Dorset – Thomas Hardy country
Dorset offers the 'best of England' - delightful rolling countryside, World Heritage coastline, pretty villages, historic market towns, colourful events and attractions and quality accommodation.
“Dorset is a truly beautiful area. It’s got the best of everything. Wonderful countryside and stunning coast.”
Sarah, south London
Famous as the setting for Thomas Hardy’s novels, the county will be forever associated with the author of Tess of the d’Ubervilles. But you’ll find Dorset’s history stretches way back – ancient fossils await discovery at the Jurassic Coast , crooked thatched cottages dot sleepy villages and Iron Age remains peep from beneath dense forest and wild flowers.
Whether you’re looking for traditional seaside pleasures at Weymouth or Bournemouth or unique attractions like the Tank Museum , the fossil-strewn Jurassic Coast or the naughty, naked Cerne Abbas Giant , you’ll find Dorset packed with things to see and do. For a full run-down of top attractions check out Visit Dorset.
With Weymouth and Portland set to host the Olympic sailing events in 2012, Dorset is the place to experience sailing, windsurfing and other watersports. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at kitesurfing or wakeboarding? For something a little more relaxing take a walk along the gloriously scenic South West Coast Path or a bit of fishing. For all the great fishing tips in the area, try the Get Hooked website.
Top daytime must-do's
Top night time must-do's
Hit the beach at Bournemouth and surf on Europe’s first artificial reef
Head to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage and try his homegrown food.
Scour the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site for primeval fossils
Take in a film, bowl or go ice skating at Tower Park in Poole
Learn to sail in Poole Harbour, one of the largest and shallowest natural harbours in the world
Find the perfect Dorset hotel or guesthouse with our accommodation search
Explore Thomas Hardy’s Dorset in Dorchester .
Sample the award-winning ale from the Dorset Brewing Company in Weymouth
Wander amid the ruins of Corfe Castle , one of the most evocative ruins in Britain
Have a night on the town in Bournemouth’s pubs, bars and clubs
With fertile seas, verdant pasture and a warm climate, Dorset produces delicious food including some unique local specialities. Visit the Eat Dorset Food Fair in the autumn to test the best, eat in traditional pubs or try the excellent restaurants in Weymouth and Bournemouth.
Country pubs or the bright lights of Bournemouth's clubs – Dorset has a great range of night-time treats to suit all comers. Try the restored Brewers Quay in Weymouth for pubs and restaurants or Bournemouth for clubs and cocktails.
To make your trip to Dorset easier, you can buy tickets to attractions, travel passes, and much more at our online shop, and avoid the queues! For more great offers, go to VisitBritain Shop .