A delightful selection of Dorset holiday cottages for families and friends can be found in one of England's most beautiful counties. Dorset's appeal is that it offers holidaymakers a choice of self-catering holidays by the sea or inland in wonderfully-named, idyllic and sleepy villages such as Compton Abbas, Gussage All Saints and Lytchett Matravers. Whether for a weekend break in a secluded country cottage in Beaminster, a luxury holiday home in Sherborne or Dorset coast cottages for leisurely summer holidays in quaint seaside cottages from Swanage to Lyme Regis, you will fall in love with the fresh air and slow way of life in Dorset.

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It's not just the tranquil charm of its quaint holiday cottages in Dorset that attracts visitors to the county - it's their location too. Dorset also offers its visitors a wide choice of lovely beaches. Find coastal cottages in Dorset from the seaside resort of Weymouth in the east along the South West Coast Path to the Regency town of Lyme Regis. There's a splendid choice of Dorset coast cottages including the long shingle banks of Chesil Beach (taking in the world-famous Swannery at Abbotsbury), Studland Bay, Burton Bradstock, peaceful Charmouth and picturesque Lulworth Cove. Just think of a day spent both fishing in rock pools on a beach for minute sea-creatures (Kimmeridge Bay is particularly recommended), and then turning to the cliffs on this famous Jurassic coastline. Here, winter rockfalls often reveal fossils (although you're no longer allowed to go digging for them).

There's an equally appealing choice of attractions to enjoy away from Dorset's south coast beaches. Why not spend an afternoon viewing the Purbeck countryside from the windows of a heritage steam train on the Swanage Railway. Catch your train at Corfe and while there, visit the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle high on the hill above the town. Head west to Bovington where you'll find the (seriously) best and most entertaining of tank museums or the nearby Monkey World which is as educational as its primates are adorable.

In the far west of Dorset lie the attractive little coastal towns of Bridport, West Bay with its wonderful fish restaurant and Lyme Regis.

Inland Dorset is as pretty as the names of its villages imply. How can you resist a holiday in a county with place names such as Fifehead Magdalen, Purse Caundle, Hazelbury Bryan, Piddletrenthide, Sixpenny Handley, Toller Fratrum and Tolpuddle (home of the Tolpuddle Martyrs).

Many of its towns boast splendid vernacular architecture (usually accompanied by quaint tea rooms) as visitors to Blandford Forum or Gold Hill in Shaftesbury will readily testify. The latter is the location for a famous Hovis Bread advert in the 70's.

Other attractions well worth a visit include the Model Town at Wimbourne and, at the end of August, the Great Dorset Steam Fair near Blandford Forum. The Steam Fair is so large you'll need more than one day to work your way around it. Of course, this shouldn't be a problem if you are staying in a Dorset holiday cottage!