Attractions in Dorset

Lighthouse Road, Swanage, Dorset BH19 2JL

Castle & visitor centre open daily 10am-5pm. Cafe open 9.30am-4.30pm. Park open dawn to dusk.

Durlston Country Park in Dorset is situated on the cliffs overlooking Durlston Castle. The all-weather facility includes a café, visitor centre, roof-top Belvedere, exhibition and gallery (art, science, performance, weddings and more). There are great opportunities for walking and getting up close to the wildlife.


Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX

During the Spring and Summer months, Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park & Marine Sanctuary is open from 10am until 5pm daily, with last admittance at 4pm. The Park closes earlier in the Autumn and Winter months, and does not open on Christmas Day

An all-weather attraction, with numerous indoor marine life exhibitions, as well as several children’s rides and a water play area.

Indoor displays include:

  • the Shark Reef Centre, a tropical haven for sharks and fish
  • a Nursery and breeding centre, housing all their baby creatures and seahorse family
  • the spectacular Turtle Sanctuary with its walk-through underwater tunnel
  • a Treasures of the Deep display teeming with weird and wonderful creatures

Outdoors there are:

  • sanctuaries for the Asian short-clawed otters and harbour seals
  • a resident colony of Humboldt penguins
  • features such as Adventure Island – a land of children rides – and Splash Zone – a children’s water play area
  • the fantastic Crocodile Creek – a mini log flume ride, but be warned you will get wet!
  • naturally themed rockpools, filled with crabs, starfish, urchins and giant spider crabs, hold a giant spider crab or touch a starfish, dodge the surge wave and view what lurks beneath with an underwater viewing device

Feeding Times (times may vary)

11.30am Divine Shark Dinner
Midday Penguin Play Time
12.30pm Terrapin Tea Time
1pm Ravenous Ray Feed
2pm Otter Madness
2.30pm Penguins
3pm Turtle Play Time
3.30pm Super Seal Time
4pm Otter Madness

Mini Golf

Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX

Open daily from 11am-6pm (last entry at 5pm), except Christmas Day and subject to weather conditions

A swashbuckling game for the whole family!

Each hole has its own unique challenge to overcome as you work your way around the themed course, which includes treasure chests, gunpowder barrels and a pirate galleon.

Can you conquer the tricky uphill hole with a single deadly shot?

Do you have enough skill to avoid the obstacle blocking your way to the treasure?

Can you make that magical ‘hole in one’? But be warned…you only get the one chance!


Lodmoor Country Park, Preston Beach Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX

7 days a week from 10.30am between mid-April and the end of October

The international sand sculpture park at Weymouth’s Lodmoor Country Park

In 2011, a new all-weather attraction opened on Weymouth’s seafront – Sandworld. Here you can see incredible sand sculptures made entirely from sand and water created by competing sand artists from around the world. Some of the sculptures are as large as a double-decker bus!

Weymouth sand sculptor Mark Anderson, who is well-known for his sand sculpting displays on Weymouth beach, teamed up with local businessman David Hicks to get the attraction off the ground. Mr Anderson also drafted in 10 of the world’s best sand sculptors to help him create Sandworld.

The sand sculptures are staged under a huge marquee and outside, under a canopy cover, there is an activity and sand play area so children can have a go themselves.

All the sand is from Weymouth beach, with permission from Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, and Mr Anderson said all the sand artists commented on its excellent quality.


Pushchair and wheelchair friendly.


  • picnic tables
  • ice creams for sale
  • small shop

Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UF

Various, see full listing

The Nothe Fort was built by the Victorians to protect Portland Harbour, and is one of the best preserved forts of its kind. Nothe Fort is located at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour and is a labyrinth of underground passageways and outdoor areas with stunning views of the Jurassic coastline.

The history of the Fort is explained through the many displays, exhibits and audiovisual facilities on the ramparts, gun decks and underground passageways.

You don’t have to be a military enthusiast to enjoy the Nothe Fort. It is a great day out for all the family whatever the weather – but beware, the fort is also haunted!


  • Shop
  • Canteen and picnic areas
  • Facilities for those with mobility impediments
  • Dogs welcome
  • Parking (pay and display)

Opening times (2014)

Winter Opening:
Sundays only from 16th February to 30th March
11.00am – 4.30pm

Spring & Summer Opening:
Open daily from 1st April to 30th September
10:30am – 5:30pm

Autumn & Winter Opening:
Sundays only from 5th October – 14th December and Half Term from 25th October to 2nd November
11:00am – 4:30pm

B3157 Chickerell Link Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4AF

Open 30th March to 30th September 2014, 10am to 5pm daily, closed Saturdays.

Flowering from late spring through to autumn, the national and international collections of water lilies at Bennetts Water Gardens near Weymouth create one of the most outstanding displays of water lilies in Britain.

Grass pathways lead you through the series of ponds and lakes, surrounded by wetland plants, native trees, palms, wild plants and flowers. Bennetts Water Gardens are a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and home to an abundance of wildlife. There are scenic places to sit and relax, as well as shaded woodland walks to explore. The Tropical House contains exotic plants, including a cacti collection. There is also a family nature trail to keep the younger visitors interested.

The museum at Bennetts Water Gardens describes the local history of Chickerell village (as mentioned in the Domesday Book), Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon. It also contains a fascinating history of the site from the brickworks and clay pits of 1859 through to the modern-day gardens.

Many of the original water lilies planted in the gardens by the Bennett family in 1959 came from the same nursery in France that supplied Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. These same varieties that Monet painted are among the collections held at the gardens today. The Monet-style Japanese bridge was commissioned for Bennetts Water Gardens in 1999 to commemorate 100 years since Monet’s painting ‘Water Lily Pond 1899’, and recreates the painting of a bridge over a water lily pond.

Bennetts Water Gardens near Weymouth also have a gift and plant shop, a cafe and a licensed restaurant. There is free parking on site, and partial wheelchair access (weather permitting). Dogs are not allowed.

Liberty Road, Portland, Dorset DT5 1AZ

Portland Castle was built by King Henry VIII to defend the anchorage against possible French and Spanish invasion, and the castle’s squat appearance is typical of the artillery forts built in the early 1540s.

Unusually for a fortress of this period, the castle has seen much interior alteration, although the exterior remains largely unchanged. It first witnessed serious fighting during the English Civil War, when it was seized by both Parliamentarians and Royalists. It became a Seaplane Station during World War I, and was at the forefront of the D-Day preparations which helped to end World War II.

The Governor’s Garden, designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole as part of the Contemporary Heritage Garden series, contains an impressive circular amphitheatre made from local Portland stone, with two-level seating for about 200 people. This perfectly sheltered spot is a great place to relax and enjoy the dramatic sea and harbour views.

There are audio tours and a touch tour for the visually impaired. You can even come face to face with Henry VIII in the Great Hall!


  • Parking
  • Food and Drink
  • Picnic Area
  • Toilets
  • Gardens
  • Audio Tours
  • Family Friendly
  • Education
  • Foreign Language Audio Tours
  • Venue Hire
  • Commercial Photography and Filming
  • Guide books are available

Bowleaze Coveway, Weymouth, Dorset

All that remain of Jordan Hill Roman Temple in Weymouth are the foundations and the base of the walls, which are over one metre thick and enclose an area of about 80 square metres. The site is now owned by English Heritage and there is free, year-round access.

Amateur excavations in 1843 found coins that suggest the site was used in the 4th century, which was during the later years of the Roman occupation. However, finds such animal bones and bull horns suggest the site had also been used during Iron Age times. In the southeast corner of the temple, archaeologists found a shaft about four metres deep containing two urns, a spearhead and a sword in a stone cist at its base. Above this cist were deposited 16 layers of ash and charcoal, each containing the remains of a bird (including buzzard, raven, starling and crow) along with a coin and separated from the next layer with roofing slabs. Why these pagan offerings were being made so late in the Roman occupation of the British Isles is not known, as Christianity was already becoming established in Britain by this time. In the land surrounding Weymouth’s Jordan Hill Roman Temple were found the remains of around 100 burials.

It has also been suggested that this site may have been a late 4th century signal station.

Entry is free.

Preston Beach Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX

Monday - Sunday. Various Times.

A state-of-the-art centre for skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX in a great seafront location.

The Sk8park currently has three distinct sports areas: a beginners’ area; the main street course with long planter; and the bowl, halfpipe and spine section. These offer challenges to suit different ability levels allowing for progression and choice.

There is a vast array of ramps to suit all levels of user. There is an undercover beginners’ area plus street and ramp obstacles for the more experienced.

Sessions run all year round, after school, at weekends, in school holidays, and at other times by arrangement. There is also a regular events programme. Low key supervision and support is provided by first-aid trained staff and sk8park volunteers. There is a simple membership scheme and entry fees are kept as low as possible.

The Front, Weymouth’s Sk8park is a not-for-profit community enterprise managed by the Weymouth Skatepark Association.


  • custom-built ramps for all levels from beginner to expert
  • helmets for hire
  • skateboards for hire
  • snack bar and cafe
  • pool table
  • car park

Hope Square, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8TR

A re-developed Victorian brewery in Weymouth’s Old Harbour with places to eat and traders selling antiques, collectables and vintage furniture.

After being closed for a number of years, Brewers Quay finally re-opened at Easter 2013.

The complex in Hope Square now houses an antiques emporium and an Italian restaurant, Il Porto. Brewers Quay currently has over 50 dealers selling retro items, antiques, collectables, furniture and vinyls.

Further redevelopment/refurbishment is planned to include a military museum, cafe and offices.

Greenhill, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SW

At the edge of the town centre, sloping up from the beach and promenade, are Greenhill Gardens, where you can get some of the best views across Weymouth Bay. The winding paths and brightly coloured flower beds of the Gardens are a true delight to discover but there is also an 18-hole putting green, tennis courts, a bowling green and two cafes to keep you occupied.

Weymouth’s Greenhill Gardens have been recognised as one of the best green spaces in the country.


Map grid reference: SY688809

Open at all times

Bearded tits and Cetti’s warblers can be seen all year round, and the autumn migration can be spectacular with hundreds of swallows, martins and wagtails, as well as lots of wading birds.

Lodmoor has one of the largest common tern colonies in the south west of England, and the hide provides great views of their fascinating courtship and the chicks growing up through spring and summer.

Spring highlights

Little grebes ‘whinny’ in courtship displays and pairs of shovelers spin around each other, heads locked together below the water’s surface. By the middle of spring, summer visitors will have arrived: swallows, martins and by the beginning of May, swifts. The reed beds are noisy places to be, full of warblers staking out their territories.

Summer highlights

Listen for the explosive song of the Cetti’s warbler – a little like a wren’s song but even louder. Hobbies fly overhead in their attempts to catch small birds, causing havoc among the flocks. The tiny, stripy little grebe chicks can be seen out on the water with their parents.

Autumn highlights

Kingfishers are easiest to see at this time of the year, as young birds disperse from where they hatched. Bearded tits are also more obvious. Lodmoor is the perfect refuelling site for waders en route from the Arctic to Africa – you may see birds like black-tailed godwits, and green and wood sandpipers.

Winter highlights

Bitterns fly in from Europe during cold weather, but can be tricky to see. Grey herons stand at the water’s edge, waiting for fish to swim by within striking distance. Little egrets are more proactive and stir up the water with their yellow feet to entice small fish, worms and shrimps. This is the best season for watching wildfowl, with pochards, teals, tufted ducks, shelducks and gadwalls around the reserve. Marsh harriers can still be seen hunting over the reeds.


  • pay and display car park (not RSPB)
  • group bookings accepted
  • guided walks available
  • pushchair friendly
  • dogs allowed on public footpaths and bridleways

Osprey Quay, Portland, Dorset DT5 1SA

Monday- Friday: 9am-5pm Saturday & Sundays: 8am-6pm

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), which was the host venue for the London 2012 Olympic sailing events, has an established global reputation for its outstanding facilities. WPNSA was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit company by a group of far-sighted individuals who identified the brown field site with immediate water access into Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay as a huge asset to not only the local Weymouth and Portland communities but as a destination that would attract sports people and events at national and international levels.

Looking at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy from a purely sailing related perspective, the surrounding waters of Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay are some of the best sailing waters on the planet. The clean winds, sheltered waters and weak tides also have added value due to these natural conditions being preferential to a large and growing range of water sports.

In fact the Academy is ideally suited to hosting water based events including sea swimming and rowing, canoeing and sea kayaking, motor boating, sport fishing, model boating, water skiing and wake boarding. In addition, a range of land-based events from running, cycling or indoor rowing and combined events such as triathlons are run from the centre.

Spinnakers Restaurant, positioned in the heart of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, boasts breathtaking views across Portland Harbour and beyond. This unique venue is open for Sunday carverys throughout the winter as well as being available for private hire when not required for sailing events.