Things to Do in Dorset

You certainly won’t be short of things to do in Dorset while you are on holiday here. From wildlife, history and heritage, and beaches and coastline to family attractions, activities and adventure holidays, and watersports, the Visit Dorset website helps you find some great ideas for days out for all the family.




Only booked a few days away in Dorset? Not sure what things to do in Dorset while you’re here on holiday? Why not use our list of some of the most popular Dorset attractions to help you decide. If you are interested in our history and heritage, why not visit the majestic ruins of Corfe Castle, Athelhampton’s Tudor manor house and world-famous gardens, the fascinating Tank Museum at Bovington, the Swanage steam railway or perhaps Sherborne Castle and its Capability Brown designed lake. Or, for the nature lovers, there’s Abbotsbury Swannery with over 600 free flying swans, Brownsea Island nature reserve, Weymouth’s Sea Life Park and Monkey World ape rescue centre. And, for the younger ones, there’s always the Adventure Wonderland family fun park.

You may even just enjoy a day on the coast, exploring Dorset’s unique landscapes and vistas. In the evening settle down for some local fare at any number of spots ranging from casual pub atmospheres to fine dining luxury. You will find something to suit every traveller’s taste. The same can be said for Dorset’s accommodation. Visitors can choose from charming B&Bs to 5 star hotels.

Dudmoor Farm Road, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 6AQ

A wooded golf course with nine holes. Longest hole 280 yards. Visitors are welcome and there is no need to book.

Iford Bridge Golf Course, Barrack Road, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 2BA

The golf course it set on flat parkland on the banks of the River Stour. A total of nine greens (18 tees), 4330 yards, SSS 61 men, 65 ladies. Driving range and putting green. Visitors are welcome at any time.

Wentworth Drive, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8DQ

The golf course is on undulating heathland and has been used on many occasions for English national tournaments. 18 holes, 6315 yards, SSS 70. Practice area. Visitors are welcome on weekdays and at weekends by prior arrangement. A current handicap certificate is required.

The Clubhouse, Burton Road, Bridport, Dorset DT6 4PS

A cliff top links course with 18 holes. Men: 5875 yards, par 70, SSS 68. Ladies: 5506 yards, par 72, SSS 73. Driving range, putting green, practice bunker and chipping green. Also open from the end of May through the summer season is a nine-hole pitch and putt course with an 18-hole putting green. Visitors are welcome subject to club commitments. Tee times reserved for members are 8am to 9.30am daily and 11am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Central Drive, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6LH

This golf course is set in 120 acres of undulating scenic parkland. The Club’s demanding test of golf and rich heritage draws golfers from all over Europe. The course features verdant, tree lined fairways. From the 244 yard opening par 3, where the drive is over a valley to a small green cut into a hill, to the highly acclaimed par 5, 14th hole, golfers are confronted with numerous and memorable challenges. Practice area and putting green. 18 hole, par 69, 5540 yards.

Rolls Drive, Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, Dorset BH6 4NA

A seaside golf course with 18 holes, 2182 yards, SSS 54. Driving range. No restrictions on visitors.

Queens Park, West Drive, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 9BY

This is one of the finest and most established golf courses in the South of England. You can purchase a season ticket or choose ‘pay and play’ golf, whichever option suits you best. No handicap is required. Advance booking is available to guarantee your tee-off time. The golf course is centrally located just off the A338 Wessex Way on the edge of Bournemouth. Total yardage: from white tees: 6132 yards, par 71; from red tees: 5562 yards, par 72.

Francis Avenue, Bournemouth, Dorset BH11 8NX

The golf course is on undulating heathland, with 18 holes, 6094 yards, SSS 69. Visitors are welcome with a reservation after 9.30am on weekdays; restrictions apply on competition days. A member must accompany visitors at weekends. A golf handicap certificate is required.

Wimborne Road, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 9HN

The golf course is on downland with wonderful views over the Tarrant and Stour valleys. 18 holes, 6276 yards, SSS 70. Practice ground and putting green. Visitors are welcome during the week. At weekends visitors must have a golf handicap certificate or come with a member. Tuesday mornings are ladies only.

swanagerailway

Swanage to Norden via Corfe Castle, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset

Operates daily from beginning of May to end of September. Limited service at other times

Dorset’s premier steam railway with unique views of the imposing ruins of Corfe Castle. Special events are held throughout the year, including Days Out with Thomas the tank engine and friends, the chance to drive a 130 tonne steam locomotive over the demanding gradients of the spectacular Purbeck Line, and Santa Specials in December.
Enjoy a 5-course meal on board The Wessex Belle dining train. This popular Dorset attraction operates regularly throughout the year and is available for private hire and corporate events.
Buffets available at Swanage and Norden stations serving hot and cold drinks and snacks. Swanage station also has a Railway Shop.

sherborne

3/4 mile from Sherborne town centre, Dorset

Open daily between end of March and end of October, except Mondays and Fridays (open Bank Holiday Mondays), from 11am; last admission 4.30pm. Castle opens at 2.30pm on Saturdays

Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594, Sherborne Castle has been the home of the Digby family since 1617. The State Rooms reflect a wonderful variety of decorative styles from the great periods of English history: Tudor, Jacobean, Georgian and Victorian, with beautiful collections of art, furniture and porcelain.
30 acres of lakeside gardens with sweeping lawns, colourful flower borders and majestic trees surround the 50 acre lake designed by Capability Brown in 1753. Across the lake to the north lies the ruins of Sherborne’s old medieval castle, which succumbed to Cromwell’s troops in 1645 during the Civil War.
The Lakeside Tea Room, which is on the site of the former nursery building, serves morning coffees, light lunches and afternoon tea. Gift shop located in Castle Courtyard.

orangutan

Bovington, Nr Wareham, Dorset

Daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 5pm (6pm during July and August); last admission 1 hour before closing.

A 65-acre woodland park in the heart of the Dorset countryside that is home to over 160 rescued and endangered apes and monkeys.
Talks are given by their expert keepers every 30 minutes from midday onwards.
This Dorset attraction has cafes, picnic areas, gift shop and children’s amusements.

corfe

Corfe, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset

Daily (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day) from 10am.

Corfe Castle was destroyed by Cromwell’s men in 1646 and its imposing ruin is now a popular tourist attraction in Dorset. The ruins we see today are actually an 11th century re-build of a wooden castle dating back to the 9th century.
The castle and village of Corfe are built mainly from the local Purbeck stone, which is probably the finest limestone available for building and polishing in England.
Corfe Castle, which has been described as “one of the most evocative ruined castles in England”, is now owned by the National Trust. There is an extensive country estate to discover and explore and the Swanage Railway operates a steam train service to Corfe.

brownsea

Poole Harbour, Dorset

March to October.

Brownsea Island wildlife sanctuary and nature reserve is now owned by the National Trust.
In the 19th century, china clay was mined on the island and that brought with it a community requiring a church, cottages, gardens, a farmyard and a school. In 1907, General Baden-Powell held an experimental camp on the island, which was the start of the Boy Scout movement.
The last private owner of Brownsea Island, Mary Bonham Christie, allowed it to become a haven for wildlife – free from farming, forestry and human disturbance. It was after her death that the island came under the protection of the National Trust.
The island is one and a half miles long, with a 248 acre nature reserve on its northern side managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Access to the nature reserve is restricted.
Coffee shop serves a range of hot and cold snacks and afternoon teas. National Trust shop.

tank

Bovington, Dorset

Open daily 10am to 5pm except Christmas

The Tank Museum at Bovington brings the story of tanks and tank crews to life, with the world’s best collection of tanks and explosive live action displays. As you explore the museum’s six large halls, you will come face to face with a unique collection of over 200 armoured vehicles. Four powerful exhibitions bring the story of the tank to life. ‘The Tank Story’ tells the story of the tank from its birth in 1915 to the present day. ‘Battlegroup Afghanistan – The Armoured Soldiers’ Story’ puts you in the front line, as combat veterans give on-screen accounts of service alongside the vehicles used on operations today. ‘The Trench Experience’ places you into the shoes of a World War One soldier, from the recruiting office to the front line. In ‘The Discovery Centre’ you will find out how different tanks are used in different ways, find out more about the life of a tank crewman and see inside a ‘cut in half’ tank. There are also explosive Tank Action displays during school holidays, with thundering engines, life-like explosions and expert commentary. You can even experience for yourself the thrill of riding in a tracked vehicle.