Travelling to Dorset

Travelling to a new place, whether by car, train or bus, can often be a daunting prospect, which is why we tailor-make a travel guide for each of our regions, so that you can get a general overview of how to navigate your holiday county. All of our Dorset Holiday Cottages come with guidance on how to reach them, including extra details on parking and transport links nearby. But this guide should help you to plan your journey to Dorset and how to travel around the county smoothly once you arrive!

Child looking out of an open car window on a sunny day

By Car

Driving to and across Dorset is a challenge in and of itself, as this is a county defined by its country roads and rural routes. But never fear, we have condensed the main driving routes across the country into this handy list, so take a look and start planning (but maybe consult your SatNav too)!

  • From Cornwall, take the A30 towards Exeter (join here if you’re travelling from Devon) and then take the A3052 through South Devon to get to Charmouth. Here you can join the A35 that will take you along the Dorset Coast and towards Dorchester, where you can access the Dorset countryside. 
  • From Bristol and the South West, use the M5 towards Taunton and then the A358 to access West Dorset. 
  • If you’re coming from the South East, travel toward Southampton via the M27 and then join the A31 towards Dorchester, or branch off onto the A338 for Bournemouth and the East Dorset coast. 
  • The A35 runs from Bournemouth, through Dorchester and onwards to Bridport and West Dorset, so a great route across the Dorset countryside. 
  • The A354 is your go-to if you’re holidaying in East Dorset, as it runs from Dorchester to Weymouth and onto the Isle of Portland. 
  • If you’re travelling from further afield, you’ll want to travel toward Dorset via M5, M40 or M3 depending on where you are travelling from, but we suggest you check this on Google Maps or a journey planner before you set off to see which will be more time-efficient. 

Old passenger train on the track

By Train

Southwestern Rail, Great Western and Cross Country train services help connect Dorset to the rest of the country. Which one of these you take will depend on where you’re venturing from. Cross Country services to Bournemouth run from Manchester and go through Birmingham and other major cities and towns, so this is the line you’ll want to take if you’re travelling from the North or midlands. 

Southwestern Rail has a line that runs from London Waterloo to Weymouth calling at: Woking, Basingstoke, Southampton Central, Bournemouth, Poole, Wareham, Wool, Dorchester South and many other stops across Dorset. This is a great option for those travelling from London, but can also be used to get around Dorset once you are on your holiday. To check timetables and buy tickets, visit the Southwestern Rail website

The Heart of Wessex line run by Great Western Railway is a great option for those travelling from Bristol and the southwest. Arriving in Dorset in Dorchester and Weymouth, the line also stops at Towbridge and Yeovil among other towns. 

Bus station shelter

By Bus/Coach

There is a National Express bus station in Bournemouth, from which you can take a coach to popular Dorset stops such as Westbourne and Poole. National Express coaches also stop in West Dorset, Dorchester and Weymouth, so getting to Dorset via coach is a very feasible and potentially more affordable option. To plan your journey to Dorset with the National Express, check out their interactive route map, which also has timetable information and details on how to buy tickets. 

There are also plenty of bus routes across Dorset, helping you to hop from town to town without the need for a car. With affordable tickets available for purchase online or onboard, travelling around Dorset on the bus is easy, cheap and scenic. To pre-plan your bus journeys and check which services are running closest to your Dorset holiday home, take a look at Dorset Council’s bus services page.