Local Attractions

Dorset has it all – award winning beaches to historic sites

 

 

There are many beautiful spots to discover in Dorset, we mention a few here. Please look online for others that you may enjoy as there are endless sites, stunning beaches and sporting activities. Please keep aware of any special entry or booking conditions, owing to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Adventurous Souls

Lover of all things adventurous? Thrill seeker looking for your next adrenalin fix? If this sounds like you, a visit to Dorset should certainly be at the top of your ‘to do’ list!

Zip line Bournemouth Pier
www.visit-dorset.com/things-to-do/activities/adventure

Arne Nature Reserve, RSPB

Arne remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found. Situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset Area of Natural Beauty, it’s a stunning landscape which consists of dramatic open heathland, ancient oak woodland where you can meander down to an almost private beach overlooking the islands.

www.rspb.org.uk/arne

Badbury Rings, National Trust

Rich in history, flora and fauna, the rings sit 100 metres above sea level and offer sweeping views across Dorset. They also hold the secrets to past civilisations.

There is evidence of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation at Badbury. However, the site is known mostly for its Iron Age hill fort with its three rings. It is thought the inner most ring dates from around 500-600 BC. 

A number of tribes settled a Badbury Rings. Among them were the Durotriges – a Celtic tribe who lived in parts of the South West of England prior to the Roman occupation of 43 AD.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/features/badbury-rings

Bournemouth & The Pier

Escape the everyday in beautiful Bournemouth; it is so much more than a lovely day at on the blue flag seven miles of glorious sandy beaches.

Brimming with outdoor activities, this bustling part of the south coast has so much to discover from The Pier, the beautiful gardens, high street to boutique shopping, art galleries, museums, cinemas, arcades, mini golf, play parks, beach huts, water sports, Bournemouth’s International Centre for a variety of events, leisure facilities to an oceanarium.

For everyone’s taste from cutting-edge haute cuisine to fish and chips by the seaside, there is indoor and outdoor dining for all preferences…

Bournemouth is a great place to visit whether for the amazing Bournemouth Air Show, to meander through the gardens, play on the golden beaches or to enjoy the night life, Bournemouth has everything!

www.bournemouth.co.uk

Brownsea Island, National Trust

Famous for red squirrels, wildlife and scouting!

Brownsea Island is dramatically located in Poole Harbour, with spectacular views across to the Purbeck hills.

Thriving habitats including woodland, heathland and a lagoon create a unique haven for wildlife, such as the red squirrel and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers.

Free trails help you explore the island and with the new natural play area and fantastic picnic spots, there’s an adventure waiting for the whole family.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island

Camp Bestival, festival at Lulworth Castle

Camp Bestival is a multi-award winning British music festival, the ‘little’ sister of Bestival, both organised by BBC Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank. 

Set in the majestic grounds of Lulworth Castle, on Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic coastline, Camp Bestival is jam-packed with entertainment, from stellar musical morsels and cultural delights to stunning sideshow attractions for family fun.

It is held annually in July at Lulworth Castle in Dorset – targeted at families with small children. Featuring an enormous Kid’s Garden and hosting activities from soft play to circus skills, go karts and glitter, kid’s shows and performances to see, visit the Sports Park or escape at the fairytale Dingly Dell; plenty of excitement for all the little ones.

Now Don’t forget the FESTIVAL in Camp Bestival. It boasts an amazing line-up year after year ranging from folk and dub to drumstep and jazz jungle there’s something to get you and the kids throwing shapes long into the summer evenings.

www.campbestival.net/

The Cerne Abbas Giant

The Cerne Abbas Giant is also known as the “Rude Man” for obvious reasons. It is the largest hill drawing in Britain and one of only two human representations. The figure is carved into the chalk of the hillside and is 180 feet tall. The club he carries is 120 feet long. The figure was meant to be seen from below, so aerial photographs  show slight distortion.

Although the figure was not mentioned in any documents prior to the 18th century, it is believed to be much older. Iron Age earthworks in the area, suggest it might be dated from this period.

 

 

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cerne-giant

Chesil Beach Marine Conservation

Chesil Beach is between Portland and Abbotsbury covering the reefs of the Stennis Ledges. Habitats range from various sponges to coral-rich rocky ledges. 

Chesil Beach is home to starfish, brittle-stars, otter shells, queen scallops and burrowing anemones. And the Stennis Ledge has rocky reef species with sponges, bryozoans and pink sea fans.

Annually and seasonally triggerfish, cuttlefish and male lumpsuckers can be seen at Chesil Beach.

And just for fun come climb the mountains of pebbles that chink beneath your feet – its a hard climb but lots of fun!

https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/chesilcentre

Christchurch
Mudeford Quay & Hengitsbury Head

Visit one of our favourite places – Christchurch brings charm with two delightful rivers, historic quay, Castles, award winning beaches, coastal nature reserves and heritage attractions. 

Explore Castle ruins, the Priory Church to a bustling town with markets and family events to enjoy at the Christchurch riverside; sit on the lawns with an ice cream and watch the world and swans float on by.

Hengistbury Head boasts a site of scientific interest and beautiful white sands where you can catch the boat across to fabulous Mudeford Quay which is popular for crab fishing, boat trips, sailing and beach fun at Avon beach. All leading to spectacular Highcliffe Castle

www.visit-dorset.com/explore/areas-to-visit/christchurch

Corfe Castle, National Trust

Thousand-year-old royal castle shaped by Kings, intrigue and warfare

Corfe stands proud at the top of the mount between Wareham and Swanage on the Isle of Purbeck in the county of Dorset overlooking the village and out to sea. 

Corfe was built by William the Conqueror dating back to the 11th Century where much torturing and murder took place over the centuries in the old castle walls. It was a Royal Castle fit for Kings and used extensively from King John who kept his jewels there, Edward II who was imprisoned, Henry VII gifted it to his mother where it later reverted to Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth sold it to her chancellor who prepared it for the Spanish Armada.

Make a day of it – explore the castle ruins, meander around the village and relax on the surrounding stunning beaches at Studland.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle

Dorchester Roman Town

Dorchester enjoys a rich history from as far back as the Iron Age, home to the Romana Town House and was the birthplace of famous author and poet Thomas Hardy.

Visit Dorset County Museum, Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum to hear about Dorchest’s grizzly history or try the Keep Military Museum, some of Dorset’s finest.

For the younger generation visit the family friendly Dinosaur MuseumTeddy Bear Museum or to discover ancient Egypt try the Tutankhamun Exhibition.

And finally in celebration of Dorchester’s very own author and poet Thomas Hardy why not visit Hardy’s Cottage, which is managed by the National Trust.

In and around Dorchester there are many outdoor sporting adventures that await you.

www.visit-dorset.com/explore/areas-to-visit/dorchester

Durdle Door

One of the most iconic and beautiful photographed places in UK

Created when the sea pierced through the Portland limestone around 10,000 years ago. Looking west over the beach, isolated stacks out at sea show where an older coastline once lay.

Corfe was built by William the Conqueror dating back to the 11th Century where much torturing and murder took place over the centuries in the old castle walls. It was a Royal Castle fit for Kings and used extensively from King John who kept his jewels there, Edward II who was imprisoned, Henry VII gifted it to his mother where it later reverted to Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth sold it to her chancellor who prepared it for the Spanish Armad.

Make a day of it – explore the castle ruins, meander around the village and relax on the surrounding stunning beaches at Studland.

Dorset door
www.visit-dorset.com/things-to-do/durdle-door-p1262763

Farmer Palmers

TA family friendly farm in the heart of Dorset awaits your visit

Lots of outdoor activities in the fresh air and indoor too – fun for all the family.

Ideal for little ones up to approx age 8 with lots of places to explore, from getting lost in a maze, fun climbing frames to indoor karting and big haystacks and slides. 

Take your own picnic or enjoy home-cooked cakes and meals such as weekend breakfasts and Sunday roasts.

Day time events to feed and pet popular guinea pigs, rabbits and traditional farm animals, bumpy tractors, watch cow milking and enjoy an ice cream – a perfect place to explore and make new friends.

farmerpalmers.co.uk/

Kingston Lacy, National Trust

Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate near Wimborne Minster, Dorset. It was for many years the family seat of the Bankes family who lived nearby at Corfe Castle until is destruction in the English Civil War after its incumbent owners, Sir John Bankes and Dame Mary, had remained loyal to Charles I.

With 8,500 acres of unspoilt countryside with way-marked walks, family fun, history and gardens to explore, an all-around good day out.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

Kimmeridge

Kimmeridge Bay lies within a marine Special Area of Conservation and boasts the best rock-pooling, fossil exploring and safest snorkelling site in Dorset…

The bay is also located on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site along the South West Coast Path national walking trail. 

The Wild Seas Centre, beside the slipway, encourages all ages to explore the bay, ledges and rockpools and free entrance to their exhibition and small aquarium. 

Check online for various events throughout the year such as eco-friendly crabbing and rambling, summer time snorkel trails guide swimmers among the colourful marine-life in the shallow bay waters.

Fun for all the family.

www.visit-dorset.com/things-to-do/kimmeridge-bay-p581223

The Lulworth Estate - Coves and Castle

The Lulworth Estate is home to Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Lulworth Castle on the beautiful Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England. 

Castle, Chapel & Grounds – Built in the C17th, this magnificent building is steeped in history. Originally built as a hunting lodge to entertain aristocracy and royalty, it was for centuries the family seat of the Weld family, the current owners of the Lulworth Estate. Ravaged by fire in 1929 it has been partly restored in a pioneering partnership with English Heritage.

Camp Bestival Festival – hosted at Lulworth Estate too, see above.

Cove – formed by the combined forces of the sea and a river swollen by melting ice at the end of the Ice Age, Lulworth Cove is famous for it’s unique geology and blue waters.

Durdle Door – as above.

Visit the Lulworth Estate for a memorable day exploring the extensive parkland, woodland walks and children’s playground. If bringing your best four legged doggy friend please keep dogs on leads and relax while enjoying a picnic in the grounds. The Castle Tearoom offers take away refreshments and souvenirs. 

lulworth.com/

Monkey World

The Monkey World Rescue Centre is a 65-acre ape and monkey sanctuary and rescue centre near Wool, Dorset.

By visiting you will be supporting the great rescue and support work for all the lovely primates that enjoy the expansive areas at the park. You can Adopt a Primate, Follow the Rescue & Rehabilitation, attend Guided Tours and Talks and watch in ore as the monkeys swing from tree to tree. A real treat for all the family.

monkeyworld.org/

Old Harry's Rocks, National Trust

Old Harry Rocks are three chalk formations, including a stack and a stump, located at Handfast Point, of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.

They mark the most eastern point of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and managed by the National Trust.

The chalk formations were once seen with Old Harry’s Wife, but circa 1896 she tumbled into the sea leaving just a stump. 

There are a number of theories about where it got its name and some say after the famous Pirate – Harry Paye or the devil. Also at the top of a cliff nearby it is known as Old Nick’s Ground, which is another name for the devil! 

This is a very popular place to visit with spectacular views both by walkers and cyclists along the South West Coast Path.

www.visit-dorset.com/things-to-do/old-harry-rocks-p1306933

Tyneham Village

Tyneham Village – where time stopped in 1943.

Often referred to as Dorset’s lost village following evacuation in December 1943 during WWII as the military needed the area for training, however the villagers were sadly not allowed to return.

Some of the original buildings offer a step back in time, for example, the little school displays children’s work from the era and are a lovely memory of the nature all around.

After you have explored the beautiful village take a 20 minute stroll to Worbarrow Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast Heritage Site. It’s a real treasure because it can only be located from the village, by sea and the coastal path so it’s not normally crowded and a wonderful find.

Tynehame Village Worbarrow Cove 2
Tyenham Village & Worbarrow Cove