13 Dorset Travel Tips for Your Next Holiday
Dorset is one of the most popular areas in England for both domestic and international tourists. One of the most iconic photographs in England is here, at Durdle Door. It’s a beautiful spot, but it’s only the start of the many great things to see and experience on a day out in Dorset.
I’ve lived in the neighbouring county of Hampshire for the past few years now and regularly pop into Dorset on a weekend. The famous coastline, fishing villages, and great restaurants just keep me coming back. Let me take you through my top Dorset travel tips to help you discover this beautiful part of England.
Go for a walk
One of the best things about Dorset is the impressive natural scenery and dramatic coastline. Even better, it is one of the cheapest counties to visit in England, as there’s so much to do outside. Schedule some time in your Dorset itinerary for a walk. The walk along Hengistbury Head is one of the most popular, or try walking from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove. If you’d rather be a bit more inland then the Cerne Abbas Walk is pretty sweet too.
Make time for Bournemouth Beach
Bournemouth has over 7 miles of sandy beaches, making it one of the most popular places to go in summer. There’s a cool pier in Bournemouth, and lots of to do in the city too. If it’s too busy in the summer, there are some great beaches nearby: Knoll Beach in Studland Hengistbury Head Beach in Bournemouth and Avon Beach at Mudeford in Christchurch are all well worth a day out.
Watch the wildlife on Brownsea Island
There are rare red squirrels on Brownsea Island, as well as herons, egrets, terns and sika deer. Head out on a little boat trip to Brownsea Island while you’re in Dorset and you can see them all.
Eat fish and chips on the harbour in Weymouth
Weymouth Beach is fab. The cove is a great spot for paddleboarding and there are plenty of ice cream shops for a treat for after as well. Everything you need for a quintessential English seaside holiday is here. There are plenty of options for fish and chips, but Fish ‘n’ Fritz is the local’s favourite.
Hike up the Golden Cap
Wikimedia Commons by: Eugene Birchall
The Golden Cap is one of the most popular walks in Dorset, as you can see for miles from the highest point on the south coast. Bit windy up there when I went!
Eat at the Hive Beach Cafe
You can walk from West Bay to Burton Bradstock along the coast and pop into the famous Hive Beach Cafe. The fish here is as fresh as can be and you get a great view over the beach to enjoy with your meal.
Don’t plan too much into your Dorset holiday
There’s a lot to do in Dorset. It can be tempting to cram in as much as possible into your time there, but don’t. Make sure you have the time to sit back, relax and enjoy an easier pace of life with all that sea air.
You can actually find fossils from the Jurassic era!
Wikimedia Commons by: Thomas Röttgen
The Jurassic Coast consists of 95 miles of shoreline and around 200 million years of the planet’s history. It’s one of England’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can find fossils all along the coast, but one of the most popular spots is at Lyme Regis. There are also interactive displays at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre for dinosaur enthusiasts.
Pick up a picnic from a Dorset farm shop
Dorset has some great farm shops to choose from – making it easier for you to shop sustainably and seasonally. Some of the best Dorset farm shops include Gullivers Farm Shop and Kitchen in Ferndown, and Candy’s Farm Shop & Butchery in Wimborne. Duck’s Farm Shop in Weymouth is a good one too. Gather up a feast and take it to the beach for the ultimate beach experience in Dorset.
Seek out the best photo spots
As we’ve mentioned, Dorset has so much super impressive coastline you won’t want to put your camera away. Some of the best photo spots include Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Colmer’s Hill in Bridport, and Weymouth Harbour too. Lyme Regis and Corfe Castle are also a great choice if you have a drone – the bird’s eye views are stunning!
Tour a stately home in Dorset
Stately homes are a thing to see in England, and the stately home game in Dorset is STRONG. Go on a stately home tour and you can see castles, country manors and ancient abbeys, all with stunning gardens to wander around. Some of the most popular include Athelhampton House and Gardens in Dorchester, Highcliffe Castle in Christchurch and Lulworth Castle in East Lulworth, too.
Enjoy the Barrier Beach
Chesil Beach stretches 18 miles from the Isle of Portland all the way to West Bay. If you want a substantial walk in Dorset, along the coast, then this is the beach for you – you know you’re getting closer to the mainland as the stones get smaller. Chesil Beach forms the Fleet Lagoon, a brackish-water lagoon tucked between the beach and the mainland. It’s a fascinating feat of nature, and one you can admire from up the hill in Portland.
Getting to Dorset
Dorset is easily accessible by train. There’s a direct line to London through Bournemouth Station, and plenty of smaller stations (over 20) dotted around the county depending on where you want to be.
If possible, I’d strongly recommend you come by car though – just for the ease of travelling around the coast and the more difficult to reach villages. You’ll have more freedom and flexibility.
Interestingly, there are no motorways in Dorset, but there are plenty of stunning roadside views to be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace instead.