Guide to Dorset for Cottage Breaks

Dorset Jurassic CoastWondering what Dorset has to offer for cottage holidays?  From the unspoilt countryside of the Blackmore Vale and Cranborne Chase, to charming coastal towns like Weymouth and Lyme Regis, read our guide on what Dorset offers for self-catering breaks.


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What are Dorset's Best Attractions?

Dorset has lots to offer, from pretty countryside to a stunning coastline that includes the renowned Jurassic Coast, as well as an array of historic sites and charming towns to visit. Whether you want to enjoy walks in the countryside, watersports by the coast, or relaxing chilled out days visiting tourist attractions, Dorset has plenty to offer.  In summary, Dorset's best attractions include:

Discover Dorset’s Stunning Countryside on Holiday

Dorset is also known for its beautiful countryside views, from pretty villages and towns to majestic hills and grassy landscapes. Whether you’re looking to reconnect with nature or just after a scenic dog walk, Dorset’s natural sites will enchant you.   Some of Dorset’s best loved areas of countryside include the Cranborne Chase AONB, the Blackmore Vale AONB and the South Dorset Ridgeway.


Cranborne Chase Cranborne Chase AONB

As a designated AONB, Cranborne Chase is the perfect spot to visit for any nature lovers out there. Explore the rare chalk grasslands, the scientifically important ancient woodlands, and the chalk escarpments, it’s an idyllic spot!


Blackmore Vale 

Another of AONB, Blackmore Vale features stunning areas of unspoilt beauty, with a few settlements and agricultural areas. It’s the perfect place for a secluded escape away as you explore the streams and wildlife that all call Blackmore their home. 


The South Dorset Ridgeway 

For a walk that explores all the beauty of Dorset’s landscape, The South Dorset Ridgeway is unbeatable. You can explore the whole 17-mile route or choose from a number of shorter routes. Whatever you choose, you’ll be greeted by the unforgettable site of Dorset’s countryside. 


Discover Dorset's Coast with Beautiful Beaches, Iconic Durdle Door, the Jurassic Coast and Charming Seaside Towns

Dorset’s coast is idyllic and well-known as home to the unmissable Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site with its fossils and fascinating coastline. Enjoy the sites of towering, atmospheric cliffs, visiting iconic Durdle Door, gaze upon gorgeous ocean horizons as you wander beautiful beaches and discover charming coastal towns like Bournemouth, Lyme Regis and Weymouth.


Bournemouth Bournemouth Dorset

Experience the joy of high-energy watersports or relax in front of an iconic West End show after a relaxed wander down the coast. Bournemouth is complete with a fantastic selection of activities to indulge in and in the summer months you can bask on the beaches, or have a night out on the town! 



Durdle Door Durdle Door Dorset

There’s nowhere quite like Durdle door for some iconic views.  This fascinating naturally occurring limestone arch is a glorious spot in Lulworth and is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. This iconic arch is one of the most photographed spots in the West Country and is well worth a visit on any trip away to Dorset.



Lyme Regis Lyme Regis, Dorset

Fondly referred to as the ‘Pearl of Dorset’, the elegant seaside town of Lyme Regis is set into an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, giving this coastline its picturesque and glorious views. It’s also at the heart of the Jurassic coast, so any fossil lovers will be eager to explore its history at the Lyme Regis Museum and comb the beach for fossils!



Weymouth Weymouth, Dorset

A renowned beach destination, the coastal resort town of Weymouth is complete with golden sands and plenty of fantastic local pubs and eateries to enjoy. It’s an ideal beach to sit and relax on as you take in the scenic harbour and seaside views (so stunning it was even the backdrop for the sailing events at the 2012 Olympics!)



What Historical Tourist Attractions are there to discover in Dorset?

Historical Attractions to Discover in Dorset include:

Corfe Castle - a fascinating National Trust medieval fortress.

Maiden Castle - a hillfort just outside of Dorchester.

Cerne Abbas Giant - a fascinating giant figure carved in to the hillside near Cerne Abbas, believed to date back to the Iron Age or Roman times.



What Family Attractions are there to visit in Dorset?

If you are planning a trip to Dorset as a family, some of the county’s best known attractions include:

•    Dorset Adventure Park – located at Corfe Castle, where there is an inflatable outdoor water park, and a multi-obstacle assault course.

•    The Tank Museum with its collection of tanks and armoured vehicles.

•    Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre where you can see a variety of different chimps and monkeys.

•    Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park Aquarium.

•    Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park where there are children’s play areas, farm animals tractor rides and nature trails.



Discover some of the Best of Dorset on a Cottage Holiday

Whether you’re after a look around historic sites and literary connections as you explore Dorset’s culture, or looking for some local cuisine, there are plenty of places you won’t want to miss on your trip away. Venture around Corfe Castle and Maiden Castle to experience some of the glorious history of Dorset, or even explore Dorchester if you’re interested in literature, home to the Hardy monument and Hardy’s Cottage. Explore Bridport, a flourishing market town, or the medieval history of Poole, or spend time relaxing in the countryside or along the Jurassic coast. Whatever you’re looking for, Dorset is a beautiful place to spend your holiday! 


Page last reviewed on 12 October 2023
by Em Burr

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