There are no cities in Dorset.
Dorset is mostly rural, with a few large towns and many small villages. The county has a variety of landscapes, from steep chalk hills and wide clay valleys full of small dairy farms to the 50 mile Jurassic Coast world heritage site, popular with tourists and important to science.
The only major airport in Dorset is Bournemouth International Airport, which does flights to many cities in Europe. Bristol airport, 50 miles to the north, has a wider selection, including New York. Southampton airport, 20 miles to the east, has a good selection of European destinations also. London is just over 100 miles east.
Dorchester, Poole, Bournemouth, Weymouth and on a separate line Sherborne and Gillingham are connected directly to London, approximately 2 hours. Dorchester, Weymouth and Sherborne are connected to Bristol and Bath, about 1 1/2 hours away.
The A303 is the main route from London into the north of the county (and has Stonehenge half-way). The south of the county is connected to London by the M3 and M27, and to the Channel Tunnel by the M27 and A27. Both routes carry on into Devon and Cornwall. The A36 and A37 connect to Bath and Bristol.
The A35 between Dorchester and Bridport has spectacular views over the local countryside, as too does the coastal road (B3157) between Weymouth and Bridport. Both are probably most dramatic at sunset (driving towards Bridport) but are amazing at any time.
Driving is often the most practical (and sometimes only) way of reaching large parts of the county. Visitors unused to driving in the British countryside should be aware that many of the rural B-roads are very narrow, so driving at speed is inadvisable in case you suddenly meet a tractor coming in the opposite direction. Most smaller roads will require you to reverse back to a passing place in order for someone to pass you. Remember to thank the other driver if they give way to you.
Much of Dorset is very rural, and though there are many bus routes, many do not have regular services and often may only run on market and pension days. The biggest bus company is called Wilts & Dorset which runs services to most of the major towns. Their main office is at Poole Bus Station, with satellite offices in some of the larger towns.
Dorset's rural nature makes walking from town to town impractical and time consuming. That said, the beautiful landscapes make any walking you do well worth the effort, and there are plenty of public footpaths to help you get out and explore the countryside.
If you are an outdoors person, Dorset is a very rewarding place to visit. Walking just a few miles in any direction generally offers you beautiful scenery and historic sites. If you feel the need to get further out, cycling is always a good option, so long as you are prepared to deal with some steep hills and the possibility of punctures.
If you are near Chesil Beach, try your hand at some Mackerel fishing, on a nice evening the beach can be packed end to end with families going to catch their supper.
Dorset has a number of local specialities including apple cake, cream teas and blue Vinney cheese.
Some of the best local food comes from tea shops, cafes, fish and chip shops and pubs, Not all pubs serve food all of the time, and the quality varies considerably. The proximity to the coast means that fresh, quality, seafood is easy to come buy if you know where to look, much of it being cause that morning. If you prefer international or exotic flavours, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth will provide you with a good choice.
There are many breweries in Dorset.
Hall & Woodhouse of Blandford is the largest, brewing Badger Best Bitter, Tanglefoot and a variety of flavoured beers. Palmers of Bridport is the biggest brewers in the West of the County. Each of these breweries has a large number of tied pubs within the county.
Other local beers often found in Dorset pubs come from Ringwood Brewery, Fullers, Marstons and Morland, along with the well known international lagers.
It is possible to find locally made cider and Scrumpy in some of the rural areas.
There is a vineyard at Horton north of Wimborne, but wine production in the county is low at best.
In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard etc. To contact the police non-emergency number (for example to report a theft) call 101. For non-emergency medical advice, ask in a local pharmacy or call NHS 111.
Dorset is one of the UK's safest counties in terms of crime, which tends to revolve around either farm thefts or drunken fights in urban areas and so is very unlikely to affect tourists. The main dangers come from farm animals or rough seas. If walking through a field of cows, be prepared to let your dog go, rather than stick with it in the event of a stampede. It is also inadvisable to go digging around for fossils at the base of cliffs, some of them are rather unstable.
Dorset contains some beautiful and unspoiled landscapes, help keep it this way; take only memories and leave only footprints. If out walking, leave gates as you find them and ensure your dog does not worry farm animals. Even the most tame family pet can seriously injure a sheep or lambs.