7 days is the perfect amount of time to explore Dorset and get a flavour of what the county has to offer. Whether you’re looking forward to chilled out beach days or action packed activities, you won’t be disappointed with the choice of things to do in the area.
To help you with your planning we’ve compiled a 7-day sightseeing itinerary so that you can make the most of your week on the South Coast.
Here’s our top pick of things to see and do in Dorset.
You won’t want to travel far after a day on the road, so we suggest staying close to home on the first day. Relax at South Lytchett to ensure you’re feeling refreshed and raring to go ahead of the busy week.
Find your pitch, unpack and make your camp feel like home for the rest of your stay. Enjoy a stroll around the scenic grounds and cook yourself something delicious to eat. We have a well-stocked shop on-site as well as a café serving barista style hot drinks and sweet treats. You could also make the short walk to St Peter’s Finger for a sit down meal.
Today we suggest heading to one of the most visited sections of the Jurassic Coast to catch a glimpse of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. These iconic natural landmarks, date back thousands of years and are incredibly beautiful, especially on hot and sunny days.
You can visit them in either order and it’s possible to walk or drive between the two. Bear in mind there are no facilities at Durdle Door, so you’ll need to bring a picnic or visit Lulworth over lunch.
Parking: BH20 5RQ (pay and display)
Lulworth is a picturesque village with a stunning horseshoe shape cove with pebble beach. It is sheltered in most weathers and popular with swimmers, snorkelers and paddleboarders. The beach is dog friendly year-round and there is a café and snack kiosk just moments from the shore. A number of rockpools are exposed at low tide, creating a wonderful place for children to play.
In the village you’ll find a selection of cafés and restaurants as well as fish and chip shop and ice cream parlour. There are a couple of gift shops as well as an outdoor activity provider. We recommend walking along the coast to the various viewing platforms to see stair hole and Lulworth Crumple. These are easily doable with children (around 10 minutes) and offer wonderful vistas of the ever-changing coastline.
The cliffs surrounding Lulworth Cove are of great geological importance. Stop by the visitor centre to learn more about how they were formed over thousands of years.
Facilities: There is a large pay and display car park with an over flow area, though this can get busy in the summer months. There are public toilets next to the visitor centre and off-road mobility scooters are available to hire (you must organise in advance).
Activities: Kayak tours and SUP hire are available with Lulworth Activities.
Food and drink: There are lots of food and drink options to enjoy when visiting Lulworth for the day. If you fancy a sit-down meal, we highly recommend Lulworth Cove Inn, Lulworth Lodge and The Boat Shed Café, which is right on the beach. There’s a kiosk serving light bites and snacks as well as fish and chip shop and ice cream parlour close to the car park.
Parking: BH20 5PU (pay and display)
Durdle Door is one of the most visited destinations on the Jurassic Coast and well worth a visit during your camping or caravan holiday at South Lytchett Manor. The picturesque limestone arch dates back thousands of years and is beautiful whatever time of year you decide to visit. You can admire this coastal formation from the cliff top or head down to the beach to better appreciate its sheer size and scale. From the shoreline you can enjoy uninterrupted views across the bay and striking vistas along the chalk coastline.
The walk from the car park is fairly steep and the beach has stepped access. There are no facilities here, so you’ll need to pack a picnic to enjoy throughout the day. From the clifftop there is access to Man O’War beach – which is slightly more sheltered with stunning blue water on a calm a day. We encourage visitors to be cautious when entering the water, there is no lifeguard service even in the summer months.
Top tip: At the time of writing (July 2022) it is possible to use the same ticket at Lulworth Cove car park and Durdle Door car park.
Facilities: There are no facilities at Durdle Door.
Activities: There are no activities on offer. You will need to bring your own beach entertainment.
Food and drink: You will need to bring your own food and drink.
Detours: If you’ve still got time to spare at the end of the day, there’s plenty of opportunity for detours along this section of the Jurassic Coast. Kimmeridge, Tyneham, Worbarrow Bay and Chapman’s Pool are all spectacular destinations with stunning views.
Parking: DT4 7TY (pay and display)
The day starts with a 1-hour drive to the bustling seaside resort of Weymouth, where you’ll spend the first half of the day. Park up and head straight to the beach to walk along the esplanade whilst enjoying an ice cream or coffee from one of the beach front cafes. If you have children in your party, you might want to stop at the fairground rides for some wholesome family fun. There’s also a sand sculpture display, donkey rides and plenty of amusement arcades to try out.
Next head to the historic harbour to look at the boats and pop into some of the gift shops and galleries. There are lots of restaurants serving locally caught seafood, if you fancy something special whilst soaking up the views. Cross the harbour and head to the Nothe Fort – one of the town’s premiere historic attractions. Take a walk around the gardens and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Facilities: Weymouth is a popular seaside town with all the trappings you’d expect from a beach resort, including excellent pubs, restaurants, shops and family attractions.
Parking: DT5 2JT (pay and display)
Once you’ve finished exploring Weymouth we highly recommend heading to Portland if you’ve got the time. The tied peninsula has some excellent walks and stunning views along the rugged coast.
If you’re only visiting for the afternoon, we suggest heading to Portland Bill. It’s located at the southernmost tip of ‘the island’ and boasts magnificent views and wildlife watching opportunities.
Stand and watch the yachts and fishing vessels as they navigate the choppy waters and pass close to the cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and seals – both are seen on a regular basis from the shore here. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the iconic red and white lighthouse for different perspective. On a clear day you can see across the bay to the Isle of Purbeck in the distance.
On the drive back to South Lytchett make sure you stop at the Olympic Rings Sculpture opposite the Portland Heights Hotel. This viewing platform offers spectacular vistas over 18 miles of Chesil Beach. You’ll also get a bird’s eye view of Portland Harbour and the Fleet Lagoon stretching out in front of you.
Facilities: Public toilets, small swing set.
Activities and attractions: Portland Bill Lighthouse with visitor centre.
After a busy day yesterday, we recommend sticking close to home to cut down on driving time today. Start the morning with a short trip to Poole Harbour before catching the chain ferry from Sandbanks to Studland where you’ll spend the entire day. All of today’s activities are within walking distance, so you can forget about the car once you’ve parked up!
Parking: BH19 3AH (pay and display – National Trust members park free)
We suggest heading to Knoll beach and exploring from there. This picturesque beach is an idyllic place to spend a couple of hours, whether you’re in the mood for some rest and relaxation or adrenaline fuelled watersports activities.
Find a spot on the white sandy beach and make camp for the morning. Paddle in the shallow and sheltered waters or explore the dunes in search of wildlife. One of the major draws of this beach is the number of facilities within easy reach. Pop into the National Trust visitor centre with café and outdoor seating area where you can enjoy an ice cream.
For visitors looking for something a bit different, there are plenty of watersports on offer. Book a trip on the banana boat, or hire a kayak, sailing dingy or SUP board to explore the coastline under your own steam.
Facilities: Pay and display car park, public toilets, visitor centre, beach huts, café, beach shop.
Activities and attractions: Watersports hire
Food and drink: Knoll beach café. The Shell Bay seafood restaurant is a short walk away.
Once you’re ready to move on for the day, pop your things in the car and walk along the beach and onto the path leading to Old Harry Rocks. It’s a fairly level route, but there is a closer car park (South Beach – BH19 3AU) if you’ve got younger members of the family in tow.
Continue along the coast path for a short while before emerging onto the cliff top where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Old Harry Rocks. The scenery is spectacular and it’s sometimes possible to see the Isle of Wight on a clear day.
The sea stacks are steeped in myth and legend and look spectacular, especially at sunrise or in the fading light. Sit on the grassed area and soak up the scenery and take some photos to commemorate your trip.
Facilities: There is a public toilet block close to South Beach.
Activities and attractions: There are no activities at Old Harry Rocks. Watersports hire is available at Middle Beach and Knoll Beach.
Food and drink: Joe’s Café is just a short walk away at South Beach. On the walk to Old Harry Rocks you’ll pass the Bankes Arms – an excellent pub serving hearty meals and traditional roast. The Pig on the Beach is also close by. This relaxed fine dining restaurant serves unique dishes using locally sourced and home-grown ingredients.
If you’ve still got energy to spare you can make a detour to Agglestone Rock on your walk back to the car. The sandstone block is known as the ‘Devil’s Anvil and is situated within an area of heathland around a mile from Studland Village. As you walk along the path you’ll see beautiful butterflies and wildflowers.
Like many landmarks along the Jurassic Coast the rock is shrouded in mystery. Local legend says it was thrown by the devil from the Isle of Wight in hopes up hitting Corfe Castle!
Facilities: There are no facilities at Agglestone Rock.
Activities and attractions: There are no activities or attractions here. Head to Studland Beach.
Food and drink: Pack drinks and a picnic you won’t be able to buy any snacks on the walk.
Today we recommend heading to the west of the county to explore picturesque towns and villages along the coast. It will take just under an hour to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views and a completely different feel than areas you’ve visited so far on your trip.
Parking: DT6 4EW (pay and display)
Start the day at West Bay – a small fishing village with lovely harbour and a fantastic shingle beach. Park up and explore some of the antique and curiosities shops before heading to the harbour to admire the boats. It’s usually fairly quiet before midday, so you’ll be able explore at a leisurely pace. Stop at one of the kiosks to pick up a cup of coffee before you continue to the seafront to take in the coastal views.
Walk to the end of the pier to snap some photos of the golden sandstone cliffs. This iconic natural landmark is famed nationwide and has featured in numerous films and TV shows, including the hit ITV drama, Broadchurch. From here you can continue along the promenade and up the cliff to join the South West Coast Path.
If you’re in the mood for something adventurous hire a canoe or rowing boat and head away from the coast as you explore the River Brit to Palmers Brewery. It’s great fun and wildlife is often spotted in the reed beds, so keep your eyes peeled!
Facilities: There are public toilets at West Bay Road Car Park. Browse independent shops and amusement arcades.
Activities and attractions: West Bay Discovery Centre, West Bay Canoes, Lyme Bay Rib Charter, West Bay River Boats, West Bay Fishing Trips. There’s an excellent children’s play park next to West Bay Road Car Park.
Food and drink: There are so many cafes, pubs and restaurants to choose from in West Bay. You can buy fish and chips from small kiosks on the harbourside. The Watch House Café serve delicious locally caught seafood and the Rise has stunning waterside views. The Station Kitchen is a must for people looking for something a bit different. Dine in the carriage of a vintage steam train! The George and the West Bay Hotel are popular pubs serving tasty food and excellent local ale.
Parking: DT7 3DW (pay and display)
Lyme Regis is one of our favourite coastal towns in Dorset and a must see during your beach holiday. Park up at Charmouth Road Car Park and venture down the staircase and on to the promenade, which you can follow into town.
There are 4 beaches to choose from in Lyme Regis, so you’re guaranteed to find one that suits your family’s needs. Take some time to explore the rockpools at low water or head to town beach to build sandcastles and paddle.
If you like to indulge in some retail therapy during your trip, Lyme Regis is the place to do it. There’s an abundance of independent shops and boutiques as well as some excellent galleries selling the works of local makers.
Once you’ve finished browsing head along ‘The Cobb’, which juts out into the sea. From here you can look back on the town and along this picturesque section of the Jurassic Coast. There are lots of boat trips operating from the harbour if you fancy checking out the scenery from the sea. There’s also a small aquarium where you can learn more about the local marine life.
Facilities: Lyme Regis is a bustling seaside resort with plenty to offer visitors. There’s lots of parking as well as public toilets, shops and eateries.
Detours: The West of the county has much to offer visitors. Other places of interest include the vibrant market town of Bridport and Charmouth – one of the top fossil hunting destinations along the south coast.
Take things slow today and head to the north of the county to check out some of the region’s best historical and cultural attractions. Once you’re there everything is within easy reach, so you’ll have plenty of time at each stop.
Parking: BH21 4EA (free)
Kingston Lacy is owned and managed by the National Trust and well worth a visit if you’re interested in history. The lavish family home has been built in a Venetian style and boasts extensive gardens in the heart of the Dorset countryside. It’s easy to spend a whole day here, especially in the summer months when the grounds are in full bloom. It’s the perfect place for a picnic and there are some excellent dog walks nearby.
Head inside for a tour of the house and view the opulent furnishings and fine art. The friendly volunteers will show you around the property and tell you stories of the Bankes family that once called the estate home.
Outside there are 8,500 aces to explore. Littles once can burn off some energy in one of the play areas and keen gardeners can draw inspiration from the various gardens dotted among the grounds.
Facilities: Toilets with baby change facilities. Dogs welcome on lead.
Activities and attractions: Kingston Lacy plays host to a number of events throughout the year, which include various activities and events. Take a look at the National Trust website ahead of your trip to find out if anything will be on whilst you’re there.
Food and drink: There’s an on-site café serving sandwiches and light lunches.
Parking: DT11 9JL (pay and display – parking free for National Trust members)
Badbury Rings is an excellent place to stretch your legs at the end of a busy day. It’s only a mile from Kingston Lacy and you’ll pass along Blandford Drive, which is flanked by beautiful Beech Trees on both sides.
Once you arrive, head through the gates and onto the undulating grass that leads up to the Iron Age hill fort. Walk around the perimeter and take in the stunning views that extend across the surrounding countryside.
It’s a popular spot with dog walkers and landscape photographers looking to capture the perfect shot. The area is rich with flora and fauna and an abundance of wildlife calls the land here home.
Top tips: Read the signage carefully on arrival. Sometimes visitors are required to keep dogs on short leads due to nesting birds.
Facilities: There are no facilities here.
Activities and attractions: There are no activities or attractions.
Food and drink: Sometimes there’s an ice cream van in the car park.
Detours: You may also choose to check out White Mill whilst exploring the Kingston Lacy Estate. The historic corn mill is only open for tours at the weekend but you’re more than welcome to walk around the scenic grounds if you visit out of season.
Parking: BH19 1PW (pay and display)
Swanage is a great place to spend the last day of your trip. The traditional seaside town has much to offer, whether you’re travelling as a couple or with kids.
Families should check out the amusement arcades on the seafront or visit Santa Fe Fun Park, where you can enjoy dinosaur themed crazy golf. If the weather’s nice, the award-winning sandy beach is a lovely place to while away a couple of hours before starting the big drive home.
There’s a small selection of independent shops to peruse in the town centre and the historic Pier is open to visitors for a small fee. Beautiful gardens overlook the bay if you’d prefer to sit back and relax.
If you’ve got the time for one more attraction, Durlston Country Park (BH19 2JL) is the place to go. The cliff top site boasts a variety of habitats and is home to an abundance of wildlife. From the viewing area, you’ll be able to see nesting birds, including guillemots and razorbills. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some dolphins passing through.
Inside the castle, you’ll find an ever-changing selection of artwork on display. Durlston Castle hosts a number craft, stargazing and conservation workshops throughout the year.
Facilities: Toilets with baby change facilities, play areas, electric vehicle charging.
South Lytchett Manor is a multi-award-winning holiday park on the outskirts of Poole. We’re ideally positioned for exploring Dorset and visiting points of interest and attractions nearby.
We have a range of accommodation to choose from including camping and touring pitches, glamping pods, shepherds’ huts and Romany caravans. Facilities include clean and modern amenities, blocks, outdoor play area and cycle hire.
What a fabulous place! Our first outing in our new campervan to try it out, the campsite and facilities are... thewardrobem, Nov 2023
The best campsite I've ever stayed at, usually large complexes lose a bit of what camping is about, but not... Colin, May 2023
Great stay, very clean excellent facilities. Bus into Poole 15 mins nice shops and great walk by the Quay. Definitely... Janet, Nov 2023