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A Guide To Visiting Corfe Castle, Dorset, England

by Chloe Gunning
Corfe Castle
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Thinking of visiting Corfe Castle? This guide has all the information you could need to plan a great day out.

The county of Dorset is packed with natural wonders and fascinating historical sights. From Durdle Door’s epic limestone arch, to the charming village of Abbotsbury and the steep cliffs of West Bay, it’s an area packed outstanding natural beauty.

I visited Dorset for the first-time last year and absolutely fell in love with the region. Corfe Castle was a highlight, so I felt it was only right but to share a little more about visiting!

Weymouth Harbour

Weymouth Harbour

What is Corfe Castle?

Corfe Castle isn’t just a castle, it’s also the name of the village it overlooks. As you drive down the small village’s main street, you’ll be amazed by the view. The ruins of the ancient castle stand ominously behind the village, perched on top of a 55m tall hill.

It’s thought that the first stones were laid over 1,000 years ago. However, the original keep was constructed out of local limestone for William the Conqueror’s son (King Henry I) around the start of the 12th century.

Graveyard in Corfe Castle with ruins in the background

Graveyard in Corfe Castle with ruins in the background

Around this time most castles were built from earth and timber, so it’s thought that this was a particularly important castle. Throughout history the castle had numerous uses, from being a royal residence and a treasury, to being a military fortress.

Unfortunately, the castle was ordered to be destroyed after the English Civil War, so while it’s not intact today, the ruins are still pretty special to see! These days the site is run by the National Trust, and has its own visitor centre and tea rooms.

The ruins of Corfe Castle, Dorset

The ruins of Corfe Castle, Dorset

How should I plan my visit to Corfe Castle?

When I visited we chose to park in the village and walk to the castle, as well as wander the pretty streets. It’s a small village, so it won’t take long to do a lap, but it’s well worth it.

There are pretty thatched cottages with colourful doors and pretty window boxes filled with flowers, traditional tea rooms, an old-fashioned sweet shop and a few pubs. It’s got that feeling of a quintessential English village.

Exploring Corfe Castle, Dorset

Exploring Corfe Castle, Dorset

And then there’s the castle. I’d recommend around 45 minutes at the castle itself. You’ll want a bit of time to walk up the steep hill, then to read some of the information dotted around the site. Once you’ve taken a few photos and enjoyed the impressive views of the area, you can wander back to the entrance and stop off for a nice cuppa!

Looking out from Corfe Castle, Dorset

Looking out from Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle

View from Corfe Castle

How much does it cost to visit Corfe Castle

Tickets for Corfe Castle are available at the National Trust tourist information centre at the entrance. The prices vary according to the time of year you visit. As a general rule, peak times coincide with standard school holidays.  

Adult tickets to visit Corfe Castle – £12 (peak) or £11 (off-peak)
Child tickets to visit Corfe Castle – £6 (peak) or £5.50 (off-peak) – Age 5-17
There are also options for group or family tickets.

National Trust members are free – National Trust membership costs £72 per year.

Path up to Corfe Castle, Dorset

Path up to Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle visiting times 

The castle is open every single day of the year, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and 7th March.

In general, Corfe Castle’s opening hours are 10am – 4pm, with the last entry at 3.30pm. Occasionally this changes, or they have to close the site due to bad weather.

Exploring Corfe Castle, Dorset

Exploring Corfe Castle, Dorset

How to get to Corfe Castle 

Corfe Castle is located in the south west of England, on the Isle of Purbeck (Dorset), between Wareham and Swanage. You can use this map to navigate the best route for your visit…

Corfe Castle map

Visiting Corfe Castle by car

The simplest way to navigate is to use this Corfe Castle postcode: BH20 5EZ. Most people heading to the village will travel along the A351 (between Wareham and Swanage).

There are several car parks in the village and close to the castle. If you’re visiting in the summer holidays, you might struggle to find a spot as it does get busy! My advice? Go early!

Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle parking information

When we visited we parked in West Street Car Park (postcode BH20 5HH) – a pay and display car park with 125 spaces, just a short walk from the castle. It cost £3.10 for a 3-hour ticket during peak time.

Other options include the National Trust car park (free for members) that’s below the castle at Castle View visitor centre. Beware though, this one involves a pretty steep walk uphill!

There’s another fun option, which is great if you’ve got kids. You can use the park and ride option in the village of Norden, then catch the Swanage Railway steam train to the Corfe Castle Railway Station. You can find out more and check train times and ticket prices here. These don’t run all year round, so definitely check before you travel!

Most of the car parks we used in Dorset required us to put in our car’s number plate, so make sure you know that off by heart.

Path up to Corfe Castle, Dorset

Path up to Corfe Castle, Dorset

Visiting Corfe Castle by public transport

You can also reach Corfe Castle by bus and train. You’ll need to catch the No.40 bus which goes from Poole to Swanage, stopping in Wareham. As a rough guide, it takes 13 minutes from Wareham, 21 minutes from Swanage or 48 minutes from Poole. Alternatively, you can use Swanage Railway as mentioned above.

Best time to visit Corfe Castle

In terms of weather, the warmest time to visit Corfe Castle is in the summer months. Between July and September, the average temperature is 17 Celsius, but can reach highs of 26 Celsius… although if there’s a heatwave across the south of England, temperatures could be even higher! 

It gets pretty cold in winter, with average temperatures in December January of 5 Celsius. There’s often a bracing wind, especially up on the hill itself, so wrap up warm.

I’d recommend visiting in June or September as crowds will be reduced out of the school holidays, parking will be easier, and the experience will be more relaxed.

Winter sunset at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Winter sunset at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle walks

If you fancy making more of a day of it, then there are some lovely walks which pass through Corfe Castle. One of the best takes you from Corfe Castle, along The Purbeck Ridgeway to the coast, passing Old Harry Rocks, and venturing on to Swanage. It’s around 9 miles in total, and takes approximately 5 hours 30 mintes. You can find out more about the route here.

There’s also this route from Corfe Castle to Kimmeridge if you fancy something shorter, but equally as pretty.

Frosty morning at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Frosty morning at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Where to eat in Corfe Castle

Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or some hearty pub grub, there are a handful of great options in the area.

Corfe Castle pubs

The Greyhound Inn – One of the most popular pubs in Corfe Castle as it sits directly below the castle. Lots of great reviews for their fish and chips.

The Fox Inn – Dating back to the 1500s, this is a historic pub with lots of character and a roaring fire. It’s dog friendly, so a good option if you’re visiting on a walking route. It’s also renowned for its Sunday roasts. 

The Castle Inn – Small pub with lots of character, serving traditional pub classics and local seafood.

Corfe Castle village and ruins

Corfe Castle village and ruins

Other places to eat in Corfe Castle

Mortons House Hotel – The best restaurant in Corfe Castle, offering a fine-dining menu in smart surroundings. Book in advance if you can! 

Bankes Arms Hotel – In the centre of the village, this is another option offering standard pub food, from lunchtime baguettes to meaty burgers in the evenings.

The Pink Goat – Cute café, perfect for lunch in Corfe Castle. Expect tea, cakes, quiches, soups and more. 

Corfe Castle Village Bakery – If you want to grab a pastry or a snack, this is a great option.

National Trust Tearooms – Rather overpriced, but it does offer a great view of the castle and serves up a decent cream tea.

Corfe Castle Model Village Gardens & Café – If you’re looking for somewhere to sit outside, then this café has a lovely garden area. It’s another easy option for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Cottages and ruins in Corfe Castle

Cottages and ruins in Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle accommodation options

There are plenty of options of places to stay in Dorset. Whether you want to book a holiday cottage, a B&B or book a camping pitch, there are plenty of places to choose from. If you want to find some accommodation near Corfe Castle, these are my top picks…

B&Bs and Hotels near Corfe Castle  

Mortons House Hotel

Right in the village of Corfe Castle, and only 5-minute walk to the castle, this 16th century manor house is a great option. With cosy lounges, a well-respected restaurant and everything you could need on the doorstep, you’ll be very comfortable here.  It also includes free parking – something very handy in a tiny village like this one! 

Check prices and availability at Mortons House Hotel here

Mortons House Hotel, Corfe Castle

Mortons House Hotel, Corfe Castle

Ammonite B&B

A cosy B&B right in the heart of Corfe Castle, offering a hearty breakfast and free parking. Rooms look comfortable and there are lots of positive reviews.

Check prices and availability at Ammonite here

Olivers B&B

Another option if you’re looking for a friendly B&B in Corfe Castle. Olivers is close to the castle and the station, and is another with great reviews.

Check prices and availability at Olivers here

Corfe Castle cottages and holiday homes  

The Old Guildhall

This stylish holiday home has three bedrooms, a great garden, BBQ area and is close to the castle and village.  

Check prices and availability at The Old Guildhall here

The Old Guildhall, Corfe Castle

The Old Guildhall, Corfe Castle

Tavern Way

This basic holiday cottage has two bedrooms and is close to everything you could need in the village.

Check prices and availability at Tavern Way here

Camping near Corfe Castle 

Camping in Dorset is popular in the warmer months of the year. If you want to camp near Corfe Castle, check out Corfe Castle Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Norden Farm Campsite and Woodhyde Campsite.  

In the stocks at Corfe Castle, Dorset

In the stocks at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Other things to do near Corfe Castle

After checking out the Corfe castle ruins, there are plenty more places to add to your trip around Dorset. I had a great road trip in the region in the autumn, and would recommend a quick read of this post for some great suggestions.

From walking along the Jurassic Coast, to exploring pretty villages, gardens and more, here are a few quick ideas to get you started! 

Durdle Door – The most famous spot on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door is an impressive natural limestone archway standing in the sea. Find out more about visiting Durdle Door

Durdle Door Beach, Dorset

Durdle Door Beach, Dorset

Lulworth Cove – A stunning cove that is almost a perfect circle, best seen from the cliffs on the South West Coast Path.

West Bay – Beautiful beach famous for its huge sandstone cliffs, with 140ft sheer drops to the ground below.

West Bay, Dorset

West Bay, Dorset

Milton Abbas – A picture postcard village of white cottages with thatched roofs and perfect green lawns

Lulworth Castle – 17th-century mock castle now housing a museum, with lovely gardens open all year round.

Old Harry Rocks – Breathtaking views on the walk from Studland Bay to see the chalk standing stones.

Portland Bill – Classic red and white striped lighthouse on the Isle of Portland.

Old Harry Rocks, Dorset

Old Harry Rocks, Dorset

I hope you’ve found this guide to visiting Corfe Castle helpful! Don’t miss Durdle Door too, and you can find out more about visiting Dorset and what I got up to on my recent trip here

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