29 May 2024

A guide to planning your Dorset holiday

Whether you like your holidays relaxed and slow-paced, filled with literature, history and lots of lovely landscape to look at, or fast-paced and adrenalin-fuelled, Dorset is an ideal break for history buffs and thrill-seekers alike.

The county of Dorset is the quintessential rural English idyll. No holiday in Dorset would be complete without fossil hunting at the world famous Chesil beach, visiting The Cobb pier at Lyme Regis, and of course, experiencing the landscape of Thomas Hardy’s novels.

Dorset’s spectacular Jurassic Coast encompasses every kind of coastal wonder – sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, sand dunes, natural rock arches (a visit to the gravity-defying arch at Durdle Door is a must), rare wildlife and fossils galore (Lyme Regis, Chesil and Charmouth beaches top the list for ammonite seekers)… You could happily spend an entire holiday never straying far from Dorset’s shores, but leave time to explore Dorset’s inland charms as well.

Dorset holiday

Idyllic hamlets with timber-beamed country inns and chattering streams set against a backdrop of rolling green hills make Dorset the perfect antidote to the city and an excellent choice for a rural getaway. It’s easy to see why the Dorset Downs are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A walk up Eggardon Hill, crowned with the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort, affords king-of-the-castle-views across the Dorset countryside and out over the Lyme Bay coast. Visit in September to see the skies over Eggardon Hill alive with colour at the annual Eggardon Kite Festival.

There is plenty to see and do in Dorset all year round. History lovers will be spoilt for choice. Dorset is home to the iconic Corfe Castle ruins, Maiden Castle (Britain’s largest and most complex Iron Age hill fort) and ancient towns such as Dorchester where Roman, Medieval, Tudor and Georgian buildings jostle for space.

But Dorset is not all about the past. There are plenty of activities rooted very much in the 21st Century to keep the most adventurous of souls entertained. On land, zorbing, llama trekking, rock climbing and jeep safaris are guaranteed to get the blood pumping. There are ample opportunities for getting out on the water in Dorset too, and sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing will get the pulse racing. You can even experience Dorset from the air, a hot air balloon ride over one of the picturesque towns of Sherborne, Blandford Forum or Shaftesbury will give you a buzzard’s-eye view of the rolling landscape so vividly described in Hardy’s novels.

There are endless places to visit with the family, including the Dinosaur Museum and Burngate Stone Carving Centre, where you can try your hand at stone carving, making Dorset a firm holiday favourite with the kids too. With a holiday home in Dorset as your base, you’ll never be far from a slice of history, or a slice of the action.