15 Best Things To Do In Dorset, England

15 Best Things To Do In Dorset, England

By will

Visiting Dorset, England is like stepping into a land that time forgot. With rolling hills, ancient castles, and spectacular coastline, it’s a place that will stay in your memory long after you’ve left. The best way to explore this stunning area is to take time out and enjoy the best the region has to offer.

From beach days to castle tours, here are 15 of the best things to do in Dorset.

From exploring the iconic Jurassic Coast to taking a trip on the Swanage Railway, there are plenty of ways to experience the beauty of this region. Take a walk around Brownsea Island and discover the quaint village of Cerne Abbas, then head to Bridport for some shopping and great food. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out or an action-packed adventure, you’re sure to find something that will take your breath away.

Enjoy a Day on the Beach

Chesil Beach, Dorset
Photo by Brian Robert Marshall

You can spend a sunny day lounging on the golden sands of Dorset’s beaches, soaking up the sun’s rays and enjoying a refreshing dip in the sea.

The region is home to some of the most acclaimed beaches in the UK, such as Weymouth, Swanage, and Bournemouth.

Weymouth beach has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award for its clean and safe environment.

The golden sands and calm waters of Swanage beach are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and simply exploring the rockpools.

Bournemouth beach is the perfect place to play beach sports, take a leisurely stroll, or even go for a horseback ride along the shoreline.

Whatever your beach activity of choice, you’re sure to enjoy a day spent in Dorset’s idyllic coastal settings.

Visit the Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Photo by Raymond Cubberley

Discover the ancient stories of the Jurassic Coast, a landscape that’s seen millions of years of history unfold.

Spanning 95 miles along the southern coastline of England, the Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site and a must-see destination for anyone visiting Dorset.

From the diverse wildlife to the stunning views, the Jurassic Coast offers something for everyone.

Take a stroll along the beach to explore the cliffs and rock formations. You may even catch sight of some of the local wildlife, such as the Peregrine falcon or the Seals at Kimmeridge.

You can also visit the fossil-rich cliffs and explore the many unique geological features, including Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

Don’t forget to take some time to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline.

With its rich history and natural beauty, the Jurassic Coast is sure to make a lasting impression.

Explore Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle
Photo by Peter Trimming

Perched atop a hill, Corfe Castle stands guard over the Jurassic Coast, offering a glimpse into the past with its unique and fascinating history. Built in the 11th century, the castle has seen its fair share of battles and sieges, from the civil war to the English Civil War.

The castle is now in ruins, but it’s still possible to explore the castle grounds and learn about its past. The castle walls and towers are still intact, and the grounds are filled with lush green meadows, gardens, and woodlands. There are also a few hidden tunnels and rooms that can be explored.

Visiting Corfe Castle is a must if you’re in the area, as it offers a unique opportunity to experience a piece of history. You can take a guided tour of the castle and grounds, and learn about its past in more detail. The castle also offers a range of activities, including a cafe, gift shop, and a castle museum. You can even purchase a ticket for a special evening tour of the castle, which is a great way to take in the magical atmosphere of the castle at night.

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Stroll Through Castle Gardens

Stroll through the enchanting gardens of Corfe Castle and be transported into a world of beauty and history.

The gardens of Corfe Castle are a spectacular sight and offer a variety of activities. From the iconic water feature of the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden to the stunning views of the surrounding countryside, the gardens are a great place to explore.

The gardens also provide a serene and peaceful atmosphere, perfect for a picnic or just sitting and enjoying the quiet. With plenty of paths and benches to explore, you can take in the beauty of the gardens and the castle itself.

The gardens are also home to a variety of wildlife and plants, making it the perfect place to spot some of the local birds and animals. You can even take a guided tour of the gardens to learn more about the plants and animals that inhabit the area.

There are also plenty of activities for children, including a playground and a maze. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or something more adventurous, the gardens of Corfe Castle offer a great way to spend a day in Dorset.

Take a Trip on the Swanage Railway

Experience the nostalgia of a bygone era by taking a ride on the Swanage Railway. The Swanage Railway is an iconic Dorset attraction, transporting visitors from the bustling town of Swanage to Norden and Corfe Castle.

With a wide selection of steam and diesel trains, you can choose the perfect journey for you. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride or a full-on adventure, the Swanage Railway provides something for all ages.

The views of the Jurassic Coast and Purbeck Hills are stunning from the train, and the route takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside in England.

The friendly, knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and the journey is a great way to learn about the history of the area.

So make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to take a ride on the Swanage Railway while in Dorset.

Take a Boat Trip Around Poole Harbour

Take a boat trip around Poole Harbour and soak up the stunning views of this picturesque Dorset landscape.

Take a tour around the harbour with a local guide and explore the history of this area, which dates back to the 12th century.

You’ll be amazed by the mix of natural beauty and modern developments that have been carefully integrated into the landscape.

The harbour is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it a great place to relax and take in the sights.

The harbour is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including seals, seabirds, and even dolphins.

As you cruise around the harbour, you’ll be able to spot some of the different species.

For a real treat, take a boat trip to Brownsea Island, a National Nature Reserve.

Here, you can experience some of the most beautiful parts of the harbour and be surrounded by some of the most diverse wildlife in the area.

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the harbour as you take in the breathtaking views.

Enjoy a Walk Along the South West Coast Path

Discover the breathtaking beauty of the South West Coast Path as you meander along its winding pathways and admire the stunning views.

The South West Coast Path is the longest National Trail in England and Wales, stretching 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset.

It takes you along the stunning coastline, with its rugged cliffs, secluded coves, and quaint fishing villages.

You can walk for miles and never tire of the views, whether it’s the lush green fields of the Isle of Purbeck or the white sands of Studland Bay.

Along the way, you’ll come across historic ruins, such as Corfe Castle, and plenty of other places to explore.

Whether you’re looking for an invigorating walk or just a chance to take in the natural beauty of the area, the South West Coast Path won’t disappoint.

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Visit the Abbotsbury Swannery

Stroll through the Abbotsbury Swannery and marvel at the beauty of the hundreds of swans that call this wetland home. This unique attraction, located on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, is the only managed swannery in the world.

The swannery was created in the 11th century by Benedictine monks who owned the land and used the swans for food. Today, the swannery is home to more than 600 Mute Swans and other species of birds, such as geese, ducks, and seagulls.

Visitors can get close to the swans, take a guided tour, or enjoy a peaceful walk around the grounds. The swannery also has a café where visitors can relax and take in the beauty of the swans and the surrounding area.

A visit to the Abbotsbury Swannery is a must for anyone looking to experience a unique natural wonder and get up close and personal with one of the most majestic birds in the world.

Explore the Historic Town of Lyme Regis

Leaving the Abbotsbury Swannery behind, I headed south to the historic town of Lyme Regis.

Once a bustling port town, Lyme Regis is now a popular destination for those who love to explore the seaside. With its charming Georgian architecture, coastal walks, and seaside attractions, it’s no wonder why Lyme Regis is a favorite spot for many visitors.

The town is home to some beautiful landmarks, such as the Cobb Harbour and the Church of St. Michael the Archangel.

From the Cobb Harbour, you can access the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can explore the fossils and rock formations along this stunning coastline.

The town also offers a variety of shopping and dining options, so you can find something to suit every taste. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll along the beach, a day of shopping, or a bite to eat, Lyme Regis is sure to please.

Visit the Ancient Hill Fort of Maiden castle

Just a short drive away from Lyme Regis is the ancient hill fort of Maiden Castle, a must-see for anyone looking to explore Dorset’s history.

Dating back to the Iron Age, this sprawling hill fort covers an area of over 125 acres, making it one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

It is believed that the fort was constructed in the 5th century BC, making it a remarkable testament to the ingenuity of our ancestors.

The fort is a great place for a day out, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Picnic spots are plentiful, as are opportunities to explore the many archaeological features.

Highlights include the outer ramparts, which were constructed from the soil of the surrounding hills, and the large inner banks and ditches, which are evidence of the fort’s formidable defensive capabilities.

With its rich history and stunning views, Maiden Castle is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a unique experience in Dorset.

Explore the Town of Shaftesbury

Nestled in a valley in North Dorset, Shaftesbury is a picturesque town steeped in history and culture. It’s a great destination for anyone looking to explore the charm and beauty of England’s West Country.

Stroll through the winding cobblestone streets of the town center and take in the old world architecture. Visit the iconic Gold Hill and marvel at its breathtaking views of the Blackmore Vale.

Explore the ruins of the 12th century Shaftesbury Abbey, which is now a public garden. Spend an afternoon in Mampitts Park, a beautiful public park with a playground, pond, and even a miniature railway.

Take a tour of the iconic St. Peter’s Church, which dates back to the 16th century. With its rich history, rustic charm, and idyllic setting, Shaftesbury is sure to delight any traveler.

Take a Trip to the Lulworth Cove

Take a trip to the stunning Lulworth Cove, where you can experience the beauty of the Jurassic Coastline for yourself.

This picturesque cove offers a unique opportunity for visitors to explore the landscape, take in the breathtaking views, and enjoy the many activities available in the area.

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Lulworth Cove is known for its stunning rock formations, natural beauty, and abundance of wildlife.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the coast or explore the many caves and coves.

There are a variety of activities to enjoy such as swimming, fishing, kayaking, and even horseback riding along the beach.

The area offers plenty of restaurants and cafes, giving visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy the local cuisine.

With its stunning views, fascinating history, and abundance of activities, Lulworth Cove is the perfect destination for those looking to explore the beauty of Dorset, England.

Discover the Quaint Village of Cerne Abbas

After taking a trip to the beautiful Lulworth Cove, the next stop on my tour of Dorset should be the quaint village of Cerne Abbas. With its rolling hills, lush greenery, and historic sites, it’s an idyllic spot for a picturesque stroll.

The village itself is known for its rich history, having been mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086. It’s also home to the famous Cerne Abbas Giant, a 180-foot chalk figure carved into the hillside. The figure is believed to have been created during the late Iron Age and is said to represent a local Saxon god. Visitors are welcome to explore the figure and its surroundings, as well as the nearby Cerne Abbey and St Mary’s Church.

The village is also home to the iconic Cerne Abbas Creamery, which has been producing award-winning cheeses since the late 19th century. Visitors are welcome to take a tour of the facility and sample some of the many delicious varieties of cheese. There are also plenty of pubs and restaurants in town, offering a chance to sample some of the local cuisine.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an intriguing history lesson, Cerne Abbas has something to offer for everyone. It’s a great place to explore and experience the traditional English countryside.

Take a Walk Around Brownsea Island

Experience the wonders of nature that Brownsea Island has to offer–from its unique wildlife and rare habitats, to its historic sites and beautiful views.

Take a walk around the island and explore all it has to offer. Enjoy the incredible sights of the red squirrels, or spot the rare nesting birds among the trees.

Be sure to take a boat trip to the lagoon and take in the stunning views of the castle and the old fort.

For the more adventurous, why not try kayaking around the island and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding waters? With a range of activities to choose from, you’re sure to find something to suit your interests and experience the best of what Brownsea Island has to offer.

Whether you want to relax and take in the views, or get active and explore the island, there’s something for everyone on Brownsea Island.

Visit the Town of Bridport

Explore Bridport, a charming market town full of character and culture, and immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere.

Take a stroll down the streets of Bridport and admire the traditional, 18th-century buildings that line the streets, or window shop in the quaint stores.

Visit the town’s two main shopping streets, East and West Street, for an array of independent stores, cafes, and restaurants.

Sample the local cuisine, find a unique souvenir, or simply wander around and take in the sights and sounds of this delightful market town.

For a spot of history, be sure to visit St. Mary’s Church, located in the heart of Bridport. This church dates back to the 12th century, and its churchyard is the final resting place of the famous author, Thomas Hardy.

There’s also the Bridport Museum, which tells the story of the town and its inhabitants through a series of interesting exhibits.

If you’re looking for a night out, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Electric Palace Cinema, which was built in 1912 and is now a great venue for live music and film screenings.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why Dorset is such a beloved destination in England.
From the stunning beaches to the fascinating history and natural wonders, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether it’s taking a stroll through Castle Gardens, exploring Corfe Castle, or taking a trip on the Swanage Railway, one thing’s for sure – Dorset will keep you enthralled.
So come on down and explore the best that Dorset has to offer.
You won’t regret it!

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.