Dorset Towns : JustWeymouth

Dorset Towns Holiday Guide

Weymouth: Dorset Towns:
Dorset Towns - The wonderful Dorset villages and towns

Dorset Towns and Villages

There are many Dorset towns and villages with lots of top attractions to visit. Take a look below at our A to Z tour of our favourite Dorset towns and villages and what we recommend to be the best things to do in Dorset. The are plenty of great days out in Dorset to be enjoyed. Whether its a walk around the quaint village of Corfe, with its ruined castle and model village, days out in Poole and Bournemouth exploring the shops or enjoying a day sunbathing on Weymouth beach, there is many a Dorset village and town worth a visit.


Abbotsbury is one of many pretty Dorset villages and can be found about 10 miles from Weymouth. The Fleet and Chesil beach are closeby. With character thatched cottages, Abbotsbury is the typically picturesque Dorset village. Abbotsbury is home to two of the biggest tourist attractions in Dorset, the sub-tropical Abbotsbury gardens and the Abbotsbury Swannery. Abbotsbury has a micro-climate in which the reknowned Abbotsbury gardens thrive. Abbotsbury swannery is another favourite Dorset attraction, especially when the cygnets are hatching, at this time of year Abbotsbury Swannery attracts people from miles around. The Swannery and Abbotsbury gardens may be the best known Abbotsbury attractions but Abbotsbury still has more. Catherines chapel can be found here while Abbotsbury castle (a hillfort) is closeby as is the aforementioned Chesil beach. A trip to Abbotsbury Swannery and the sub-tropical gardens will probably be high up on your list of things to do in Dorset, being two of Dorsets more popular attractions but there is so much more to see here too, so don't miss out on this most lovely of old Dorset villages.

Blandford Forum

Blandford Forum is a market town full of Georgian architecture, the result of the 18th century Blandford great fire that destroyed virtually all of the town. Though a few buildings did survive the fire, most of the town was rebuilt in classic Georgian glory. Blandford army camp is closeby and the royal signals museum can be found in the town. Blandford has many shops, restaurants and old inns to explore, it is also home to one of the biggest yearly Dorset events, the popular Great Dorset Steam Fair attracts people from all over each year.


Bournemouth is a large town and coastal resort. There are some fine sandy Bournemouth beaches stretching for miles all along the Bournemouth seafront from the neighbouring Christchurch in one direction and Poole in the other. The exclusive Sandbanks can be found just along the coast near Poole. With fine sandy beaches, beautifully designed public gardens and plenty of shops, Bournemouth is one of a number of excellent days out from Weymouth or any of the other surrounding towns. Along Bournemouth seafront, you will also find Bournemouth pier, seafront bars are also on hand to provide refreshment. For a day out in Dorset, Bournemouth will provide plenty to do and just down the road, the beautiful Christchurch can also be found.


Bovington is home to the world famous Bovington Tank museum. The tank museum is Bovingtons prime attraction and one of the biggest attractions in Dorset - a very popular day out in Dorset. The tank museum holds one of the worlds largest collections of tanks, including some of the rarest and oldest tanks - some being the only surviving examples of the their kind in the world. A must visit for anyone with an interest in military history. Bovington may be a small village but it has a lot of attractions, closeby is Monkey World - a huge ape sanctuary, Monkey World is another big Dorset attraction. Lawrence of Arabia (T. E. Lawrence) made Clouds hill, closeby, his home. Clouds hill, a former woodmans cottage, T. E. Lawrence found the cottage in a bad way, however, having saved it, restored it and made it his home, it was handed to the National trust after his death. Thomas Hardy, Dorsets famous writer visited his friend here. Thomas Hardys' former home Max Gate and his birthplace Hardys cottage are also both run by the National Trust just outside Dorchester.

Bridport and West Bay

Bridport is a market town just up the river from West Bay on the coast. Bridport was a well known rope making town - the hangmans noose often nicknamed the 'Bridport dagger' is a result of the towns rope making abilities. The Bridport museum gives an interesting and varied history of the town - an easy way to spend a couple of hours. There are plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants in the town as well as parking making for an easy visit to the town. As mentioned, just down the road is West Bay, its popularity rocketing after featuring as the setting for the popular Broadchurch series. West Bay has a pebble beach with steep cliffs either side of the harbour mouth. The cliffs offer some wonderful walking and sightseeing opportunities, on one side, the cliffs offer a walk up through the fields towards the village of Eype, on the other side, the dramatic Golden Cap cliffs will see you walking alongside the clifftop golf course towards Burton Bradstock.

The harbour which is tidal is popular with pleasure boats and fishing boats, there are also West bay boat trips from the harbour. Around the harbour can be found the few West Bay shops present in this small seaside settlement as well as pubs and cafes, there are a large number of food huts around West Bay harbour providing fish and chips, burgers and more. West Bay may be a very small town but being a popular holiday destination means there is no shortage of holiday accomodation in West Bay, from hotels, West bay holiday cottages and caravan sites, there is plenty of choice. West Bay and Bridport are around 30 minutes drive from Weymouth. A trip to West Bay is a good day out, whilst a holiday in West Bay is ideal for exploring the Dorset and Devon coastline being close to Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock is another pretty Dorset village, just down the coast from the Golden Cap cliffs at West Bay. Burton Bradstock is an ideal spot to explore the lovely Dorset coastline if you prefer to stay somewhere away from the tourist packed hotspots like West Bay and Weymouth. Burton Bradstock is home to the lovely Hive beach that is found in the break between the cliffs.

Cerne Abbas

Cerne Abbas is a landlocked Dorset village just outside Dorchester. The village runs along the Cerne river with the Cerne Abbas giant, the villages famous attraction carved into the hills high above the river - one of Englands most famous hillside chalk depictions. It is not known when or why the Cerne Abbas giant was created. Legend points to it being an ancient fertility symbol while other theories suggest it to be a more modern creation, all the same the Cerne Abbas giant remains a famous Dorset attraction. A small carpark can be found at the foot of the hill from where you can walk up the hills. The Cerne Abbas giant is not the only example of a chalk hillside sculpture in Dorset, the Osmington White Horse, a tribute to King George IIIs affiliation with Weymouth can be found high up on the hills at Osmington just along the coast from Weymouth.


Charmouth is a small coastal village just along the coast from Lyme Regis. Charmouth beach is a beautiful unspoilt beach, popular with fossil hunters. Charmouth is much less commercialised than the bigger holiday towns like Weymouth and Lyme Regis and therefore makes a great base to explore the untouched Dorset coastline, especially if you prefer to stay away from the busier Dorset holiday hotspots. Away from the beach, Charmouth has a number of shops, pubs and cafes providing plenty of choice whether you want a picnic, a pub lunch or fish and chips. There are a number of Charmouth holiday cottages if you choose to make Charmouth the base for your Dorset holiday.


Christchurch is a picturesque town found on the coast between Bournemouth and the beautiful New Forest. Christchurch has a lovely natural harbour formed from the river with a picturesque quayside. There are many shops on the highstreet whilst there are plenty of places to eat and drink in Christchurch. As a popular holiday town, there is plenty of holiday accomodation in Christchurch including bed and breakfast and Christchurch holiday cottages, making the town an ideal base if you want somewhere to explore Dorset and the New Forest by day whilst taking a walk out for something to eat in the evening. The church at Christchurch is famous for its Miraculous beam - legend has it that builders found the beam had been cut too short, only to return to work the next day to find it had been hoisted into place and was the correct length. The legend goes that it was Chist who performed the miracle, the legend of the Miraculous beam was born and the church was named Christchurch. The town borrows its name from its stunning church. The exposed beam from which this 12th century miracle was performed can still be seen to this day and is still the site of many a pilgrimage.


Corfe is a pretty little Dorset village overlooked by the spectacular ruins of Corfe Castle. Corfe castle was once the seat of the Bankes family of nearby Kingston Lacy. Today Corfe Castle as well as the Kingston Lacy estate are run by the National Trust where they are huge Dorset attractions visited by thousands of tourists each year. Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy are just a few National Trust Dorset properties and gardens that the National Trust runs in the county. Corfe Castle was destroyed by parliamentarian forces at the end of the civil war in retaliation to the Bankes fiercely royalist resistance. The castle was slighted by parliamentarians and was never rebuilt. When peace was restored, the Bankes family prefered to make Kingston Lacy their family seat. The keys of Corfe Castle can still be seen hanging up in a room at Kingston Lacy. Offering fantastic views across Corfe and the nearby countryside, Corfe castle is a good spot to see the steam train running along the track that runs below the castle, running between Swanage and Corfe. Corfe Castle is one of the most popular Dorset attractions, its ruins feature on many a Dorset holiday brochure. A dry day makes it an excellent day out in Dorset, high up on the hill, a clear day will offer a fantastic view across the picturesque Corfe village. Don't forget a visit to Corfe village with its own model village, worth a visit in itself if you visit Corfe Castle. Nearby is the popular seaside resort of Swanage, with its beach, pier and shops, not to mention the historic Swanage steam railway - a popular attraction for any trainspotter. Old Harry's rocks are along the coast at Swanage. The lovely Tyneham valley is also closeby. Tyneham abandoned village - requisitioned by the army in December 1943 is one of Englands ghost villages. Its residents were never permitted to return. The school, church and farm now form museums of Tyneham history and its residents. The beautiful Tyneham Great house has long gone but you can still wander around the villages ruins and take a walk down to the sea on specified days. Tyneham village is a unique place to visit, full of history, nature and beauty locked in a time of its own.


Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, it lies about 8 mile inland from Weymouth and has a host of museums to be explored including the Dorset county museum and courtrooms - Judge Jeffries held part of his bloody assizes here and the Tolpuddle Martyrs were held, tried and sentenced here. Other Dorchester museums include Max Gate - Thomas Hardys home on the outskirts of Dorchester and his place of birth, the beautiful chocolate box thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton. Both Max Gate and Hardys cottage are more National Trust Dorset properties open to the public and a must visit for any fan of Thomas Hardy or Edwardian life. Closeby is Stinsford church, where Thomas Hardys heart was buried. The Keep Military museum is another Dorchester museum worth a visit while early Dorchester history is on offer at Maiden Castle, the Maumbury rings and the Roman townhouse. Maiden Castle is a huge iron age hill fort, the smaller Maumbury rings, once a Roman ampitheatre and later the site of grisly executions. The Roman townhouse is one of the most complete examples of a Roman house in England. Dorchester has a large highstreet on which most of its shops can be found, while many restaurants can be found both in the town and at the site of the old brewery, now Brewery square. There are plenty of pubs in the town and the walk along the river as it meanders through Dorchester and then on through the countryside is a walk worth doing. Being central to most of Dorset, Dorchester is a popular spot, there are plenty of guesthouses and bed and breakfasts in the town.

Durdle Door

Durdle Door is a unique natural formed arch that has been carved through millions of years of coastal erosion. You can either park up at the Durdle Door carpark or take the walk from the nearby Lulworth cove carpark. Whatever you do, you will be greeted by spectacular views, probably the best along the Jurassic coast. If you are up for the walk down the steps, the view from the beach at Durdle door gives a impressive impression of just how big Durdle Door actually is opposed to viewing from the clifftop high up above it - it is so much higher than it appears from the clifftop. Durdle Door is one of the most easily recognised and most photographed Dorset attractions. Visiting Durdle Door, coupled with a visit to closeby Lulworth where there a number of places to eat and get refreshments is a good day out in Dorset. Its also a must if you are looking for ideas for places to see in Dorset, it offers views of some of the most beautiful coastline in England.


Fleet is a small village outside Weymouth, Fleet village stands close to the Fleet lagoon and Chesil beach, the sea off Chesil beach can be very rough and has been the graveyard of many a shipwreck. Fleet village was badly damaged by a huge storm in 1824, most of the church and a number of houses closeby were destroyed but part of the old church still remains. A larger church was built to replace it. J Meade Faulkner made Fleet village famous with his classic novel MoonFleet. The classic tale tells the story a young boy captured by smugglers in the graveyard. Moonfleet is a fictional village based on the village of Fleet and taking its name from the Mohun family and Fleet - the Mohun family were the local landowners of Fleet, the church contains a number of memorials featuring the name. Moonfleet is a classic book and a visit to the village of Fleet really brings the story to life.


Lulworth Cove is a natural and beautiful cove on the Jurassic coast. It is one of the most popular free Dorset attractions and makes a great day out, best seen on a hot summers day. There is a large pay and display carpark at the top of the village, from which you can explore this beautiful Dorset village with its pubs and restaurants, there is a lovely millpond in the centre of Lulworth village and the sloping path leads straight down to the cove. The giants staircase is another natural feature to be found in Lulworth while a walk up the cliffs gives some incredible views across the Jurassic coast, culminating in the wonderfully formed Durdle Door. Walking back up the hill from Lulworth cove you will find some popular pubs and restaurants, the perfect place to get lunch. Visit Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove and you will have visited two of the most popular and beautiful Dorset attractions in a day.

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a popular holiday resort overlooking Lyme Bay on the Dorset-Devon border, a pretty holiday resort. Lyme Regis has a fine sandy beach. Lyme Regis harbour is a small pretty harbour - Lyme Regis cobb was used in filming for The French Lieutenants Woman. Mary Anning, the fossil collector did her fossil hunting on this coast and fossil hunters still flock to the fossil rich coast to this day making the coast around Lyme Regis some of the most popular coast for fossil hunting in England. There is plenty of holiday accomodation in Lyme Regis, ranging from hotels and Bed and Breakfasts to self catering Lyme Regis holiday cottages. You may be planning a day trip to Lyme Regis or an extended break, with a beautiful seafront and harbour, there will be plenty to do for both and being right on the Dorset Devon border, you will have plenty of other places to visit around the coast. West Bay and Weymouth are within an hours drive away along the scenic coast road while Seaton and Beer are not far along the coast on the Devon side of the border.


The village of Osmington lies just along the coast from Weymouth. The Osmington White Horse, Osmingtons famous feature carved into the hillside above the cliffs at Osmington is a popular attraction and can be sighted from Weymouth seafront, it is often referred to as the Weymouth White Horse because of the view of it from Weymouth seafront. The White Horse was carved into the hillside as a tribute to King Georges love of Weymouth. The legend is that the King was upset that the White Horse was heading away from Weymouth and never returned to the town. The Osmington White Horse isn't the only reminder of the kings love of Weymouth, the kings statue and a replica bathing machine stand on Weymouth seafront. The Cerne Abbas giant is another hillside carving that can be visited in Dorset. The Village of Osmington is a lovely little village with many thatched cottages and a couple of character pubs to visit.


Poole is a large coastal town with plenty of attractions including a large shopping centre and a huge natural harbour. Poole Quay runs along the harbour and has a mixture of shops, restaurants and pubs while the Poole museum is also found closeby, detailing the history of Poole from the wrecks of ancient ships and tales of smugglers to a history of Poole pottery. You will find Poole harbour boat trips from Poole Quay including the ferry over to Brownsea Island, a beautiful untouched island in the middle of Poole harbour. Further around this substantial natural harbour, you can catch the Poole to the Channel Islands ferry to Jersey and Guernsey. There is much to do on the lovely Channel islands, far more than you can fit in with a day trip. Channel Island daytrips offer the opportunity to explore these beautiful islands with their pretty ports, fantastic beaches and favourable weather.


Portland is a small island connected to the mainland by the beach road that runs between the island and Weymouth. For a small island, The Isle of Portland has a number of attractions, including one of the most recognisable attractions in Dorset, the stripey red and white lighthouse named Portland Bill. Close to Portland Bill lighthouse are two older lighthouses, one being a private residence and the other now the Portland bird observatory. Portland also has its own castle - Portland Castle, a Henry VIII fortress built overlooking Portland harbour is a English Heritage site, open to the public. A much older castle also survives on Portland, the ruins of part of Rufus castle can still be seen sighted high up and inaccesible overlooking the picturesque Church Ope Cove - popularly known for the Church Ope Cove pirates graveyard, the churchyard of the ruined 11th century St Andrews church. The waves really do crash around this weather beaten island, thousands of years of erosion have led to some dramatic and rocky coastline. Quarrying has also played a big role in shaping this island, Portland stone has been quarried for centuries and has provided materials for some of Britains grandest buildings. After visiting Portland Bill and enjoying a walk around the lovely Portland coastline, maybe even a spot of bird watching - Portland is a great place for nature, you will likely be looking for somewhere to eat. There are a number of places to eat and drink on the island, there are some lovely Portland pubs to visit and Portland museum is worth a visit too. Portland is the ideal place to base your holiday in Dorset if you want to be close to all of the attractions but have a sense of being away from it all too. There are a number of Portland holiday cottages on the island, hotels, guesthouses and Portland caravan sites too.

Purbeck and the Isle of Purbeck

The Isle of Purbeck is the towns and villages that make up the Purbeck peninsula surrounded on 3 sides by water. The coast around the Isle of Purbeck is some of the prettiest in Dorset and includes the towns of Wareham and Swanage. Studland, Arne, Kimmeridge and the village of Corfe are also to be found in this beautiful part of Dorset. Why not plan a day out in Dorset around visiting your favorite villages and towns on the beautiful Purbeck peninsula. From the lovely Wareham Quay, the beach and Old Harrys rocks at Swanage, nature reserves and the ruins of Corfe Castle, the Isle of Purbeck has plenty of closeby Dorset attractions to give you more than enough for a day out.


Tyneham village is a ghost village found in the beautiful Tyneham valley. Once an idyllic village in its own valley, the whole estate was requistioned by the army shortly before Christmas 1943 as part the UKs war effort. The beautiful Tyneham great house was unfortunately demolished and the village lies in ruins. Just Tyneham Church, the small Tyneham schoolroom and part of Tyneham farm are intact. The other buildings including Tyneham rectory and the village houses are all ruins without roofs nor windows. The village is a wonderful place to walk around, having been untouched by development for over 70 years, the village has been reclaimed by nature and is a beautifully peaceful place to visit. Tyneham Church and school have been turned into museums, information boards in most of the houses tell the history of their occupants - many of whoms families had lived in the village for centuries. Many include pictures of their occupants and their houses before they were requisitioned - really bringing Tyneham village to life. A few books have been written about Tyneham village and all are really worth reading if you want to get the full experience from your visit, giving a taste of life in the village from different eras and different backgrounds. Because the village is only open to the public on specified days, it has resisted any development, you won't find any shops or pubs in Tyneham and it is this that makes it such a magical place to visit. There are toilets down at Tyneham farm and plenty of places for a picnic and lovely walks. One such walk takes you on down to Worbarrow Bay, a completely untouched pebble beach, you won't find Punch and Judy or donkeys here, no refreshment huts or bars, just a wonderful isolated beach. Just off the beach is what must have been one of the most idyllic cottages in all of Dorset, sitting just off the beach was once the cottage of Worbarrow fishermen, just a small part of the walls remains now but what a wonderful spot this must have been to live. Tyneham doesn't have a beach itself, Worbarrow, a short walk from the village is where the local Tyneham school children would have visited the beach, Worbarrow beach often being called Tyneham beach for this reason. Tyneham is a lovely place to visit and can be reached down small winding single track roads - traffic was not an issue when the last residents of Tyneham lived here. Tyneham is a short drive from Wareham and Lulworth and an excellent Dorset day trip, there is more than enough to see to enjoy a day here - just bring a picnic.


Wareham is an ancient market town, surrounded on 3 sides by earthworks built in the time of Alfred the Great to protect this important town on the river Frome from Viking invaders - the Wareham walls still stand to this day. The Wareham walls walk offer commanding views across the town and the river Frome. The foundations of Wareham castle are also still present, protected as an ancient monument. In the town there are a number of shops, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. Wareham also has a number of pubs, some of which can be found on the beautiful Wareham Quay - one of the most beautiful spots in Dorset. The weekly Wareham market takes place here and Wareham boat trips depart from here, there is plenty of space for a picnic and many options for a pub lunch. If you visit Wareham for more than a daytrip, there are a number of hotels, bed and breakfasts and caravan sites around the town as well as Wareham holiday cottages to let. Wareham sits on the Wareham river (the Frome) and is close to a number of other Dorset attractions including Monkey World, the Bovington Tank Museum, Corfe Castle, Kingston Lacy and Clouds Hill, the home of Lawrence of Arabia. Other places to visit from Wareham include Swanage or Tyneham Village - a wonderful ghost village and another great place for a picnic. Poole and Bournemouth are also right on the doorstep.


Weymouth is one of the most popular holiday resorts on the south coast, with a golden sandy beach, the beautiful Weymouth harbour and lots of other attractions, boat rides from Weymouth harbour and popular events throughout the year, there is plenty to do in Weymouth. Down on the fine sands of Weymouth beach you will find nice clear and calm water, the Weymouth Punch and Judy show - one of the last of these traditional seaside shows in England, the uniquely talented Weymouth sandman, seaside donkeys and plenty of other kids attractions - swingboats and a helter skelter to name a few. In visiting Weymouth harbour, you will see one of the prettiest harbours on the south coast with plenty of activity including fishing boats, pleasure boats, fishing and crabbing. You can get many different boat trips from Weymouth harbour, a ride around the coast, a trip over to Portland, a sea fishing day or a simple ride across the harbour in a wooden rowing boat. For food, there is an abundance of choice, traditional fish and chip shops, a range of restaurants or plenty of chain pubs or old Weymouth pubs to choose from. Weymouth also has a good choice of museums, the Nothe Fort is a day out in itself, the Tudor House museum and the Weymouth museum both offer wonderfully interesting aspects of Weymouth history. Weymouth is right in the centre of the fabulous Dorset coastline, so there are plenty of places to visit from Weymouth including Portland, West Bay, Lulworth, Poole and Bournemouth while a trip inland will take you to Dorchester and the beautiful market town of Sherborne. Many people choose to visit Weymouth for a holiday therefore there is no shortage of accomodation, there are plenty of Weymouth caravan sites offering caravan hire and pitches for tourers and campers, all along Weymouth seafront are hotels and guesthouses, also situated around the harbour and throughout Weymouth. There is no shortage of Weymouth holiday cottages to choose from either, from 1 bed cottages to large Weymouth holiday lets, Weymouth can cater for everyone.