Chalky cliffs tower over powdery beaches in Dorset’s breathtaking World Heritage site. Immortalised in Thomas Hardy’s pulse-racing novels, this castle-flecked landscape will seduce literary buffs and nature-lovers alike.

When to go

Sunny Dorset is lovely in the summer, though spring’s blooms are equally delightful. Arduous hikes are best avoided in winter: cosy up in beachside boltholes instead.

Food & Drink

Seafood, naturally, takes a prime spot on Dorset’s menus. We love the Hix Oyster & Fish House, owned by culinary maestro Mark Hix, where you can tuck into freshly shucked molluscs and whole grilled lobster with breathtaking views of the Jurassic coast. For an adults-only treat, book a spot at Sienna in Dorchester: the contemporary eatery’s tasting menu puts a contemporary spin on British favourites.

Not to miss

Feast on decadent cakes, finger sandwiches and cream teas in Highcliffe Castle’s elegant tea rooms.

Nightlife

Lively student hub Bournemouth has plenty of buzzy bars and clubs. Commandeer a spot at a seafront hangout to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. If you’re in the mood for a quiet evening, Dorset’s clutch of laid-back pubs are perfect for whiling away the hours over pints of real ale.

Where to stay in Dorset

Check in to a nautical boutique hotel in the medieval port town of Christchurch; further inland, Evershot hosts country-house retreats among sweeping fields and pretty thatched houses. Bournemouth’s vibrant pier and windswept beaches are just the thing for a breath of fresh air on the seaside.

How to get there

Bournemouth airport serves a few domestic flights, but the city has excellent train links to Bristol and London, as well as ferry services to the Channel Islands and Northern France.

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