We all know Dorset has some of the UK’s most breathtaking beaches, with almost 100 miles of coastline to explore. And while no dog-friendly holiday is complete without sniffing out some seaside walks, there’s so much more to do in Dorset if you’re holidaying with your hound.
Whether you’re bringing the whole pack along for an adventure, want to delve into the past or are looking for something a little off the beaten track, we’ve taken the lead and compiled Dorset’s best dog-friendly attractions.
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👉National Trust attractions
Best 3 family attractions
Jump aboard this award-winning steam railway for a family trip through 6 miles of stunning scenery in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Begin your trip at the picturesque Corfe Castle before disembarking at Swanage to visit the popular beach.
Why your dog will love this: Your pup can truly feel like one of the pack on this day out with his favourite people, as he’ll be issued with his very own ticket!
Best for: A trip down memory lane for older members of the family, and an exciting day out for little ones!
Stay nearby: Crabstones, Swanage – sleeps 1 dog and 5 humans
Bring Dorset’s World Heritage Jurassic Coast to life with a visit to this popular museum – one of our favourite indoor attractions – where you can see life-size reconstructions of the terrible lizards that once roamed this county.
Why your dog will love this: We know your dog loves digging for bones – well, how about a whole building full of them!
Best for: Budding palaeontologists, or something fun and educational to occupy a rainy day.
Stay nearby: Fordington Dairy, Dorchester – sleeps 2 dogs and 6 humans
Explore the unique microclimate of this 20-acre West Dorset garden which is home to some rare species of plants. Little ones will love the adventure play area and nature trail, plus there’s a lovely tearoom where well-behaved dogs are welcome too.
Why your dog will love this: Your four-legged best friend can sniff out unfamiliar scents of the garden’s exotic and unusual flora – guaranteed to keep his nose twitching for the whole trip!
Best for: The whole family – there are ample baby changing facilities and around half the park is wheelchair accessible.
Properties nearby: Bredy View Cottage, Litton Cheney – sleeps 1 dog and 8 humans
Best 3 historical attractions
Offering one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the whole of Dorset, this 14th-century chapel is perched on a hill overlooking Chesil Beach. It was originally a place of pilgrimage and retreat, and people still visit today to enjoy its tranquil isolation.
Why your dog will love this: We'll spell it out: W-A-L-K-I-E-S!
Best for: Those who are looking for a husband – local women used to pray to St Catherine at the church’s wishing holes, asking her to find them a man to marry!
Properties nearby: Swallows at Lower Manor Farm, Weymouth – sleeps 2 dogs and 3 humans
Evacuated in 1943 during World War II, this picturesque village hasn’t been lived in since and so serves as a living time capsule. The exhibitions about the former villagers bring history to life and, after you’ve visited, you can head down to the peaceful Worbarrow Bay (also dog-friendly) for a seaside picnic.
Why your dog will love this: Your tufty-pawed pal can do his best Scooby Doo impression while exploring this ghost town...ruh-roh!
Best for: A fascinating glimpse into Second World War history.
Properties nearby: Carefree Cottage, Lulworth Cove – sleeps 2 dogs and 4 humans
Built in 1539 on the orders of Henry VIII, this castle was originally built to defend Portland Harbour. It’s now a ruined landmark in a public garden with a handy café, making it a great day out for all ages.
Why your dog will love this: The castle is on the Rodwell Trail, a dog-friendly trail along a former railway station which has delightful coastal views and will certainly set tails wagging!
Best for: Combining a historical day out with a lovely walk.
Properties nearby: Honey Bee – Wild Meadow Cottages, Weymouth – sleeps 1 dog and 4 humans
Best 3 National Trust attractions
This 1,000-year-old castle has a fascinating and brutal English Civil War history, having been partially demolished by the Parliamentarians in the mid-17th century. Now it stands tall in the village that takes it name and is a popular day out for all ages.
Why your dog will love this: Your pup can pretend he’s the king of the castle as well as hanging out with his favourite people – his family!
Best for: A romantic night-time stroll – the castle is particularly picturesque when it’s illuminated after dusk.
Properties nearby: Cherry Blossom House, Corfe Castle – sleeps 1 dog and 4 humans
You can’t visit Dorset and not come to Golden Cap – the highest point on the South Coast and England’s only natural World Heritage site. Whether you choose to take a longer walk along the South West Coast Path or simply climb to the clifftop and back, you’ll all go mutts for the coastal views and fresh sea air.
Why your dog will love this: Your pup can blow off some steam haring up and down the hill, plus there are beautiful beaches to explore on the cliffs below – just be aware of the seasonal restrictions.
Best for: Keen geologists – the hill comprises two ages of rock. For the rest of you, it’s a beautiful walk that’s worth doing simply for the views from the top.
Properties nearby: Peter’s Finger, Chideock – sleeps 1 dog and 6 humans
Once Lawrence of Arabia’s rural retreat, this woodland cottage has been almost untouched since the famous figure’s death in 1935. It’s worth visiting to glimpse the cottage’s unique furnishings and enjoy the peaceful setting.
Why your dog will love this: The cottage is surrounded by tranquil heathland – the perfect place for solitary walkies.
Best for: A totally unique and historical experience.
Properties nearby: Riverside Barn, Culeaze – sleeps 2 dogs and 6 humans
Best 3 unique activities you can do with your dog
Can’t believe that a rock is a must-visit attraction? Trust us! Also known as ‘Dorset’s Ayre’s Rock’, this huge sandstone block sits atop a hill and is an iconic feature of the countryside near Studland. You can enjoy a gentle 3-mile walk across Godlingston Heath to find it, which also offers views towards Studland Bay.
Why your dog will love this: Another opportunity for walkies – this time, he might make friends with little lizards that call the heath home.
Best for: Pretending you’re in Australia without having to leave the country!
Properties nearby: Greystones, Studland – sleeps 1 dog and 8 humans
You can get a unique insight into what Corfe Castle looked like in 1646, before it was destroyed in the English Civil War by Cromwell’s soldiers. The 1/20th scale models have been handcrafted to impressive detail and, when you’ve finished exploring, there’s a dog-friendly tearoom too.
Why your dog will love this: He can look down on the world for once – even a Chihuahua will feel like a giant!
Best for: A Brobdingnagian day out.
Properties nearby: Purbeck House, Corfe Castle – sleeps 2 dogs and 8 humans
On the edge of the traditional village of Cerne Abbas, the Cerne Giant is a 180ft-tall chalk hill figure and one of Dorset’s most famous residents. You can take a short walk up to the giant’s feet or view him from afar at the appropriately named Giant’s View car park.
Why your dog will love this: Your pup’s ears will prick at the mention of another walk in the Dorset countryside.
Best for: A birthday party – the Cerne Giant is celebrating his 100th year in the National Trust’s care in 2020!
Properties nearby: Abbey Cottage, Cerne Abbas – sleeps 2 dogs and 5 humans
Come rain or shine, Dorset is a great place to visit with your pup. Make the most of the many dog-friendly days out the county has to offer and take your hound on a Dorset holiday – here’s our ultimate guide to Dorset. We’ve also sniffed out the best dog-friendly days out across the UK.