Things to do in Dorset

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From the majestic beauty of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast to the stunning rolling hills of its countryside, there is plenty to explore and experience in this stunning part of the world

Whether you are a nature-lover, history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Dorset has something for everyone. The county is also home to a variety of activities and attractions, from award-winning stately homes to tank museums, and from historic castles to wildlife reserves. Here we take a look at some of the best things to do…

And if you’re visiting the south coast, why not base yourself at the Bournemouth West Cliff Hotel? This lovely spa hotel in central Bournemouth has two pools and is within easy reach of the town’s renowned sandy beaches. Plus, Boundless members can save up to 20% on their stay. To find out more, visit Boundless Membership.

Visit Brownsea Island Nature Reserve 

brownsea nature reserve

Brownsea Island Nature Reserve is a wildlife-rich area that’s home to some of the most spectacular landscapes, flora and fauna in the British Isles. A haven for birdwatchers, this island reserve is home to over 200 species including the rare red-billed chough and the bittern. With many footpaths and trails to explore, offering stunning views of the surrounding area, along with a variety of habitats, including heathland, woodlands, wetlands and grasslands you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave. 

Explore Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

durdle door

Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are two of the most stunning natural attractions in England. Located in the Purbeck region of Dorset, the two sites offer some of the most spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast. The cove is a beautiful natural harbour with a pretty seaside town beside it, while the Durdle Door is a natural rock archway that has been hewn over the course of thousands of years by coastal erosion. Both sites offer stunning views, beautiful wildlife and plenty of opportunities for exploration; don’t forget your hiking boots! 

Find some culture at Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum

Russell Cotes Art Gallery

The Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in art, culture, and history. Located on the seaside promenade of Bournemouth, the museum holds a unique collection of artefacts from around the world. This must-visit institution contains one of the most extensive collections of fine art in the county and has been open to the public since 1901. As well as an array of artwork, the museum is also home to interactive displays and activities ideal for kids, as well as a cafe and gift shop. 

Head to Corfe Castle

corfe castle

Corfe Castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dorset. An impressive structure that dates back to the 11th century, the castle stands proudly on a hill overlooking the village of Corfe. With a rich and fascinating history, steeped in legend and mystery this idyllic ruin is a must-visit in the area. Visitors can explore the castle’s grounds, discover its past and take in its arresting architecture. Plus it’s surrounded by beautiful countryside, with the nearby rolling hills of Purbeck offering spectacular views and some excellent hikes. 

Go wild at Monkey World

monkey world

A sanctuary for over 250 rescued primates, including apes, monkeys, and the world’s largest group of rescued chimpanzees, Monkey World is the perfect place to gain an appreciation for our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Here, you can learn about the primates, their natural habitats, and the work the sanctuary does in rescuing and rehabilitating them. You can even interact with some of the primates, like feeding them bananas and learning about their behaviour in the wild. 

Stroll along Chesil Beach

chesil beach

Well-known for its beautiful scenery and unique geology, Chesil beach is a stunning stretch of Jurassic Coastline. This sweeping beach is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including rare species of seabirds, seals, and other marine life. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities including birdwatching, fishing, and (weather permitting) swimming. 

Soak up the sun (or rain) at Weymouth Harbour

weymouth harbour

A stunningly beautiful historic inlet situated close to Chesil Beach, Weymouth Harbour is an ideal destination for a day trip in Dorset. From the harbour you can take a boat ride around the bay, explore the town and take in the stunning views of the English Channel. Plus, with a variety of independent local shops, cafes and restaurants to explore, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you visit whatever the weather.

Experience the Tank Museum

bovington tank museum

If you’re interested in the history of tanks and armoured vehicles, from the First World War to the present day, look no further than a visit to Bovington Tank Museum. Established in 1947, this Dorset institution offers you the chance to get up close and personal (and even climb inside) some of the most formidable tanks of the last century. The museum also offers a range of interactive activities, such as driving simulators and remote-controlled tanks.

See the Cerne Abbas Giant

cerne abbas giant

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a unique chalk figure cut into a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas. Believed to date from the late Iron Age or early Medieval period, the giant is one of Britain's most famous hill figures. There are a number of theories about who or what the figure represents, but it is undoubtedly an impressive sight, that’s well worth a visit. Not only is the figure itself a marvel, but the area around it is full of history as well, with Cerne Abbey just around the corner, and the nearby Cerne Valley and the River Frome providing a stunning backdrop.

Experience history at Kingston Lacy

kingston lacy

A stunning National Trust property, Kingston Lacy offers visitors an abundance of activities and attractions for a day out in Dorset. The estate is home to the impressive stately home itself, a large formal garden, a family-friendly adventure playground, a tranquil lake, and a network of charming woodland walks. Visitors to Kingston Lacy can also explore the nearby town of Wimborne Minster which has a fascinating history all of its own.

Stay at Bournemouth West Cliff Spa Hotel

Couple dining at Bournemouth West Cliff Hotel

If you’re planning a visit to Dorset, Bournemouth West Cliff Hotel is the ideal base from which to explore the county. Situated in the heart of Bournemouth, it is just a short walk away from the beach and the vibrant town centre. The hotel offers a variety of amenities, including the excellent restaurant and bar, as well as a spa, two swimming pools and fitness centre. Its convenient location makes it easy to explore the surrounding area, with a variety of attractions, shops, and restaurants nearby. And don’t forget, as a Boundless member you can enjoy a 20% discount on your room rate. Click here to find out more…

Do more with Boundless

Working or retired from the public sector or civil service? Get free entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands. Plus, dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more! To find out more, visit Boundless membership

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