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.

Leaving Swanage - Cliff Baxter

Weymouth Pleasure Pier, DT4 8ED

The Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. This historic ship is operated by a charity and carries over 250,000 passengers each year, transporting them to favourite seaside haunts or to marvel at the unfolding landscape around the south of England’s Jurassic Coast.

The paddle steamer Waverley was built on the River Clyde in 1947. In 2003, a major restoration project was completed, returning the ship to the original 1940s style in which she was built. The Waverley is the only remaining real Clyde steamer and the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. In 1974, The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society bought the 693-tonne ship for £1 to preserve it for the future.

On the cruises, passengers can gain unrivalled access to spectacular scenery, miles of golden sandy beaches and an island steeped in history. This award-winning attraction provides a range of day, afternoon and evening cruises on selected days throughout September from Weymouth Pleasure Pier to various ports including Bournemouth and Yarmouth.

Cruise by the famous Lulworth Cove one of Dorset’s most recognisable features heading onwards past Durlston Head with its imposing castle on the hilltop and into Bournemouth, the perfect place to spend a day out with the family. Take a ride on the mini land trains, play with the kids on one of the cleanest beaches in the UK or enjoy a quiet stroll through Bournemouth’s glorious gardens.

Alternatively steam through the Solent and view the magnificent coastal scenery of the Isle of Wight. Stop off at Yarmouth with its natural harbour, which is a mecca to numerous boats and yachts that visit, or stay on board and enjoy a cruise around the Isle of Wight passing Newtown, Thorness and Gurnard Bay and along the coast to Cowes, famous for its huge sailing events during the summer.

Finally, don’t miss the legendary Evening Showboats with a live jazz band on board and make it a night to remember!

The Waverley has excellent onboard facilities including a restaurant serving hot and cold snacks, two bars, heated lounges, engine room and paddle wheel viewing gallery, and a souvenir shop.

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.

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.

New Bond Street, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8LY

This nine-screen cinema is located in the heart of the town centre, near Debenhams. Adjacent to the cinema is a 450-space multi-storey car park with 10 disabled bays. Free parking is available after 6.30pm for cinemagoers, and the car park closes 30 minutes after the last film.

The Esplanade, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8ED

Every day except Christmas Day from 10am to at least 5pm

Weymouth Pavilion is no longer operated by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. It is now run by a not-for-profit company called Weymouth Pavilion Community Interest Company. The Pavilion Complex aims to have ‘something for everyone’, by having a wide range of shows and events and by making The Pavilion accessible to many different groups, for many different uses.

The Cafe Ritz is open every day from 10am to 4pm serving hot and cold drinks, a selection of alcoholic beverages and delicious cakes. Hot and cold food is served daily from 12pm to 3pm and can be enjoyed in the cafe or upstairs in the Piano Bar where you can take in the magnificent views across the Harbour and the Seafront. Pre-show meals are served from 6pm in the Piano Bar before every Theatre show – tables can be booked by contacting the Box Office. Basket Meals are served during most events in the Ocean Room.

Pay-and-display parking for is situated behind the Pavilion Complex. A free, short stay car park (30 minutes) is available immediately in front of the Pavilion for making bookings or collecting tickets.