Not sure of what to see or what to experience during your visit to England? Whatever attractions you love or memories you are trying to make, I am sure you will love the attractions in Dorset has to offer!
I know that I hate traveling to a country with a few things I want to see for sure but nothing else to fill the rest of the precious time. Whether you are planning to stay in England and explore the entire country like I do or hoping to discover all Dorset has to offer, this article will perfectly outline the must-see and must-do attractions in the area.
From fabulously fun family attractions to fascinating museums, the variety of attractions offered in Dorset will for sure blow your mind! No matter if you are a day-tripper or visiting for a longer stay, there are so many remarkable things to do in Dorset that will make this fabulous corner of the world remain in your memory for a lifetime (and maybe have you coming back for more!).
This first stop is perfect for those that love the ocean and sandy beaches!
Bournemouth Beach is rated as the #1 thing to do in Dorset, United Kingdom on tripadvisor.com, and we can totally see why! Lined with lovely, golden sand and a fantastic walking path, you must check out this amazing beach. With cruise ships sailing around the harbor and plenty of surfers, you will enjoy a pleasant day or two at this world-renowned beach. This beach is known to be super rejuvenating and relaxing. Plus, you can check out the nearby fish aquariums and shops once you clear the sand from between your toes.
Later, check out one of the neighboring delicious restaurants that any of the locals would be happy to advise you on! Plus, there are a bunch of nearby hotels in the area that you can spend the night between your trips to the beach.
Owned by the National Trust, Brownsea Island is located right near Dorset in Poole Harbour.
Boasting fabulously spectacular views of the beautiful Purbeck Hills, you will discover thriving natural habitats throughout this island. From woodland to heathland to even a lagoon, nature-lovers from all over will fall in love with this top spot in Dorset, England. While on your visit, you have the potential to spot rare red squirrels and a wide variety of birds (dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns, and oystercatchers) in this unique haven of wildlife.
Catch a boat ride over to this pristine island filled with wildlife during your stay in Dorset. If you are looking for a camping experience make sure to check out the local Outdoor Centre which offers Eco Adventure Camping as an opportunity to bring people to experience the great outdoors found at Brownsea Island. While this attraction may be super simple to get to, you will feel like you are being transported to another world from the moment you step on the shore.
Sculpture by the Lakes
Our next stop is yet another outdoor adventure for you to experience near Dorset, England.
As a beautiful, 26-acre sculpture garden and park, Sculpture by the Lakes is a perfect getaway for art and nature-lovers alike. The park contains numerous breathtaking pieces of art that you will definitely want to see for yourself. While you will have to be over 14 years old (because of the deep water), Sculpture by the Lakes offers an awe-inspiring landscape that visitors from around the world check out year-round.
If you are interested in this attraction, they are open on Wednesdays through Sunday between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm. You will have to pay £12.50 per person for entry, but this will also grant you access to the quaint Gallery cafe. Here they serve tea, coffee, small meals, scrumptious cakes, cream tea's, ice cream, and much, much more! Described as one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in the entire United Kingdom, you will want to check out the soft beauty Sculpture by the Lakes has to offer on your vacation.
Bournemouth Aviation Museum
Next up is a perfect stop to learn the history behind aviation for the Dorset area.
Bournemouth Aviation Museum is where plane-enthusiasts and history-buffs alike will find themselves on warm day in Dorset, England. Here, you will find countless historic things including a mobile control tower where you can watch the planes of Bournemouth airport arrive and depart from above. You can also listen to the unique Air Traffic Control to learn about the way air flights are controlled in the region.
If you book a tour, your guide will give great introductions and will even allow any children you are traveling with to sit in their planes, bus fire engines, and helicopters. This is a mostly outdoor museum, so make sure you visit during a warmer day of the year. You will definitely learn plenty of information from the friendly staff during your adventure at the Bournemouth Aviation Museum.
Featured in both of Jane Austen's novels "Persuasion" and "The French Lieutenants Woman", The Cobb is a historic breakwater that provides exceptional views over the neighboring harbor.
When visiting The Cobb, you will definitely want to be careful along the edges. While very scenic, tourists have advised future visitors to watch for slippery edges to prevent sliding into the cold harbor. Other than that, The Cobb is a fantastic place to walk around and catch amazing views of the surrounding waters. It may look a little intimidating, but if you reach the end, you will be blessed with breathtaking views.
Afterward, head over to the nearby pub to fulfill your hunger. While you may not be in the mood for pub foods, this pub is highly rated by previous visitors and offers a lovely seafood platter. Plus, they have super friendly and helpful staff that may help you find some other hidden gems in the area. Make sure to try the excellent Palmer's beer when you stop in!
Our next stop is an absolutely breathtaking beach located in the surrounding area around Dorset, England.
As a naturally beautiful golden-sand beach, Sandbanks has been designated as one of the few areas found in the United Kingdom which has achieved the highest standard of cleanliness by the European Commission. What does that mean for you? Well, first, you will enjoy a pleasant day at the beach without seeing pieces of garbage flying through the wind. Plus, you can even enjoy a nice barbeque or swim as the beach offers a designated area for both!
You can check out any beach equipment from the nearby beach office also. There are plenty of nearby activities after you clean off the sand from your bodies including crazy golf. After, head over to the Sandbanks Beach Cafe to eat some highly rated food. Make sure to purchase a ticket from Bournemouth Station to Swanage which will stop near the beach on the number 50 Wilts and Dorset bus.
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
Our final attraction in the Dorset region of England is the Russel-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.
Did you know that this museum used to be the private home of the famous world travelers Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his lovely wife Lady Annie? Well, as one of the last Victorian manor houses ever built, you might as well stop by, if only for the breathtaking architecture. Once you head inside, you will be offered to tour the house filled with countless Victorian-era artwork. This excellent museum is great for lovers of Victoriana Good Victorian and pre-Raphaelite paintings. If you do not have any idea what that means, don't worry, you will also enjoy this magnificent museum!
This beautiful house is packed with fascinating pieces of art, china, furniture, and other artifacts that were collected by the owners and then passed down to the town after death. If there is a day on your vacation where the weather is not pleasant, we highly suggest checking out this breathtaking museum to see a large collection of items collected by these world-renowned travelers.
While that finishes out our list of the top activities and attractions in the Dorset region of England, that list is definitely not exhaustive! Home to some of the finest walking trails and cycling routes found anywhere, you can easily find hidden gems throughout the area.
If you are planning your upcoming adventure, we highly suggest using a travel planner to stay organized, within budget, and see everything you want to see-- We will even help you out! Check out our free printable travel planners here to prepare for your vacation.