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


  • 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


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.

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.

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Featured Listings

36 St Thomas Street, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8EH

Bar 1 Weymouth is a 1990s, karaoke and disco bar in Weymouth, Dorset, UK.

The Ark, Poole Park, Poole, Dorset BH15 2SF

The Ark Poole Park in Dorset, UK is an all-weather family fun day out!

There are three levels of soft play with slides, tunnels and interactive zones (up to 11 years old) plus a dedicated soft play area for toddlers.

There is also an indoor ice rink for all ages and abilities.

The Ark in Poole Park has a spacious cafe with an outdoor terrace overlooking Swan Lake. It also has an ice cream parlour for cones, sundaes and more.

There is plenty of free car parking in Poole Park and at The Ark.

Disabled parking is available directly outside The Ark.

Weymouth Sea Life Tower

The Quay (behind The Pavilion Complex), Weymouth, Dorset

8.30am - 5.15pm week days

The spectacular Weymouth Sea Life Tower opened for business in June 2012. Construction of the new £3.5 million landmark attraction took under nine months, from the start of foundation works to the completion of the ground level reception building. Designed by a German company, each of the five 11-ton steel sections of the Tower’s central column were built in Hungary. The base section sits on a concrete base buried several metres beneath the Festival Pier. The clear-fronted passenger gondola, which rotates gently around that column as it climbs to its highest point, was built in France.

As many as 69 people at a time can be carried aloft in the gondola, where on a clear day they may be able to see as far as the famous Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Amazing views of the Purbeck Cliffs, Portland, Chesil Beach and Weymouth Bay are also assured, and the Tower’s ride operators will point out significant features like the scene of the discovery of the 155-million-year-old head of a marine dinosaur in 2003.

An admission charge applies and the ride lasts approximately 15 minutes. There is commentary on the Weymouth Sea Life Tower, and it is possible to purchase a 360° mini guide with Jurassic Coast information. Children under 14 years of age need to be accompanied by an adult. The Weymouth Sea Life Tower is accessible for disabled guests; however, it has the capacity for only one wheelchair per ride.

Featured EventsView All

29 Nov

The Old Workshops, Brewers Quay, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8TR

29/11/2014 To 29/11/2014

11:00 am To 4:00 pm

Mrs Darlings Christmas Market: A selection of seasonal stalls selling delicious treats from local suppliers & unique creative items & gifts, all made by Dorset designers and craftsmen. Entertainment, fresh cakes, hot drinks, mulled wine, mince pies and so much more.

Plus the fabulous creative businesses that are permanently found in The Old Work Shops all tucked behind Brewers Quay, Weymouth, Dorset.

Open from 11am until 4pm on Saturday 29th November.

There’s a pay & display car park opposite and blue badge holders can park on near by roads.

12 Dec

The Toy Barn, Blackmarsh Farm, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 4JX

12/12/2014 To 21/12/2014

11:00 am To 3:00 pm


Book your tickets online at or call 01935 815040 for more details. Please contact The Toy Barn for information about group bookings.

Children can meet Father Christmas at The Toy Barn in Sherborne in his themed grotto on Friday 12th December 1-4pm and Saturday 13th December, Sunday 14th December, Saturday 20th December and Sunday 21st December 2014 from 11am-3pm.

Father Christmas is only at The Toy Barn for 5 days in his busy schedule. Booking in advance is advisable to avoid disappointment.

Tickets are £6 per child, which includes a present. Adult entry is free.

Book your tickets online at or call 01935 815040 for more details. Please contact The Toy Barn for information about group bookings.

Bookings are available in half hour slots with up to six visits per slot. Please select which day you’d like to visit and your time slot when booking. Tickets may be available on the day if space is available, but there may be a wait during busy periods.

06 Dec

3 School Lane, Poole, Dorset BH15 3JR

06/12/2014 To 06/12/2014

12:00 pm To 4:00 pm

Join us for a Christmas Grotto and Market. Meet Santa as well as stocking up on some Christmas presents.

Entry is £2 which includes a photo with Santa and a Christmas present!