A trip on a train to Dorset gives you the opportunity to explore unspoilt countryside, spectacular beaches, historic landmarks and coastal towns. Bordered by the English Channel to the south and home to the famous UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast, the county of Dorset in south-west England is just the place for a memorable break in the countryside.

For staycationers wishing to take a short break from neighbouring places, travelling by train is a popular way of reaching Dorset. The three railway lines and 23 stations that serve Dorset make it convenient for anyone making their way around the county. South Western Railway operates cross-country trains in addition to connecting stations like Weymouth, Bournemouth and Poole to London Waterloo station. If you're planning a quick break from the English capital, you'll be glad to know you can travel by train from London to Gillingham in roughly 2 hours.

Travelling from London to Dorset by Train

It’s easy to travel from London to Dorset by rail. The main station in Dorset is Bournemouth, which is served by South Western Railway services from London Waterloo. The fastest services to Bournemouth take just 1h 43m and you can hop on the train at Clapham Junction if you’re in South London.

There are lots of other spots in Dorset that are easily accessible by train from London. Trains to Weymouth takes 2h 38m, while services to Sherborne take 2h 7m. For Lyme Regis, you’ll want to travel to Axminster (3 hours) and travel onwards by bus. For Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, the closest station is Wool (2h 45m). Wherever you’re travelling, South Western Railway services are comfortable and efficient – there are plenty of services departing from London Waterloo to Dorset every day.

Read on for top tips on how to save a few pennies on your train tickets.

How to find the cheapest train tickets to Dorset

Getting your hands on cheap train tickets to Dorset is easier than you might think. With our top tips, you could save some of that hard-earned cash on rail travel and spend it exploring this wonderful county instead. Follow our instructions below, and you’ll be on your way!

First up, consider using a Railcard to get cheaper train tickets to Dorset. You only have to buy one for the whole year, and it can get you up to 1/3 off the price of your tickets*, so it’s a win-win purchase! There are different types available, including the popular Two-Together Railcard, but you can see which ones might apply to you by visiting our Railcards page. Railcards cater to different age ranges and circumstances so, from the Senior Railcard to the Disabled Persons Railcard and the newly-introduced 26-30 Railcard (Millennial Railcard), you'll be sure to find your match.

When you search for tickets in our Journey Planner, make sure that you’re booking well in Advance. In a lot of cases, you can secure cheaper train tickets by booking up to around three months in advance. This is because train companies usually release their tickets 12 weeks before the departure date, and prices can increase thereafter. Don’t worry though! You can sign up to our handy Ticket Alerts service, and we’ll email you as soon as tickets go on sale for your preferred route.

For a complete guide, including rules and restrictions, head over to our Advance train tickets page.

You can also increase your odds of securing the cheapest train tickets to Dorset by travelling at Off-Peak times. Why not book your Advance ticket for an Off-Peak time and add your Railcard for a super money-saving combo?

Get more info on benefits, rules, and restrictions by visiting our Off-Peak train tickets page.

Before you confirm your ticket booking, it can be worth comparing the prices of two Single tickets vs a Return journey, as on rare occasions one method may be cheaper than the other. On top of this, try selecting a specific Dorset station as opposed to ‘Dorset, any’ in our booking widget and look out for any price differences.

Are you travelling to Dorset in a group of three to nine people? If so, make sure to apply the GroupSave discount to your booking! Simply select GroupSave from the Railcard dropdown when booking tickets for the whole group and you could save as much as 34% on the total fare! Please bear in mind that GroupSave is not applicable for all journeys by the different train companies and will automatically be applied if valid for your journey and selected in the Railcard dropdown. All tickets must be purchased in a single booking, and all passengers must travel together on the day of departure.

Want more handy hints on how to save money on train tickets? Check out our cheap train tickets page.

Top 5 Destinations to Visit in Dorset

Dorset boasts many attractions, and those visiting in the summer months (April to October) have the opportunity to experience a quaint journey on board steam-hauled charter trains to Swanage. An award-winning service, the Swanage Railway takes you on a trip back in time. Hop onto a steam locomotive straight out of a period film and relax as the train carries you through scenic, historic sites like the Corfe Castle and stunning countryside of Purbeck.

Jurassic Coast

The 95-mile stretch spanning all the way from Studley to Devon is where visitors have their own Jurassic Park experience. An excavation site of 185 million-year-old fossils of animals and plants, it’s a popular ground for fossil-hunting. Visit the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre for a detailed look into fossils and the natural history of this stunning coastline.

Gillingham Railway Station

Gillingham station is managed by South Western Railway and operates a 169km-long line. Trains to Dorset arrive at Gillingham station every hour from London Waterloo. Enjoy a trip on one of these trains and spend time admiring the historic station before setting out to explore the beautiful county.

Maiden Castle

This magnificent attraction is among the biggest and most intricate Iron Age hill forts in all of Europe. The massive, defiant ramparts and entrenchments span the size of 50 football pitches and stand as a testimony to the strength of the castle. The first defences here are believed to have been built around 500 BC.

Abbotsbury Swannery

With around 600-900 swans in a natural lagoon, this swannery is straight out of a fairy tale. As baby swans hatch every year, the sanctuary turns into a spectacular sight, attracting visitors from all over. Don't forget to explore the scenic village of Abbotsbury nearby, particularly Chesil Beach and the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens.

Kingston Lacy

A stunning Italian palace, Kingston Lacy houses the United Kingdom’s biggest private collection of Egyptian artefacts as well as splendid pieces of art by renowned artists. The 17th-century country mansion is set amid 8,000 acres of parkland where you can take a leisurely stroll. Visit the beautifully restored Japanese Garden and sip tea at the authentic tea house.

Dorset train stations

The vast train network in Dorset makes it easy for all travellers not only to reach the county, but also to travel within it and discover its many facets. Check out our list of Dorset train stations. Easily book a ticket by entering the name of your chosen station into our widget.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get cheap train tickets to Dorset?

It's easy to grab yourself cheap train tickets to Dorset. We’d recommend using a Railcard, buying your ticket in advance or travelling during Off-Peak hours if you can. 

Are trains running to Dorset?

Trains run frequently almost every day to Dorset, although there may be less services during the weekends and bank holidays. Check our live train times for up-to-date information on trains to Dorset.

How long does it take to get to Dorset by train?

You can view train timetables and travel times to Dorset in our Journey Planner. Dorset is well connected to major cities around the UK by train, just enter your departure station and travel date into our Journey Planner to see how long it takes.

Can I use my Railcard to save up to 1/3 on my trip to Dorset?

Yes, there are several types of Railcards you can use to save up to 1/3 on your trip to Dorset, these include:

Having a Railcard means you can use it whenever you want outside of Peak times for a whole year too.

Average savings on fares booked prior to day of travel vs full price fares on day of travel in the UK. Subject to availability. Excludes coach.

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