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Nine Must Visit Dorset Places For Tourists

Nine Must Visit Dorset Places For Tourists


East Dorset



The Pleasure Pier in Bournemouth just one reason to visit Dorset.

As the largest town in the county many assume it is the county town.  However, that is Dorchester. In fact up until the mid 1970’s the town was in Hampshire! Bournemouth mainly started to develop as late as in the Victorian era.  But Dorchester dates back to the Roman period and before.

funicular Dorset

One of the funiculars that operate up the cliffs in Bournemouth.

The town in the pines as it’s called was looked upon as an easy to reach coastal town. Having many life-giving properties including the seawater bathing. Its 7-mile long beach running from Sandbanks in the West to Hengisbury Head in the East is still its biggest draw.

Sandbanks Dorset

Sandbanks and its ferry at the very western end of Bournemouth beach.

With of course a pier and two funiculars one either side of it to whisk weary visitors to the top of the cliffs.  Thus, avoiding the many steps that otherwise would take you there. With large entertaining facilities close to the beach summer shows are popular.  With the BIC, Bournemouth International  Centre has many world famous acts, shows and bands performing there all year round.

Central Dorset


Know of course for its chalk hillside carving of a standing giant 55 metres high.  Plus with one item also standing! (11 metres long).

Cerne Giant Dorset

The Cerne Giant carved in the chalk hill above Cerne Abbas.

When and who carved it is still greatly debated by science, archeologists.   Those with an interest in folklore or more natural pagan style interests claim its very ancient.

Most years Wessex Morris  group every 1st of May finds them dancing at the top as the sun rises. The pretty village had a former Benedictine Abbey at its heart.  Sadly, now that’s long gone but a distinctive medieval half-timbered terrace of houses form part of the street that leads to it. It is well known on the Dorset tourist trail.

Must Visit Dorset For Some Of The Best Views In The UK


Sometimes called the Royal Manor of Portland or the Island of Portland or the Romans knew it as ‘The Isle of Slingers’! Their troops faced being attacked as they approached the island.  Whilst being pelted from the cliffs high above them seems to be a possible explanation.

Portland view Dorset

Aerial view of the Isle of Portland.

Anyone who has visited London and seen the sights there will have seen what Portland is famous for…its stone. Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Bank of England and numerous well known shopping streets have hundreds of building constructed of Portland Stone.

Portland Bill

Portland Bill with lighthouse and cafe, perfect to visit Dorset for fresh air and food.

The easy to carve limestone that holds great detail is much desired. You can even try to do some carving yourself on the ‘Island’. Tout Quarry has works displayed in the open in this former quarry.

Work one by many artists including Sir Anthony Gormley’s ‘Falling Man’.

Portland stone

Quarried stone from Portland is full of rare fossils.

Go to the tip of Portland and its famous lighthouse.  Take tea or a meal at the nearby café and watch ships trying to deal with ‘The Race’ and the ‘Shambles Bank’.  These shipping hazards that helps to explains why the light is there. Attached to mainland Dorset by Chesil Beach rare terns nest on the stony beach.  Plus, it’s a great area for rare maritime and colourful plants.

South East Dorset


A mixture of possibilities here for any visitor.  The stunning bay popular with surfers is right on the South West Coast Path.  The whole area is overlooked by the Clavell Tower a round folly that just a few years ago was on the very edge of the cliffs.

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay even has an onshore oil pumping station one of the few in the UK.

 The owners The Land Mark Trust moved it several metres inland and re-erected and totally refurbished inside and out. You can now rent the tower from the trust as a holiday home!

Clavell Tower

The Clavell Tower is available as a holiday home through the Landmark Trust.

What you may not expect at Kimmeridge on the other side of the bay. It is to see a working ‘nodding donkey’ oil well.  Pumping 24 hours a day drawing oil from reserves from deep below.  All part of the Wych Farm oil field. Walking further west takes you into the army ranges and this route is not possible when the Army is using its gunnery and tank firing ranges.

North Dorset


Here this Saxon hilltop town once produced coinage for the whole nation hence ‘Gold Hill’ that iconic steep street made famous by a TV bread advert that visitors head for first.

Gold Hill

Gold Hill at Shaftesbury famous in a TV advert and a well known image of Dorset.

However, Shaftesbury has for one reason or another been on the tourist trail for hundreds of years. Religious devotees had the town on their route because of the relics of St Edward the Martyr that was brought there in 981. King Canute died in the town and Edward The Confessor licensed a third mint.


The hilltop town of Shaftesbury in Dorset.

As well as coins Dorset was a centre for button production and the town had many workers producing tiny hand crafted fasteners and by the middle Victorian period machine made buttons put paid to this skill but the town’s museum at the top of Gold Hill has a good display of those and many rural artifacts.

South Dorset


There is hardly any publicity material emanating from the County that does not include either Lulworth Cove or its next-door neighbour Durdle Door.

Visit Dorset and Durdle Door

Durdle Door arch from the sea an iconic view of the Dorset coast.

This large chalk arch worn away by the action of the sea has left this coastal landmark for all to see. There are boat trips at times to see it from the seaward side but most view it from the land.


It is possible to park quite close but a down and then return uphill walk for several hundred yards is required to get the best view.

Durdle Door.

Durdle Door from the air part of the Lulworth estate

Surprising this same large estate at Lulworth hosts a huge family orientated musical event every summer called Camp Bestival. This 3-day festival is held in the grounds of Lulworth Castle with a giant music stage and other performance and arts venues dotted around the area.

Camp Bestival

Camp Bestival a 3 day family music festival held around the time of  the summer holidays.

Camping is the preferred way of many families who can spend the whole time there. But day visits are possible many leading pop bands get showcased there and performers such as Kaiser Chiefs, Blondie, Madness, Chuck Berry, Bob Geldof, Level 42 have all played the main Castle Stage.

Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson one of many to play at Camp Bestival.

 In recent years Fat Boy Slim, Katy B, KT Tunstall and Tears for Fears were on the main stage along with around 30  other acts over the 3 days that the festival runs.

Military Dorset


Is it one for the boys? Or is that old outdated tosh. Anyway if tanks float your boat then this venue is going to be able to float it so high you will have to tie it down! One of the largest collection of tanks in the world is to be found here.

Bovington Tank Museum

Bovington Tank Museum has the largest collection of tanks in the World.

Rare examples of these military fighting marvels are to be not only seen but often heard too! As a vast amount of the collection are put through their paces in the giant arena next door to the museum itself.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt pictured as he launched his film ‘Fury’ at the  Tank Museum .

For example a working German Tiger tank the only such one in the world is on show. Tank Fest is held every year too. Vehicles from all over Europe and the world are held here from giant modern Challenger Mk II tanks to the very first that were used in 1916 in the First World War.

All shapes and sizes of fighting vehicles are on display as well.

Tiger Tank

The only working version of a German Tiger Tank in the world at the museum.

You could even be lucky and bump into military enthusiast and film star Brad Pitt who launched his Hollywood film ‘Fury’ at the museum. However if not there is much to see and being undercover it is a good place on those rare days when it does rain in Dorset.

South West Dorset


The Dorset coastal town with probably the best beach in the county with its long curving soft sandy beach with a backdrop of Regency buildings makes Weymouth enviable to have such an asset.

Visit great beaches

Weymouth came forth in a UK best beach award.

Here it is also probably the safest in the County for sea bathing, as at times you can walk out for several hundred metres and still be at knee high depth of water! With a delightful and colourful fishing harbour, the easy to walk around town centre offers much to its visitors.

Visit Dorset Seafood Festival

Dorset Seafood Festival

The pretty harbour is a focus for the largest free seafood festival in the country in early July. The sand provides a great venue in late July for the UK Tour Beach Volleyball to visit Dorset this classic competition when several hundred of the UK’s and other nation’s players hit the beach for a 3 day event.

Must Visit Dorset Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach Volleyball Classic part of the UK tour.

The beach also gets used out of season for a motorcycle-racing weekend in February where the bikes jump over large mounds of sand specially constructed for the races.

Its also the place in the UK that George III made famous for sea bathing and on a somewhat dirtier note where the Black Death was brought into the country from Europe!

West Dorset


Made famous by author John Fowles in the book and film of ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman” the Cobb or harbour wall is iconic to the area and known around the world.

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis a family resort in the far west of Dorset.

 The home of modern fossil hunting and collecting thanks to the work of Mary Anning back in the early 19th century and her important finds of Jurassic period fossils she unearthed around Lyme Regis.

Must Visit Dorset The Cobb

The famous Cobb where many tourists walk and enjoy the views from

 This family resort ideal for water sports, fishing and swimming.

The narrow lanes that run up from the seaward facing side of Lyme are nice to explore.

Must Visit Dorset Water Mill

Working water mill in Lyme Regis

And give you different views of this small but bustling community spirited town. With its own working water mill producing flour.

Geoff Moore

Award winning blogger and travel writer/photographer, I have travelled the world in one way or another for 30 years. I am a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers for over 13 years. In the ever-changing world of publishing and online media it now requires that I have media skills across all areas. That now also includes video production. My travel images appear in magazines, newspapers and publications all over the world I am now blogging about all aspects of travel.

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  1. Thanks for including Cerne Abbas! It’s also worth mentioning that Cerne has the largest number of pubs per resident 🙂
    Visitors should check out Minterne gardens too – just five minutes north of Cerne. World renowned rhododendrons and Himalayan gardens.

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