A Dorset Road Trip: 12 Unmissable Destinations

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Places to Visit Dorset - An Epic campervan road trip

in this article we outline 12 places to visit in Dorset that you absolutely cannot miss.

Dorset is a county most well-known for its stunning Jurassic coastline made up of towering cliffs and white sand beaches –  

But that’s not all there is to it – if you decide to visit Dorset (and you should) you will discover everything from evergreen woodlands, to market towns and ancient castles

There is even a festival where competitors battle it out to see who can throw a knob the furthest (it’s not as weird as it sounds – a Dorset knob is a small hard biscuit… Ok – maybe it is as weird as it sounds).

So if you’re planning a Dorset road trip then you won’t want to miss out these twelve destinations as they offer a stunning glimpse into the very best this sunny southern county has to offer.

We recommend staying at Primrose fields campsite for the first couple of nights as it’s in a great location for Eastern Dorset and is a proper laidback campsite – fire pits are encouraged and frankly there is little we enjoy more than finding ourselves sat by a campfire with a beer after a hard days exploring. 

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    Day 1: Durdle Door and man O'War beach

    dorset man o war beach
    Man O'War Beach

    Well we couldn’t write an article entitled places to visit in Dorset and not include a visit to the world famous rock formations at Durdle Door.

    Get here early to avoid the crowds (they come in their droves) and perhaps, if you’re a really early bird you might even be treated to a spectacular sunrise to take in whilst you enjoy your morning coffee.

    Or maybe if you fancy a really energetic start to the day you could get in a quick sunrise swim and then back to the campervan to warm up with that well-earned coffee.

    After your morning exploring Durdle Door and it’s main cove make your way over the headland (by foot – don’t forsake that precious parking spot) to the slightly less popular, but equally spectacular Man O’War beach.

    Enjoy a beach packed lunch, perhaps a walk or a swim or whatever you fancy really! For those of you who like to be active perhaps give skimboarding or paddleboarding a go!

    dorset durdle door
    Durdle Door

    Day 2: Poole & Studland, Godlingston nature Reserve and Corfe Castle

    After a very outdoorsy first day treat yourself to a visit to Poole to explore the many things on offer here.

    Poole will provide you with great shopping opportunities – we recommend the more independent area on the main outdoor high street – and if you get hungry or thirsty just wander to the end of the street to Pooles old town and Quay.

    Spend the morning shopping, eating, drinking or just watching the world go by sat by the largest natural harbour in Europe!

    You’ll see little sailing vessels, large luxury yachts and everything in between. Or perhaps you’re feeling seaworthy yourself in which case you could go on a fishing trip or try your hands at some of the water sports on offer.

    In the afternoon you have a choice between finishing up the day in Poole or perhaps if you’ve had enough city-ness for one day then head over to Godlington Nature Reserve for a dose of tranquility.

    If you’re interested in wildlife and in particular birds we’ve been told to keep a look out for Dartford Warblers and stonechats (whatever they are!)

    If you’ve been to Godlingston this afternoon then it’s definitely worthwhile stopping off at the pretty village of Corfe Castle on your way back to the campsite.

    It’s a steep walk up to the castle but when you get back to the village you can refresh yourself from any number of pubs or cafes while you get your breathe back.

    Day 3: Chesil Beach & Weymouth

    dorset chesil beach

    This beach is one of a kind as its made up of a huge mound of pebbles creating a mini mountain between the mainland and the sea.

    Once you crest the summit you’ll likely be greeted by a long line of mackerel fisherman along the shoreline – make your way along the ‘beach’ until you find an available spot and set yourself up for some swimming in some of the clearest seas you’ll find along this stretch of the coast. 

    It’s worth noting that parking here is on a pretty steep bank and gets narrow in the second field – so get here early to make sure you get a good, level spot and you won’t get blocked in! (we very nearly burnt out our clutch trying to reverse out of the far car park’s steepest spot – we took a gamble parking there which almost became very costly!)

    No height restrictions though which is nice! 

    After a hard morning (which given the difficulty of walking on the pebbles it will have been) get your butt over to the delightful seaside town of Weymouth for some fresh seafood for lunch and a slower paced afternoon sat having a coffee (read beer!). 

    Explore the boutique shops and just generally watch the comings and goings over the harbour as the bridge parts and raises itself to allow vessels to enter and exit the river Wey.

    dorset weymouth

    Day 4: Blandford Forum & Verwood

    We’re taking you back inland today to discover the forestry and ancient remains found around Verwood and for an afternoon in the market town of Blandford Forum (Or simply Blandford). 

    Blandford is a historic market town and well worth a morning or afternoons visit boasting many independent shops and eateries and definitely get down any side streets you encounter as there are a number of shops hidden away! 

    After an easy morning head out to Verwood for an afternoon of exploring the forestry based out of Moors Valley Country Park. From here you can enjoy a forest walk, a bike ride, there is even a Go Ape if you fancy something a little more extreme. 

    If you have the time, take the coastal road over as it provides some simply stunning views over the water as you meander from cove to cove. 

    No need to worry too much about if your van is too big as the main coast roads down here are well built and plenty wide enough – but turn off the beaten track and you might have a little fun!

    Day 5: Hive beach, West Bay & Lyme Regis

    dorset west bay
    Hive Beach en route to West Bay - NT all day parking

    Well given that today is your final day exploring the places to visit in Dorset it’s only fitting to see your trip out with another beach and pretty coastal town.

    If you’re short on time we’d recommend West Bay but all are worthy of a visit.

    West Bay incidentally is where the ITV drama Broadchurch was filmed (well worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it by the way!). 

    From each location you can do beach walks, cliff top walks or play in the sea before warming up at a local pub/cafe/restaurant – or simply hop back into your campervan and pop the kettle on!

    Where to buy a Dorset Knob

    Moores are commonly available online if you want some in advance, or if you can wait most craft souvenir shops/farm shops in Dorset

    Where to buy the freshest seafood

    When to Visit Dorset

    Dorset is a year-round destination but for the best weather with minimal crowds we’d suggest June or early July – or for a more extreme adventure why not take on this county in January or February and totally avoid the seasonal crowds

    Camping and campsites in Dorset

    In the summer head for Primrose Fields Campsite – book early to avoid disappointment; We’ve also had a great stay at Pilsdon View – open if you’re visiting during August and well worth it.

    Out of season we’d recommend you find a spot on Park4Night as campsites will be limited or perhaps a pub stopover – free if you buy some beers – who can say no to that!

    dorset man o war beach

    Places to visit in Dorset - Summary

    So that’s it – the very best places to visit in Dorset in just 5 days. Let us know in the comments if you’ve discovered any of these places from our blog or if there is anything else you’d recommend not to miss in Dorset.

    Check out our top tips for campervan owners or our other recommended campervan destinations across the UK and Europe

    We’re always adding more to our site so don’t forget that you can subscribe to our newsletter and make sure that you don’t miss a thing!

    Go Explore!

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