Guide to Dorset

Showcasing one of the UK’s most spectacular coastlines, Dorset is a beautiful region to explore.

A 7 day ITINERARY for Dorset

With eclectic towns, beautiful landscapes and a unique history, there’s so much to explore on your visit to Dorset.

Introduction to Jurassic Coastline

The Jurassic Coastline is a huge part of what makes Dorset so special. To introduce yourself to the majestic landscape, start your day in Lyme Regis. Its beautiful harbour and sandstone cliffs make for a delightful walk, as well as a backdrop for shopping and eating. Lyme Regis is home to many independent shops selling clothes, jewellery, books and antiques which blend with a selection of high street shops. If you’re interested in the town’s heritage, there are historical sites to explore and fossil walks for budding geologists. From here, take a 10 minute drive to the village of Charmouth. Continuing your exploration of the Jurassic Coast, Charmouth has impressive cliffs and a beautiful beach.

Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Corfe Castle

Start your day by visiting one of Dorset’s most famous landmarks, Durdle Door. Located within the village of West Lulworth, Durdle Door is an impressive natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast. There are also opportunities to enjoy the impressive structure and coastline from the water on a boat tour. From here visit West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove. Formed around 10,000 years ago by the powers of a river and the sea, Lulworth Cove offers opportunities for walking along the famous coastline. Approximately 20 minutes from West Lulworth is the historic village of Corfe Castle. Home to the ruins of Corfe Castle, the village is picturesque and offers independent shops and restaurants.

Top 5 for shopping

  • Blandford Forum Town Centre
  • Bournemouth Town Centre and Castlepoint Shopping Park
  • Saxon Square Shopping Centre, Christchurch
  • Dorchester Town Centre
  • Poole Town Centre and Dolphin Shopping Centre

Quirky coastal living

The bustling resort of Poole has so much to offer, so it's worth taking a full day to enjoy it. Poole is known for its large natural harbour, the second largest in the world behind Sydney. Check out Brownsea Island in the harbour. Home to red squirrels, kingfishers and oystercatchers, the island is a wildlife haven. If you’re looking for a more active experience of Poole, there are endless opportunities for water sports, fishing and boat trips. Alternatively, if you’d just like to chill out on one of Poole’s delightful beaches, the Sandbanks Beach is a firm favourite.

Coastal ventures and a literary journey

The pretty Georgian seaside town of Weymouth has so much to offer for the traditional beach holiday. The soft sandy beach stretches away from the town, with stunning views. Grab some fish and chips and relax on the harbour, or check out some nearby activities. Abbotsbury Swannery is just a short trip away, or you can try a Jurassic Safari to explore the local wildlife. If you’re not too tired from a busy morning in Weymouth, then Dorchester is a great place to stop next. Exuding history and charm, Dorchester is home to a wealth of literary history. You can even visit the birthplace of author Thomas Hardy, and the home he designed, Max Gate.

Head back to the privacy of your cottage for an evening with Dorset Fine Dining, who can cater up a storm in your kitchen, allowing you to relax and unwind, while still enjoying everything Dorset has to offer.

Walking Dorset

From the picturesque town of Christchurch, there are many walks to enjoy in Dorset. The town’s idyllic location near the New Forest National Park and Jurassic Coast makes it an ideal spot for ramblers. If you’d like to learn about Christchurch’s fascinating history, there are various guided walks and tours on offer taking you through the Priory Church and Highcliffe Castle. Alternatively, if you’d rather discover the area’s heritage on your own, follow the Christchurch Coastal Path. For avid walkers and ramblers, Christchurch is also located on the 34-mile long Avon Valley Path.

Exploring Bournemouth

It's worth dedicating a full day to Bournemouth. This popular coastal resort is famous for its seven-mile stretch of golden sand. There are endless attractions and activities to enjoy in Bournemouth for families, friends and couples. Whether you’re taking a trip to Monkey World or treating yourself to a Jet Ski safari, you’re sure to find something exciting. If you'd like to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, Bournemouth’s town centre offers an eclectic mix of independent shops, high street shops and department stores. If you’re looking for a party, Bournemouth is the place to be. From cocktails bars to clubs, this buzzing seaside town has a vibrant nightlife.

Top 5 beaches

  • Abbotsbury Beach, Abbotsbury
  • Alum Chine, Bournemouth
  • Lulworth Cove, West Lulworth
  • Sandbanks Beach, Poole
  • West Bay Beach, West Bay

'Broadchurch' and Bridport

We couldn’t plan a week in Dorset without mentioning West Bay. Made famous by the ITV series Broadchurch, the magnificent cliffs of West Bay are now more popular than ever. As West Bay is on the South West Coast Path, there are many walks to enjoy. You can even try paragliding here. If you’d rather relax on your day trip, there are plenty of lovely pubs and shops to browse.The vibrant market town of Bridport is just one mile away, offering culture, history and heritage. Bridport is a quirky town, offering the ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely afternoon in Dorset.

Photographer’s guide to Dorset

With the Jurassic Coast, stunning castles and a vast landscape, Dorset is a photographer’s paradise. Landscape photographer Mark Bauer shares his top tips and favourite spots.

Dorset holidays

Feeling inspired? The beautiful Dorset landscape is waiting!

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