With 7 miles of award-winning sandy beach, all lined with promenades, gardens and iconic piers, Bournemouth has all the trappings of the traditional English seaside resort. But it’s also one of our coolest coastal towns with the arrival of chic beach huts, independent cafés and restaurants, and relaxed boutique family hotels. It's a thriving Dorset town that’s a perfect base for a holiday, weekend break or day trip.
Set back from the beach, Bournemouth station offers convenient links for the rest of your journey, with frequent buses to the town centre and the airport, and connections with National Express coach routes. PlusBus is available for an add-on fare of £3.50, and there’s also a taxi rank and nearby car hire.
Bournemouth’s fabulous stretch of sandy beach is genuinely breathtaking - and perfect for the simple pleasures of a bucket and spade. But if you like your seaside stays a little more active, there’s plenty of things to do in the sea, from surfing to kayaking and paddle-boarding. They're all available to try at the Sorted Watersports Centre. They even offer bike hire for those wanting to see the full 7 miles of beach on 2 wheels.
There’s plenty of fun to be had on the piers too, from a round of mini-golf on the recently restored Boscombe Pier, with its specially hand-crafted musical instruments. Then there's the exhilarating Pierzip zip-wire ride at Bournemouth Pier. It's a thrilling way to get from pier to shore, 25 metres above the waves. It’s part of RockReef, an all weather adventure sports centre with indoor climbing walls, drop slides and much more.
Stroll through Bournemouth’s gorgeous, 2 mile long Gardens, dotted with attractions such as tennis courts, mini-golf, a bandstand, art installations, and (most importantly) ice-cream kiosks.
For a more peaceful day out, explore the Russell-Cotes house, gallery and garden on the cliff top, filled with objects and art from the Russell-Cotes' family travels around the world in the early 19th century.
Bournemouth’s relaxed atmosphere can also be found in its unique shopping quarters, featuring several grand Victorian arcades. Start in the town centre at Bournemouth Arcade, and stroll around its upmarket retail chains, including jewellers, clothing companies, and cosmetic brands. It also connects 2 of the town’s popular shopping streets full of with high street shopping names – Westover Road’s designer stores mean locals call it “Bournemouth’s Bond Street”. For more characterful independent stores try Westbourne’s impressive Victorian arcade, with its fashion boutiques, homewares (including those at the impressive Scape), and cafés, while Bournemouth’s atmospheric vintage quarter, offering antiques and arty shops, is in Pokesdown.
Tucking into locally-sourced rock oysters as the sun sets over the sea takes some beating. Which is why Urban Reef’s Dorset-themed local and seasonal a la carte menu, available right on the beach at Boscombe Promenade, is a dining experience not to be missed. Arbor’s award-winning food “straight from the farm gate and fresh off the trawlers” is a delight too. And for a slightly more formal meal, head to No.34, where Michelin-starred head chef Jean Gysemans works wonders with his Basque take on contemporary European cuisine.
Bournemouth boasts a select range of chic boutique hotels just a short walk from the seafront. The Green House is the luxurious and feel-good option – its eco-friendly principles extend to reclaimed Victorian roll-top baths. Smaller and just as interesting is the family-friendly Urban Beach – its 12 unique rooms are the perfect place to unwind after a day by the sea. And for sea views, try The Cumberland Hotel – a standout art deco-inspired clifftop hotel with views from its balconies and even its own lido. Closer to the sea, Bournemouth Council’s innovative new beach-hut lodges are chic, modern, and sleep up to 4 adults and 2 children.