Dorchester Tourist Information Centre, 11 Antelope Walk, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1BE Tel: 01305 267992 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
FInd out more about Dorchester Tourist Information Centre

museum_iconThe Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1XA
Tel: 01305 262735 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Find out more about the Dorset County Museum


Dorchester is a historic market town with its roots in Roman times; however it is most famously associated with Thomas Hardy. With its elegant 18th century houses, broad Walks and bustling shopping streets, Dorchester has much to offer the visitor.

History is all around you in Dorchester from the impressive Iron Age dwellings at Maiden Castle and Poundbury, to the Roman amphitheatre at Maumbury Rings and the mosaic-floored Roman town house. 

There are museums to suit every taste:
The County Museum traces Dorchester's rich history and now features the new Jurassic Coast Gallery, designed as a focal point for all visitors to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Visitors to the new Gallery can learn how the coast was formed, what you can see today, and why it is so important. This fascinating geological story is delivered through touch, sound, text, and interactive displays, and at levels to suit all ages and all abilities.

Other museums include the award winning Dinosaur Museum, the Keep Military Museum, The enchanting Dorset Teddy Bear museum, which is home to a family of human sized bears, The Terracotta Warrior Museum and the internationally acclaimed re-creation of Tutankhamun's tomb and treasures.

As well as having thriving businesses in Dorchester town centre, on Wednesdays, the town is transformed by a huge, bustling market. Part covered, there are over 500 stalls, including a local farmers' market, bric-a-brac and fresh fish and seafood. 

The Borough Gardens at the top of town are a hive of activity in the summer, with tennis, bowls, a children's playground and regular events at the weekends.  Within a few minutes walk of anywhere in town you'll find quiet river walks and pretty meadows.

Dorchester is also known as the heart of Thomas Hardy Country.  Hardy grew up in Dorchester and based the fictional town of Casterbridge on it. Hardy's childhood home can be found to the east of the town, and his house in town, Max Gate, is open to the public.

Dorchester is the perfect base from which to explore the Jurassic Coast and the beautiful Dorset countryside. 

Getting There

By Bus: There are also local regular bus services, for details contact Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 or visit Traveline Find out more about the Jurassic Coast Bus Service

By Coach: There are regular daily services to Bristol, Newquay, London, Bournemouth and Birmingham; contact Tel: 08705 808080 or visit National Express

By Rail:  South West trains provide a regular rail service between London Waterloo and Weymouth, calling at Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester South. The Bristol Temple Meads to Weymouth service calls at Maiden Newton and Dorchester West. Contact National Rail Enquiries on Tel: 08457 484950 or visit National Rail Enquiries.

By Road: If you are driving to Dorset from the north, leave the M5 at junction 25 and follow the signs for Yeovil, then Weymouth. From the east, follow the M3 and M27 to Ringwood, then the A31 to Dorchester. The A31 and A35 cross the county, giving access to the West Country.


Map Key

  • Gateway Town

  • Abbotsbury

    This very old village, settled amongst the hills behind the great Chesil Bank, is world famous for its swannery.

  • Axminster

    Axminster, is a pleasant market town with charm and character. Its famous carpet industry was started in 1755, by Thomas Whitty whose factory produced high quality, custom made carpets for stately homes and mansions.

  • Axmouth

    A ten minute walk along the coast from Seaton is the ancient harbour of Axmouth, home to the Sea Discovery Centre.

  • Beer

    Gateway Town road sign

    Nestling in a small valley, lies the delightful, 'picture postcard', fishing village of Beer.

  • Bournemouth

    Bournemouth is a superb resort and offers something for everyone.

  • Branscombe

    The picturesque village of Branscombe is said to be the longest in the country, sweeping down a spectacular valley, past colourful thatched cottages with hanging baskets and climbing roses, down to the sea and a shingle beach.

  • Bridport

    Bridport is a small market town with a warm welcome and a world renowned rope and net making industry.

  • Budleigh Salterton

    Gateway Town road sign

    This tranquil and historic seaside town nestles on the edge of a pebble beach beneath spectacular red cliffs, made famous by literary giants such as Noel Coward, P.G. Woodhouse and Anthony Trollope.

  • Charmouth

    Gateway Town road sign

    Charmouth is a quiet seaside hamlet where time has stood still - the perfect location for a relaxing holiday. It is the best place along the Jurassic Coast to look for fossils.

  • Corfe Castle

    This section is being developed.

  • Dorchester

    Dorchester is a historic market town with its roots in Roman times; however it is most famously associated with Thomas Hardy. With its elegant 18th century houses, broad Walks and bustling shopping streets, Dorchester has much to offer the visitor.

  • Exeter

    Old and new lie side by side to make Exeter a rich and vibrant city.

  • Exmouth

    Gateway Town road sign

    Exmouth, at the estuary's mouth, marks the World Heritage Coastline's western gateway and despite being one of England's oldest resorts, remains untouched by commercialism.

  • Honiton

    Honiton is famous for lace making and is also a major centre for antiques, with shops devoted to furniture, art and second-hand books.

  • Kimmeridge

    Long rock ledges, a pebbled beach line and rocky outcrops all make this bay stunning.

  • Langton Matravers

    This section is being developed.

  • Lyme Regis

    Gateway Town road sign

    The seaside town of Lyme Regis nestles in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the point where the rugged West Dorset and East Devon coastlines meet - the heart of the Jurassic Coast.

  • Ottery St Mary

    Ottery St Mary is a little town with a long history. Ottery's roots run deeper than Doomsday Book. In 1061, Edward the Confessor ceded the already established wealthy manor of Oterie to the Cathedral Chapter of Rouen.


  • Poole

    Poole Harbour is the second largest harbour in the world after Sydney, Australia. The Quay is a hive of activity all year round with a huge array of fishing boats, yachts, powerboats and pleasure cruisers.

  • Portland

    Gateway Town road sign

    Portland is an explorer's island with beautiful scenery and a mysterious quality of isolation, joined only to the mainland by Chesil Beach.

  • Seaton

    Gateway Town road sign

    Tucked away in the south eastern corner of Devon, is the beautiful, unspoilt Axe Valley. At the mouth of the River Axe is the friendly, coastal resort of Seaton.

  • Sidmouth

    Gateway Town road sign

    Sidmouth still has a unique charm, which has captivated thousands. Beautiful gardens, leisurely walks, Regency history, fine hotels, clean beaches and friendly shops - it's all here in this lovely seaside town.

  • Studland

    The lovely village of Studland is famous for its National Nature Reserve and beautiful natural bay. The village has an interesting Norman church with breathtaking views across the bay.

  • Swanage

    Gateway Town road sign

    The gentle shelving beach at Swanage, with its Victorian pier and fabulous views across to the Needles on the Isle of Wight, is hugely popular with families.

  • Wareham

    Gateway Town road sign

    Wareham is a fascinating and picturesque market town which dates back over 2000 years.

  • West Bay

    Gateway Town road sign

    Just south of Bridport is the pretty harbour village of West Bay, once known as Bridport Harbour. 

  • West Lulworth

    Lulworth Cove is a stunning, textbook perfect, cove and the landscape surrounding it is some of the most outstanding in Britain.

  • Weymouth

    Gateway Town road signWeymouth has so much to offer every visitor. Its fame as a seaside resort dates back over 200 years when King George III holidayed here.