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With a 7-mile (11-kilometer) expanse of soft, golden sand, Bournemouth is said to have one of the finest beaches along England’s South Coast. That’s certainly helped establish its reputation as a popular resort town, as have the historic Bournemouth Pier and many entertainment options along the water’s edge. But there are more things to do in Bournemouth than visit the waterfront—visitors can also explore the wealth of Victorian architecture; cultural destinations such as the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum and Mary Shelley’s grave; the destination-worthy Upper, Middle, and Lower Gardens; and the nearby UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast.
With a micro-climate that provides mild winters and some of the UK’s best weather, Bournemouth offers year-round opportunities for over 25 different watersports. The town is at its best during the summer months (June through August), when the weather is lovely and festival season is in full swing. Look for the Shake and Stir Festival, a vintage-themed extravaganza; Bourne Free, Bournemouth’s LGBTQ pride festival; and the Bournemouth Air Festival, the UK’s largest air show.
Bournemouth’s compact center makes it easy to walk around town. If you want to save tired legs, use the local bus services. There are also lots of cycling paths, and you can rent a bike through the Beryl bike sharing system; you’ll need to download their app. Another scenic option—available from spring through fall—is taking one of the blue-and-yellow land trains that travel up and down the seafront.
There’s more to Bournemouth than just beachside attractions: For a change of pace, head east to the suburb of Pokesdown, which is known as the city’s creative quarter and attracts artists, artisans, musicians, and writers. While there, browse the vintage shops, emporiums, and boutiques on Christchurch Road. Lastly, for incredible ice cream with Italian flair, head to Giggi Gelateria, located in the Burlington Arcade. The owner is from Puglia and makes authentic southern Italian gelato.
Bournemouth is a quintessential British seaside resort town, and it has remained popular even after similar spot lost their appeal (thanks to cheap air travel to other parts of Europe). Tourists today come for bucket-and-spade fun in the sand and a stroll down the piers—just as tourists did in Victorian days....More
Take a hop-on hop-off tour to get your bearings, then stroll from Bournemouth Square through the Lower Gardens to the seafront, where the beach, the pier, and countless eateries await. For an active day, take the 4-hour looped hiking trail along the coast from Bournemouth to Boscombe and Hengistbury Head....More
Central Bournemouth is nice, and it’s ideal for a quick visit as it offers easy access to the main beach and pier. If you’re staying longer, try Westbourne, a hip enclave popular with locals, or Sandbanks, which is the place for a blow-the-budget trip with posh shops and views of Poole Harbour....More
Winter is a great time for crowd-free fun. Go for a bracing beach walk—fish and chips in hand—and enjoy a spin on the Bournemouth Big Wheel. During the holidays, there’s also the Christmas Tree Wonderland with a market, ice skating, and lots of lights....More
Yes. There are a number of theme parks in the area and an amusement arcade with (somewhat pricey) children’s rides at the end of Bournemouth Pier. For a ride with a high-up twist, take the PierZip, a zip line that takes you over the sea to the sand....More
Yes, Bournemouth is worth a visit, especially if you are coming in on a cruise from nearby Southampton or having an extended stay in London. You’ll experience a proper British seaside town with a modern feel and see one of the loveliest sweeps of sand on England’s south coast....More