Things to see and do in Dorset: our top picks

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

Dorset offers so many exciting things to see and do, it's difficult to pick just a few. Check out our top picks below!

Durdle Door

Durdle Door is considered one of the most famous attractions on the 88-mile-long Dorset coast. Created by erosion some 140 million years ago, this rock archway curves out into the sea from a sheltered bay, providing a stunning backdrop for the most unique of beach days. It’s not advised to swim through the arch due to the currents, but you can take a guided kayaking tour to see it from the water.

Monkey World

You’ll be able to find Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre in the heart of the Dorset countryside. It’s home to more than 260 rescued monkeys and apes of 24 different species. Visitors can watch the primates interact, enjoy daily keeper talks and let the kids run wild in the Great Ape Adventure Play Area.

Orangutans at Monkey World

See orangutans at Monkey World

Ice cream

Bournemouth alone serves up more than 2,000 ice creams a day in the summer. Every year an average of 750,000 ice creams are bought on the seven miles of Bournemouth’s seafront. If you venture to Weymouth you must try Rossi’s Ice Cream parlour – they’ve produced legendary ice cream there since 1932.

Castles galore

There are more castles, houses and forts to explore in Dorset than you’ll ever have time for. One of the most iconic is the ruin of Corfe Castle, which has more than 1,000 years of history and is situated in an idyllic village. Other castles of note include Lulworth, Portland and Maiden, and all have a rich and exciting history.

The historic Corfe Castle

See the historic Corfe Castle

Sculpture by the Lakes

Just seven miles west of Dorchester, Sculpture by the Lakes is an oasis for art lovers and collectors created by renowned artist Simon Gudgeon. Wander through the spectacular gardens to see the sculptures in a beautiful, natural setting. The gallery houses smaller sculpted works as well as paintings, drawings and other two-dimensional artwork.

Foodie destination

Dorset features some of the best seafood in the UK as well as spectacular rural producers. In the last few years there’s been a food revolution here, with respected chefs opening cafés, restaurants and bistros. Many focus on using excellent local suppliers to keep the food miles low and provide the freshest produce from field to plate. From fine dining to fish and chips to hearty roasts in cosy country pubs, the county has everything covered.

Dish from Brassica

Tasty food at Brassica in Beaminster

Set sail to Brownsea Island

Located in Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island’s habitats include heathland, woodland and a lagoon, which are internationally important for overwintering and summer-nesting birds. See if you can spot rare red squirrels and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers. Free trails help you explore the island and with a natural play area and fantastic picnic spots, there’s an adventure waiting for the whole family.

Get a fresh perspective

If you’re in Bournemouth and see yourself as a bit of an adventurous type, then make sure to take a turn on the PierZip, the world’s first pier-to-shore zipwire, where you can leap from a 60ft launch tower at the end of the pier and fly 820ft over the waves back to the beach. Its dual zip line means you can ride with family and friends and challenge them to race to the shore!

Fly high at PierZip

PierZip at RockReef on Bournemouth Pier

Go fossil hunting

Lyme Regis is famous for its fossils – and its fossil hunters! The local Blue Lias clay found to the east and west of Lyme contains the remarkable fossil remains of marine creatures from the Jurassic seas of 180 million years ago.

Camp Bestival

The family-friendly Camp Bestival takes place in July at Lulworth Castle, showcasing a variety of performers from big-name musicians and DJs to comedians and cabaret acts. There’s a real family feel to it all, with circus workshops, immersive theatre journeys and all the food and drink you could ever need.

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Image credits: ©Benjamin Elliot/Unsplash; Jim Wileman/Brassica Restaurant; Monkey World; Patryk Kosmider/; RockReef

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