Dorset, located in the southwest quadrant of England, is a much-loved summer destination for holidaymakers from Britain and beyond. Its stunning beaches and natural wonders, ancient sites, and charming villages all draw visitors during the warm months (although Dorset is gorgeous year-round!)
So how do you spend a slow, sunny weekend in this lovely county? Bordering the counties of Hampshire, Devon, Somerset, and Wiltshire, Dorset spans a geologically diverse area of the country. It would be no hardship to spend a week there, exploring her nooks and crannies and taking in the seaside scenery. But if all you have is 48 hours, here’s what to do in Dorset’s southeastern corner.
Where to Stay
Bournemouth or Poole are two of the larger towns in this area of the country and are ideal if you want a more metropolitan base for your weekend, but if you’re seeking a rural retreat, Dorset is chock full of those as well. There are many companies that manage holiday cottages in the area (just search “Dorset holiday cottages”); AirBnbs and traditional bed and breakfasts also abound. It’s advised to book early, wherever you plan on staying, as bookings fill up fast in the summer months. The village of Wool is another option, conveniently located to some of the Jurassic Coast‘s most recognisable sites, in addition to a train station.
What to See
Dorset’s most iconic landmark has to be Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch chiseled out of a cliff by a centuries’ worth of battering by the sea. Visitors can park at the car park at Durdle Door Holiday Park (note: you’ll have to pay for parking), or walk the South West Coast Path from nearby Lulworth Cove.
A steep walk down to Durdle Door’s pebble beach affords sweeping views of the Jurassic coastline and is the perfect place for a picnic. After resting your legs, climb back up to take the aforementioned South West Coast Path to Lulworth Cove; in addition to beautiful sea views, you can also “see” back in time when you look at the different geologic layers in the rock formations along the coast. Then, cool down with an ice cream or beverage in the charming fishing town of West Lulworth. (For more on the lovely villages of East and West Lulworth, check out this post.)
Old Harry Rocks is another must-see for those who aren’t afraid of heights. These free-standing chalk formations, the result of cliffs that have crumbled away over thousands of years, are at the easternmost point of the Jurassic Coast. A short walk opens out onto a wide, grassy expanse across the headlands. They are dizzingly high, and there are no railings or barriers to prevent you from taking a tumble over the cliffs- so approach with a healthy sense of caution.
Where to Eat
The quintessentially British seaside town of Weymouth is chock full of dining options. But for fresh seafood, The Rockfish can’t be beat. The dishes on offer vary by the day; your waiter will indicate what the daily catches are by circling the options on your paper placemat. You won’t find fancy sauces here- the fish is cooked simply to allow its delicate flavours to really shine.
You could never cover everything there is to see and do in Dorset in a weekend. The beauty of that is that it gives you the perfect excuse to visit again, and again, and again.
What would be on your list?