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.

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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

13 May

Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Talbot Campus, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB

13/05/2015 To 13/05/2015

4:00 pm To 5:30 pm

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Human navigation: a cognitive neuroscience approach

Free talk on a research project using of state-of-the art eye-tracking and electrical neuroimaging technology to investigate neural and cognitive functions in virtual navigation environments.

The ability to navigate within complex and rapidly changing environments is a crucial skill humans possess and one that most of us take for granted. Recent reports suggest that increasing numbers of people have deficits to core navigation abilities; current estimates suggest 6 million people in EU countries, a number expected to rise in coming years. Research currently underway in the Navigation Lab at Bournemouth University is aimed at addressing some of the current issues in human navigation.

Venue: Bournemouth University, Barnes Lecture Theatre, refreshments available from 5:30pm

13 May

Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Talbot Campus, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB

13/05/2015 To 13/05/2015

2:00 pm To 3:30 pm

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VeggiEat: a voyage of discovery

A continuing challenge is to understand how the intricate range of drivers affect the food intake of teenagers and older people: the two groups in society who have the lowest vegetable intake across the lifespan. Research led by BU and being undertaken across Europe is trying to tackle this challenge, the learning from this cross disciplinary work and the intended and actual outcomes of the research so far will be discussed.

Venue: Bournemouth University, Barnes Lecture Theatre; refreshments available from 3:30pm

12 May

Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Talbot Campus, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB

12/05/2015 To 12/05/2015

6:00 pm To 7:00 pm

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Taking a look at genocide victims from space

Andy Ford presents a new technique based on a time-series of satellite images long after burial took place, which is also normally used by geographers to monitor the impact of climate change on vegetation around the world.

Locating clandestine mass graves resulting from genocide is time consuming and problematic. For instance, some 3000 victims of the genocide in Bosnia (1992-95) are still missing. Locating graves is imperative for repatriating remains to families and for gathering evidence for war crimes tribunals. Forensic Scientists conventionally use a combination of local knowledge and opportune satellite snapshots in their search.

Venue: Bournemouth University, Kimmeridge House
Wine reception from 5:30pm

Newly Added Listings

Behind The Bull Hotel, 34 East Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3LF

Mon-Fri (inc. school holidays) 5pm - 11pm (Food 5pm - 9.30pm), Sat & Sun (inc. school holidays) Noon - 11pm (Food Noon - 9.30pm)

The Stable Bridport in Dorset serves gourmet pizzas, pies and salads and has a cider house.

Poole Quay, 2 High Street, Poole, Dorset BH15 1BW

The Stable Poole is located on Poole Quay, just at the start of the High Street, on the water’s edge serving pizzas, pies, salads and cider. The restaurant has exposed beams, cosy benches and big oak barrels, so grab a seat in the sun by the window and enjoy the view or watch our chefs working in unison upstairs in the open kitchen.

Pier Approach, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5AA

Oceanarium Bournemouth – see amazing baby loggerhead turtles cruise the waters of their Key West home and get jaw-droppingly close to the new crocodiles!

Come face to face with hundreds of creatures – from otters, rays and clownfish to sharks and piranhas – discover the world’s waters under one roof.