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 Dorset (Gillingham) in roughly 2 hours.
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.
Top 5 Destinations to Visit in Dorset
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travelling from London to Dorset by Train
South Western Railway runs two direct services to Dorset from London Waterloo. A convenient hourly train runs between London Waterloo and Exeter St Davids, calling at Sherborne and Gillingham stations in Dorset.
The other route operates twice hourly every day except for Sunday when it runs hourly. Departing from London Waterloo, it goes to Weymouth and calls at 14 stations in Dorset along the way – including Poole, Christchurch, Dorchester South, Wareham and Bournemouth.
Trains are also available from London to Moreton station in Dorset. Other options of reaching Dorset by train include taking a direct train from London Waterloo to Wareham. Once again operated by South Western Railway, with stops at multiple stations, including Southampton, Bournemouth, Parkstone and Poole.
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.