In comparison to the holiday havens of Devon and Cornwall, Dorset is often criminally overlooked. This is astounding when you see the acres of golden coastline, including the magnificent Jurassic Coast; a UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs across most of the county. Fossil hunting will keep children busy, if you can tear them away from building sandcastles, while hikers will love the cliff-top walks.
At Lodge Holidays, our friendly team will find you the perfect Dorset getaway. For a luxurious holiday, choose one of our holiday homes with a swimming pool. We also have dog-friendly holiday cottages, large lodges in holiday parks for bigger groups, or quirky log cabins with a hot tub for a romantic stay. And with our price guarantee, you don’t need to worry about shopping around for the best luxury lodges on the market.
Dorset offers miles of wonderful coastal scenery. Geological landmarks such as Durdle Door and Harry’s Rocks are a must-see, and colourful harbour towns such as Weymouth and Swanage make for excellent bases to explore. But don’t discount Dorset’s miles of inland countryside and historical estates. Dorchester in particular looks like it has been plucked from a film set.
Dorset Lyme Regis
Dorset Lyme Regis
Best for: Jane Austen location spotting
Despite its small size, Lyme’s popularity is only growing. With a village community feel, a picturesque harbour and an artsy town centre, it’s a wonderful base for a holiday. Jane Austen loved her holidays in Lyme Regis and the town’s old stone pier, named The Cobb, plays an important role in her final novel, Persuasion.
Best for: Boat trips along the coast
Poole’s famous harbour is the second largest in the world. On a calm day, you’ll see paddle boarders pottering around amid the fishing boats, as well as bird-watching cruises and day tripper ferries to Guernsey. The town itself has a fascinating historic centre, with some buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Best for: Walks along the Jurassic Coast
It was Mad King George who first put Weymouth on the map, back in the 1700s. He would take to the waters in his iconic Royal Bathing Machine to cure his ‘madness’. Fast forward over 200 years and Weymouth’s popularity is still going strong, due in part to it’s first-class sandy beach and photogenic Georgian buildings.
Best for: Listed buildings and country estates
As Thomas Hardy’s birthplace, you’d expect nothing less than the quintessential Dorset countryside that surrounds Dorchester. Visit the 15th century Athelhampton House and Gardens for a trip back to Tudor times or see the famous white horse carved into the hillside at Osmington.
Best for: Seeing real life dinosaur footprints
More than 100 dinosaur prints are preserved in rock at a site near Swanage - a tangible reminder of how the Jurassic Coast got its name. Aside from geological interest, Swanage itself is a real Victorian seaside town with a lively atmosphere, excellent food and plenty of active adventures available from its bay.
Location: Lyme Regis
Walk length: 12 miles as a loop, five miles one-way
This stretch of Jurassic Coast from Lyme Regis to Seatown is one of the best for fossil hunting. There are steep sections both up and down, but views such as the one from Golden Cap (the highest point on the Dorset coast) are a fitting reward for the intrepid hiker.
Walk length: One mile
Brownsea Island, owned by the National Trust, is one of the best places in the UK to spot red squirrels. This Brownsea Island Wildlife Walk is a good start, taking you through the pine woodland that they call home.
Walk length: 13 miles
Chesil Beach is the starting point of this Isle of Portland Circular walk, linking the ‘island’ to the mainland by a shingle strip. The Portland Bill lighthouse is a particular highlight - in season it's possible to climb the 153 steps for incredible sea views.
Walk length: Three miles
Most people undertaking this walk in Cerne Abbas will have one main aim - to see the famous Giant of Cerne Abbas in all his (naked) glory. This enormous chalk drawing is a mystery - no one knows how or when it was created.
Walk length: Three and a half miles
From the endpoint of the Old Harry Rocks walk you’ll catch sight of ‘Old Harry’ - the enormous chalk stack that will surely one day topple into the ocean. Take a picnic for lunch with a view or grab a bite to eat at the charming village of Studland.
Location: Lyme Regis
Best for: Fossil hunting
While Lyme Regis does have a good sandy beach (Front Beach), the majority are shingle or pebble. However, as one of the UK’s best fossil hunting locations, it’s definitely worth a trip to Monmouth Beach, in search of ammonites.
Best for: Caribbean-esque golden sands
Award-winning Sandbanks Beach is one of those dreamy holiday spots that give you seriously Mediterranean vibes. With azure waters, watersports available and a children’s play area, Sandbanks is an ideal option for all kinds of groups.
Best for: Long walks along the shingle coast
Perhaps most famously the setting of Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name, Chesil Beach isn’t your typical sun, sea and sand option. Wild, windswept and rugged, this dramatic 18-mile stretch of shingle is ideal for walkers and wildlife spotters.
Best for: Hiring a pedalo to explore the coast
The area of Studland Bay benefits from a number of wonderful sandy beaches, all managed by the National Trust. Knoll Beach is a popular family choice, due to its safe waters and range of activities available, such as pedalo, kayak and SUP hire.
Best for: Views of the famous limestone arch, Durdle Door
Durdle Door is one of the closest beaches to Dorchester, and certainly one of Dorset’s most well-known landmarks. The shingle beach and turquoise waters that curve gently around the Durdle Door arch are extremely pretty on a bright summer’s day.