Dorset is a tale of two landscapes: the chalky downlands of Cranborne Chase and the Purbeck Hills, with their pretty villages and grand houses; and the wild, adventure-friendly Jurassic Coast, rebranded but untamed.
Uniting the two are this sunny county’s sunny disposition and approachable nature, not to mention a market renaissance that has Dorset’s bakeries, kitchens and restaurants catching up with its breweries and orchards. A single weekend down here can take you from ocean‑view hike to Bridport brasserie; from Iron Age hill fort to sailing lessons in Poole Harbour (the second largest in the world). Neither London‑on‑sea trendy, nor too remote for a quick getaway, Dorset’s resorts and countryside are favourites for natural beauty, fair weather and good old‑fashioned fun.
Summer’s a shoo-in, with Dorset among the UK’s top five sunniest counties. May is wonderful for seeing the coastal-path flowers at their height. Winter can be forbidding for serious Jurassic hikes, but among the gentle beaches and resorts, the off-season coast is a treat.