Things To See and Do in Purbeck
From fun on the farm and travelling on a steam train, to meeting the real stars of TV show 'Monkey Life' - you’ll find plenty to see and do in Purbeck. Enjoy scenic strolls and pony treks or have a go at coasteering or kayaking.
Spending time at the seaside is something that children will remember for years to come. Paddling in the water, playing frisbee, collecting sea shells and flying kites are great fun for the whole family.
Swanage and Studland beaches are particularly family-friendly with large stretches of golden sand – perfect for sandcastle building. Children can also have a go at crab fishing from Swanage’s Stone Quay and Kimmeridge Bay is one of the best places in Dorset to go rock pooling.
The beaches at Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Man O’ War and Worbarrow Bay are more rugged, but definitely worth a visit for their crystal clear waters and amazing scenery.
Explore Purbeck’s past
From 17th Century castles, to a deserted village and tales of great adventures, you’ll uncover the mysteries as you delve deeper into Purbeck’s past.
Lulworth Castle is set in extensive parklands on the Lulworth Estate and was built as a hunting lodge to entertain the King and Court. The exterior of the Castle has changed little over the years and inside are displays of memorabilia and artefacts in the basement rooms.
Tyneham village was evacuated for military training during the Second World War and has been deserted ever since. However, many of the buildings survive and the Church and School now house excellent exhibitions about the village and villagers. Tyneham is also a good starting point for walks on the South West Coast Path.
Visit the miniature version of Corfe Castle and see what it looked like in the 1600's before Cromwell's troops arrived. Also at Corfe Castle Model Village are life-size civil war soldiers guarding the castle, giant games for all the family, an enchanted fairy garden and a fabulous tearooms with a terrace overlooking the surrounding hills and castle (the not so miniature one!).
Follow in famous footsteps
T.E. Lawrence was one of the area’s most famous residents. Lawrence of Arabia, as he became known, lived at Clouds Hill just outside Bovington. His cottage has been preserved by the National Trust and a permanent exhibition now details Lawrence’s extraordinary life. From the cottage, you can join a seven mile walking trail which takes you to where Lawrence worked, died and is laid to rest.
As a frequent visitor to Purbeck, the landmarks and countryside of the area were the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s novels. You can visit the author's favourite places by following the Enid Blyton Trail.
Pedal around Purbeck
Why not try out the family-friendly Sika Trail at Wareham Forest or the Rempstone Ride ending at Studland Beach? For the more experienced cyclist, ride over the Purbeck Hills for panoramic views of the area.
Just Add Water
Looking for some adventure? Then why not join one of our outdoor adventure specialists and try coasteering, abseiling, climbing, paddle-boarding or kayaking? You could also take a sailing lesson or hire your own dinghy for the day.
If you’d rather head inland for some more sedate and less salty watery fun, then Wareham is where it’s at. You can join a guided kayak tour or hire a row boat, canoe or paddle-board to navigate the River Frome at your own pace.
Alternatively hop on-board with Wareham River Cruises for a trip up the River Frome to listen about the history of Wareham.
Days out on a budget
Family fun doesn’t have to cost the earth. Enjoy the simpler things in life like having a picnic, going for a walk, finding out about local history, visiting a nature reserve, exploring towns and villages or following a treasure trail.
Founded by the Victorian entrepreneur and philanthropist George Burt, Durlston Country Park, which is also a National Nature Reserve, is a 320 acre paradise. With the historic Great Globe, Durlston Castle, stunning coastal views, an abundance of wildlife and cliff top walks, there is always something different to see and do.
If you're visiting the rural town of Wareham, make sure you stop by the Town Museum. This small but interesting museum is free to enter and tells the story of the town from prehistoric times to the present day, including geology and natural history. They also have a special section devoted to writer and adventurer T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, who lived in nearby Bovington and visited the town regularly. The exhibit includes important documents and other artefacts connected with his full and fascinating life.
Flex your feet
You can spend hours walking in our countryside and not pass another person – perfect for getting away from it all and being at one with nature. If you want to take in the salty sea air, then the South West Coast Path is your number one choice.
The diversity of our walking trails is celebrated during the annual Isle of Purbeck Walking Festival. But if you can’t wait until Festival time, you can join a guided walk or let one of our experts plan a walking holiday for you at any time of year.
If you just can’t imagine going on a walk without your faithful friend, pack up a picnic and head out for a day of adventure on one of our walking routes. Plus there are plenty of beaches which allow dogs all year round too.
Take a day cruise from Swanage Pier to Poole Quay or Bournemouth Pier for a scenic tour of the Jurassic Coast along the way. Cruises also depart from Poole Quay to Brownsea Island and along the River Frome to Wareham.
Wildlife watching - above and below the water
Boat trips and sea kayaking mean you can get up-close to cliffs where coastal birds live. You might also be lucky enough to see dolphins and porpoises – just remember don’t get too close to disturb them! Be sure to try out the Kayak Wildlife Trail at Studland Bay.
If you prefer to be in the water, why not try snorkelling at Kimmeridge Bay’s rocky limestone reefs – there is a snorkelling trail there in the summer. Underneath Swanage Pier is also bustling with marine creatures and is a popular diving spot.
For whatever the weather
Come rain or shine, we have some amazing family attractions and activities which will entertain children of all ages – as well as parents and grandparents. Explore castles, climb inside a tank, ride on a steam train, try to spot a red squirrel or pretend you are one of the Famous Five characters in Enid Blyton’s books.
For umbrella days, escape the elements and head into our indoor attractions.
Follow the Swanage Seen Art Trail and learn about the artists who were inspired by their surroundings. There are nine locations to visit, each showing a painting of Purbeck by a different artist.
Explore the rural Purbeck landscape that inspired famous painters such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Paul Nash and J.M.W. Turner, using a range of walking trails which highlight landscape art from the past. You’ll get a real sense of how the landscape has changed from views past and present.
Book your stay on the Isle of Purbeck
After a hard day of exploring and discovery, find somewhere to relax and unwind. With cosy B&Bs, beautiful country houses and traditional campsites, there are plenty of accommodation options.
You'll find all kinds of accommodation to suits your needs - whether it's a bit luxury on a romantic weekend or simply somewhere to rest your head after a hard days walking. For extra information and advice, contact of of the team at Swanage Information Centre.