Dorset is a fantastic place to visit for people of all ages and abilities.
To make planning your perfect break a little easier, we have put together a selection of information and helpful access guides for areas across Dorset.
Looking for wheelchair friendly self catering or serviced accommodation.
We have a list of accessible accommodation in Dorset that have taken part in the National Accessible Scheme.
Many of the places to stay featured on this website will also have accommodation that is either accessible by lift or located on the ground floor which could also be suitable for your visit, however they may not have requirements that some of our visitors need. Therefore we always advise confirming the specifics directly with your chosen accommodation, unfortunately at this time very few businesses participate in an accredited accessibility scheme, so this information will usually be self-assessed by the owner of the businesses. An access statement may be available on request or on the website of the specific accommodation provider to help you.
If you need a little extra help getting around whilst on holiday, Dorset's mobility hire companies will hire out wheelchairs and mobility scooters for a range of needs:
- Active Mobility is based in Weymouth.
- Purbeck Mobility Centre is based in Wareham.
There are many toilets provided by local authorities across the country check these websites to find the nearest accessible toilet at your destination
Standard accessible toilets will not meet the needs of all people with a disability. Find out where the Dorset Changing place toilets are currently located.
New changing places toilets will be opening during 2023.
Swanage at North Beach car park
Studland at Knoll Beach National Trust car park
Corfe Castle at Castle View National Trust car park
West Bay all-inclusive play area
West Bay Holiday Park
Bridport bus station and visiting coach park
Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park
Blue Badge holders
Information can be found online about parking with the use of a disability blue badge in Dorset Council car parks and on-street parking. Information for blue badge holders is also available for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole car parks and Swanage car parks.
The attractions of Dorset offer varying levels of accessibility so we recommend checking their websites for the full and up to date information about their facilities. Look out for a link to their accessibility guide.
The Dorset Tourism Awards have commended the following attractions for their accessibility and inclusivity:
Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve in Swanage - the 2020 VisitEngland winning attraction for access and inclusivity. Accessibility guide for Durlston Country Park.
Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester. Accessibility guide for Shire Hall.
Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre near Wareham.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest near Ringwood.
The Tank Museum the world’s best collection of tanks in awe-inspiring, modern exhibitions - Accessibility guide for the Tank Museum. The museum opens for some quiet mornings and can provide sensory backpacks for children.
There are lots of beautiful beaches and coves in Dorset but access to some of the wilder locations will often involve many steps or steep slopes, which will not be ideal for all our visitors.
We’ve put together a beach guide which gives a quick overview about Dorset beaches and coves to help you plan your visit. The guide gives information about blue badge parking, accessible toilets and general accessibility to and on the beaches.
There are many beaches in our popular resorts with level esplanades, ideal for both wheelchairs and pushchairs. Matting on beaches (available during the peak holiday season) are located at Boscombe, Sandbanks, Swanage, Weymouth, West Bay and Lyme Regis beaches. Studland’s Knoll beach has a wooden boardwalk onto the sand. Please check to see when the accessible matting is down for your chosen location. These are very popular beaches during the summer, so careful timing is advised to avoid crowds and access suitable nearby parking spaces.
Beach wheelchairs can be booked in advance from Studland's Knoll beach, Bournemouth, Boscombe, Branksome Chine, Sandbanks and Lyme Regis.
Accessible beach hut hire can be booked at Swanage and Boscombe.
Accessible boat trips
There are all types of water craft and boats that can be hired or chartered in Dorset but some are worth highlighting here as they can be enjoyed by people with limited mobility along with friends and families. Poole Harbour in Dorset is the largest natural harbour in Europe and offers great opportunities for sailing and boat trips.
At Wareham Boat Hire on the River Frome a boat can be hired or chartered along with a Skipper for up to 8 people to enjoy the river, angling, nature or a picnic together. The ‘Wheelyboat’ has a hassle free roll-on and off access and flat deck providing access to all corners of the boat, accessible helm or drive-from-wheelchair console and is great for all abilities.
The Dolphin is a specially designed boat for people with disabilities and carers and can accommodate up to 12 passengers, the boat can be berthed from Dolphin Marina, Poole and Poole Quay. The boat has a level walk/wheel on-and-off ramp and a flat board open deck to accommodate wheelchairs and has toilet facilities on-board. The Dolphin charity offers free trips for disabled passengers. Trips include the scenic Poole Harbour and up the River Frome to Wareham. The Dolphin will not be operating during 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Knoticat is a ten metre sailing catamaran, offering the opportunity to give all disabled people and their carers the chance to sail and enjoy the beautiful waters in and around Poole Harbour. Knoticat sails every week day from April to September.
Countryside Mobility (not for profit organisation) works with eight attraction partners across Dorset. Their aim is to enable the hire out electric all-terrain mobility scooters, designed to be easily used on rough ground, mud and grass for people to gain better access to the countryside.
Dorset locations include:
- Avon Heath Country Park nr Ringwood
- Thomas Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre and Woodland, Dorchester
- Jurassic Coast, Eype (Highlands End Holiday Park).
- Moors Valley Country Park, Nr Ringwood
- RSPB Arne, Wareham
- Durlston Country Park, Swanage
- Holton Lee, Holton Heath, Poole
- Lulworth Cove
- Studland Bay - South Beach
- Stonebarrow, Charmouth
Find out about how to book a Tramper Mobility Scooter at these locations and read more details about the terrain on the Countryside Mobility website.
Watch a video about how to use a Tramper Mobility Scooter if you’ve never tried one before. Using a Tramper Mobility Schooter
Guides for additional needs
Bournemouth Accessibility Guide
Simple and practical information on access, transport, parking and public toilets designed to help enable visitors make an informed decision when planning their holiday, short break away or day out.
Additional printed publications to further assist your visit are available on request from Tourist Information Centres.
Tourism for All UK is the UK Voice for Accessible Tourism - a national charity dedicated to making tourism welcoming to all.
For more tips and advice on accessible holiday travel in England, go to the EnjoyEngland website.
An accessibility guide for the towns of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Reconnect With Nature
Visit Dorset's nature reserves which are accessible and have Tramper all-terrain mobilty scooters for hire.
View accommodation in Dorset which have been rated as accessible under the National Accessible Scheme.