The Best Things to Do in Dorset on Holiday
Ghosts, sea stacks and cute cottages await in this gorgeous part of England
There’s a good chance that you’ve already enjoyed much of what Dorset has to offer. A perennially popular UK holiday spot, its beaches, natural wonders and English charm is second to none. There are so many great things to do in Dorset, and here at Plum Guide, we've put our expert heads together and curated this guide to outline the best of them just for you. So read this list and make the decision on how to spend your time here that little bit easier.
Take a trip to Tyneham Ghost Village
For a bit of spooky history, Tyneham Ghost Village is worth seeing. Until 1943, this was a normal village, bustling with life. Then it was taken over by the military for what was supposed to be a 28 day training period, on the orders of Winston Churchill, in preparation for D-Day. But the villagers were never allowed to return, and even today Tyneham is under military control in the middle of an area which is used for training with live ammunition. The village is only open at certain times of year and some of it has been destroyed. The school and church, however, are well-preserved, and offer a chance to see life exactly as it was in 1943. Just be prepared for your kids to start asking you about what it was like to grow up during the war - as if you needed any reminder that they think you’re old.
Visit the famous Old Harry Rocks
One of the area’s most famous sights, Old Harry Rocks should definitely be on your list of things to do in Dorset. Formed over millions of years by the erosion of the sea, this group of impressive sea stacks are approximately 65 million years old. And you thought that you were getting slightly grey around the edges. Supposedly, their name comes from the legend that the devil used to use the rocks to nap on (Old Harry being a euphemism for the devil). Just don’t threaten to leave your kids on one of the stacks when they’re being so cheeky you could swear they were channeling the devil himself.
Head out to Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis is one of Dorset’s most popular towns - and for good reason. Nicknamed the ‘pearl of Dorset’, it’s one of the region's fossil-hunting hotspots, with the town’s beaches and cliffs dating from the Jurassic era. There’s even a yearly Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. The kids will love hunting for fossils on the beach (when they're not practising TikTok dances). The food and shopping scene here is also top-notch, if you’re missing the amenities of the city. We’re big on the ice cream at Frank & Beans. Renowned foodie hotspot River Cottage HQ is also nearby if you want to learn how to make something to impress people at your next dinner party.
Wander round Hardy’s Cottage
This one's for all you tortured literary geniuses (we know you’re out there, even if you now have a sensible day job). This cob and thatch cottage was where writer Thomas Hardy was born. Built by his great grandfather in Higher Bockhampton in 1840, it’s a quintessential English country cottage. With a garden to explore, you can make a very pleasant afternoon of poking around in Hardy’s house and bedroom (where he wrote Far From The Madding Crowd as well as others), which have been left exactly as it was when he and his family lived there. If your family will tolerate you dragging them to another National Trust property (you can always bribe them with a cream tea) you can also visit nearby Max Gate, the house Hardy designed and lived in on the outskirts of Dorchester.
Explore Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
Near chi-chi town of Poole is the famous landmark of Durdle Door. As one of the area’s most photogenic landmarks, it should be top on your list of things to do in Dorset. Found on the Lulworth Estate, Durdle Door is a huge limestone arch that has formed naturally due to erosion from the sea. This is one of our favourite spots to go for a sunset picnic. You can park your car and enjoy a walk over the equally photogenic Lulworth Cove before settling in for some evening rosé and posh crisps while the sun sinks over the horizon. Then when you’re home, you can boast to your friends about the fact that you’ve seen England’s first designated (in 2001) natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in the same category as the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef.