Mini Guide to Dorset
Ideally situated in the middle of the South Coast, Dorset is perfect for a British ‘staycation’. As a born-and-bred Dorset local, I’m here to share the best things to see and do in this gorgeous corner of England.
Drawing from my list of 50 unique things to do in Dorset over on my own blog, I’ve put together a mini guide to help you plan your trip to my favourite British county. Amazing food, stunning landscapes, and one of the most impressive coastlines in the country await you…
Festivals and When to Visit
Although Dorset is perhaps at its best in summer, the county is stunning all year round. The golden leaves in autumn make destinations like Thorncombe Woods or Arne Nature Reserve even more special, while during spring the countryside comes alive with colourful wildflowers and tottering lambs. In winter, the windswept beaches have a completely different feel, and there are many indoor activities to keep you dry and warm.
One thing that might help you decide when to visit Dorset is our fab range of festivals. There are loads to choose from, but here are a few of my favourites…
- Dorset Seafood Festival
- Bournemouth Air Show
- Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival
- Dorset Knob Throwing Festival
Best Seaside Towns in Dorset
Choosing where to stay in Dorset is a tricky business, with so many gorgeous towns and amazing hotels to choose from. If you want to stay by the sea, I recommend these fab seaside towns…
Weymouth – My own home town, Weymouth has been a seaside holiday town since King George III started bathing here in the 1790’s. Weymouth Bay boasts one of the best beaches in the UK, and there are plenty of attractions in the town to keep you busy.
Swanage – A quaint seaside town in the south east of Dorset, Swanage is poised on the edge of a sweeping sandy beach. There are an abundance of attractions nearby so it’s a great base for exploring the area.
Lyme Regis – Nicknamed the “Pearl of Dorset”, Lyme Regis is a colourful seaside town tucked into fossil-rich cliffs. Breath-taking scenery, a pretty beach, and a long history as a fossil hunting destination makes Lyme Regis a great place to stay.
The famous Jurassic Coast runs from Studland Bay in Dorset, all the way down to Exmouth in East Devon. It’s a 95 mile stretch of coast boasting over 185 million years of history. There are geographical marvels, like Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks, as well as fossil-rich cliffs. Head to Charmouth and Lyme Regis for fossil hunting, or visit the fossil forest at Lulworth Cove. To explore the stunning coastline, you can take a boat tour, rent a kayak, or strap on your hiking boots for a cliff walk.
From stately homes to haunted churches, Dorset is full of history. There are Iron Age hill forts, ruined castles, hillside chalk drawings, 17th Century castles and 13th Century churches. In short, there’s a lot of history to discover in Dorset. These are a few of the highlights:
Corfe Castle – A thousand-year-old castle on a hill, Corfe Castle is one of the most iconic survivors of the English Civil War.
Tyneham – Dorset’s “ghost village” was abandoned in the 1940’s when it was taken over by the military for training. It’s open to the public and is really fun to explore.
Nothe Fort – Built in 1872, the Nothe Fort in Weymouth played a key role during WWII, and today is a lovely museum full of underground passageways and fascinating exhibits. It’s also been voted as one of the spookiest places in Britain!
Family Friendly Dorset
With its friendly seaside towns, dazzling beaches, and stunning countryside, Dorset is ideal for families. There are also loads of great family friendly attractions to choose from, like these ones…
Swanage Railway – A beautifully restored steam railway complete with vintage stations and a bucket-load of nostalgia, Swanage Railway runs through the heart of the picturesque Purbeck countryside.
Tythe Barn Children’s Farm – A hands-on children’s farm in pretty Abbotsbury, Tythe Barn is a great family day out. Visit during spring to get a chance to bottle-feed the lambs.
Monkey World – Meet the chimps and other primates at Monkey World, one of the UK’s only ape rescue and rehabilitation centres. All the animals have been rescued, and your ticket price goes towards important rehabilitation work.