach, very close to the village of West Lulworth, belonging to the World Heritage Site. Many regard it as one of the most remarkably beautiful spots in the world, and it attracts tons of tourists to Dorset every year. Lulworth Cove is a place to visit for photographers, geographers and it makes a nice family day out. You might be wondering what is special about the spot, all you need is a visit to convince you. The place to stay for the period of your holiday is Castle Inn located in West Lulworth.

Durdle Door

Durdle Door as the name implies is a rock in the shape of a doorway found on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth. This is a free natural outdoor attraction on the beach and can be accessed by walking from the Lulworth Cove or from the top of the cliff. It is privately owned by the Welds, a family who owns 12,000 acres in Dorset in the name of the Lulworth Estate. The area is always open to tourists seeking to reconnect with nature, after a long time in the hustling and bustling of the urban environment. Visitors are advised to stay at Castle Inn located in West Lulworth for easy access to the site

Brownsea Highland

Brownsea Highland is in the midst of Poole Harbour, regarded as the largest Europe’s natural harbour with the measurement of a mile and half. The highland is a mixture of habitats (woodland, heathland, lagoon and seaside) which presents an ideal setting for different kinds of wildlife such as: the red squirrel, sika deer, peacocks, lizards, dragonflies and butterflies to thrive. This site is arguably the perfect spot for a little adventure. Stay at Quayside Close Holiday Flats located in Poole for the period of your holiday.

The Russell Coates Art Museum

The Russell Coates Art Museum located in Bournemouth gives you the adequate feeling of being in a nice environment, coupled with the best of art works that can be found anywhere in the world. You can see the best in British arts and get to know some of their origins. The new extension of the museum has a restaurant and a play area for young children, while the art gallery in the old annex displays a wide and frequently changing collection of pictures and statues. For easy access to the Museum, spend your nights at Washington House Hotel in Bournemouth.

The Tank Museum

The incredible sight of the armoured vehicles found at the Tank Museum Bovington camp in Dorset will take your breath away. The collection includes some of the finest and first-ever war vehicles ever made from different countries. This special collection is regarded as the best that can be found anywhere in the world. Step inside and marvel at the armoured warfare dating from World War I till present, including the Battlegroup Afghanistan exhibition. Tourists in this area can stay at B&B Heatherbell Cottage located in West Bay.

Corfe Castle

The Corfe Castle is a National Trust property, believe me when I say its hilltop ruins are breathtakingly beautiful, and won’t fail to fascinate anyone. The castle is built in a strategic place which gives it a beautiful view of the Purbeck Hills. Historically, it was once a fortress and a palace built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. This site is a place of historical value and worth a day of exploring. While on holiday, you can spend your nights at Olivers guest house at Corfe Castle for easy access to this spot.

Gold Hill

Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town of Shaftesbury in Dorset. It is not far-fetched  why a street will be labelled as an attraction spot if you look at the houses that were impossibly built along the steep ground, and the 14th century St Peter’s Church at the top. The view from the top of the street presents an incredible, but beautiful landscape of houses stretching out like a giant arm giving it a romantic view. The street is buttressed on the other side by monumental walls, presumed to have been built in the 1360s by King Alfred the Great, to protect the town surrounding ancient Shaftesbury Abbey. A visit to the street is a chance to upgrade your historical knowledge and marvel at the work of the ancient builders. Spend a good night rest at the Old Forge Holiday Cottages in Shaftesbury.

Lyme Regis Museum

A visit to Lyme Regis Museum is a peep in the past to see the culture and way of life of the people in the town. Lyme Regis is well known for its large collections of memorabilia, and fossils dating from the Jurrasic period. Worthy of note is the work of writers such as Jane Austen and John Fowles which are on display for tourists to admire and learn the story behind their literature. A stonework in the form of ammonites can be seen outside the museum, mirroring the local history and paleontology that makes Lyme Regis popular. There is an annex of the museum devoted to the famous female fossil hunter Mary Anning, and you can engage in a little adventure of your own, this extension of the museum is available even when the museum is closed. The place to stay while on holiday in Lyme Regis is 4a Dolphin Close.

Weymouth

The coastal town of Weymouth is at the top of the list of places to visit in Dorset. With its charming harbour, set on the banks of the River Wey before it approaches the sea. You can find some old exquisite inns to eat the specialities made in the area, and warehouses at the dock where you can borrow equipment for touring the water. However, if you feel like relaxing, the view from the waterside bench is not a bad idea of having a colourful day. You don't need to worry about the kids, they will have lots of fun playing with the beautiful sand and waters along the beach, you will have to force them to leave. The Pebbles, located in this area is the perfect accommodation for you.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth guaranteed leisure, entertainment, culture and recreation for tourists. A spa town from the early-1800s onwards, the site attracts well-to-do individuals for health retreats because of its warm climate (comparatively), gardens, pine woodland and fresh sea air. If you are interested in culture, visit the town museum to appreciate the work of art and craftsmanship. There are seven miles of beaches on the coast, one of which is the Blue Flag Alum Chine that has perfect golden sands, so it is no surprise that the town has an aquarium with lots of marine life on full display. Stay at Alum Chine Beach House for the period of your holiday in this area.

Isle of Portland

Isle of Portland is located at the southern part of the county, some miles from the resort centre of Weymouth. The island is joined to the mainland by a barrier beach known as Chesil Beach. And as one of the largest artificial harbours in the world, it is a place worthy of a visit. The geological landforms of this area are very useful in the field of architecture (building) and various sports which includes: rock climbing, water sports and kite-surfing. Seventy-seven guest houses is the strategic accommodation for your holiday trip in this area.

Old Harry Rocks

A visit to the Isle of Purbeck will reveal an amazing rock formation known as Old Harry Rocks located at Handfast Point. You can view the rocks from the Dorset section of the South West Coast Path. However, you really can't be certain of the triangle-like size except you are looking at it from the sea. Photographers, geographers and sightseers are regular visitors to this spot. To absorb the full beauty of this site, go in the morning before sunrise or late in the afternoon before sunset.

Christchurch Harbour

Christchurch Harbour named after the town of Christchurch is a spot for all kinds of water sports, windsurfing and kite flying. Other activities that are popular with tourists in this area include: birdwatching, fishing and walking. The natural harbour was created by the flow of two rivers: Avon and Stour at its Northwest corner which is an amazing view to behold. There is a public right of navigation on tidal waters, which gives you the privilege to enjoy any sport of your interest. Spend your nights at Sandhill Flats, Mudeford for the period of your holiday in the area.

Dorchester

Dorchester is a historic market town of Dorset, situated between Poole and Bridport. The historically beautiful town has tons of buildings and majestic estates such as Athelhampton and Kingston Maurward. The town boasts a museum where you can find artefacts dated from the Roman times for tourists interested in history and culture. One of the notable things to see is the aqueduct rediscovered in 1900, built by the Romans to supply the town with water. You can also visit Maumbury Rings, an ancient British henge earthwork, converted by the Romans for use as an amphitheatre at the centre of the town. The renovated Brewery Square in front of old Eldridge Pope Brewery is the place for tourists interested in shopping and nightlife. There is accommodation for you at Waterfield House in Dorchester.

Poole

Poole is a coastal town in Dorset and probably has the best seas on the south coast for water sports, sailors, fishers, and windsurfers. If you’re up for some sightseeing, visit Brownsea Island famous for its large varieties of wildlife. However, the major attraction in this area is the golden sand and breathtaking views of the Sandbanks. Most people believe it’s the best beach in Britain. History lovers should fancy a trip to The Poole Museum for an interesting history lesson, and to admire some of the best in artworks. You can stay at Luxury Victorian Cottage for the period of your holiday.

Holidays in Dorset

Seaside Family Holiday

Weymouth in southern Dorset with three miles of gorgeous golden sand is the place to spend a good family time. Find a spot to settle down on the beach for a picnic. Engage in traditional seaside attractions such as: watching the traditional Punch and Judy show, playing volleyball, donkey rides, swimming, crabbing, making sand sculptures or simply relaxing by the seaside and enjoying the cool breeze. Weymouth has something for everyone.

Cultural Holidays

The charming market town of Wimborne Minster in Dorset is rich in character, and has an elegant blend of history, hospitality and regular events. Set in a confluence location on the banks of the rivers Stour and Allen, the town is famous for its Minster Church, unique Chained Library created in 1686, art deco theatre and indoor market. The town has been the centre for pilgrimage, prayer, mission, and worship for over 1300 years. Few places in the country can boast a picturesque harbour, two castles, an 11th century Priory Church, a mill of Saxon origin, a medieval bridge and the site of a civil war siege in 1645.

Nature Lovers

Holes Bay Nature Park located in Poole is the perfect spot for nature lovers, with several species of fish on display and a significant number of feeding and roosting birds. You can also visit Warren Hill and  enjoy the spectacular views of the landscape and wildlife Hengistbury Head has to offer. It presents the perfect spot to watch the sun, sea and sand.

Castle Holidays

A trip to Sherborne is travel back in time to visit the ruins of a 12th century palace, and 16th century mansion built by Sir Walter Raleigh. You can tour grand houses built from ochre-coloured ham stone and relax in their beautifully manicured gardens. You can also ride on the steam railway at Swanage to view some of the region's iconic places such as the Corfe Castle, which is one of the earliest castles in England to be built with partly stones. Feel the history come to life as your children play amongst the fallen walls of the castle, which is completely safe.

Cottage Holidays

The village of Broadmayne is between Dorchester and Wool. It cannot be described as one of the prettiest villages in Dorset, however, it has good cottages. Some cottages in the town built since 1732 are made of bricks, which is an incredible feat to achieve in Dorset at the time. However, Broadmayne was renowned for quality brick making for over 100 years. You can spend a night in a cosy cottage in Broadmayne, with history as your companion.

Waterpark Holidays

Woodland Water Park in Dorset is not far from Corfe Castle. Some activities available on the site include: obstacles challenge, slides, flip bags and lots more. You can also visit Splashdown located at the Tower Park complex near Poole. With 180,000 visitors yearly, the park is a hit with tourists. The facilities available include 8 indoor water slides which are always available, and 5 outside rides that you can only access during the summer. Lastly, a wet play area and a small training pool is made available to youngsters.

Adventure Holidays

The right place to visit for a little adventure is Tyneham village evacuated in 1943 during World War II. Although time has taken its toll on the village, few buildings like the church and school that have not fallen into ruins are nothing but remembrance of those awful times. Tyneham is a good reason to prevent war, and appreciate peace. Another place worthy of a visit for adventure seekers is the Roman Town House located in Dorchester. The house has been standing since the 4th century before Durnovaria was renamed Dorchester, making it the only Roman House that can be seen in England. You can enjoy plays, reenactments, and music at this monumental house throughout the year.

Animal Lovers

The best place to be for animal lovers is Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park located in Poole, Dorset. The park is packed with unique indoor and outdoor activities such as: interactive animal events, feeding the deer, live cow-milking demos, little farmers fun ban, bumpy tractor-trailer ride, bouncing castle for kids and lots more. One of the funniest activities on display is the pig racing contest, whereby the pigs engage in a race and visitors cheer for their chosen winner. You can take a walk in the park with a great variety of animals on display, and have an enjoyable and educational family day out. Visit Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park, your kids will love it.

Honeymoon Holidays

After all the excitement and emotion of your wedding day, the Woodman's Treehouse is the perfect place for love birds. The treehouse is a luxurious two-storey suite built around a majestic 200-year oak tree in enchanting Dorset woodland. It has all the features of a five-star hotel, which include: private sauna, hot tub, king-size mattress and lots more. Radiating with the romance of myths and fables, it’s the perfect nest to spend your honeymoon in a Cinderella and the Prince Charming style.

Fishing Party Holiday

Dorset is an excellent choice of county to go fishing, whether it is sea or shore fishing, both are common along Dorset coast. Tourists can charter angling boats which are increasingly in demand around harbours of Christchurch, Poole, Weymouth, West Bay, Lyme Regis, and Swanage to explore the sea and have a bounty catch.

Thrill seeker Holidays

The Front Skatepark is an outdoor wooden skatepark opposite Weymouth beach. It is a large skate complex featuring an outdoor undercover ramp park and Weymouth’s only indoor ramp park as well. The ramp room has long and flowing lines and the outdoor spine section has challenging obstacles to get decently in the air. If you feel like climbing mountains or doing watersport, visit the cliffs and beaches of Portland, Swanage and Lulworth on the Dorset coast. These are the places you should be to catch the thrill.

Spa and Pool Breaks

The elegant Moonfleet Manor hotel in Weymouth overlooking Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon has an award-winning restaurant and spa treatment in the heart of the beautiful countryside of Dorset. And you can also visit Connaught Hotel situated in Bournemouth. It has a 20-yard swimming pool with an adjoining hot tub, gym, a steam room, a sauna and four deluxe beauty massage therapy suites. Whether you are in Weymouth or Bournemouth, the county of Dorset offers the best spa treatment you can find anywhere.

Golf Break

Sandbanks located in Poole is regarded as one of Britain's best beaches with its soft golden sands and breathtaking views. It has a crazy golf course situated behind the beach as well as a mini golf course. Bring your friends and family to try the challenge of the 18 unforgiving holes - hopefully you won’t fall out with everyone by the end of the round. Whether you’re looking for tough competition, or just a bit of fun, this is the spot you need to be.

Christmas Market

Bournemouth’s, Weymouth and Dorchester’s Christmas Markets in Dorset offer a lovely festive experience that is best enjoyed with family. Shop for unique and unusual gifts, decorations, handmade trinkets, and locally made goods. Some activities available include: skating on the ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, and lots more.

Hen and Stag Do Holidays

Dorset is one of the best places to hold stag do or hen do parties because it presents lots of activities from daring water sports on the Jurassic Coast, to thrilling countryside pursuits, and cocktails by the seaside. The county has everything labelled fun. If you’ve been given the responsibility of organizing a memorable outing for your friends, calm your nerves and start planning a visit to Dorset now.

Clubbing Holidays

Halo Nightclub located in Bournemouth is the place to visit for a good night out. It has a spectacular setting with events, service, sound and light production to match the excellent atmosphere. Bournemouth's Multi Award Winning Nightclub takes pride in being the safest and most exhilarating clubbing experience. What are you waiting for, get yourself ready for an exciting expedition! Dorset presents the best atmosphere for you to create a lifetime memory.

21 Things to do in Dorset

Visit the Durdle Door

Durdle Door is a door-like shape limestone located on the Lulworth Estate in south Dorset. This site is on the top list of Dorset’s most photographed landmarks. Best time to visit the coastline is on a sunny day, to enjoy the full effect of a beautiful sunset- you might have the feeling of being in a magical fairy land.

Ride on the Swanage Railway

Swanage Railway in Dorset boasts one of the best railway lines in the country, and offers a vantage experience to tourists. The trains run through the heart of the countryside with a breathtaking view of the Purbeck hills and the iconic Corfe Castle. More like riding through a fairy land on a ferry ride. One time experience will not be enough to satisfy your curiosity, you will keep coming for more, and you can bet the railway offers an enhanced day out for all ages and tastes.

Visit the Magical Blue Pool

One of Dorset’s unique and hidden gems is a peaceful and amazing spot known as the blue pool. If you stay long enough at the bank, the pool will change colour from blue to green or turquoise, however, every shade is beautiful. There are benches all around the pool for people to sit and rest, or to contemplate the ever-changing colour of the water. The children can trail the red route looking for Magic Fairy Doors, or spotting squirrels in the trees (parents get involved too).

Mountain Climbing in Isle of Portland

The Isle of Portland is considered to be the best sports climbing location in the UK. The limestone cliffs and quarries are perfect for rock climbing. There are other areas for bouldering and deep water soloing, however, sport climbing with bolt protection is what endears tourists the most. Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour are used regularly for angling, scuba diving to shipwrecks, snorkelling, canoeing, and swimming. As an adrenaline junkie in Portland, the last thing on your mind is what to do.

Spend a Night at the Lighthouse

An evening in a lighthouse in Dorset is a unique experience and a rare opportunity to come by. For those who like sightseeing, Dorset has two lighthouses that welcome visitors. On the Isle of Portland is the 19th century Old Higher Lighthouse, with amazing views of the mountains, lakes and spectacular coastline. While at the coast in Swanage is the Anvil Point Lighthouse boasting an equally picturesque environment.

Sightseeing at the Lulworth cove

Lulworth Cove is a picturesque horseshoe shaped bay at the base of a little village and a white pebble beach. A little walk down the path will take you to the equally scenic Durdle Door. And you can have a little adventure of your own hunting fossils in the unique fossil forest by the east of the cove. After a fun filled day, relax with a film at the Lulworth open air cinema castle.

Visit the Gold Hill

The view from the top of the steep cobbled street known as the Gold Hill in the town of Shaftsbury is nothing short of incredible. The hill looks exactly the same today, and hosts an annual ‘Cheese Race’, requiring contestants to cart 25 kg wheels of cheese up the steep and cobbled street. You can also visit Shaftesbury Abbey Museum to retrieve the story of Saxon England. Are you up for a competition or a history lesson? If you ask me, Gold Hill sounds like fun.

Visit the Sandbanks

Sandbanks located in Poole is considered one of Britain's best beaches with its soft golden sands and breathtaking views. Sandbank has some great facilities with a large and challenging golf course situated behind the beach as well as mini golf course. There're water sports and equipment hire available as well as volleyball nets, slack line and table tennis for sport lovers. However, if you want to relax, a deckchair and parasol is what you need to enjoy the perfect view. Your children will be busy in their own world with swings, climbs and sand diggers for building sand castles.

Explore the Market Town of Bridport

Bridport is a vibrant historical market town with the ‘best Farmer’s Market in Dorset’ in recent years. Getting hungry in Bridport is not an option, with award-winning restaurants offering exceptional meals, and the best seafood that will make you come for more. However, if you are interested in culture, Bridport Museum is the place for you to behold a collection of artefacts with historical origin, and learn the legendary rope making techniques of the natives. Boredom is the last thing on your mind if you find yourself in Bridport.

Visit Studland Bay

Walking and taking in the view of Dorset’s spectacular coastline with historic landmarks and outstanding natural beauty is a worthwhile experience. The four-mile golden sand beach in Isle of Purbeck is ideal for games and sandcastles. There are several things to do such as: relaxing on the beach with a good book, engaging in water sports or exploring the Bay’s nature trails to spot wildlife and catch the sight of rare beautiful plants.

Visit the Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is regarded as the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour. A home to nature reserve and lots of wildlife such as: red squirrels, sika deer and peacocks. There is a centre for visitors and a museum for those interested in culture and art. Lastly, get a ticket to the annually Open Air Theatre held at Brownsea Island, It’s an event you shouldn't miss.

Explore the Town of Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis otherwise known as The Pearl of Dorset, is a town in West Dorset with beaches and cliffs forming part of the Jurassic Coast. Its harbour is filled with activities. The town has fabulous shops and restaurants offering the best treats for food lovers. Culture enthusiasts interested in the history of fossil hunting and memorabilia, should visit Lyme Regis Museum to see the remains of sea creatures like plesiosaurs. But if you’re more interested in frocks than rocks, there are nice boutiques in town for a shopping expedition. .

Visit the Cerne Abbas Giant

The Giant hill figure in the village of Cerne Abbas is a representation of a nude male figure that is 55 meters high, with a prominent erection and wielding a large club in its right hand. There is no way you wouldn't feel a bit childish, when you observe the figure of the Giant, standing proudly to attention on the hillside. Many historians have guessed at the origin and age of the chalk figure- some say it is a Celtic version of Hercules, while others say it is a Saxon god, or a 17th-century political satire. Either way, it’s worth a long day walk for history lovers and sightseers.

Jumping off the Lulworth Outdoors

Jumping off the Lulworth outdoors is an interesting way to explore the Jurassic Coast especially for adrenaline junkies. Climb along the cliffs, jump into the water from various heights, and look out for caves and tunnels that you wouldn't have seen any other way. It’s an interesting Jurassic experience for adults and children alike, a memory you will cherish for a lifetime.

Attend the Bestival Festival

Bestival is a four-day music festival organized by DJ and record producer Rob da Bank and his wife. The legendary summer festival is being held in Dorset’s very own Lulworth Estate at the 17th-century castle, giving it an epic setting. It features a host of entertainments which include: comedies, kid’s TV presenters, fairground rides, fireworks and bouncing castle for kids. Bestival is well known for its fancy dress theme day (usually the Saturday of the festival). It set the Guinness World Record for most people in fancy dress at an event in 2010, with 55,000 festival goers.

Observe the View From the Golden Cap

The striking view from the highest point on the Jurassic Coastline, south of England known as the Golden Cap is eclectic. As an added advantage, few people know about this spot which gives you a lone time of meditating and observing the artwork of nature. It is also a nice place to have a picnic and take some pictures.

Stay in a Treehouse

Woodman’s Treehouse is one of the unique places to stay in West Dorset. It can simply win the award for the most elegant treehouse in the country. Built around a huge oak tree, with an outdoor shower, a wood-burning stove, and a copper hot tub on your balcony. The treehouse offers a luxurious experience in the peaceful woodland. Camping in a tree is not an experience for everyone, the more reason you should visit.

Visit Russell Coates Museum in Bournemouth

Lyme Regis otherwise known as The Pearl of Dorset, is a town in West Dorset with beaches and cliffs forming part of the Jurassic Coast. Its harbour is filled with activities. The town has fabulous shops and restaurants offering the best treats for food lovers. Culture enthusiasts interested in the history of fossil hunting and memorabilia, should visit Lyme Regis Museum to see the remains of sea creatures like plesiosaurs. But if you’re more interested in frocks than rocks, there are nice boutiques in town for a shopping expedition. .

Attend Bournemouth Air Festival

Bournemouth Air Festival is one of the most renowned Dorset festivals. The town is always in a frenzy at the time of the events, with fly-bys and demonstrations in the air. The ground level presents a different kind of attraction with the RAF Red Arrows giving the people a jaw dropping performance. The festival presents the perfect excuse for tourists visiting Dorset to stay longer than the plan.

Watch a Joust at Sherborne Castle

Dorset’s Sherborne Castle hosts a lot of special events throughout the year. One of the best is the Jousting Tournament, which is the replica of how it was done in the past by fearless knights and lords. Other events include: archery, falconry displays, and jester workshops. A visit to the castle is a fabulous way to derive fun from history.

Attend Dorset Knob Throwing Festival

orset Knob Festival is a really bizarre festival, it involves throwing biscuits made by the local historic company as far away as possible, with the aim of celebrating the company. It is one of those unbelievably but interesting British festivals (like the cheese rolling competition at Gold hill) that’s hard to explain to outsiders. Other activities include: Knob and spoon racing or guessing the weight of the big knob. The festival is an incredible but interesting thing to witness in Dorset.