Dog-friendly short breaks in Dorset

Dorset really is a dream destination for dogs! The combination of beautiful unspoilt countryside, the dramatic Jurassic Coast and stunning beaches makes it ideal for dogs and owners at any time of year. If you live elsewhere in the country and are looking for a great dog-friendly place to visit for a short break, look no further!

Luxury dog accommodation in Dorset

Summer Lodge, Evershot

Dorset may be my home county, but I’ve been on a couple of short breaks myself over the past year, so I know what makes a good holiday for a dog. I’m also pretty sure that as one of the most important members of the family, no-one really wants to leave us behind, so finding a destination that is dog-friendly keeps us all happy.

Whether you prefer to stay in an inn, hotel or a country cottage, Dorset has plenty of accommodation that welcomes well-behaved dogs, so pack the lead, blanket and those all-important treats and head this way!

Stay in a charming Dorset cottage on your holiday to Dorset

Dogs are welcome at Mabel’s Cottage, Sydling St Nicholas

There’s so much for dogs and their owners to do on a short break in Dorset, I could write a book, but here are my top 5 suggestions.

1. Take a walk in the countryside!

Walking, of course, is top of any dog’s ‘to do’ list and once you are here you will be spoilt for choice. Whether you prefer country lanes and pretty villages, walks with views over rolling countryside or woodland walks, there are great opportunities no matter where you are in Dorset.

I particularly love woods for off-lead fun and Thorncombe Wood near Dorchester is a favourite. It’s a popular place, next to Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, where the Dorset writer was born. You too can follow in Hardy's footsteps and explore the land that he portrayed in his novels such as ‘The Woodlanders’!

Beautiful woodland walks in Dorset to stretch your legs

There are well marked trails to follow in the woods, but I love exploring, meeting other dogs and bouncing around excitedly with my tail wagging. A bit like Tigger I’m told.

It’s also a great place to find new smells and follow scent trails. I’m always on the lookout for the resident dormice, but I’ve yet to find one!

Explore new exciting places in Dorset promised to keep you entertained

If you walk here, you’ll probably come across Rushy Pond, a lovely spot close to Hardy’s Cottage, where a water-loving dog could enjoy a paddle while owners can relax on the benches.

Take a paddle int the water to cool off on a warm day

Thorncombe Wood extends on to Black Heath and with paths to Puddletown Forest, it’s easy to extend your walk to a length that suits you.

However long your walk, a stop back at the dog-friendly visitor centre and café rounds off a visit perfectly!

2. Walk on the Jurassic Coast!

With miles of beautiful coastline, no visit to Dorset would be complete without a walk along the Jurassic Coast.  

One of my favourite walks is from Lulworth Cove past the beautiful Man O War Cove to Durdle Door. The rock arch at Durdle Door is probably the most recognisable landmark along the Dorset coast and the beach is dog-friendly all year round. Access to the beach is down a lot of steps, but it is well worth the effort!

Don't forget to take in all the amazing views you will find exploring Dorset

For a shorter walk, park at the public pay-and-display car park at Durdle Door Holiday Park, then follow the steep path down to the coast. Stop to admire the far reaching views along the coast and across to Portland, before descending the steps to the beach.

Wander along Dorset's many exquisite beaches

The walk back up the steps and back to the car park is quite tiring for those not as fit as me, but there are rocks big enough to sit on and catch your breath on the way!

3. Enjoy some delicious Dorset food!

With numerous dog-friendly pubs, cafes and tearooms it’s easy to find somewhere to enjoy some delicious local food when you’re out and about in Dorset with your dog.

The Acorn Inn, in the pretty village of Evershot, gets a paws up from me after my recent visit.

Stop for a sit down and a bite to eat in many of Dorset's country pubs

I received a warm welcome and was delighted to discover they had provided a water bowl and a roaring fire to sit in front of. But that’s not all; the staff had a special jar of biscuits just for dogs. Dogs are welcome to stay in the Inn too, so it’s no wonder it features in lots of dog-friendly guides.

The Greyhound Inn in Sydling St Nicholas was a big hit with me too. There was a welcome bowl of water at the door and inside were some other dogs to say hello to! Like the Acorn Inn, dogs are welcome to stay here too.

Dorset is home to many pubs and restaurants serving the most delicious local food

We sat in the bar area for lunch, as the dog-friendly dining area was full of people enjoying their meals. The bar was a good spot, I could see everything that was going on and was a very happy dog when the landlord gave me a biscuit.

4. Visit an attraction!

In between walking and eating, why not visit one of Dorset’s attractions while you’re here? Plenty of attractions welcome dogs, including castles, gardens, nature reserves and country parks. You can even go for a ride on a steam train or pretend you’re a giant as you walk around a model village!

I enjoyed walking around the gardens at Forde Abbey, though the fountain made me jump. It’s the highest powered fountain in the country and shoots up to a height of 160 feet – that’s well over 100 times my height!

Wander around stately homes and castles for a great view of grand architecture

If you visit in June, there’s a ‘Doggy Day Out’ event at the Abbey. There will be lots of fun activities, including a ‘Pets Got Talent’ contest! Hmmm, now what could I do…

In the busy seaside resort of Weymouth, there are RSPB reserves which are peaceful sites to explore. The circular Discovery Trail around Radipole Lake, a quiet wildlife haven right in the centre of the town, is perfect for a stroll at any time of year. Visit the Discovery Centre to find out recent wildlife sightings and on your walk, if you’re lucky, you may even spot a bearded tit in the reed beds, though they don’t have as bushy a beard as me!

Be at one with nature in Dorset

I like the reserve at RSPB Lodmoor too. Located just off the seafront, it’s a great place for a leisurely walk, with plenty of benches along the way to sit on and watch the birds.

Take a minute to appreciate the great views and wildlife

We spotted an avocet on our most recent visit.

Dorset is home to many species of birds

Whichever reserve we visit, we usually follow it with a visit to the nearby beach for a run around, which brings me on to my last suggestion…

5. Have fun at the beach!

There are so many beautiful beaches to play on, but one of my top picks in West Dorset is Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock. And because there’s the award-winning dog-friendly Hive Beach café there, it’s one of my owner’s favourites too.

Dorset has lots of dog friendly beaches to enjoy

At any time of year, it’s a fun place to visit. We usually climb the hill from the car park and then head down to the beach. Whether it’s an ear-flappingly windy winter’s day, or a sunny midsummer day, it’s an idyllic spot.

After your walk, pop into the dog-friendly Hive Beach Café, where you can enjoy local seafood, homemade cakes or just have a cup of tea overlooking the sea. It’s often busy and you may have to wait, but it’s worth it!

So you see, I have all this on my doorstep, but you can enjoy it too. This is just a taste of what there is here, but believe me, there’s so much more. Come once and you’ll be planning a return visit as soon as you get back home!


Hardy's Cottage
National Trust Property
Hardy's Cottage - Thomas Hardy's birthplace (photo credit National Trust Images/Chris Lacey)

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in this small cob and thatch cottage, which was built by his great-grandfather and is little altered since the family left. His early novels Under the Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd were written here.

Lulworth Cove
Natural Feature
Lulworth Cove, in Dorset

The pebble beach and blue waters of Lulworth Cove make it an extremely popular destination. The Cove and surrounding coastline are part of the world famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Low tide reveals wonderful rock pools teeming with sea creatures – great for exploring with children.

Durdle Door
Durdle Door beach, Dorset

Durdle Door is an extremely popular beauty spot. To access the beach there is a 15 minute walk down a steep path, plus a further 143 steps down onto the beach. There is only one set of steps to access the beach, therefore you may have to queue to ensure social distancing of 2 metres. There are no toilets or any other facilities on the beach. Toilets are located within the car park area (approx 15 minutes walk uphill from the beach). There are no lifeguards at this beach. Barbecues and fires are not permitted at any of the beaches or grassland areas on the Lulworth Estate. Overnight camping is not permitted on beaches, clifftops or elsewhere (apart from pre-booked camping at the Durdle Door Holiday Park).

Durdle Door Holiday Park
Camping & Caravan Site
Beer on the Decking of a Luxury Holiday Home at Durdle Door Holiday Park

Friendly, uncommercialised holiday park with modern day comforts. Stunning location with direct access to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Durdle Door, stunning beaches and rolling Dorset countryside.

The Acorn Inn
The Acorn Inn at Evershot - as featured in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Thomas Hardy's 16th Century country inn. Comfortable bedrooms. Excellent food and wine.

The Greyhound Inn
The Greyhound Inn

The Greyhound Inn offers a pub, restaurant and six bed and breakfast rooms in the heart of Sydling St Nicholas. This beautiful village is surrounded by countryside and history, with friendly locals and welcoming staff awaiting your visit.

A Doggy Day Out at the Abbey
Participatory Event
A Doggy Day Out at the Abbey

It's a fun-packed day for all the family and pooches with a 'Pets Got Talent' contest, have-a-go activities, canine first aid workshops, charity dog show, agility, dog product stands plus much more besides. Entry to the event is £5, under 12s free (includes 1 doggy activity of your choice) While you're here, why not make the most of your time at Forde Abbey. With a ticket to 'A Doggy Day Out,' you'll be entitled to a 20% discount on admission to Forde Abbey House and Gardens.

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands
Country Park/Nature Reserve
RSPB Weymouth Wetlands

Weymouth is very lucky to have two top class nature reserves in the centre of town. Radipole lake has always been a favourite place for wildlife enthusiasts. Lodmoor is where you can encounter a vast range of bird species.

Radipole Lake Nature Reserve
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Radipole Lake Nature Reserve

Radipole Lake is a quiet ‘wildlife oasis' in the heart of Weymouth and a great place to get close up with nature. Look for otter prints, go pond dipping and visit the bird hides.

Hive Beach Café
Fresh seafood at the Hive Beach Cafe, Burton Bradstock, Dorset

*LATEST UPDATE* Hive Beach Cafe re-opened on 12th April for alfresco dining and drinks. The Hive Beach Café is located right on the beach at Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast, with far reaching views across Lyme Bay and Chesil Beach. It's the perfect location to enjoy fresh, local seafood, homemade cakes or just a simple cup of tea.

Burton Bradstock (Hive Beach)
Hive Beach

The National Trust car parks at Hive Beach (Burton Bradstock) and Cogden Beach are now open. Spaces are limited, so if the car parks are full please come back another time. A shelving shingle beach, close to the village of Burton Bradstock. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy breath taking views round to Portland and right the way round to the East Devon Coast.



  1. Janpat 19.
    This is amazing. Wish you could get more information on dog friendly places to visit and to stay with our fur babies who really are members of our family. We just don't want to have to leave them behind usually in kennels while we are away.
    Thank you for this. It will be so useful when planning holidays with our dog.
    1. Visit Dorset
      Thanks for your positive feedback!
  2. Bungee
    Pleased to see dogs are welcomed. I was in Rye where dogs are banned nearly everywhere (except The Castle where we enjoyed a good lunch.)
  3. Linda
    Dog friendly social a not for profit community Facebook Page have a Google Map with businesses who welcome your dogs and you. Weymouth and Portland over 140 window stickers displayed for you to see which business welcome your dogs. We will shorty have a Google Map for Dorchester and Bridport. Please take a look at our page, you will be surprised.
    1. Visit Dorset
      Fantastic initiative - we'll keep an eye out for the window stickers.
  4. Rusty Chocolate Lab
    Wow! I hope my master takes me here soon! Thanks so much, will be great to escape to the countryside.
  5. Mel
    This is brilliant.
    We're coming to Dorset next month so this is great.
    Thanks Dylan.
  6. Scrumpy
    Durdle Door is one of my favourites, but Hive Beach looks a great place for a sniff around !!
    Dylan certainly is a well travelled dog and I bet his owners have had a cream tea or two !!
  7. Seasons Green, Corfe
    We have a shop and gallery full of lovely items, many of which are at dog-height :), so we do our best and welcome dogs inside on dry days! We also provide a bowl of water -- but more importantly we stock some lovely gifts for your canine companions.... locally handmade dog biscuits and their own range of grooming products. :)
  8. Dottie Ethel Lord
    I’m a black mini schnauzer girl. Just came home from north Devon. My family were so upset that I wasn’t allowed on beaches there. So good to read your blog. My mum is going to book Easter break for me and the rest of family 🐾🐾🐶💖💖
  9. Djalf
    Hi Dylan, we'd like to thank you for your recommendations! The hoomans took us to Hive Beach today (gorgeous day for December) and we had a great time getting filthy wet in the rain and on the cliff tops! Hoomans went to Hive Beach Cafe for food, but we were pooped so staying in the car was a good idea... we did get some smoked salmon treats though, for being good boys! From your lab admirers, Django and Alf (Subnote from humans: the Hive Beach 'cafe' was lovely and also surprisingly busy for December, it obviously has a good reputation locally which is good to see (and a lot of dogs under tables)!

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