Skip to content

Visitor’s Guide to West Dorset

Weymouth harbour lights

The spectacular and colourful harbour lights from Weymouth beach

Discover holidays in West Dorset

Thinking about a Dorset holiday or short break visit? Then find out more here about this beautiful area of west Dorset with its historic buildings and monuments, visitor attractions, activities, events, festivals, walks and much, much more!

OK, so dive straight in and discover more about the glorious countryside, delightful villages and ancient towns in this outstanding area of Dorset and the Jurassic Coast – it’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the south west of England!

Also, an added bonus! In West Dorset you can follow in the footsteps of ‘David Tennant’ to the glorious locations of the Broadchurch ITV series to make your Dorset holidays even more enjoyable.

“Dorset is a walker’s paradise with its countryside and coastline footpaths”

South West Coast Path

Dorset is a walker’s paradise including the long distance South West Coast Path

⇒ West Dorset offers this and more

  • The 185 million years old Jurassic Coast World Heritage site
  • Beautiful sandy beaches | Fossil hunting beaches
  • Glorious countryside (AONB) | Coastal views
  • Gardens | Churches | Castles | Monuments
  • Excellent Visitor Attractions | Markets | Museums
  • Events | Exhibitions | Festivals | Activities
  • Clifftop, countryside and village footpath walks
  • Market towns | Picture post card villages
  • Picturesque harbours | Headlands | Coves
  • Explore its Roman, Neolithic and Ancient history
  • The scenic B3157 Jurassic coastal road
  • Variety of accommodation available
  • Caravan, Touring & Camping parks | Cottages
  • B&B accommodation | Guest Houses | Hotels
  • Visit West Dorset is featured on FlightNetwork 
Sherborne square

Discover the ancient market town of Sherborne and its fine abbey

It’s Wonderful in West Dorset

Learn more about Dorset’s ancient market towns which are steeped in ancient history of BridportDorchester and Sherborne – discover their historic past, the museums and places to visit and their bustling markets.

Visit the lively holiday seaside towns of Weymouth and Lyme Regis, with their gorgeous sandy beaches, and outstanding views. Stroll around their delightful harbours and see the moored boats and yachts, relax at the harbourside and watch the comings and goings.

Weymouth harbour

The working harbour at the fishing village of West Bay

There’s many picture postcard villages in this area of Dorset too – popular places such as Abbotsbury and Burton Bradstock are wonderful to explore with their oldy-world thatch roof cottages.

Discover other delightful villages such as Portesham, Chedington, Shipton Gorge, Puncknowle, and the popular fishing village of West Bay with its working harbour. You’ll soon discover that Dorset is very rich in beautiful villages all over the county.

West Dorset villages are usually set in picturesque and exceptional countryside, many have streams, delightful footpath and bridleway walks and not forgetting the unusal Dorset sunken paths called holloways.

Three Horseshoes Inn

Three Horseshoes Inn in the picture postcard village of Burton Bradstock

⇒ Did You Know?

  • Dorset is also renowned for its links to many well-known or famous people including the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), the poet William Barnes, the writers Jane Austen, Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter.
  • Not to get confused with the novelist, is also Captain Thomas Hardy, who was born at Kingston Russell House, Long Bredy in 1769 and was captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and close friend of Lord Nelson.
  • Others include Sir Walter Raleigh, the ‘hanging judge’ Judge Jeffreys plus the Tolpuddle Martyrs who were sentenced to transportation in 1834.
Thomas Hardy birthplace

Novelist and poet Thomas Hardy cottage and birthplace

Explore the rugged and dramatic Jurassic coastline and see delightful coves, amazing rock formations, commanding sea and country views along its many wonderful footpaths. Dorset is one of the UK’s best and popular places to go walking!

The well-known Jurassic Coast is world renowned for its fossils, especially the area along the coast from Lyme Regis to Charmouth. It’s also where the excellent BBC TV 2018 documentary ‘Attenborough & the Sea Dragon’ was filmed.

Enjoy a West Dorset holiday or short break and explore the 185 million year old Jurassic Coast which offers so many wonderful places to see and experience – you’ll literally be walking through history!

“Visit West Dorset recommends seeking out the local Tourist Information Centres (TIC) for advice and further info about where to go and where to stay”
Golden Cap

Enjoy a walk along the Jurassic Coast towards Golden Cap

Dorset events, markets, exhibitions

When planning a visit please take a moment to search what’s going on in the area. There are many Dorset events held throughout the year, some big, some small, such as the Weymouth Seafood Festival and the Dorset County Show.

As well as events there’s numerous exhibitions, festivals and markets throughout Dorset, plus many local and traditional village festivals, events and open days to enjoy, so please take a moment to see ‘What’s On‘ here during your holiday.

Bridport market

There’s a wide variety of market stalls at Bridport street market

Discover and enjoy great places to eat

In West Dorset there are wonderful eateries, traditional old inns with log fires, pubs, bars and fine restaurants. Enjoy the area’s delicious food and seafood, such as the award winning Hive Beach Cafe at Burton Bradstock Beach.

Discover delightful village tea rooms with the Dorset cream teas and local specialities on offer such as the delicious Dorset apple cake.

Locally sourced food

Enjoy locally sourced sea food and local specialities like Dorset apple cake

West Dorset welcomes you

With great accommodation and great West Dorset Caravan, Touring & Camping Holiday Parks it’s no wonder so many visitors return time and time again to this picturesque and historic area where you can literally walk through history!

“A Dorset holiday or short break has something for everyone to enjoy”

Visit West Dorset is featured in the article on 15 of the UK’s most charming towns on FlightNetwork – one of the world’s largest online travel agencies!