Dorset Travel Guide

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset - © Christophe Finot

Introduction & Overview

The Dorset Travel Guide looks at the local attractions, places of interest and entertainment for visitors and contains useful tourist information for travellers. The area guide includes travel information on local entertainment, sites, transport and travel, events, facts & figures, maps and accommodation.

The scenic county of Dorset is located on England's south coast. Dorset has made great strides in recent years and attracts increasing numbers of visitors each year, famous for its great beaches, scenery and surf, the county offers something for most visitors.

Dorset is known for being Thomas Hardy country, the famous writer is among Dorset's most famous sons. Hardy is thought to have drawn inspiration from the county and used some of the places where he lived and worked in his novels.

There is much to like about the Dorset coast, the port of Lyme Regis, is one such example with its steep Georgian streets above Lyme Bay. Walkers have plenty of places to discover and enjoy in this scenic county.

Weymouth due to its location has always had strategic importance; it has long been a popular port and is a popular seaside resort too. King George III bathed here and popularised it as a seaside resort.

Perhaps the most impressive of the local beaches is Lulworth Cove, a horseshoe bay that is surrounded by limestone cliffs; it makes for quite a view.

The Old Harbour is home to Deep Sea Adventure that is in a Victorian grain warehouse and covers all aspects sub marine exploration. The Timewalk exhibition in Brewer’s Quay allows visitors to walk through 600 of local Weybridge history.

Sherborne is located in the north of Dorset, 40 miles from Bournemouth. The town boasts a number of buildings built from the local gold stone. Sherborne boasts two castles, the old castle dates from the 12th century and is now a ruin. The town also has a well known public school.

To the north of Dorset is Blandford Forum; a market town that first gained prominence during the medieval period, its strategic position helped give it importance. Fires in the 18th century devastated the town with only the Old House and Ryves Almshouses standing.

The town was rebuilt and is known for its fine examples of architecture. Museums in the town include the Calvacade of Costume Museum and the Blandford Forum Museum in Bere’s Yard. The town features in the works of the famous local writer, Thomas Hardy.

Bournemouth is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the UK; located on the south coast in the east of Dorset. Once a small seaside village, Bournemouth grew rapidly after the advent of the railways in the 19th century becoming a favourite seaside resort for many summer visitors.

The town has continued to grow and is a regional centre for the service sector; it is a university town and has a prominent regional arts and cultural scene along with a thriving nightlife.

Visitors come to see the sandy beaches and experience one of the UK's greenest seaside resorts; there are a number of parks and gardens helping to make Bournemouth a pleasant open place. Bournemouth is referred to by some as the Garden City by the Sea due to its 2,000 acres of parkland and gardens.

There are several miles of golden sandy beaches, parklands, plenty of entertainment with restaurants, bars and clubs and a vibrant nightlife.

Bournemouth attractions include the Oceanarium at West Beach and the Russel-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum specialising in Victorian works housed inside a Grade II listed building. St Peter’s Church dates back to the 19th century; the church is known for its impressive gothic revival architecture and is a Grade I listed building.

Bournemouth Pier is one of the best known attractions in the town with amusement arcades, theatre and entertainment where visitors can enjoy traditional seaside attractions.

The Bournemouth Balloon is a helium large balloon with a passenger gondola that rises up to 120 metres giving visitors some wonderful views of the town and surrounding areas. There is plenty to see and do here and makes for a good place to take the whole family.

The historic town of Poole is located 5 miles from Bournemouth on the north east shore of a stunning natural harbour that is close to 95 miles from end-to-end, making it one of the largest in the world.

History fans can go to the quayside to learn more about the town's history and heritage at the Waterfront Museum. Horticulture enthusiasts can visit the gardens located close by at Compton Acres, here there are a number of different gardens that each have a different international inspired theme.

There are a number of blue flag award winning beaches in the area where visitors can enjoy the best of the Dorset seaside and coastline. There are plenty of water-sports facilities in the area including sailing, windsurfing and fishing trips.

There are a number of stylish beachside eateries, cafes, bars and restaurants where visitors can eat and drink overlooking the scenic harbour and coastline. Poole has a lively nightlife with a choice of entertainment on offer, the Lighthouse Theatre include a number of exhibitions and live shows. There are a choice of restaurants, bars and clubs in Old Town Poole.

Dorchester is the county town of Dorset located just under 30 miles from Bournemouth. The historic market town is located on the banks of the river Frome and well known for being synonymous with author Thomas Hardy.

The town has a long history dating back to prehistoric times; Roman influence can be seen in the town walls. Once known for textile trading and manufacturing industry in the town

The market town still holds a market on Wednesdays, shopping facilities and amenities include well known high street names along with smaller independent retailers. Local attractions include Max Gate, a historic cottage former home of Thomas Hardy, the Dinosaur Museum, Teddy Bear Museum, Terracotta Warrior Museums and The Keep Military Museum.

The Dorset County Museum is located in the town showcasing the history and environment of the county. There are a choice of eateries, friendly pubs and restaurants offering a choice of cuisines.

The South West Coast Path starts in Poole and ends in Lyme Regis, it was named the Jurassic Coast because of the geological features and fossils in the area. It is arguably among the most stunning coastline in the whole of the UK.

The coast path offers walkers wonderful coastline walking opportunities, where you can see the scenery up close, as well as the wildlife and take in the heritage and atmosphere of the region.

The Dorset & East Devon Coast has been part of the world heritage site since 2001 and offers visitors with some stunning natural scenery to see along with picturesque towns and villages along the 95 mile coastal route.

Dorset is a county with plenty of attractions from castles and stately homes, to wonderful sandy beaches, stunning scenery and coastline, from historical towns and villages filled with character to a vibrant nightlife, there is much more to Dorset than meets the eye.

For visitors it is connected by road and rail links particularly for those from the south of the UK, there is also an airport at Bournemouth for those that would need to fly in.

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