With an abundance of natural beauty to be discovered across the entire county, Dorset has a reputation as one of the UK's top destinations to get active. We’ve picked out 10 of our favourite adventures for you to try on your next visit to Dorset.
To whet your appetite, take a few minutes to enjoy the extended version of the Dorset Video Project:
Explore Dorset by bike
Combining peace and tranquillity with rewarding exercise, pedal power is a fantastic way to explore the magnificent Dorset countryside. With miles of scenic country lanes, designated national cycle routes and opportunities to really tear it up off-road, exploring Dorset on two wheels is a popular option with casual visitors and cycling enthusiasts alike. Pedal through the woodland, heath, beaches and hills of Purbeck with Cyclexperience, or tune up your off-road skills then hit the trails under supervision of a qualified instructor with Dorset Adventures. And if you fancy a holiday exploring on two wheels, take a look at the tours offered by The Carter Company that match scenic routes with comfortable accommodation across the county.
Ready, aim, fire!
Enjoy a day out in the scenic Dorset countryside with a group of friends, family or colleagues and challenge yourself to try something new. Take aim and let loose under the supervision of specialists at Insight activities, who offer a host of woodland activities including archery, crossbow shooting, and medieval axe throwing using specially designed custom weapons. We just love their ‘Walking Dead’ themed shooting range, where you take aim at latex zombie heads from 25m using powerful crossbows!
You can also try your hand at clay pigeon shooting under the supervision of AA Shooting school. They’ll show you how to handle a shotgun safely then teach you how to blast clay pigeons out of the sky in no time.
Climb the Jurassic Coast
Dorset offers a host of breath-taking climbing locations providing both accessibility and varying levels of difficulty – ideal for both novice and experienced climbers.
For a taster session or casual climb, Bournemouth’s RockReef has 28 themed climbing walls, plus nerve-testing high-line and vertical slide challenges. Visitors can also experience the epic 250m zip line that runs from one end of the Bournemouth pier to the shore!
The most popular outdoor climbing locations are the Isle of Portland (regarded by many as one of the best UK climbing destinations) and the rugged stretch of Purbeck coastline between Swanage and Lulworth. Both areas offer hundreds of routes that will keep fans of sport climbing, bouldering and trad climbing disciplines entertained.
There are a number of activity providers offering climbing and abseiling sessions, catering for all levels of experience, including Cumulus Outdoor Adventures in the Purbeck area and Adventure 4 All in Portland.
Seek out Jurassic treasure
Fossil hunting is one of those must-do activities when visiting our phenomenal Jurassic Coast and we would strongly recommend joining a guided walk for to boost your chances of finding fossilised treasures – it’s much safer and a lot more fun. Jurassic Coast Guides offer group walks together with more personalised itinerary combinations that will help you experience the most scenic spots on the Dorset coastline.
Put some wind in your sails
Ocean lovers can enjoy first class conditions for windsurfing, kite boarding, sea kayaking, and sailing along Dorset’s famous coastline.
Both Poole and Portland offer large sheltered harbours that are ideal for learning the basics or advancing your skills. Experience the speed and agility at the helm of a race-cruiser class yacht with Harbour Sailing based out of Poole Quay. Weymouth and Portland’s National Sailing Academy offers top class facilities and training programmes for kayaks and SUPs to dinghies and sailing boats. For an unforgettable day at sea, you could join the crew of a tall ship. Moonfleet Adventure Sailing run trips from Weymouth Harbour including popular round trips to Durdle Door and Lulworth cove.
Take to the skies
For the very best views of Dorset, embark on a champagne flight with Aerosaurus Balloons. Take in the magnificent Dorset landscapes around the take off point in the Cranbourne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty then drift slowly with the breeze across the surrounding countryside.
Enjoy a scenic paddle
The meandering estuaries at Wareham and West Bay provide a pleasant environment for a gentle paddle alongside reed-fringed riverbanks. Whether you like to row, kayak or stand-up-paddle board (SUP), Wareham Boat Hire and West Bay Canoes will provide you everything you need for a fun-filled day of messing about on the river.
Discover the underwater realm
Dorset boasts some fine diving and snorkelling opportunities with relatively clear and warm UK waters to explore. Steeped in rich maritime history, the area has numerous wrecks to explore together with opportunities to forage for scallops. Dive centres love to run introductory experiences to give you a taste of the underwater realm, whilst certified divers can join a boat trip with one of the many clubs that operate across the county. See the British Sub Aqua Club for more information on local operators and clubs.
Take a leap into a smugglers cove
Fancy leaping from rocks into the sea, climbing though hidden tunnels and exploring smugglers caves? The rugged Jurassic Coast offers challenging natural obstacles to navigate in the adrenaline pumping activity known as Coasteering. Join a session with one of Dorset’s experienced operators such as Land and Wave or Cumulus Outdoor Adventures.
Catch your supper
Fancy catching your own supper? Then a trip out to sea with an experienced skipper will be a highlight of your visit. In the summer months, mackerel are abundant off the Dorset coast and can even be caught whilst kayaking, Fore Adventure offer trips that combine fishing with foraging from Studland, close to the stunning Old Harry Rocks.
If you are staying in the Swanage area, book a trip with Swanage Sea Charters, the experienced skippers run two boats and have a great reputation for finding the action.
Snapper Charters run fishing trips from Weymouth Harbour, catering for novices and experienced sea anglers alike. They even run some special trips that include fishing time and sight-seeing along the Jurassic Coast as you cruise to Durdle Door and back.
For more active experiences in Dorset, be sure to check out our Things to Do section. Plus, keep and eye out for special events such as guided walks, foraging days and bushcraft workshops on our What's On section.