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looking over to west bay

High above Shipton Gorge looking over to West Bay

Explore Dorset and West Dorset

Discover more here if you’re visiting or planning a West Dorset holiday and explore what the area offers visitors with ideas of places to see and experience. Come and enjoy the wonderful locations that were filmed in the area for the very popular TV series Broadchurch.

There are some wonderful and popular seaside towns with fine sandy beaches, and great attractions to enjoy, along with the beautiful harbours along the stunning Jurassic coastline. Come and explore the traditional street markets in West Dorset’s delightful and ancient market towns and find out more about their ancient history of these historic towns.

Wander around at a leisurely pace and enjoy beautiful villages and marvel at the the thatch roof cottages. Discover footpath after footpath as well as bridleways, it’s certainly a paradise for walkers being out and about in the beautiful countryside and around the coast.

Coast footpath

The South West Coast Path near West Bexington

⇒ West Dorset offers all this

  • The 185 million years old Jurassic Coast World Heritage site
  • Explore this beautiful, ancient and historic area
  • Delightful Countryside and commanding Coastal Views
  • Visit Museums, Churches, Castles and Monuments
  • Great Visitor Attractions, Markets and Gardens
  • Popular Events, Exhibitions, Festivals and Activities
  • Glorious Clifftop, Countryside and Village Walks
  • Market Towns and beautiful ancient Villages
  • Relax on Sandy beaches or try Fossil hunting beaches
  • Picturesque Harbours, discover Headlands and Coves
  • The outstanding scenic B3157 Jurassic coastal road
  • 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
sherborne abbey one of the uk's finest

Sherborne Abbey one of the UK’s finest

West Dorset towns and villages

You’ll certainly enjoy exploring this area of Dorset, and along its Jurassic Coast, on your holiday. Discover some of West Dorset’s most wonderful and historic market towns such as Dorchester, and Bridport with its arts scene and newly developed museum.

Bridport, with its street markets held twice a week, is also world renowned for its rope making industry and the local brewery, Palmers Brewery, is also based in the town. There’s also the annual and quirky Bridport Hat Festival event.

bridport street market

Bridport street market day

The Dorset county market town of Dorchester has a rich Roman as well as ancient history. There are many places to visit in Dorchester with its museums and exhibitions, such as the Dorset County Museum, the Keep Military Museum along with a town walk. Also in the area is the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum.

“There’s so much to discover and explore on a West Dorset holiday visit”

There are many other and popular visitor attractions to visit and explore such as the Tutankamun Exhibition, the Mummies Exhibition to name a few. Take a stroll up to the top of the town and you’ll discover the remains and mosaics of a Roman town house.

Visit West Dorset recommends visitors seek out the local Tourist Information Centre so you can see what’s available to visit and where.

visit historic dorchester

Visit historic Dorchester

West Dorset has some delightful harbours to visit at West Bay, sometimes known as Bridport harbour, Lyme Regis and Weymouth.  They are very popular with visitors just strolling around enjoying these harbours, looking at the varous boats, and the Jurassic coastline, and perhaps enjoying an ice cream or enjoying a fish and chip lunch or dinner by the harbour-side.

Lyme Regis, with its fossil museums, and the popular seaside town of Weymouth also has great sandy beaches with places to relax on the promenade overlooking the Jurassic coastline.

Weymouth, which has a large and picturesque harbour, is also a renowned coastal holiday resort destination which attracts many visitors throughout the year for their Dorset holidays, enjoying its many attractions and activities.

The Cobb

The historic Cobb at Lyme Regis harbour

Travelling inland there are some wonderful villages to explore and another great place to visit is the lovely town of Sherborne with its renowned and fine Abbey is not to be missed. Exploring Sherborne Castle and its grounds, the new one, is a great day out and also a visit to the English Heritage old Castle just along the road. It’s also just great to sit, relax and enjoy the gardens.

⇒ Did You Know?

  • The world-renowned rope and net making industry in Bridport dates back more than 700 years to before King John and the Middle Ages
  • The brewery in Bridport has been brewing since 1794
  • In 1651 King Charles II escaped capture in Lee Lane, Bridport
  • Follow in the footsteps of the Neolithic period on the The Ridgway causeway
  • The Swannery, established by Benedectine monks at Abbotsbury has been there since the 1040s where they also built the monastery, later destroyed during the dissolution in 1539
  • Dorchester was founded by the Romans in approx 60 AD, but was inhabited for 1,000s of years before the Romans arrived


sherborne castle

The castle and grounds of Sherborne Castle

There are also many picturesque villages to explore along the coastline. A very popular place for visitors is the village of Abbotsbury. Enjoy a visit to the Swannery and tothe Sub-Tropical Gardens, and would definietly recommend walking up to St Catherine’s Chapel with its commanding views of Chesil Beach and the Jurassic coastline.

There are many footpaths to explore around Abbotsbury, and also access to The Ridgway, a Neolithic causeway and a national trail, and the SouthWest Coast Path, a long distance path. It’s great for walking from Abbotsbury with along the footpath walks either way along the coast and inland too.

Burton Bradstock is another of West Dorset’s delightful villages with its thatched cottages, beautiful church and renowned pubs, the Anchor Inn and Three Horseshoes, offering excellent food. Burton Bradstock is a popular pebble beach with its 45m high Jurassic cliffs – please take care by the eroding and falling cliffs.

burton bradstock thatch cottage

Beautiful thatch cottage, Burton Bradstock

Exploring beautiful West Dorset

There are outstanding footpaths and bridleways all over West Dorset to explore and you’ll discover beautiful and peaceful countryside walks. You’ll certainly enjoy many walks through meadows, fields and woods, and along some enchanting countryside streams and rivers – you might even discover a delightful waterfall as seen on the hit TV series Broadchurch.

waterfall and stream

Discover streams, rivers and waterfalls

Dorset attractions and events

sculpture by the lakes

Sculpture by the Lakes near Dorchester

This area of Dorset is a great place to visit for its many and varied visitor attractions – there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy. Whether it’s castles, churches or ancient monuments you’re interested in, to enjoying a family day out at places like Weymouth’s SeaLife Centre, Kingston Maurward Gardens & Animal Park, Athelhampton House & Gardens, Sculpture by the Lakes to name a few but there are many, many more. West Dorset is also a great area for art lovers to explore with its galleries, unique shops and arts centres.

“There’s so many wonderful visitor attractions and events to discover on a visit to Dorset”

Dorset also hosts some fantastic and popular events, festivals and exhibitions held at various times throughout the year. Just a selection to mention are the Weymouth Seafood Festival, the Dorset County Show, the Bridport Hat Fest, Fossil Festivals, Dorset Knob Throwing and Folk and Music Festivals.

There are many, many more being held as well ass local village and traditional festivals and events throughout the year, making Dorset an even more amazing area which is why so many visitors return time and time again!

fossil hunting at charmouth

Fossil hunting on Charmouth beach

Activities in West Dorset

When it comes to activities on a visit or West Dorset holiday there’s loads more to discover along the Jurassic coastline. Come and try your hand at fossil hunting, but please follow the fossil hunting rules, or even better go on an organised fossil hunt!

West Dorset is a great area for fishing or perhaps you prefer to take a fishing boat trip – or forget the fishing and just enjoy a boat ride, you can even to hire a river boat and have some fun!

A popular restaurant on the river at west bay

A popular restaurant on the river at West Bay

Come and explore the cycling routes throughout Dorset – it’s a great place to get out on a bike and enjoy the glorious countryside and to enjoy the delightful fresh Dorset country air.

Dorset is a walkers’ paradise and is a renowned area for walking and hiking with so many and varied footpaths and bridleways, whether it’s a village, town, riverside walk, or walking along the Jurassic Coast cliff paths with commanding views of the coast and glorious Dorset countryside.

If you feel ambitious try walking parts of the South West Coast Path or follow in the footsteps of Neolithic man along The Ridgway – an ancient neolithic causeway national trail. Please remember to take precautions for your own safety and follow the guidelines if you’re attempting to take long walks on these paths.

great views above Whitchurch Canonicorum

Great views above Whitchurch Canonicorum

West Dorset is great for holidays

Dorset has everything offer for holidays of all types, with great walks and various activities, outstanding countryside, the Jurassic coastline and exploring Broadchurch filming locations.

West Dorset is an excellent choice for its traditions, great food, locally caught seafood and local specialities such as Dorset apple cake, traditional inns with log fires serving local beers and cider, fine restaurants, cafes, pubs and eateries.

abbotsbury village

Cream teas and Dorset apple cake in Abbotsbury

There is a very wide variety of accommodation available when visiting for your holiay in Dorset, with a great choice of static caravan holiday parks in outstanding locations, as well excellent touring and camping parks, also in great locations, loads of bed and breakfast accomdation to choose from, along with many and varied hotels plus cottages to rent.

Whatever accommodation you prefer West Dorset, and along its Jurassic coastline, has it all. There’s something for everyone to enjoy on a West Dorset visit! Go online and search for West Dorset accommodation and see for yourself the wide and excellent choice available.

caravan holiday park on the jurassic coast

Caravan holiday park on the Jurassic Coast

Dorset and West Dorset looks forward to welcoming you on your holiday visit. Once you’ve experienced Dorset you’ll be wanting to return again soon.

“West Dorset and its Jurassic coastline… there’s so much to discover and explore!”