There are certain parts of the country capable of transporting visitors elsewhere for a while. The cobbled warren of Cambridge; the romance of Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Tudor townhouses peering down at those timeworn streets with a slight crookedness to their windows and roofs; the dramatic shadows woven into the streets of York…Just a few steps in any direction, the UK promises an escape from the everyday into something that belongs in the pages of a very old, very well-read book.~

But Dorset? Dorset is a whole series of books. From the ancient to the futuristic, this county really is a place worth exploring – and re-exploring. And, like a good story, it promises to feel brand new each and every time.

Here are all the best parts, plans, and places to add to your bucket list.

Where to Stay – Our Top Two Picks
As a big county, there are plenty of houses to rent in Dorset. The area has an open, spacious feel to it, even when you’re staying relatively close to one of the major towns or cities, making it perfect for whole family holidays – or romantic getaways, for that matter.

If you’re looking for an ancient coastline and the very best weather the country has to offer, then Poole is the perfect town to escape to. With a harbour that feels more Mediterranean than British come summertime, streets that belong on a chocolate box, and water in that perfect shade of blue, Poole is a must-visit spot for anyone holidaying in the UK.

• Within reach of: Bournemouth, which has a lot to offer whether you’re planning a 60th celebration or a destination hen party. It’s a twenty-minute drive away, but even quicker to reach by train. It’s also a short distance from Dorchester – another beautiful spot to while away the day.

West Lulworth
For something a little more ‘away from it all’, but still with easy access to the beach, West Lulworth is a picturesque village with a population of less than 1,000. It’s got everything Dorset is renowned for: dramatic cliffs, sparkling waters that host fishermen throughout the day, good weather, and just the right amount of peace and quiet.

• Within reach of: the market town of Wareham, which offers a (slightly) faster pace than the village of West Lulworth. Just a little further down the road is Poole and, after that, Bournemouth. If you’re up for a longer drive, then Shaftesbury is not to be missed – beloved by Thomas Hardy, this place is a haven for creatives in need of a fresh dose of inspiration.
west lulworth

The History: Three Defining Points for Dorset
Prehistoric: Dorset’s status as an area of particular interest for historians and archaeologists is undisputed. With more than sixty miles of Jurassic Coast and renowned geological deposits, this is an area that knows how to hold onto its unique and ancient history.

How to see it: Spyway National Park is home to more than one hundred fossilised dinosaur footprints. While they may have taken much larger steps than us, that doesn’t mean we can’t retrace their footsteps and imagine a subtropical world overlooking the sea.

Early Human History: Fast-forward thousands of years – though not much closer to the present day, relatively speaking – and Dorset saw human settlers more than 10,000 years ago, in 8000 BC. The area proved very fertile, and its population grew throughout the ages of human history. By the Iron Age, passing through would have brought you upon imposing hill forts built from the earth. These forts then came under Roman rule.

• How to see it: One of the hardest-fought areas of Dorset is Maiden Castle, which was created in the Iron Age. Don’t expect a stony ruin – as an Iron Age site, it comprises a man-made hill protected by a causewayed enclosure. While your imagination will need to fill in the gaps, don’t skip this one – it represents one of the largest hillforts in Europe.

The Mediaeval Period: Another big jump forward, and Dorset is beginning to rise higher thanks to the creation of permanent homes, structures, castles, and churches. Even today, they represent imposing spectres on the horizon, whether wrapped in fog or casting long, dark shadows on a sunny day.

How to see it: The area has plenty of mediaeval architecture to keep you busy, but one particular highlight lies in Corfe Castle. While half still stands, it’s grown wild and rough at the edges, making for some incredible photos.

Three Family-Friendly Activities in Dorset
While a day on the beach is about as good as it gets, there’s always more to do in Dorset…

Brownsea Island
If you’re staying in or near Poole, then Brownsea Island should be at the very top of your list. Young or old, you can’t visit Brownsea without feeling as though you’ve stepped into a fictional world. Follow winding trails through beautifully protected woodland, find adventures tucked between the trees and, if you’re lucky, spot a rare red squirrel or two – along with an impressive variety of birds.

This is easily a whole-day experience for families looking to unwind, take a few deep breaths, and experience something that belongs on the cinema screen.

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre
You may have seen Monkey World featured on Sky Nature’s series, Monkey Life. This rescue centre is a shining example of the power of good, playing a pivotal role in stopping cruel smuggling practices – and providing a sanctuary for rescues who cannot be returned to the wild. Open year-round (except Christmas Day), the Monkey Sanctuary is perfect for visitors of all ages and runs special events throughout the year.

While you don’t need to book, we’d recommend it – particularly during peak times, or when you’re travelling in a larger group.

The Oceanarium
Located right at the seafront, Bournemouth’s Oceanarium is an incredibly popular destination throughout the year. With countless creatures ranging from clownfish to Humboldt penguins, you don’t need to be a young one to feel as though you’ve been fully immersed in a world under the waves.

Dorset has a special place in any visitor’s heart. From the peace and seclusion of its villages to the vibrancy of its larger towns and cities, we’re always excited to help take any mini-break, family holiday, or big celebration in Dorset from vision to reality.