Although it's just three hours from London and the South East, Dorset feels like a world away from the hubbub of the city. This gem of a county offers the very best of rural England: magnificent coastal scenery, vast sandy beaches, rolling hills, charming villages, country pubs, stately homes and medieval castles.
Take time to explore the dramatic and diverse coastline. Stretching 95 miles from East Devon to Poole, the Jurassic Coast has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is the only natural phenomenon in England to achieve this status. Here, visitors can uncover Earth's fascinating history whilst enjoying unspoilt views over superb beaches, many of which welcome canine companions too. From the iconic rural rock arch at Durdle Door to the endless sandy expanses of Studland, Dorset has it all.
Why not head to Lyme Regis, classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? Like much of West Dorset, it has an old-world ambience and offers excellent fossil hunting opportunities. Or head east to discover the beauty of Lulworth and the vibrant seaside resort of Swanage.
Steeped in history and with a certain quintessential charm, Dorset's glorious countryside is peppered with small towns and villages which are well worth a visit. Many are graced with fine buildings, immortalised in the books of Thomas Hardy, a Dorset-born novelist and poet. For more energetic visitors, footpaths and cycleways reveal the county's hidden secrets with the coast always close at hand for those who love the water.