Bournemouth is the UK’s most popular seaside town, and it’s not hard to see why. Perched on the beautiful Dorset coast, it combines endless golden sands, charming Victorian architecture and panoramic ocean views from its award-winning gardens. Lucky enough to get warmer weather than most other parts of the UK, Bournemouth is the perfect spot for a coastal retreat at around one and a half hours straight from London Waterloo. If seven miles of beaches and countless Blue Flag awards aren’t enough for you, it’s easy to reach the breathtaking landmarks and unspoilt nature reserves of the Jurassic coast too. The town’s busy schedule of events, music and theatre also offers entertainment for every taste, meaning you won’t be left wondering what to do in Bournemouth. With the lively party scene of the Triangle and hundreds of restaurants, clubs and bars to choose from, you’re sure to experience the vibrant nightlife of the south coast. Just be certain to check in to one of our Bournemouth hotels to make sure you’re never far from the action.
Things to do in Bournemouth
There’s plenty to see and do in this little piece of Dorset. Go from Victorian shopping arcades to great expanses of beach, from tranquil gardens to zip lining off the pier. Read our guide to the top historical landmarks, picture-postcard parks and the best locations for all the top events in Bournemouth.
The town comes alive for events and festivals for all ages held across the year, from the Arts by the Sea Festival to foodie celebrations and Rugby 7s sport and music events. Explore the town’s culture by visiting its selection of galleries and museums, where there are both extensive Victorian art collections and contemporary masterpieces to discover.
It’s difficult to resist the stunning beaches and dramatic cliffs if you’re looking for places to explore and things to do near Bournemouth. Enjoy activities such as surfing, cycling, a fish-feeding crazy golf course or even whizzing along a wire to enjoy the coastline from every angle.
We Brits know how to enjoy the seaside – in Bournemouth, you’ll find all the classics of colourful beach huts, hearty fish and chips, and piers jammed with entertainment. But there’s much more to enjoy than just the town’s main beach. Explore the whole coastline with our guide to Bournemouth beaches.
A huge theatre hub sits right on the seafront in the centre of town, home to the Pavillion Theatre, a specialised dance venue, and the huge Bournemouth International Centre. Theatrics on offer range from West End musicals to intimate poetry performances and dramatic physical theatre – make sure you check out the schedule during your stay.
You won’t be short of entertainment in Bournemouth with its jam-packed schedule of concerts, shows and performances. With no fewer than three comedy clubs, as well as the big-name acts hitting the stages of Bournemouth International Centre, a night out in Bournemouth is sure to get you tapping your toes and laughing out loud.
Places to eat
Proud of its independent foodie scene, there are endless cafés, eateries and restaurants in Bournemouth to delight the taste buds. Enjoy sausage and sangria, pancakes piled high or continental cuisine with a breathtaking sea view – all this within a stone’s throw of plenty of bars, clubs and venues if you don’t want the night to end.
They convert anything and everything into club venues in Bournemouth – from theatres to old fire stations and churches. There’s also an abundance of bars and pubs offering every kind of drink under the sun. Party by night in beer gardens, on balconies or by the beach with Bournemouth’s buzzing nightlife scene.
The town offers all the best big names in retail, as well as quirky independents and arty boutiques. Multiple shopping centres are on offer to cater to your retail therapy needs, and you’ll find hubs within the coastal suburbs of Boscombe and Southbourne if you want a shopping alternative to the town centre.
Bournemouth Air Festival
The biggest of its kind, Bournemouth Air Festival showcases the skilled acrobatics and amazing engineering of the aeronautics world, as well as music, food and entertainment. The four-day festival welcomes hundreds of thousands to Bournemouth, so be sure to bag yourself a good spot to watch the iconic Red Arrows fly by.
Offering a winning combo of a bustling town centre, gorgeous beaches and plenty of natural beauty spots to enjoy, Bournemouth is a great location for your next break. With its own airport, three nearby train stations and frequent coach connections to the capital and beyond, you have plenty of options if you’re looking for the best way to travel to Bournemouth.