Lakeside campsites near Poole with campfires

Blue flag beaches, Georgian architecture, and island cruises make Poole one of Dorset’s most elegant resorts.

99% (64 reviews)
99% (64 reviews)

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Lakeside campsites near Poole with campfires guide

Overview

Perched on the shores of Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbors in the world, there are plenty of ways to get on the water in Poole. Swim and build sandcastles at the 3-mile long Sandbanks beach, take a wildlife-watching cruise around Brownsea Island, or try kitesurfing, windsurfing, or stand-up paddleboarding around the harbor. Even camping comes with a view of the water, and there are several holiday parks and camping grounds along the seafront. Away from the coast, explore miles of cycling trails, picnic in the gardens of Upton Country Park, or enjoy wine tasting at a Dorset vineyard.

Where to go

Isle of Purbeck

Forming the southern coast of Poole Harbour, the Purbeck peninsula is fringed by steep limestone cliffs and spectacular coastal walks. Hike across the sea cliffs of Old Harry Rocks, discover the atmospheric ruins of Corfe Castle, or admire the views from the Swanage steam railway. Camping along the peninsula takes you back to nature, whether staying in a forest lodge or parking your motorhome on a working farm.

Jurassic Coast

West of Purbeck, Dorset’s UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast—so-called for the dinosaur fossils found on its beaches—stretches all the way to Orcombe Point. The coastal hikes here are some of the most impressive in the UK, with soaring cliffs, crumbling castle ruins, and sandy coves. Marvel at landmarks such as the Durdle Door, stay at ocean-view campsites along the way, and don’t forget to sample the region’s famous ale, a staple in local pubs.

Cranborne Chase

Escape to the countryside in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Area AONB, just a 30-minute drive north of Poole. Enjoy leisurely walks or bike rides through the downlands, admire wildflowers and rare orchids, and camp amid patchwork farmlands. To the north, the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is within day-trip distance, while to the south, the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest is a favorite for families.

When to go

May through October has the most pleasant weather for camping in Poole, and the beaches draw big crowds in July and August. Be sure to book ahead if you plan to visit at this time. Winter campers can keep Poole on their itinerary, too. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing and sunny days are still common—just swap your tent for a motorhome or caravan.

Know before you go

  • Poole has several camping and outdoors stores where you can pick up supplies for your camping trip. 
  • Poole has public transport links to many of the surrounding towns and attractions, but it is handy to have your own transport, especially if staying at rural campsites.
  • Most campsites require advance booking, and many ask for the full payment in advance. Be sure to check opening dates, as many campsites close in the winter months.
  • Wild camping is illegal throughout Dorset.

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