Lizzie PopeSee other travel guides written by Lizzie Pope
Co-host of the London 2012 Olympic sailing events, Weymouth is an attractive place with a handsome Georgian esplanade and walkable centre. There are plenty of campsites for you to stay at within easy reach of the town, too, giving you lots of options for your caravan holidays in Weymouth.
Weymouth is the largest town in south Dorset, and has been a popular tourist resort for more than 200 years. It was one of George III’s famous bathing spots – a chalk carving just outside the town, of the king riding a horse, commemorates his many visits to the area.
It’s unsurprising that caravan holidays in Weymouth still prove to be so popular: the beach of Weymouth Bay is made up of shingle at one end and fine sand at the other. The sea here is clean and clear, the waves small and the water shallow, so it’s perfect for bathing.
Good shopping is available, with a number of the big name chains in the centre. The town is relatively compact, too, so exploring is easy – you won’t need to walk too far. The perimeter of the harbour makes a pleasant stroll: the harbour bridge is frequently raised to allow taller boats through. Within the town is a good selection of restaurants – the local seafood is particularly highly rated and worth sampling on your caravan holiday in Dorset.
Weymouth and nearby Portland shot to fame as hosts of the sailing events during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; the action took place in the Bay and in Portland Harbour. The town is now easier to reach than ever before, thanks to a relief road – completed at the start of 2011 – that has prevented the jams previously encountered on the single-carriageway, sole approach road. A park and ride service is available from alongside this road, to take you into the heart of the town.
If you’re travelling with children, family-orientated attractions in Weymouth include the Sea Life Park, the Sea Life Tower Weymouth (which offers great views across the Bay), Nothe Fort, the Lakeside Superbowl and fairground rides on the beach. Nature lovers will enjoy a stroll around Radipole Lake Nature Reserve, which has a large car park.
If you are going for a caravan holiday in this part of Dorset, you'll be pleased to learn that, perhaps unsurprisingly for such a tourist-orientated destination, you’ll find a good number of campsites in Weymouth and the surrounding area. Most are located to the west of the town, although there are a handful of static-caravan-only sites just to the east. Many are aimed at those with families; you’ll find a couple of adult-only sites further inland.
There aren’t any permanent campsites on Portland, so you’ll need to stay in Weymouth if you’re planning to visit the island.
Top five things to do in Weymouth
It might sound obvious, but you'll want to make sure you spend some time on Weymouth Beach on your caravan holiday. Stretching for three miles and mere minutes from the centre of town and the historic harbour, its blue flag status means it is clean and well maintained, and there is plenty going on to keep the whole family entertained. Also make sure you take a stroll down The Esplanade.
A few miles from Weymouth is Portland Castle, which overlooks Portland Harbour. One of Henry VIII's coastal forts, constructed to defend the Dorset coast from Spanish and French invaders, today the free audio tour brings its story to life, while weary feet can rest and hungry stomachs can be filled at the tearoom.
However you do it, no holiday in Dorset is surely complete without taking in part of the Jurassic Coast. The first natural World Heritage Site in England, the Dorset and East Devon Coast, also known as the Jurassic Coast, covers 95 miles of stunning coastline. You could visit the Isle of Portland, or maybe the 18-mile long Chesil Beach. And did you know that stone from this area was used to build the Tower of London?
When enjoying your caravan holiday in Weymouth, why not take a day out to the nearby village of Abbotsbury and visit the Children's Farm, the Subtropical Gardens or the award winning Swannery. Established by Benedictine monks back in the 1040s, visit the Swannery today to help hand feed around 600 swans or get lost in the giant willow maze.
Wander round Bennetts Water Gardens, eight acres of lakes and ponds surrounded by palms, wetland plants and more. See exotic plants and cacti in The Tropical House, while the Family Nature Trail ensures everyone will enjoy their visit.
When to visit Weymouth
There are lots of things to do in Weymouth throughout the year. How about Portland Fish and Ships, a springtime boat and food festival? In addition, the Dorset Seafood Festival comes to Weymouth Harbour in July, or if you fancy a bit of folk music, head to the harbourside for the Wessex Folk Festival.
If you're staying at a caravan park or campsite in Weymouth and the surrounding area, it won't take long to get to the Abbotsbury Quilt & Flower Festival that's held in July. Or you could head to the Tea on the Quay Music Festival, also in July, in Weymouth itself. The Sand Sculpture Festival at SandWorld is also pretty impressive.
How to get to Weymouth
The main road running into and out of Weymouth is the A354, which meets the A35 at Dorchester, making the seaside town easy to get to. Always remember that there are lots of tight, rural roads in Dorset so although the A-roads are fine when towing a caravan, a little off the beaten track might be a different story. Be sure to check with the campsite you're staying at in advance regarding access and routes to use and avoid.