Gardens on the Seafront

48 hours in Bournemouth

24 May 2021

When it comes to quintessential seaside towns, Bournemouth should be top of your list. With its 7 miles of award-winning beaches, colourful beach huts and warm waters, is it any wonder it was named as TripAdvisor’s best beach for 2019. Plus you’ll find great food, unforgettable attractions, and a line up at the Bournemouth International Centre (known locally as ‘The BIC’) that would rival a major city.

Gardens on the Seafront

Day one

Get some breakfast

Of course, it’s always easiest if you get your caffeine boost on the train and arrive eager to attack the day. But no worries if you wait either – there are some great places to grab a snack (or a hefty meal) all across town.

We recommend heading along the beach to Boscombe where you’ll find Urban Reef. Arrive in the morning and it’s all about relaxing with the papers, sipping at a latte on the sun deck and admiring the great views. Why not pore over those papers with a veggie, vegan or full English breakfast.

Head out to sea

After breakfast head onto Boscombe Pier. A wonderful wander out over the sea, it’s a must for great views, the wind in your hair and to watch the surfers as they flicker between the waves.

If the view inspires you to take a dip then head to the Sorted Surf Shop on Sea Road, just three minutes’ walk away. Here you can buy or hire all the kit you need and even book some surfing lessons. The website also has a Boscombe Pier Surf Cam so you can see just what you’re missing out on (or not) right now.


Have a sit down

If the idea of heading out into the surf doesn't appeal, then why not head for something a little less frenetic and rent out a beach hut? These come with three deckchairs and even a gas ring and bottle. Daily hire is between £39 and £59 a day. All the information you need and a map of locations can be found on the council’s website.

If a day’s not enough try a beach lodge where you can stay the night - and wake up looking at the waves on the shore.

Beach lodges on Bournemouth seafront

Hit the shops

Bournemouth offers the coastal villages of Boscombe, Southbourne and Westbourne which are full of quirky shops, retro chic and bustling cafes. Why not take a wander through Westbourne’s Royal Arcade where you’ll find a selection of independent stores underneath the wonderful glass canopy.

Bournemouth Town Centre

If you’re looking for some bigger brands, head back to Bournemouth centre. Aim for the pedestrianised area known as The Square and you’ll find Debenhams and TK Maxx or head over to The Arcade for House of Fraser and Cath Kidston. With plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and bustling bars, you'll be spoilt for choice for a quick lunch or coffee stop. Plus, there’s open air and pop up street food options to grab a drink in the sun at different times of the year.

Discover, Like and Share Russell-Cotes Museum

After recharging your batteries at lunch, it’s time to re-engage the grey matter. If you’re after some architectural joy (and maybe even an Instagram fix) then the Russell-Cotes Museum is where you should head.

The building is a fantasy of domes, spires, pilasters and verandas and was given by Merton Russell-Cotes to his wife Annie in 1901, whereupon they quickly filled it with all of the treasures from their global travels. Come here for the picture opportunities and leave having seen wonders of architecture, amazing décor and a dazzling standing collection of art and artefacts.

Wine and dine the night away

When the sun starts to set, it’s time to get your glad rags on and head somewhere special for a meal. As we mentioned, Urban Reef caters all day long, and serves a wonderful evening menu in its restaurant. More great restaurants are found dotted across Bournemouth, and these are just a couple of our favourites…

Arbor is the town’s newest 2 AA Rosette restaurant, based in The Green House hotel right in the centre of town. These guys are fanatical about provenance and all their ingredients are sourced from within a 50-mile radius. 1805 is the new kid on the block, opening in 2018 to a lot of fanfare and all of the area’s glitterati on hand. Happily, after such a bold start it has delivered the goods again and again. The setting is opulent, you’re offered traditional Chinese dishes with a modern approach, and the terrace is a great place to kick back and reflect on the day. The Crab is another AA 2 Rosette holder and, again, it’s just around the corner from both the pier and the BIC. This is your destination for fresh and incredibly locally sourced fish, so close to their origin that the fish could have cycled here themselves.

Day two

Get sand in your toes

With vast stretches of soft golden sand it’s easy to get away from the crowd. Walk, run or cycle along the sweep of the bay for the best views of the coast. Plus, when the weather's clear, there’s the added bonus of stunning views across to the Isle of Wight, Old Harry Rocks and the start of the Jurassic Coast. Along this stretch you’ll pass through two of Bournemouth’s Blue Flag beaches, Alum Chine and Durley Chine, which has held a Blue Flag for great water quality and safety for 30 years.

Raise your pulse

Take a thrilling Pier-to-beach zip wire ride or challenge your head for heights on a clip-and-climb session at Rock Reef on the Pier.

Back on the seafront, take on the Moonshadow Gang at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf - Bournemouth’s new 18-hole golf course that takes players on a journey through the town’s famous smuggling past. Smuggler-themed holes relating to Bournemouth stories and landmarks, such as ‘Decoy Cottage’ and ‘Gullivers Chine’ tell the tale of the city in the 1700s and 1800s. Smugglers Cover is open all year round, 7 days a week from 10:00 daily. Prices range from £6.60 for children and £9.60 for adults, to group bookings for £36.00.

Smugglers Cove minigolf course

After all the action relax with a cocktail or two overlooking the water at Aruba’s beach club bar and restaurant. Located at the entrance to Bournemouth Pier, its elevated position offers some of the best views in town – and a perfect place to reflect on just how good a city-by-the-sea adventure can be.