Welcome to the picturesque county of Dorset, where rolling hills, coastal cliffs and quaint villages await your exploration. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views or exciting activities, Dorset has something for everyone. From the stunning Jurassic Coastline to historic castles and vibrant towns, this charming destination promises a memorable vacation experience. So pack your bags and get ready to discover some of the best things to do in Dorset – we promise you won’t want to leave!
Best Things to Do in Dorset
Things to Do in Lyme Regis
1. Visit the Lyme Regis Museum
The Lyme Regis Museum is a great place to learn about the town’s fascinating history. The museum has exhibits on the town’s geological past, its connections to the famous author Jane Austen, and its maritime heritage. The museum also has a gift shop and a cafe.
2. Take a Stroll Along the Cobb
Lyme Regis is a beautiful town situated on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England. The Cobb is a historic harbour wall that has been featured in movies like “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and offers stunning views of the sea. Visitors can stroll along the Cobb and take in the sights and sounds of this lovely town.
3. Fossil Hunting
Lyme Regis is famous for its Jurassic Coast and is a prime spot for fossil hunting. Take a guided tour or go exploring on your own (but make sure to follow the rules and regulations!). Lyme Regis is home to many different kinds of fossils, including those from the Jurassic period. The coastline provides ample opportunity to find these prehistoric treasures. Just be sure to obtain a permit from the town council if you plan on removing any fossils from the beach.
Things to Do in Swanage
1. Ride the Swanage Railway
Ride the Swanage Railway – Take a trip back in time on this historic steam railway that winds through the picturesque Purbeck countryside. The line runs from Swanage to Wareham, with stops at Corfe Castle and Norden. The journey takes around an hour, and there are plenty of opportunities to take in the views. The Swanage Railway is a great way to see the countryside and get some fresh air.
2. Explore Durlston Country Park
Durlston Country Park is a beautiful nature reserve located in Swanage, Dorset. The park is home to a variety of species and provides breathtaking views of the shoreline.
Visitors can explore the park’s many walking trails, see the sights from the top of the cliffs, or relax in one of the park’s scenic picnic areas.
3. Visit the Swanage Pier
Swanage Pier is a historic pier in Swanage, Dorset, England. It was built in 1895 and is one of the oldest piers in the country. The pier is Grade II listed and is a popular tourist attraction in South West region. It is one of the most popular places to take a walk in Swanage, with stunning views of the sea and coastline.
4. Swim and sunbathe
Swanage has a lovely sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing by the sea. The beach is situated close to the town centre, making it easy to get to and from. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby for grabbing a bite, and the views out to sea are simply stunning.
Days Out in Dorset
1. Walk the South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is a 630-mile trail that runs along the entire coastline of Dorset. The trail is a wonderful opportunity to take in the area’s splendour and gives breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding landscape. There are numerous access points along the path, so it is easy to find a section that suits your ability level. Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll or challenge yourself with a longer hike, the South West Coast Path has something to offer everyone.
2. Visit the Cerne Abbas Giant
The Cerne Abbas Giant is a chalk figure of a naked man with an impressive appendage cut into the hillside in Dorset, England. The figure is 55m high and 50m wide and is thought to date back to the Iron Age. It is unknown who created the figure or why, but it has become a popular tourist attraction, with people coming from all over the world to see it. The giant can be seen from several different viewpoints around Cerne Abbas village and there are several walking trails that lead up to it.
3. Go Horse Riding
Dorset’s rolling hills and picturesque countryside make it the perfect place to go horse riding. With miles of trails to explore, you can spend a leisurely afternoon horseback riding through the Dorset countryside. Whether you’re an experienced rider or a beginner, there are plenty of options for horseback riding in Dorset.
4. Explore the Ruins of Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Dorset, England. Built-in the 11th century, it was an important royal castle for centuries and played a role in many key events in English history. Today, the ruins of Corfe Castle are open to the public and are a popular tourist destination. The castle has extensive grounds and gardens, and visitors can explore the ruins at their own pace. There is also a museum on site which houses a collection of artefacts from the castle’s history.
Things to Do in Bridport
1. Visit the Bridport Arts Centre
The Bridport Arts Centre is a great place to see the work of local artists and to experience a variety of events and exhibitions throughout the year. The centre hosts regular exhibitions, talks and workshops, as well as an annual Festival of the Arts. The festival celebrates the work of local artists with a range of events including art exhibitions, performances, films, and more. It’s a great opportunity to explore the creativity of the local community and to support the arts in Bridport.
2. Stroll through the Bridport Market
The Bridport Market is a great place to stroll around and find some fresh produce or handmade crafts. The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday, so be sure to check it out when you’re in town. There’s always something new to see and buy, so you’re sure to find something you’ll love.
3. Explore the Jurassic Coast
Bridport is located on the Jurassic Coast, which is home to some of the best-preserved fossils in the world. The coast stretches from East Devon to Dorset and is a World Heritage Site.
There are many things to see and do on the Jurassic Coast, and Bridport is the perfect base for exploring it. There are plenty of walking and cycling trails to follow, as well as opportunities to go rock pooling, fishing, and kayaking.
Fossil hunting is a popular activity on the Jurassic Coast, and there are many sites where you can find fossils dating back millions of years. If you’re lucky, you might even find a fossilized dinosaur bone!
Whether you’re a budding palaeontologist or just looking for a fun day out, the Jurassic Coast is sure to impress.
4. Go hiking
Bridport is a beautiful town in Dorset, England. It is surrounded by countryside, including the South West Coast Path and the Dorset AONB. There are many things to do in Bridport, including hiking.
The South West Coast Path is a 630-mile (1,014 km) long-distance footpath that runs along the coastline of England from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The path passes through Bridport, and there are many beautiful places to hike along the way.
The Dorset AONB is an area of outstanding natural beauty that covers nearly half of the county of Dorset. It includes some of the most stunning coastlines in England, as well as rolling hills and valleys. There are numerous walking and hiking trails throughout the AONB, so there is plenty to explore.
1. Visit the Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park
The Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park is one of the best places to see a variety of marine life. The aquarium is home to sharks, sea turtles, and penguins, among other animals. Visitors can learn about the different species of fish and their habitats. There are also interactive exhibits where guests can touch and feed the animals.
2. Relax on Weymouth Beach
Weymouth Beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a summer day. The beach is sandy and well-maintained, making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. There are also plenty of beach amenities nearby, including restaurants, bars, and shops.
3. Walk the Rodwell Trail
The Rodwell Trail is a scenic walking trail that follows the old Weymouth to the Portland railway line. The trail offers stunning views of the coast and is a great way to explore the local area. The trail is well-signposted and easy to follow. There are a number of places to stop and take in the views along the way.
4. Explore Nothe Fort
Nothe Fort is a historic fort that dates back to the 19th century. It is located in Weymouth, Massachusetts and played an important role in the defence of Weymouth during World War II. The fort was built in 1872 and was used as a coastal defence battery. It was armed with four 32-pounder guns and two 8-inch howitzers. The fort was decommissioned in 1947 and is now open to the public as a free museum.
Things to Do in Charmouth
Charmouth is a great place for hiking, with plenty of trails to explore. The most popular hike is the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre to Lyme Regis, which takes about two hours. This hike is best done in the spring or summer when the weather is warm and dry.
If you’re looking for a shorter hike, try the Charmouth to Golden Cap trail. This one-hour trail takes you through some of Charmouth’s most beautiful scenery, including fields of wildflowers and stunning views of the coast.
For a longer hike, head to the West Dorset Coast Path. This trail starts in Charmouth and winds its way along the coast for about eight miles. Along the way, you’ll get to see some amazing cliff-top views, as well as plenty of wildlife.
Charmouth is a beachcomber’s paradise. With its miles of unspoilt coastline, it’s easy to find a secluded spot to enjoy peace and quiet. Whether you’re looking for fossils or simply want to relax in nature, Charmouth is the perfect place to do it.
There are plenty of things to keep beachcombers of all ages entertained. For those interested in finding fossils, there are several well-known spots along the coastline where you’re likely to find something. Or if you just want to enjoy the scenery, there are plenty of beautiful walking routes to explore.
Whatever your reason for visiting Charmouth, be sure to make some time to enjoy the beach. It’s one of the best things about this charming seaside town.
3. Fossil Hunting
Fossil hunting is a great activity for kids and adults alike. And Charmouth is the perfect place to do it! The coastline here is rich in fossils, and with a little patience, you can find all sorts of treasures.
Here are some tips for fossil hunting in Charmouth:
- The best time to hunt for fossils is during low tide. That way, you’ll have more beaches to explore and you won’t have to worry about getting wet.
- Keep an eye out for any rocks that look different from the others around them. Fossils are often found in sedimentary rocks, so they tend to be a different colour or texture than the rest of the rock.
- Use a soft brush to dust off any fossils you find. You don’t want to damage them!
- Take your time. Fossil hunting can be a slow process, but it’s worth it when you find that perfect piece.
Charmouth is a great place to go cycling. There are many different routes to take, and the scenery is beautiful.
There are a few things to keep in mind when cycling in Charmouth.
- First, the roads can be quite hilly, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. Secondly, there are a lot of tourists in Charmouth during the summer months, so be aware of the traffic. Lastly, the weather can change quickly here, so always dress appropriately.
- If you’re looking for a challenging ride, head up to Golden Cap, the highest point on the Jurassic Coast. The views from the top are incredible, and it’s definitely worth the effort to get there.
- For a more leisurely ride, try one of the many cycle paths along the coastline. These are flat and easy to follow, and you’ll be able to take in all the sights and sounds of the sea as you go.
- wherever you decide to go cycling in Charmouth, you’re sure to have a great time.
Birdwatching is a popular activity in Charmouth, as the town is home to a variety of different bird species. The best time to go birdwatching is in the spring and summer months when many birds are nesting in the area. There are several spots around Charmouth that are perfect for birdwatching, including:
-The coastline: Charmouth’s coastline is a great place to spot seabirds such as gulls and terns. Keep your eyes peeled for other birds too, such as peregrine falcons and kestrels.
-The woods: Woodland areas near Charmouth are good places to look for songbirds such as robins and blackbirds. You might also see woodpeckers, jays, and even owls if you’re lucky!
-The fields: Open fields near Charmouth are ideal for spotting meadowlarks, sparrows, and larks. You may also see raptors such as hawks and kites hunting in these fields.
6. Local Events
There’s always something happening in Charmouth! Check out our list of upcoming local events:
- Charmouth Heritage Coast Festival: September 14-16. Celebrate the unique heritage of the Jurassic Coast with a weekend of fun activities for all ages.
- Charmouth Beach Clean Up: September 22. Join volunteers from the Charmouth Beach Clean Up team to help keep our beaches clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
- Dorset County Show: October 3-4. Experience the best of rural Dorset at this annual event, featuring livestock competitions, live music, food and drink stalls, and much more.
Things to Do in Dorset with Dogs
1. Dorset’s Top Dog-Friendly Beaches
Dorset is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, and many of them are perfect for spending a day out with your four-legged friend.
Here are our top picks for the best dog-friendly beaches in Dorset:
- West Bay Beach
- Chesil Beach
- Blackpool Mill Beach
- Bournemouth Beach
2. Dorset’s Best Dog Walks
There are plenty of great places to take your dog for a walk in Dorset.
Here are some of the best:
- Hardy’s Monument
- Lulworth Cove
- Old Harry Rocks
- Corfe Castle
3. Dorset’s Top Pet-Friendly Restaurants and Cafés
Dorset is a beautiful county in the South West of England, and it’s also a great place to visit with your furry friend.
Here are some of the top pet-friendly Cafes and the best restaurants in Dorset:
- The Black Dog Café in Bridport is a great place to take your pooch for coffee and cake. The staff are very friendly and welcoming, and there’s even a dog biscuit jar on the counter!
- The Jurassic Coast Café in Weymouth is another great option for food and drink with your four-legged friend. They have an outdoor seating area where your dog can enjoy the sea views while you tuck into some delicious locally-sourced food.
- If you’re exploring the lovely town of Lyme Regis, make sure you stop by M&J’s café for breakfast or lunch. They have a special menu for dogs, which includes homemade doggy biscuits!
- Finally, no trip to Dorset would be complete without a visit to The Parlour Café in Swanage. This cute café has a lovely garden where your dog can stretch their legs, and they even offer doggy ice cream!
4. Dorset’s Most Dog-Friendly Attractions
Dorset is a great place to bring your dog on vacation! Here are some of the most dog-friendly attractions in the area:
- Poole Park – Another great place for a walk or a game of fetch, Poole Park also has a large pond where your dog can cool off on a hot day.
- Corfe Castle – Dogs are welcome to explore the grounds of this historic castle. Just be sure to keep them on a leash!
- Monkey World – A unique attraction where you can see rescued primates, Monkey World is also very dog-friendly. Your pup will love meeting the resident monkeys!
Unusual Things to Do in Dorset
1. Explore the abandoned village of Tyneham
The village of Tyneham was evacuated in 1943 and never repopulated. Today, it lies abandoned, a time capsule of life in a rural English village during the early 20th century.
You can explore the empty houses and imagine what life was like for the villagers. What did they do for entertainment? How did they make a living? What were their day-to-day lives like?
In the church, you can see wartime graffiti left by soldiers who used the village as a training ground. And in the graveyard, you can find the graves of some of the villagers who never returned.
Visiting Tyneham is a unique way to step back in time and learn about a different way of life.
2. Take a tour of the abandoned Portland Bill Lighthouse
The abandoned Portland Bill Lighthouse is now open for tours, offering a unique opportunity to see inside a working lighthouse and learn about its history. The tour starts with a short film about the lighthouse, followed by a guided tour of the facility. Visitors will get to see the engine room, living quarters, and light tower, as well as the spectacular views from the top of the lighthouse.
3. Take a dip in the Blue Pool
The Blue Pool is a natural pool near Wareham that changes colour depending on the time of day and the weather. It’s a beautiful spot for a swim or a picnic. The pool is fed by a spring, and the water is crystal clear. The pool is surrounded by rocks, and there are several small waterfalls
4. Attend the Dorset Knob Throwing Festival
Dorset Knob Throwing Festival is an annual event where people throw small, round biscuits called Dorset Knobs as far as they can. There are also knob-themed games, food stalls, and live music at the festival.
The Dorset Knob is a traditional biscuit from the county of Dorset in England. It is made from flour, suet, baking powder, salt, and water. The dough is formed into balls and then flattened into discs before being fried in fat.
The first recorded instance of the Dorset Knob throwing festival was in 1932 at the village of Corfe Castle. The event was started by a local man named Bertie Pearce who ran a bakery in the village. He decided to hold a competition to see who could throw a Dorset Knob the furthest.
The festival has been held every year since then, except for during World War II when it was cancelled due to rationing. Nowadays, the festival attracts people from all over the world who come to compete in various competitions or just to enjoy the atmosphere.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different to do this year, why not head to Dorset for the annual Dorset Knob Throwing Festival?
Whether you’re looking for a day out, exciting activities or somewhere to stay, Dorset has it all. From its stunning beaches and countryside to its rich cultural heritage and attractions, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful county. With so much on offer, we hope that our list of the top things to do in Dorset has given you some great ideas for planning your next trip – whatever type of holiday you’re after!
FAQs on things to do in Dorset
1. What is Dorset famous for?
Dorset is famous for its stunning coastline, including the Jurassic Coast, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also known for its picturesque countryside, charming villages, and historic landmarks such as Corfe Castle and Lulworth Cove.
2. Why do tourists visit Dorset?
Tourists visit Dorset for its natural beauty, outdoor activities such as hiking and water sports, rich history and culture, and charming towns and villages. Popular attractions include the Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door, Chesil Beach, and the Tank Museum.
3. What makes Dorset unique?
Dorset is unique for its diverse range of landscapes, from the rugged coastline to rolling hills and ancient woodlands. It also has a rich history and culture, with numerous historic landmarks, museums, and festivals celebrating the area’s heritage.
4. Is Dorset good for kids?
Yes, Dorset is a great destination for families with kids. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, such as visiting the beaches, hiking, and cycling, as well as many family-friendly attractions such as theme parks, zoos, and aquariums in South West region. There are also plenty of accommodation options that cater to families, including holiday parks and cottages.