Unique Things to Do in Dorset

Unique Things to Do in Dorset

Dorset is a land of towering cliffs, chalk giants, prehistoric relics, and glittering coastline. For those planning a luxury escape to this dreamy part of the world, the promise of unique and unusual things to do is endless. With the county offering something for everyone, it provides a plethora of opportunities for leisure, adventure and play to keep you coming back for more.

From the prettiest paths to follow (or “volly”, as they say in Dorset), to luxury cruises along the coast, to creative ways to unleash your inner artistry, we’ve picked out our favourite unique experiences in Dorset for you to look forward to.

Enjoy a Sunset Sundowner at Durdle Door

A view of the iconic Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset

Durdle Door is not only one of the highlights of the Jurassic Coast, but one of the most famous landmarks in the UK. A true natural wonder, it features a gorgeous sandy bay over which an enormous natural bridge stands. Embodying a dinosaur-like aesthetic, the rippling back of its Portland limestone archway rises to around 200ft high, before descending into the water below. An idyllic destination for dreamy coastal days, it is somewhere that always delivers jaw-dropping views, yet it is particularly beautiful on summer evenings when the crowds disperse and the sun dips towards the horizon. For a unique thing to do, bundle up a hamper filled with your favourite goodies and pick up the short walk from Durdle Door car park to the clifftops, ready for a sumptuous sundowner overlooking one of the most majestic sights in Britain.

See Red Squirrels on Brownsea Island

The south shore of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

Brownsea Island is located within Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Sheltered behind the harbour’s natural sandbanks and sea defences, it enjoys a unique position isolated from the mainland and provides a real haven for its resident wildlife. For a great thing to do during your Boutique escape, relish a boat trip to Brownsea Island from Poole Quay or Sandbanks and take part in one of the National Trust’s guided tours. With its gorgeous views of the harbour and the Purbeck Hills beyond, and its wealth of rare habitats, it affords ample to see. Undoubtedly the most charming attraction on Brownsea, though, is the adorable population of endangered red squirrels who make themselves at home amongst the island’s coniferous pine and oak trees.

Take a Distillery Tour with Conker Gin

Conker Spirit Distillery in Southbourne, Bournemouth, is one of the UK’s leading craft distilleries. Just a 10-minute walk from the High Street, it is set within a flourishing collection of brewpubs, cafés, and bistros and perfectly placed for fun-filled moments. If you’d like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, Conker’s distilleries promise a field-to-finish journey of discovery. Offering an indepth look, they reveal all about how the best quality, most ethical ingredients are selected, and the processes used to create Conker’s award-winning, small-batch spirits. Rounded off with a guided tasting session and a trip to the onsite taproom, these tours have all the ingredients for success and appeal to connoisseurs of fine spirits from far and wide.

Watch a Movie at Lulworth Castle Open Air Cinema

What better way to spend an evening than with an alfresco movie night at Lulworth Castle? With a backdrop of Lulworth’s 17th Century castle (once frequented by regal kings and queens), this fabulous summer activity invites you to relax under wide open skies and settle in for an incredible film night with a twist. Check out the lineup of films to choose from and book yourself a ticket, ready to hunker down with layers of blankets and lashings of treats. With a starry ceiling, views over the Jurassic Coast, and of course the castle itself to distract you, the only problem will be keeping your eyes on the screen as you savour the most magical of settings here.

Follow in the Footsteps of Thomas Hardy

Dorset was the home of famous author Thomas Hardy and the county is peppered with attractions offering an insight into his life and works. To really bring each chapter to life, The Hardy Way is particularly enticing, wending its way through the “Wessex” countryside that served as the inspiration behind so many of his novels. A long-distance trail, this 217-mile walk begins at Hardy’s Cottage near Dorchester where he was born in 1840 and ends at St Michael's Church in Stinsford where he was buried in 1928. Providing a fascinating glimpse into his personal and creative life, you can also explore his former homes of Hardy’s Cottage and Max Gate, both of which are open throughout the year and are managed by the National Trust.

Unleash Your Artistry with Stone Carving

Enjoying a fantastic location overlooking Chesil Beach, the 40-acre Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve in Portland creates an inspirational setting for unleashing artistry. Making the most of the area’s pure natural light and 150 million years’ worth of raw natural materials, it calls to all creatives looking to get hands on and learn new skills. If you’ve never tried sculpting before, fear not, as the professional tutors here run courses for all abilities. Designed for beginners and experienced artists alike, the stone sculpture carving workshops (which are held outside in summer) explore all kinds of stone carving techniques and the best tools to use, and encourage students to create their very own pièce de résistance from Portland stone.

Visit Gold Hill: England’s Most Picture-Perfect Street

The famous Gold Hill in Shaftesbury bathed in a golden glow

One of the top things to do in Shaftesbury and a real Dorset highlight is a trip to Gold Hill. A steeply sloping street with characterful cobbles, cute cottages with pitched roofs, and glorious countryside views, it captures the imagination of all those who visit. Well-known for its picture-perfect aesthetics, Gold Hill also happens to be the setting for Britain’s most-loved TV advert, Boy on the Bike. Directed by a young Ridley Scott for Hovis, the advert features a young boy pushing his bike up Gold Hill ready to deliver fresh loaves. These days, the hill’s nostalgic charm and beautiful vistas remain largely unchanged and are a must-see when in the area.

Uncover Dorset’s Hidden Blue Pool

The Blue Pool is one of Dorset’s top hidden gems tucked away in a leafy grove in Wareham. A work of natural artistry, the eye-catching pool shimmers in the sunlight and boasts ever-changing hues thanks to trapped mineral particles suspended in the water. Head to the lake to take in the scenery and make the most of 30 acres of paths and walkways that tunnel through the surrounding trees. Peppered with sculptures, viewpoints, children’s play areas and more, this enchanting nature reserve has something for all generations. And, once you’re ready to top up your energy supplies, you can branch off to the onsite tearooms or woodland treats cabin to refuel with delectable goodies (the Purbeck ice creams are particularly recommended).

Time Travel at Tyneham Ghost Village

A row of terrace houses in the abandoned village of Tyneham in Dorset

A place where time stands still, the lost village of Tyneham is full of intrigue. Abandoned during the Second World War, it was taken over by the British military for training purposes in December 1943. The local villagers were forced to leave and sadly, even when the war was over, were not allowed to return. Consequently, the village has stood in eerie isolation ever since, revealing a haunting freeze-frame of life all those years ago. Among the buildings that remain, you can see a row of terraced houses, as well as the restored church and school which display exhibitions about the village and its former residents. Perfect for history fans, Tyneham Village is a family and dog-friendly attraction, and is also only a 1-mile walk from Worbarrow Bay.

Cook Up a Storm with White Pepper Cookery School

Whether you’re a well-seasoned professional or are simply mad about food, there’s no better way to fine-tune your skills in the kitchen than with a cooking course. Fortunately, White Pepper Chef Academy and Cookery School in Lytchett Minster near Poole has just the recipe, with an array of courses for all abilities. Taking you on a gastronomical adventure from the fields and shores of Dorset to far-flung climes, the school’s range of cooking classes caters to all tastes and skills. From learning how to beautifully prepare fresh fish from Dorset’s markets to polishing your bread-making skills, you can channel your culinary genius and glean expert guidance and advice every step of the way.

Enjoy Private Charter with Dorset Cruises

Dorset Cruises operates the regal Dorset Queen, the South Coast’s only vintage motor yacht. Originally built in 1938, this seafaring beauty has a fascinating history and even hosted the world’s first Gin Cruise. For a novel way to soak up the majesty of the Jurassic Coast, why not book a private cruise on board? Perfect for dreamy days drifting on the ocean, the Dorset Queen is equipped with an upper deck prosecco bar, fully heated saloon, enclosed back deck with a sizzling BBQ, retractable canopy and more, idyllic for care-free, salt-kissed days. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or seizing the chance to Carpe Diem, days are made to be remembered on the sea.

Paddleboard at Lulworth Cove

A view of the stunning Lulworth Cove with boats bobbing in its natural harbour

The sheltered waters of Lulworth Cove are protected by a huge natural basin formed by sweeping limestone cliffs. A real haven, this distinctive bay’s unique geology has long provided a natural harbour for sailors and fishermen, as well as sheltered bathing for salt-tousled swimmers. One of the best things to do in Dorset, its turquoise waters are especially lovely for paddleboarding on calm days. Becoming silkily smooth when the wind drops off, it creates a playground of dreams for both beginners and experienced paddlers alike. If you don’t already have your own paddleboard, you can learn important safety tips and hire boards, paddles and buoyancy aids from local operators such as Lulworth Activities.

Fossil Hunt at Lyme Regis

Boats bobbing on the water off Lyme Regis harbour, with beach and seafront cottages in the background

The “Jewel of the Jurassic Coast”, Lyme Regis is one of the most famous places in Dorset. Home to a historic Cobb harbour, seafront Marine Parade, family-friendly attractions and more, it has something for everyone. That said, one of the top things to do in Lyme Regis is definitely fossil hunting, a timeless activity that enraptures all generations. Of its four beaches, Monmouth Beach and East Cliff Beach are said to be the best for fossil hunting, and regularly churn up prehistoric finds including spiral-shelled ammonites. Read up on the important Fossil Collecting Code or join up with a local guide for the best tips on where to find fossils - remembering only to take loose fossils from the beaches and not the cliffs. From 200-million-year-old sea urchins to shark’s teeth to dinosaur bones, all sorts of incredible gems wait to be discovered.

Looking forward to discovering our Dorset highlights? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Dorset.


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