From majestic castle ruins to a quaint model village, those looking for places to visit in the small village of Corfe Castle will be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to see and do.
While Corfe Castle is most known for the picturesque and historic castle ruins that gave the town its name, that’s not all there is to enjoy in this pretty village!
In this post, we’ll be sharing our top picks for places to visit in Corfe Castle, including the best museums and where to get the most epic photos of the castle ruins.
We hope you enjoy learning about this beautiful town and be sure to let us know in the comments which Corfe Castle must-sees we should add to our list!
1. Corfe Castle
The castle ruins that gave the town its name are easily one of the most famous Corfe Castle tourist attractions and a must-see while you’re visiting.
Constructed in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, Corfe Castle stands on a steep hill overlooking a gap in the Purbeck Hills. It was one of the first Norman castles to be built using mostly stone, although it did also go through some structural changes in the centuries following.
King Edward the Martyr was murdered at Corfe Castle, which was later mostly destroyed during the English Civil War. Today the castle ruins are a protected site and a Grade I-listed building. Even though it’s a ‘ruined’ castle, these ruins still show the general castle layout and are definitely worth a visit.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: The ruins of Corfe Castle are open every day except Christmas, usually from 10am – 5pm during the summer and 10am – 4pm in the winter. Tickets cost 10 GBP for adults and 5 GBP for children.
2. Corfe Castle Model Village
One of the more unusual places to visit in Corfe Castle is the local model village, where you can feel like a giant walking around the town and castle ruins!
The Corfe Castle Model Village is an excellent spot to visit after you’ve explored the castle ruins, as the model of the castle actually shows how it would have looked before it was ruined. Then, of course, there are all the beautiful village houses to wander among, along with giant games, a croquet lawn, an enchanted fairy garden, and a mini museum.
You can also enjoy a light meal or refreshment at the Courtyard Café (which dates back to the 17th century) even if you aren’t visiting the model village. A Dorset Cream Tea with scones and local clotted cream is a culinary highlight!
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: Corfe Castle Model Village is open daily from 10am until 4pm. Tickets cost 4.50 GBP for adults and 3.40 GBP for children.
3. Corfe Castle Town Trust Museum
The town of Corfe Castle is home to a number of historic sites which are managed by the Corfe Castle Town Trust. Among these sites is the small but fascinating Corfe Castle Town Trust Museum.
Located on the ground floor of the former Corfe Castle Town Hall, this museum is open every day and free to visit – which is good since it is quite tiny! However, inside this little space is an interesting timeline of the history of the area, from the time of the dinosaurs all the way up until today.
It takes less than half an hour to wander among all the displays here, but it’s a great way to learn about the clay, stone and Purbeck Marble industries which have operated in the area, among other things. It’s located directly opposite the model village.
As a fun bonus, this building lays claim to being the smallest town hall building in England:
4. Corfe Castle Railway Station
The local train station is another one of the most popular Corfe Castle attractions, as it’s so historic and pretty.
Visiting the station is like stepping back in time, as it has been lovingly restored with period signs, wooden floors, coal fires, a Ladies’ Waiting Room and even the original Station Master’s lounge as it would have looked in the 1950s. Nowadays it is a station on the Swanage Heritage Railway, which runs between Wareham and Swanage on the Isle of Purbeck.
Visiting Corfe Castle via the historic steam train is a highlight of any trip, but even if you don’t travel by train you should stop by the station for a photo of the castle ruins rising up behind the platform. The view from the footbridge crossing the platform is one of the most photographed in Corfe Castle. If there’s a historic train puffing steam in the shot, even better!
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: Steam trains travel on the Swanage Railway every day between April and October, but only on weekends during March, November and December. In the peak summer season there can be as many as 17 trains a day, while there are usually around 6 during the shoulder season. Check out the official website for the full calendar, including fun special events.
5. Swanage Railway Museum
Also located at the train station is the Swanage Railway Museum, which is located in an old goods shed and is one of the best things to see in Corfe Castle if you’re interested in the history of the local railway.
The museum is open on days that the trains are running and inside are a number of interesting displays about the history of the Swanage line. This branch line ran between 1885 and 1972, before being reopened as a heritage line in 1982, although the Corfe Castle stop wasn’t reopened until 1995.
Visitors to the Swanage Railway Museum will find photographs, equipment, uniforms and other personal items from the people who worked on the railway. There’s also an Exhibition Coach and Cinema which shows the story of the railway rebuilding as well as a very cute Book Wagon where you can buy railway-related books and magazines.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: The Swanage Railway Museum is open between 10.30am and 4.30pm every day that the passenger trains are operating. It is free to visit but donations are of course appreciated.
6. The Greyhound Inn
If you happen to arrive in Corfe Castle via the train and then are walking through the town to visit the castle ruins, make sure you stop by the Greyhound Inn for lunch or a drink.
Not only is the Greyhound Inn located in a beautiful old stone building directly under the castle, but it’s also well-known for providing delicious and fresh local food, whether you want to eat in or grab a picnic to take with you as you explore the town.
There are gluten-free and vegetarian options available, with an excellent Sunday roast lunch menu. The inn is also dog-friendly!
PS: Their beer garden is one of the best Corfe Castle destinations to enjoy a pint while overlooking the castle ruins, as you can see below:
7. West Hill (Or Any of the Surrounding Hills)
There’s no shortage of beautiful photo spots at Corfe Castle, but a favourite among photographers is West Hill, where lucky shutterbugs can catch the sun rising behind the castle (if there’s no cloud cover, that is!)
Of course, there are many other photo-worthy spots from the surrounding hills of Corfe Castle, so you’re really spoiled for choice. For instance, East Hill is known as a great spot for sunset, but you can read more about other vantage points in detail here.
8. West Street & East Street
These two picturesque streets are filled with little shops, tea rooms, cafes, and galleries – perfect for browsing before or after a visit to Corfe Castle.
West Street is the street where the Corfe Castle Model Village is located, along with some beautiful accommodation options, the National Trust Tearoom, the village bakery, the cute (and quirkily named) Pink Goat brasserie and the Fox Inn.
East Street connects to the A351 highway, but the main section in the village is also where you can find The Village Hall, the Castle Inn, a lovely art gallery and the Box of Delights Ice Cream Shop.
In between both streets is the church of St Edward, King and Martyr which was probably built around the 12th century. Wandering among these main streets and popping into whatever most takes your fancy is an idyllic way to spend a day in Corfe Castle!
9. Dorset Adventure Park
If you’re getting tired of ruins and history then the Dorset Adventure Park is one of the best places to visit near Corfe Castle as an exhilarating antidote.
Located just down the road from the castle ruins heading away from the town, this park is spread out over two main lakes within 18 acres of woodland and is a popular spot with both children and adults, especially for parties or with those training for ‘Tough Mudder.’
There’s an inflatable outdoor water park and a mud trail – both activities feature plenty of obstacles designed to knock visitors into the water or mud! For those who prefer a more relaxed excursion, it’s free to watch others playing in the park and have a picnic while overlooking the castle ruins.
Did we miss any of your favourite places to visit at Corfe Castle?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to the list!