Autumn in Dorset

Autumn in Dorset

From wrapping up in layers and hunting for the juiciest blackberries, to wandering underneath copper-coloured canopies and snuggling up by the fire, there are so many reasons to fall in love with autumn in Dorset. A magical time of year filled with enchantment, this spellbinding season promises moments of wonder and whimsy for the dreamiest fall retreats.

If you can’t wait to immerse yourself in autumnal escapism this year, here’s our guide to autumn in Dorset filled with all the very best things to see and do.

Places to Eat

The Green

What better way to reward yourself after mellow autumn meanders than with a delicious meal? Answering the call for gourmet repasts, the Michelin Bib Gourmand Green Restaurant in Sherborne awaits with delectable feasts and flavoursome treats. Step through the pretty doorway framed by honey-coloured Jurassic limestone and take a seat ready to peruse The Green’s award-winning menus. Proposing modern British favourites, the à la carte menu and daily specials reflect season and situ with fresh local produce and ingredients.

The Oyster and Fish House

If you are looking for somewhere special to savour the freshest seafood in Dorset, then the Michelin recommended Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis is sure to pique your interest. Adored for its harbour-view restaurant and terrace and renowned for its flavourful fare, it makes a real celebration of laidback lunches and dinner dates. Take a look through each course selection and relish meals crafted from the day’s catch. House favourites include cockle popcorn, fried monkfish, marinated Fowey mussels, and crispy Lyme Bay prawns.

Rose & Crown

One of the best places to eat this autumn, The Rose & Crown in Trent is a Michelin recommended gastropub which dates back to the fourteenth century. A delightful destination for warming up after hours amongst autumnal landscapes, it promises both traditional favourites and contemporary twists for an unforgettable culinary experience. Treat yourself to light bites or hearty dishes alongside a glass of your favourite tipple, enjoying the warm and welcoming setting. Booking ahead is encouraged to avoid disappointment.


For exotic infusions and bold flavours, Brassica is one of the best places to eat this autumn in Dorset. Located in Beaminster within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this colourful, characterful gem resides within a sixteenth century townhouse and is recommended by the Michelin guide for its Mediterranean inspired menus. Head over for lunch or dinner or book onto one of their special film and food suppers for a novel way to dine. All menus change daily and are designed as prix fixe, with set two and three-course options.

Hive Beach Café

One of the most famous beach cafés and restaurants in the South West, Hive Beach Café takes pride of place on the beachfront at Burton Bradstock. With an ever-enchanting coastal backdrop of the English Channel, it is one of the best places to go to tuck into warming food or to simply cradle a hot drink and admire the views. Select from expertly crafted plates composed of locally and ethically sourced ingredients and absorb the setting. Afterwards, you can also visit nearby West Bay to see the famous sandstone cliffs.

Places to Visit

Kingston Lacy

One of the most visual celebrations of this magical season, the bronzed tones of autumn transform the county’s landscapes and tempt all generations outside. Whether you are setting out with canvas or camera or are simply cherishing the moment, Kingston Lacy is one of the most striking places to visit to see these incredible colours. Home to a seven-acre Japanese garden with nearly two hundred trees, a three-mile Woodland Trail and a stunning two-mile Beech Avenue (one of the most photographed tree-lined lanes in the UK), it’s a must-visit.  

Sherborne Castle and Gardens

For autumn inspiration this year, Sherborne Castle & Gardens sets a fairytale scene. Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594, it is the perfect place to while away the hours. Spend time strolling the landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown and settle into a relaxed pace. With paths and trails wending through more than forty acres of pleasure grounds, there are adumbral treasures to see at every turn. You can also journey through more than four centuries of history with designated castle tours, uncovering grand stately rooms and nationally important art collections.

Lulworth Castle

Lulworth Castle is one of the most famous of Dorset’s attractions. Set within the sprawling Lulworth Estate and close to the iconic Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, it’s somewhere that calls to visitors from near and far. If you are looking for memorable things to do in Dorset, venture over to explore the seventeenth-century castle and its extensive dog-friendly grounds, parkland and woodland. For children, there’s also a dedicated playground that remains open in the autumn months. Warm up with a bite to eat in The Castle Tearoom.

Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is one of the most magical places to visit in Dorset, crowned with emerald woodland that turns copper and gold in autumn. Making it even more special, this National Trust-managed island is also a sanctuary for rare wildlife species and affords the chance to see beautiful red squirrels who make themselves at home amongst the russet coloured leaves. If you would like to see the island for yourself, then hop aboard the passenger ferry that operates from Poole Quay until the end of October each year.

Thorncombe Woods

Wander beneath a leafy autumn blaze at Thorncombe Woods in Dorset. Found next to Thomas Hardy’s House near Dorchester, this picturesque pocket of ancient woodland and heath encompasses an area of more than sixty acres and is an idyllic place to visit. Trace your way along winding ribbons of pathways (including a preserved Roman road) and admire the rich autumn tapestry around you. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to see the woodland’s resident herd of Dartmoor ponies who graze on the black heath. 

Things to Do


Scattering a rich bounty across the county, autumn is famous for its delicious harvest. If you would like to enjoy the treasures of the season, there are plenty of pickings to be had. Pluck blackberries for crumbles, elderberries for jams, rosehips for herbal teas and sweet chestnuts for stews and soups. For a helping hand and expert advice, companies such as Wildway Bushcraft and Fore Adventure in Dorset offer guided courses to show you when, where and how to sustainably source wild produce for the tastiest autumn treats.


With leaves crunching underfoot and shades of gold, bronze and amber painting the horizon, autumn walks in Dorset are truly enchanting. For autumn leaves and ocean vistas, the Purbeck Ridgeway walk runs for around nine miles from Corfe Castle and reveals incredible views across Poole Harbour, Swanage Bay and the Isle of Wight. Another of our favourite coastal walks, a shortcut to Golden Cap features breathtaking scenery and a wonderful picnic spot atop the south coast’s highest cliffs. Meanwhile, vibrant autumn colours await to be seen along The Hardy Way, the county’s most famous long-distance trail.

Hot Air Ballooning

An unparalleled way to appreciate a bird’s eye view of Dorset in all its gold glory is by taking a trip with Virgin Balloon Flights. With hot air balloon rides departing from Folke and Gillingham, you can float into the skies and watch the world spread out before you. Look out for little villages, medieval ruins, historic castles and multi-coloured forests as you make memories to last a lifetime. Upon your landing, you can also savour a glass of complementary bubbles to toast the occasion.


For awe-inspiring sightseeing opportunities, Dorset beckons with a huge range of historical sites and natural beauty spots. For heritage discovery this autumn, turn your attention towards Mapperton House & Gardens in Beaminster, the Cerne Abbas Giant, and Forde Abbey in Chard. For natural landmarks, don your walking boots and uncover the magnificence of Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and the Blue Pool. Another day, get to know some of the Jurassic Coast’s highlights, including the eighteen-mile Chesil beach and the towering Old Harry Rocks.

Fossil Hunting

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in Dorset is world-renowned for its fossil-rich shorelines. Regularly unearthing vestiges of life from millions of years ago, its beautiful beaches are peppered with the ancient remains of prehistoric flora and fauna. Natural magnets for fossil hunters and relic seekers, they entice with the chance to find everything from spiral-like ammonites to fossilised fish to the skeletons of large marine reptiles like Plesiosaurus and Ichthyosaurus. Especially well-known, Lyme Regis is particularly recognised as a mecca for fossil finds. Book onto a fossil hunting tour for the best local top tips.


Dorset Seafood Festival

7th - 8th September 2024

One of the best food and drink festivals in the UK, The Dorset Seafood Festival kicks off the county’s line up of autumn events in style. An award-winning annual festival, it takes place in Weymouth near the historic harbour and runs over the course of a weekend. On the programme, local and national talent gather to share knowledge and expertise on all things fruits de mer, promising cooking demonstrations, workshops, talks and, of course, the chance to sample lots of seafood.

Bournemouth Arts by the Sea

Dates TBC

Running since 2011, Bournemouth’s yearly Arts by the Sea festival brings together local artists and creatives for a unique event in autumn. Combining large-scale displays, arts installations, live music, dance, theatre and more, it stars an exciting and eclectic array of things to see and do. Peruse the schedule of events, workshops, and performances and look forward to unmissable entertainment and plenty of food for thought.

Shaftesbury Carnival

28th September 2024

Shaftesbury Carnival has been a much-loved family-friendly event for decades. Taking place every September, it was first established in the nineteenth century and is widely anticipated each year. One for all generations, it boasts a fun-filled day brimming with activity, including processions, live bands, a children’s parade, food and drink stalls, and much more.

Weymouth Pirate Fest

Dates TBC

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary this autumn, why not put Weymouth Pirate Fest on your list of events to attend? An occasion that sees all ages gather together for merriment, mirth and nautical finery, it is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK. For added incentive, the Pirate Fest sometimes coincides with Weymouth Octoberfest in Weymouth Pavilion.

Purbeck Film Festival

18th October - 2nd November 2024

Screening for over thirty years, the prestigious Purbeck Festival is one of the most popular annual events in Dorset’s social calendar. Showcasing around eighty films across various locations, including outdoor events at Corfe Castle and Durlston Country Park, it provides captivating cinematic experiences for all. Pick your favourites to see during your autumnal escape and lose yourself to the wonder of film.

West Bay Fireworks

26th October 2024

One of the best displays in Dorset, West Bay Fireworks is set to take place at East Beach at the end of October for a wonderful family-friendly event. Held in the run up to Bonfire Night, it launches traditional celebrations in the county and promises jaw-dropping displays, sending myriad colours cascading across star-studded skies and reflecting in the sea for twice the magic.

Illuminate at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Dates TBC

Illuminate at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens presents an enchanting outdoor wonderland. Beginning at the end of autumn and extending into the start of winter, this fabulous event transforms the eighteenth-century gardens of Abbotsbury into a scene from a fairytale. Follow spotlit pathways through regal trees and subtropical gardens and marvel at the colourful displays for an evening to remember.

Feeling inspired for an autumnal retreat? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Dorset

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