ON THE DOORSTEP
Follow the Roberts Trail, or one of the National Trust’s circular walks to discover the village.
Visit the award-winning Hive Beach Café, and the cliff-top Seaside Boarding House’s panoramic terrace for afternoon tea, or cocktails before dinner in the restaurant. You can eat, or just have a drink at the village’s two pubs, The Anchor and Three Horseshoes.
Bridport & West Bay
In Bridport make for Longs Fish & Chips, the original Stables for pizza and cider, and The Bull Hotel. The Watch House (Hive Café’s sister restaurant), and popular fish restaurant, Riverside, are in West Bay.
The course at Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club has wonderful views, and the club welcomes visitors.
Seatown & Golden Cap
Walk up Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast, and reward yourself afterwards at the beachside Anchor Inn in Seatown.
The Heritage Centre runs guided fossil hunting and rock-pooling walks. The beach has been nominated by BBC Countryfile as one of the top 5 beaches in the UK 2017.
Follow in the steps of Meryl Streep, the French Lieutenant’s Woman, and gaze out to sea from the iconic Cobb. Laze on one of National Geographic’s 21 best beaches in the world in 2017 or amble up the high street with its small independent shops, and visit the museum, town mill and bakery. Enjoy fabulous food and harbour views at the HIX Oyster and Fish House and the Alexandra Hotel’s garden is lovely for afternoon tea. By the Bay on Marine Parade is good for fish and chips.
From Burton Bradstock drive east along the coast road for a superb view of St Catherine’s Chapel and the Fleet lagoon stretching down towards Portland, and beyond. With its Swannery, Children’s Farm, and Sub-tropical Gardens, small galleries and tea-rooms (the garden at Abbey House is a favourite), Abbotsbury has something of interest for all ages.
Weymouth & Portland
The stunning backdrop to the 2012 Olympics, Weymouth is a pretty seaside town with shallow water and golden sands, ideal for young families. With pedalos, the Jurassic Skyline observation tower, a busy picturesque harbour and marina, and attractions including Sea Life, Sandworld, and Nothe Fort, there is a lot to pack into your day.
Portland has the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre where you can explore the Fleet from a glass-bottomed boat, Henry VIII’s Portland Castle, and Portland Bill lighthouse.
For seafood and fish lovers, Crab House Café (one of our absolute favourites) is a must; it’s unassuming, laid back and serves fantastic food. Book in advance.
Thomas Hardy’s Casterbridge has museums galore ranging from the award-winning County Museum, to dinosaurs, teddybears, terracotta warriors, and military. Explore its past by following one of the walks around the town and visiting the Roman Villa, Maiden Castle and Maumbury Rings. For historical houses and gardens visit Hardy’s Victorian townhouse, Max Gate and, just out of town, his birthplace, Hardy’s Cottage, both owned by the National Trust. Athelhampton House and Kingston Maurward Gardens & Animal Park are also worth a visit. Fizz lovers should take a tour of the vineyards at the Langham Wine Estate.
There are high street chains such as Carluccios, Pizza Express and Wagamama in the vibrant Brewery Square, and the award-winning Yalbury Cottage just outside town.
If you have any time left over then try:
Bovington Tank Museum, Monkey World & Clouds Hill
Great entertainment for all ages and Lawrence of Arabia’s retreat, now owned by the National Trust.
Studland, Harry’s Rocks, Poole & Brownsea Island
Stretches of sandy beaches, and a boat trip across the world’s second largest natural harbour to the National Trust’s Brownsea Island, home to red squirrels and the Scout movement.
Lulworth Castle and Cove & Durdle Door
A 17th Century hunting lodge and iconic geological landforms.
Swanage & Corfe Castle
Take the romantic steam train from Swanage to the historical ruins at Corfe Castle.
Cerne Abbas, Sherborne Castle & Minterne Gardens
From a hillside giant to Walter Rayleigh’s home and a walk through the Himalayas.
Beer, Seaton & Axmouth
Ride the Seaton Tramway through the Axe Valley and then head for the picturesque fishing village of Beer with its Quarry Caves and Pecorama. Take in a course or dine at River Cottage.
There is a smörgåsbord of country houses and manors to visit including Kingston Lacey, Montacute (NT), Forde Abbey, Barrington Court (NT) and Mapperton.