All you need to plan your perfect holidays in Dorset

The Visit Dorset website provides you with travel and tourist information for Dorset. So whether you are planning holidays in Dorset or coming for a short break or business trip, Visit Dorset has all the information you need:

  • explore the vibrant holiday resorts, small market towns and picturesque villages of Dorset with our Places to Visit guide
  • discover the amazing array of Things to Do while on your holidays, from sightseeing at nature reserves and stately homes to kite surfing or quad-biking

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  • find out what events and festivals are going on all year round with our constantly updated guide to What’s On in Dorset
  • choose a restaurant for a romantic evening out or a friendly country pub for a warm and hearty meal using our Eating Out in Dorset section
  • find out the best way of Getting to Dorset, be it by car, train, aeroplane or ferry
  • download money off vouchers, and pick up useful tips on dog friendly beaches, parking, access for disabled visitors, etc in the Visitor Info section

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Dorset is a quintessentially English county of rolling hills and chalk downlands, with a picturesque coastline that is so important geologically it was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2001. Known as The Jurassic Coast, the rocks of the East Devon and Dorset coastline record 185 million years of the Earth’s history – a geological walk through time spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The craggy Dorset coastline, which stretches from Lyme Regis in the west to Christchurch in the east, also boasts many unique geological landforms such as Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, the Isle of Portland and the shingle bank of Chesil Beach to name but a few. Over half of Dorset is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

cleaners bournemouth

Nestled among the Dorset hills are charming market towns with enchanting little shops and interesting museums, as well as numerous picture-postcard villages such as the sandstone village of Abbotsbury, which has numerous tea rooms and pubs as well as the world famous Abbotsbury Swannery and the Sub-Tropical Gardens. There are also historic sites such as the famous Cerne Abbas Giant, which is carved into the chalk hillside above the village and at 180-foot-high is the largest hill figure in Britain, as well as the Iron Age hill fort of Maiden Castle, the largest hill fort in Britain and regarded by some as the largest in Europe.

Dorset’s natural beauty means walking, cycling and horse riding are popular activities, but there are plenty of other things to do in Dorset, both on and off the water. There is an abundance of family attractions, historic houses and gardens, golf courses, paintballing, even llama trekking and zorbing. There are water sports aplenty: fishing, canoeing, kite surfing, wind surfing, wakeboarding, swimming and, of course, sailing. In fact the waters off Weymouth and Portland are generally regarded as the best in Europe for sailing, which is why the area was chosen to host the sailing events during the London 2012 Olympic Games. What more could you possibly want for your holidays in Dorset?

Nightlife in Dorset tends to centre on the popular holiday resorts of Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth. Apart from numerous pubs, bars, restaurants and night clubs, there are also multiplex cinemas, ten-pin bowling alleys, ice rinks and dry ski slopes. So you will never be short of things to do on holidays in Dorset. Many of the larger towns in Dorset also have theatres that put on concerts, plays, shows and comedy nights, including the Lighthouse in Poole and Tivoli in Wimborne. The leading venue for events as well as conferences and exhibitions in Dorset is the Bournemouth International Centre, or BIC as it is known.

Finding the perfect place to stay in Dorset should be a pleasure with the choice available – from five star hotels to romantic B&Bs to family-friendly seaside caravan parks – Dorset has them all. So, whether you are looking for accommodation in Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth or elsewhere in the county, you are sure to be able to find something to suit your taste and budget.

Newly Added EventsView All

18 Feb

Science Museum, 39 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 3NS

18/02/2015 To 18/02/2015

10:00 am To 1:00 pm

ADVENTURCATION

The Bournemouth Natural Science Society (Science Museum, 39 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 3NS)

The Bournemouth Natural Science Society would like to invite you through its doors on Wednesday the 18th of February between 10am-1pm for ‘ Adventurcation ’ – a family drop in day to entertain young children during the half term break!

Working in partnership with Arts University Bournemouth, the day will consist of exciting workshops with an added artistic twist. Come and meet the biggest owl species in the world, engage in artist workshops, and go on an interactive adventure trail to learn about our collections. The event is aimed to educate and inspire, combining the natural sciences with artistic disciplines for a memorable day out.

22 Feb

Evershot Village Hall, Dorset DT2 0JY

22/02/2015 To 22/02/2015

4:00 pm To

PuppetCraft MONKEY uses stunning string puppets, antique shadow puppets and live music to tell the story of the birth and comic escapades of the much loved trickster and super-hero, Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg the mischievous Monkey can fly on a cloud, turn invisible and transform into anything! Monkey is the main comic character in China’s great classic story Journey to the West, and is still one of the world’s most popular folk heroes, appearing in countless adaptations, from Chinese opera to comic books, even after hundreds of years.

26 years ago PuppetCraft’s director, John Roberts, trained in China for 6 months learning about a puppet tradition that goes back 3000 years. He has spent the last two decades perfecting his own puppet making and performing methods based on this ancient form. Now, inspired by the classic Chinese epic story, the comic adventures of this fantastical superhero are brought to life by one of Britain’s top puppet companies, with a script written by poet Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007 to 2009.

Recommended 4+. Lantern making workshops also available – enquire when booking.

£6, £5 under 18s, £20 family

21 Feb

Piddle Valley First School, Piddletrenthide, Dorset DT2 7QL

21/02/2015 To 21/02/2015

4:00 pm To

PuppetCraft MONKEY uses stunning string puppets, antique shadow puppets and live music to tell the story of the birth and comic escapades of the much loved trickster and super-hero, Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg the mischievous Monkey can fly on a cloud, turn invisible and transform into anything! Monkey is the main comic character in China’s great classic story Journey to the West, and is still one of the world’s most popular folk heroes, appearing in countless adaptations, from Chinese opera to comic books, even after hundreds of years.

26 years ago PuppetCraft’s director, John Roberts, trained in China for 6 months learning about a puppet tradition that goes back 3000 years. He has spent the last two decades perfecting his own puppet making and performing methods based on this ancient form. Now, inspired by the classic Chinese epic story, the comic adventures of this fantastical superhero are brought to life by one of Britain’s top puppet companies, with a script written by poet Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007 to 2009.

Recommended 4+. Lantern making workshops also available – enquire when booking.

£6, £5 under 18s, £20 family

Newly Added Listings

32 Waterloo Road, Poole, Dorset BH17 7LF

Ever since 2010, Total Clean Solutions Bournemouth has been providing high-quality cleaning services to homeowners and businesses across Dorset.

Total Clean is proud to offer a remarkably wide range of cleaning services, including after builders, move in/out, end of tenancy, one-off and regular maintenance residential cleaning, window, carpet and upholstery, oven cleaning, cleaning communal areas, but also services for estate agents, retail industry, and office buildings. Caravan and car cleaning services are also available.

radipole

Map grid reference: SY671804

Visitor Centre is open daily 9am to 5pm (4pm in winter). The hide is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm. The Visitor Centre and hide are both closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Radipole Lake is a great place to come, whether you are new to wildlife watching or an experienced birdwatcher. There are well-known birds at the reserve such as house sparrows, finches and robins, alongside rare birds like the Cetti’s warbler and bittern. On a typical walk you can even see seven or eight different kinds of ducks.

There is plenty for families to do, with specially-created trails, bird events and, during the summer, family activities such as pond dipping and bug hunts.

Spring highlights

In spring, the air is filled with bird song as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. Flocks of swallows and martins gather over the water to feed on insects after their migration from Africa. Warblers also arrive, including grasshopper, willow and Cetti’s warblers, blackcaps, whitethroats and lesser whitethroats. The reed beds are full of singing sedge and reed warblers.

Summer highlights

In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Hobbies can be seen flying after small birds and dragonflies, which they catch with their feet then pass to their beaks while still flying. Flowering plants attract good numbers of butterflies, such as commas, painted ladies and peacocks.

Autumn highlights

Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds – some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. Bearded tits become easier to see, with family groups roaming the reed beds and making their distinctive ‘pinging’ call. As the water levels are lowered in preparation for winter reed cutting, the mud attracts wading birds such as dunlins, snipe, redshanks and lapwings.

Winter highlights

In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm. You may see a bittern if you are patient – they will fly up from the reeds occasionally to get to different feeding areas. During cold snaps, water rails become much easier to see as they must feed outside the frozen-up reed beds. There is a large roost of pied wagtails in Weymouth and the birds can often be seen at Radipole Lake before heading into town for the night.

Marsh Harriers

The first marsh harriers to breed in Dorset in almost 50 years successfully raised three chicks in 2009 at Radipole Lake. Being only 10 minutes’ walk from Weymouth town centre, these marsh harrier chicks are thought to be the most urban of their species to fledge in the British Isles. The arrival of the parents at the reserve was filmed for the BBC television programme Springwatch.

Facilities

  • information centre
  • shop
  • refreshments available
  • picnic area
  • pushchair friendly
  • wheelchair accessible
  • pay and display car park (not RSPB)
  • toilets, including disabled, in the car park (not RSPB)
  • binocular hire
  • group bookings accepted
  • guided walks available
  • dogs allowed on public footpaths and bridleways

Entrance fees

It is free to walk around the reserve. Fees are only charged for use of the hide.

Hope Square, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8TR

Monday-Thursday: 10am-3pm, 6pm-9pm. Friday-Saturday: 10am-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Sunday: 10am-5pm, 6pm-9pm

Situated in the heart of Weymouth’s Old Harbour, The Galley Bistro Weymouth is family-run and prides itself on providing great food and fine wine in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

The Galley Bistro is open all year round, offering cosy dining inside during the winter months and alfresco dining on warm, summer days. The Bistro offers a wide range of local produce, including seafood, steaks and local beers.