Things to do - Dorset

Breathtaking scenery contributes towards making Dorset an area of outstanding natural beauty and wherever in the county you decide to stay there are contrasting but equally beautiful places to visit. Situated in the South West of the UK with an English Channel coastline, Dorset has chalk downs, low lying valleys for rambling and wonderful beaches and coves to explore and enjoy. History and literature are part of the heritage of this remarkable area with many people coming especially to visit the home of Thomas Hardy, Douglas Adams, John Fowles and John Le Carre.

The coastline of Dorset stretches from Christchurch in the East to Lyme Regis in the West, with three quarters of it being part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Inland there are wonderful small market towns and villages with traditional thatched cottages and scarily narrow lanes. You can also find Iron Age forts and stately homes which makes this county much more than a beach holiday resort. There are no motorways in Dorset but it has two main railway lines and an excellent series of A roads so travelling around is not difficult.

Self catering cottages and apartments can be found all over Dorset and choosing one of these allows you privacy but also the luxury to stay somewhere a little bit different. You don't always have to cook as there are lots of fantastic old pubs serving delicious local dishes. Or, enjoy some of the freshest fish and chips in the South West. Another option is to check out the choice of boutique bed and breakfast rooms dotted all around the county. It will be up to you whether you stay somewhere at the coast or choose a location further inland. Dorset also has a wide variety of hotels including smaller family run establishments as well as larger chain hotels and luxury resorts.

There is plenty to do and see for all the family in Dorset. Sporty types can find a huge range of activities including horse riding, golf, fishing and cycling. And, of course, there are superb walks for every level of rambler. Spectacular views are almost commonplace in this amazing coastal county.

If you are looking for something different to try, AA Shooting School at Manston is a great experience. Situated in beautiful countryside and set on a working farm, the school provides tuition for both those with some shooting experience and for complete novices. The expert instructor will help you to improve and anyone over the age of 12 can try their hand. All safety equipment is provided including ear and eye protection. As a variation on the usual holiday attractions, this is an excellent way to spend a few hours.

One of the most famous attractions in Dorset is Compton Acres which is situated at Poole. Over ten acres of beautiful gardens can be viewed all year round. The paths are firm and wheelchair accessible so everyone can enjoy the five themed gardens which include a wooded valley, an Italian garden and a Japanese garden. After a day spent wandering around you can rest in the cafe and tearooms or pay a visit to the gift shop for a lovely memento of your visit.

The Jurassic Coast of Dorset is famous world wide and you might want to spend some time searching for a fossil in the crumbling cliffs. But, if you want to see the real deal, a better option is to pay a visit to The Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life. Situated in the village of Kimmeridge, the museum houses late Jurassic fossils and all of them were collected by one man, Dr Steve Etches. There is a fossil gallery with CGI imagery that brings to life the dinosaurs and you can watch Dr Etches clean and conserve his latest finds. There is also a shop where you can buy a souvenir of your visit and, if you are determined to find a fossil yourself, there are fossil hunting tours. The museum presents a unique opportunity to learn all about the Jurassic Coast at Dorset.

What better way to finish off a days exploring in Dorset than to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. Dot.Teas Vintage Tea Boutique at Westbourne offers a delicious menu for light lunches and afternoon teas. Here you can indulge yourself with superb freshly made salads and sandwiches, soups and hand made cakes. Gluten free dishes, vegan and vegetarian foods are all available. Bookable for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries, this independent business uses locally sourced ingredients and has a staff who will make you feel both welcome and special. An afternoon tea at this fabulous tea shop will help to refresh your energy so you can go out and enjoy even more fun in Dorset.

As a holiday destination, Dorset has it all. The Black Down featuring Hardy's Monument gives panoramic views across both the coast and the downs. There is also Portland Bill with three lighthouses and many more beautiful areas to discover. The bustling holiday resort of Weymouth has stunning sandy beaches and warm waters for swimming. In addition, the inland area of the county has some superb stately homes and churches.

A visit to Dorset with its mild climate and an abundance of attractions could well be your best choice of holiday yet. #uktravelandtourism #visitDorset