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Dorset [4] is a county on the south coast of England, in the West Country.

Towns and villages

Map of Dorset



Other Destinations


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.

Dorset has notable lesbian and gay activity in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Other towns have small but developing gay communities. Bournemouth has an annual Pride event. Information on the gay community in Dorset is collated online at

Get in

By plane

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.

By train

Dorchester, Poole, Bournemouth, Weymouth and on a separate line Sherborne and Gillingham are connected directly to London, approximately 2 hours. Dorchester, Weymouth and Sherbourne are connected to Bristol and Bath, about 1 1/2 hours away.

By car

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.

By boat

There are ferries from Jersey, Guernsey, Cherbourg, France, to Poole and Weymouth run by Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries.

Get around

By bus

Much of Dorset is very rural, and though there are many bus routes, many do not have regular and often services, or may only run on market and pension days. The biggest bus company is called Wilts & Dorset. They run services to most of the major towns. Their main office is at Poole Bus Station, with satellite offices in some of the larger towns.

By VW Camper Van

Hire a classic VW van. A great way to explore the villages and beaches of the area. Freebird Campers


  • Shaftesbury - Community and Tourism website of the best place to visit in all of dorset
  • Corfe Castle - a National Trust site, an impressive ruined Norman castle
  • The Dorset and East Devon Coast, or Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site
  • Poole Harbour - the second largest natural harbour in the world (second only to Sydney harbour)
  • Brownsea Island near Poole - a National Trust site, famous for its large population of red squirrels, and as the birthplace of the Scout Movement
  • The Great Dorset Steam Fair near Blandford Forum - 600 acres of steam engines attended by over 200,000 visitors for a week in August/September each year. During the fair, the camping site becomes the largest community in the county!
  • The Cerne Abbas Giant - a giant figure carved into the side of a hill by removing turf to expose white chalk
  • The Isle of Portland and Portland Bill
  • Wimborne Minster - a big church in a small town
  • Studland Beach - a popular beach and beauty spot
  • Bovington Tank Museum a very interesting tank museum.
  • Swanage Steam Railway, Swanage, Dorset, England (Park at Norden Park and Ride station), [1]. daily April to October. Ride in authentic heritage carriages for 6 miles from Corfe Castle to the seaside resort of Swanage behind an original steam locomotive £9.
  • VW Camper Van, Mere, Dorset, [2]. Hire a classic VW van. A great way to explore the villages and beaches of the area.


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.

If you prefer international or exotic flavours the towns of Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth will provide you with a good choice.

  • Swanage Steam Railway, Swanage, Dorset, England (Park at Norden Park and Ride station), 01929 425800, [3]. daily April to October. A 6-mile ride in authentic heritage carriages behind an original steam locomotive between Corfe Castle and the seaside resort of Swanage. £9. (50.6461,-2.0614)


There are many breweries in Dorset. Hall & Woodhouse of Blandford are the largest brewing Badger Best Bitter, Tanglefoot and a variety of flavoured beers. Palmers of Bridport are 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's 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 volume at best.

Get out

Devon lies to the west, Somerset and Wiltshire to the north, and Hampshire is to the east.

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