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Adjacent to Bournemouth and on the edge of Dorset’s UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast, Poole is also home to the second-largest natural harbor in the world. That maritime significance has played a key role in its history, from early Viking invasions to D-Day crossings and its present-day Channel ferry routes. There are lots of things to in Poole in the summer in particular, when crowds come to relax on the Blue Flag–certified Sandbanks beach; wander the bustling Quay or charming Old Town; see the ruins of Corfe Castle; or set out on a coastal ramble.
With its many beaches—and proximity to Dorset’s UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast—Poole is at its busiest during the summer months. That’s also true of its events calendar, and festivals like the Poole Quay Summer Fireworks, Poole Seafood Festival, and SandFest draw crowds. For a slightly calmer experience of the coastal city, aim for a spring visit: Poole enjoys more temperate weather than much of the rest of the UK during April and May.
Poole is served by the main line Poole Railway Station and can be reached by National Express and Megabus buses. There are also numerous local bus lines that serve the wider region. The Poole Ferry Terminal connects the city to Channel Islands and France, while the Poole Quay operates local ferry services. The city is broadly pedestrian- and cycle-friendly.
Don’t confine yourself to the mainland on your trip to maritime Poole. Poised as it is on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, Poole offers ferry access to several small harbor islands. Brownsea Island, run by the National Trust, is a highlight: Come to explore its scenic nature trails, admire its lagoon views, glimpse wildlife including red squirrels and kingfishers, and see the Brownsea Castle.
The Dorset port town of Poole is known for its natural harbor—one of the world’s largest—and maritime heritage. Other defining attributes include its Georgian Old Town, popular Sandbanks beach, and boat-lined Quay. It’s also famous for watersports and proximity to the UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast, whose cliffs are layered with fossils....More
In peak season, a week is ideal for experiencing Poole’s summer attractions, including its beaches, watersports, and cruises to places like Brownsea Island and Jurassic Coast. At other times, two days is enough to explore Poole’s historical center, museums, and gardens, and nearby parks and reserves like the New Forest....More
Start at the Poole Museum, whose artifacts include a 2,000-year-old logboat. Then, view the antique lifeboat at the Lifeboat Museum and embrace the rain on a walk along the Quay. Finally, hit Tower Park’s indoor splash park or bowling alley before a show at the arts center....More
In winter, stroll by the visiting tall ships and yachts at Poole Quay and unravel the town’s past at Poole Museum and on the Cockle Walking Trail. Absorb the winter beauty while walking the gardens at Compton Acres—then refresh with hot chocolate at its cozy tearoom....More
Aside from hitting the beaches, you can take ferries to Brownsea Island’s wildlife-spotting trails and adventure course, learn history at Poole Museum, or enjoy the miniature train, paddle-boarding, and kayaking at Poole Park. The Tower Park complex provides family fun with an aqua park, soft play area, and bowling....More
Poole is better for slower-paced vacations. It’s smaller than neighboring Bournemouth, with quieter beaches, and harbor cruises and ferries to Brownsea Island leaving from its Quay. Bournemouth, meanwhile, boasts more beaches and leisure attractions, with an amusement-packed pier, stroller-friendly promenade, adventure park, aquarium, gardens, and vibrant restaurant and nightlife scenes....More