40 Fun Things To See And Do In Dorset 2024

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What are the best things to do in Dorset? The stunning county of Dorset on the South West coast of England has so many beautiful places to visit. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, there are bound to be some hidden gems for you to still discover.

Durdle Door

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The natural limestone arch in Dorset is one of the most famous landmarks in the World. Durdle Door arch was created over 10,000 years ago by the sea when it formed a hole through the Portland stone.


Corfe Castle

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The Corfe Castle ruins have been owned and managed by the National Trust since 1982. Corfe Castle was built just after 1066 and has been through many battles since its beginnings.

Being built on the top of an artificial hill, the castle was able to defend against enemies from all the different angles.


Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour in Dorset. The island is 1.5 miles long and 0.75 miles wide. It’s a popular choice for things to do in Dorset. To access the island, you can catch a ferry from Poole Quay. 

Did you know Enid Blyton took inspiration from Brownsea Island for her Famous Five books? The island is also one of the only places to see red squirrels in England..


view into lulworth cove

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove was formed around 10,000 years ago by the sea, and it’s a lovely spot for a walk along the coastline or through the hills. You can visit Lulworth Cove 365 days of the year. Did you also know it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site?


Abbotsbury Swannery

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Abbotsbury Swannery is home to the only managed colony of nesting Mute swans in the World. The Swannery was established by Benedictine Monks who built a monastery at Abbotsbury during the 1040s.

Read our full review of visiting Abbotsbury Swannery


view across chesil beach

Visit Chesil Beach

Running from West Bay to the Isle of Portland, the shingle beach covers 18 miles in distance. Chesil Beach is popular for sea fishing and walking. 


Visit West Bay

On the Western point of Dorset, you’ll find the iconic harbour town of West Bay. Located just a mile away from the market town of Bridport, tourists flock to West Bay to see the filming location for the TV series Broadchurch.


Portland Bill

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If you want to visit a lighthouse in Dorset, then a trip to Portland Bill should be on your list. The lighthouse has been in operation since 1903 and stands at around 41 metres tall, showing off its vibrant red and white colours.


Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks

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This Dorset landmark is possibly one of the most famous landmarks along the south coast. Old Harry Rocks are three chalk formations that are thought to have been named after a famous local pirate, or the devil.

Depending on which local legend you prefer, Old Harry was the devil who slept on the rocks, or the famous local smuggler and pirate Harry Paye.


Swanage Steam Train

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The Swanage Steam Railway is a popular dog friendly day out in Dorset. Take the steam train from Norden station at Corfe Castle to Swanage. 

There are varying train timetables throughout the year with lots of different experiences and events happening.


Monkey World

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Monkey World Ape And Rescue Centre originally opened in 1987 by Jim Cronin to provide rescued chimps with a permanent home.

You can see primates including Chimpanzees, Orang-Utans, Woolly Monkeys, Gibbons, Squirrel Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Capuchins and Marmosets.


Adventure Wonderland

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Adventure Wonderland is one of Dorset’s top family attractions aimed at families and children up to 11 years old. There are over 20 rides and attractions at the Alice In Wonderland themed park.


Moors Valley Country Park

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If you like exploring the forest and having access to plenty of facilities, the a visit to Moors Valley Country park is a must. Home to activities including Go Ape, cycle hire, steam train and play parks, there’s so much to see and do.


Dorset Adventure Park

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This inflatable water park in Dorset is a fun filled day out, perfect for visiting in the Summer months. The inflatables are set over two lakes with views of the Isle of Purbeck. You can also take on the mud trail with a variety of obstacles along the way.


Lewesdon Hill

National Trust’s Lewesdon Hill is the highest point in Dorset offering views over Devon, Somerset and out to sea. 


Gold Hill

Gold Hill

Do you remember the famous Hovis advert filmed at Gold Hill in Shaftesbury? Today you can go and stand on the same cobbles of the hill and enjoy stunning views across the landscape from the top.


Lyme Regis Museum

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One of the best places to visit in Lyme Regis is the museum. Showcasing the works of Mary Anning, a famous historic figure for her geological findings in the 1800’s. She lived in Lyme Regis, in the place which is now the Lyme Regis Museum. 


Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is a headland between Bournemouth and Mudeford which juts out into the English Channel. It’s also known as a nature reserve, perfect for walks along the beach and through the forest paths.


Lulworth Castle

Lulworth Castle

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Lulworth Castle was built as a hunting lodge in the 17th Century, and over the years has seen the tragedy of the fire of 1929. The castle is now in partnership with the English Heritage granting members free entry to the castle.

The castle grounds are the home to the annual family festival in Dorset, Camp Bestival.


Weymouth Harbour

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Weymouth Harbour is the smaller harbour in central Weymouth. It covers the mouth of the river Wey. The harbour is home to pleasure boats and yachts but they are stunning to look at as you wander past. 


Portland Castle

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Portland Castle is an English Heritage property overlooking Portland Harbour. Built by Henry VIII in the 1500’s to protect against the French and Spanish invasion.

You can enjoy the views across Portland, and explore the gardens, enjoy the tea room and visit the Tudor kitchen.


Cerne Abbas Giant

Cerne Abbas Giant

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The Cerne Abbas Giant is a hill figure in Dorset. It’s one of England’s best known hill figures and often visited by tourists to the local area.


Church Ope Cove

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Church Ope Cove is a secluded beach and cove on the Isle of Portland. Access to the beach is via a set of steps, and is a popular spot for viewing wildlife and sometimes even dolphins.


Kingston Lacy

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Owned by the National Trust, Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate located near Wimborne, designed to resemble an Italian palace.

The house was seen to be the family seat of the Bankes family who then lived at Corfe Castle. The original house was located just to the north of the house we see today.


Hardy’s Cottage

If you want to visit the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, then you’ll want to discover Hardy’s cottage near Dorchester.

It was here that Thomas Hardy was inspired to write Far From The Madding Crowd. He lived in the cottage until he was around 30 years old, when he moved away from Dorset.


Studland Bay

A visit to Studland Bay often begins with a short trip across the water on the Sandbanks chain ferry. Close to the town of Swanage, Studland Bay offers scenic walks and views of Old Harry Rocks.


The Tank Museum

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The Bovington Tank Museum is an indoor attraction making it perfect for visiting any time of the year. It’s home to different exhibitions, live tank displays (seasonal), plenty of family fun for children and tank enthusiasts alike.


Compton Acres

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Compton Acres gardens are privately owned and open to the public all year round. As well as the stunning gardens, you can also enjoy amazing views over Poole Harbour on a clear day. 

There are 10 acres of gardens at Compton Acres which were constructed in the 1920s by Mr Thomas Simpson. 

The gardens have been developed over the years to include the tea rooms, Italian Villa and garden centre.


The Blue Pool

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The Blue Pool nature reserve and tea rooms are a must see in Dorset. Hidden in the Isle of Purbeck, the Blue Pool has over 30 acres of paths and walkways with a children’s playground.

What was once a large clay pit is now why the water will change colour depending on where the light hits.


Bournemouth Oceanarium

Bournemouth Oceanarium

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Bournemouth Oceanarium opened in 1998 and is located right next to Bournemouth Pier and beaches. 

If you’re a lover of penguins, sharks and stingrays, then why not pop by for a visit to see them in their natural environments.


Red House Museum and Gardens 

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The community museum and gardens in Christchurch is a former Georgian workhouse. You can find out about the history of Christchurch with Saxon and Iron Age displays. This is a FREE place to visit in Dorset.


West Bay Discovery Centre

West Bay Discovery Centre

You’ll find West Bay Discovery Centre next to the Bridport Arms car park and close to East beach. The centre has changing exhibitions through the year, and plenty of family friendly activities


Highcliffe Castle

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Highcliffe Castle is a grade 1 listed building that has a lot of history including when it was destroyed by fires, left to ruin, and then brought back to life.

Today the castle is home to various events throughout the year including outdoor cinema.


Wimborne Minster high street

Wimborne Model Town & Gardens

Wimborne Model Town is a 1/10th scale of the centre of Wimborne as it was in the 1950s which opened in August 1952.  There’s  plenty to see and do including some miniature golf, and a playground for the children.


City Sightseeing Bus

Beginning and ending behind Hot Rocks restaurant next to Bournemouth Pier, you can enjoy the hop on hop off sightseeing bus. Travel along the 22 stops en route, enjoying the sights, and exploring the area.

You can get on and off the bus as you choose to visit places in both Bournemouth and Poole. Tickets can be purchased for either a 24 or 48 hour period.


Durlston Country park

Durlston Country Park

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In the centre of Durlston Country Park is The Great Globe. One of the largest stone spheres in the world, it was created by a local man in the 1800’s to give something back to the place he lived in. 


Russell-Cotes museum Bournemouth

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery And Museum

You’ll find the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum located on East Cliff promenade in Bournemouth with stunning views across the sea. It was also one of the last Victorian houses to be built in England.


Aggleston rock

Agglestone Rock

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Agglestone Rock is a 400 tonne block of sandstone sitting on a hill in Studland. Said to have been a rock thrown by the devil from the Isle of Wight with the intention to destroy Corfe Castle or Salisbury Cathedral, the rock is a popular historic landmark to visit in Dorset.


Athelhampton House And Gardens

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If you want to visit one of the many Dorset stately homes, why not visit this stunning Tudor mansion in Dorchester. Enjoy the Elizabethan style garden, kitchen gardens, and explore the Great Hall, Great Chamber and wine cellar in the house.


Dorset Teddy Bear Museum

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The Dorset Teddy Bear Museum is one of Dorchester’s family museums. Meet Edward Bear and all the family in Teddy Bear House. 

From the earliest antique teddy bears to today’s TV favourites, there are over 100 years of teddy bears displayed in the Museum. 


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