Visit Bournemouth: Your travel guide

Bournemouth has a lot to recommend. It has miles of pristine coastline framed by quirky cafes on one side, the warm waves of the sea on the other. Add lush gardens and historic sites, vibrant student culture, buzz-worthy nightlife and boutique shopping, and you’re on to a winner.

Things to do in Bournemouth

The Square
Once upon a time, the square was a roundabout. These days, it’s a pedestrian area of wide promenades that are flanked by boutique shops and bustling cafés. Shop along the seven roads that head off in every direction, or dine at the UFO-shaped Camera Obscura in the centre of the square – it’s a great place to sit for a casual lunch and to watch people going by.
35-37 Bourne Ave, Bournemouth BH2 6DT, UK
Bournemouth Balloon
Balloons aren’t just for children. This giant white balloon takes you on a vertical trip 150-metres upwards, giving you a birds-eye view of the town and beaches. It’s anchored to the ground by a steel cable, so you won’t run the risk of flying off into the Dorset countryside, never to be seen again! Head to Lower Gardens to buy a ticket and see what all the fuss is about.
The Lower Gardens, Bournemouth BH1 2AQ, UK
Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-20:00. Check website for details.
Central Gardens
A walk in the park is nature’s tonic to cure all ills. This well-tended stretch of garden runs for around 3-km, right in the centre of Bournemouth. Amble along the paths past woodland glades and flowerbeds filled with pansies, violas and marigolds. The Lower Gardens is a little more action-packed, with an aviary, mini-golf, refreshment stands and other facilities.
Central Gardens, Bourne Ave, Bournemouth BH2 6DT, UK
St Peter's Church
Simply magnificent. This pre-Victorian gothic church stands opposite the Beales Department Store at the heart of the city. It services the Anglican congregation of Bournemouth, but for everyone else it’s main draw card is the sumptuous interior – it holds unusual paintings, eye-catching stained glass windows and alabaster statues, plus the nearby Shelley Family Tombs.
Hinton Rd, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 2EE, UK
Check website for details.
Bournemouth Beach
Bournemouth Beach is an essential stop on a summer’s day. Nestled between the cliffs and the sea, it’s flanked by a promenade that’s dotted with an assortment of bars, eateries and ice-cream kiosks. Take a barefoot stroll or sprawl out your beach towel and bask in the sunlight. Fun fact: the beach has its own micro-climate, with some of the warmest sea temperatures in the U.K.
W Undercliff Promenade, Bournemouth BH1, UK
Oceanarium
Plumb the depths of the sea. Wedged between the pier and the seafront, the Oceanarium’s massive aquariums are filled to the brim with underwater life. They contain a dazzling array of seahorses and tropical sharks, piranhas and puffer fish. It also contains the world’s first interactive Dive Cage, which drops people into a virtual ocean … populated by virtual sharks. Scary!
Oceanarium, Pier Approach, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5AA, UK
Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00
Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
This museum is on the east cliff overlooking the ocean. It was once the home of the Russell-Cotes family, who acquired a large collection of eclectic paintings, statues and cultural artefacts brought to the U.K. from Japan, Russia, the Americas and the Antipodes. Wander through the halls, admire the Moorish alcoves, then dine at the restaurant in the new annex.
Russell Cotes Rd, Bournemouth BH1 3AA, UK
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-17:00
Bournemouth Pier
Part of the fun of the seaside is visiting the pier. Bournemouth Pier is loaded with amusements to keep children and parents busy for an afternoon, with arcade games, bustling cafes, theatres, pubs and a souvenir shop – accessible for a 60p entrance fee. Admire the sea views, or head to the Aruba Bar and Restaurant above the pier for cocktails and casual bites.
W Undercliff Promenade, Bournemouth BH2, UK
Open Monday-Sunday 09:00-19:00. Check website for details.
Westbourne
Westbourne is an eclectic shopping area that blends the old with the new. Most of the action is concentrated around Seamoor Road, which is known for its Victorian covered shopping arcade. It’s lined with unique boutiques where you can shop for clothes, vintage china, pottery, paintings and miscellanea. If you’re in the area, don’t miss the eateries around Lower Parkstone.
Poole Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5QR, UK
Christchurch Castle and Norman House
Cast your mind back to medieval times. England was built of castles and keeps, priories and fortifications, and the Normans had occupied most of England. The very first stonework at these castle ruins was laid in the late eleventh century, built over a 9th-century wooden fort. Today, several walls remain on a small mound amidst a residential area and quiet parkland.
Castle St, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 1AZ, UK
West Cliff
West Cliff walks are a tonic at any time of year. On warm summer days, you can sit awhile with the sun seekers, slurping an ice cream. On windy wintry mornings, the fresh sea air will invigorate your spirit as you stride along the seafront.
East Cliff
East Cliff Beach is known for its clean, cream-coloured sands – just one of the reasons that it’s Bournemouth’s most popular beach. When the sun’s out, locals like nothing better than to head to East Cliff and stretch out on a towel. Work up an appetite with a stroll along the seafront before stopping into Harry Ramsden’s Restaurant on the promenade.
Fisherman’s Walk
If you’re after Bournemouth panoramas, clamber up a path from Fisherman’s Walk. From atop the cliff the views sweep all the way from Poole Harbour to Hengistbury Head. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Isle of Wight, too. Just make sure you’ve brought your camera.
Alum Chine beach
Hop aboard the land train and chug your way to Alum Chine Beach. With clear blue water, soft golden sand and the Treasure Island playground just a few steps away, it’s perfect place for hours of family fun. The ‘Kidzone’ safety scheme is also in operation here, with lifeguards patrolling throughout the summer.
Sandbanks Beach
The water of Sandbanks Beach is shallow and perfect for paddling! Parents can feel comfortable in the knowledge that lifeguards patrol here the entire summer. Up on the promenade you’ll find a crazy golf course, children’s amusements and a selection of shops and cafés. You’re also able to hire out a beach hut and make use of well-maintained shower facilities.
Swanage Beach
At Swanage Beach the kids will be kept busy for hours playing in the shallows or enjoying the amusements along the promenade. Facilities include toilets, cafés and a first aid point, while beach wardens keep an eye on things throughout the summer months. You can hire deck chairs and sunbeds or even pedaloes if you fancy a trip out on the gently rippling waves.

When to go to Bournemouth

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
10 ℃ 4 ℃
8 ℃ 3 ℃
11 ℃ 4 ℃
13 ℃ 5 ℃
16 ℃ 8 ℃
19 ℃ 11 ℃
22 ℃ 14 ℃
21 ℃ 13 ℃
19 ℃ 11 ℃
16 ℃ 10 ℃
12 ℃ 7 ℃
11 ℃ 6 ℃
19 %
15 %
17 %
15 %
14 %
13 %
14 %
15 %
15 %
18 %
19 %
19 %

Traveller's reviews and photos

10
Exceptional
Never been to Bournemouth before but would highly recommend. Lovely beach, wonderful gardens and good place if you liking shopping. We had a great time and will be returning soon as soon as possible to explore surrounding areas.
Jane
United Kingdom
22 July 2017
8
Very good
Beautiful beach Good atmosphere Nice people Lovely Catholic Church Good shops Good selection of restaurants Lovely weekend get away
United Kingdom
21 July 2017
10
Exceptional
Central to the town and eateries,also the sea in the other direction.We went to O'Neils a good meal at a reasonable price. Also enjoyed an evening snack from Wok2go.
Bernard
United Kingdom
22 July 2017
10
Exceptional
I love Bournemouth from 5 years . I go there often . Nice place to live . Nice clubs , nice girls
Vasile
United Kingdom
21 July 2017
10
Exceptional
The wonderful beach and sea. The town is very good for shops. Loved it there. Try Sandbanks beach it's beautiful.
Pamela
United Kingdom
22 July 2017

Accommodation and hotels in Bournemouth

Ramada Encore

8.6 Fabulous

Score from 1,381 reviews

£89

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    272 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    237 related reviews
  • “very clean and tidy”
    233 related reviews
Park Central Hotel

8.9 Fabulous

Score from 1,569 reviews

£75

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    487 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    334 related reviews
  • “excellent quality of food”
    223 related reviews
The Orchid Hotel

9 Superb

Score from 1,644 reviews

£114

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    501 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    496 related reviews
  • “excellent quality of food”
    298 related reviews
The Wessex Hotel

7.8 Good

Score from 2,876 reviews

£58

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    285 related reviews
  • “excellent quality of food”
    256 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    252 related reviews
The Hinton Firs Hotel

7.4 Good

Score from 748 reviews

£70

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    150 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    121 related reviews
  • “very clean and tidy”
    94 related reviews
BEST WESTERN PLUS the Connaught Hotel and Spa

8.7 Fabulous

Score from 1,734 reviews

£72

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    637 related reviews
  • “excellent quality of food”
    347 related reviews
  • “great pool area”
    248 related reviews
Village Hotel Bournemouth

8.2 Very good

Score from 816 reviews

£75

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    113 related reviews
  • “great pool area”
    91 related reviews
  • “very clean and tidy”
    82 related reviews
The Riviera Hotel & Holiday Apartments Alum Chine

8.3 Very good

Score from 1,454 reviews

£75

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    366 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    212 related reviews
  • “great pool area”
    205 related reviews
Cumberland Hotel

8.1 Very good

Score from 2,096 reviews

£59

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    495 related reviews
  • “excellent quality of food”
    391 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    188 related reviews
Discover Bournemouth

Popular neighbourhoods in Bournemouth

Bournemouth City Centre

91 properties

Everything happens in the centre. Wedged between Boscombe and Westbourne, the centre brims with hotels, monuments and parks, as well as student life. Shop on Christchurch Road in Pokesdown for a plethora of vintage shops and quirky cafes, or visit the Russell-Cotes Museum for its eclectic collection of Japanese and Russian paintings.

Boscombe

58 properties

Go East – life is peaceful there. Boscombe is famous for its Victorian architecture, café culture and laid-back vibe. Take to the golden sands of Eastern Cliff Beach, follow the “arts trail” from Sovereign Shopping Centre along the waterfront, or visit the Thursday and Saturday vintage bric-a-brac markets inside Boscombe’s Royal Arcade.

Local tips for Bournemouth

Boscombe Pier
Danielle Robins by Danielle Robins

Danielle loves travelling to exotic spots, and uncovering hidden bars and clubs with her friends.

I travel to Bournemouth regularly for work and after a busy day, I like to take a walk along the beach towards Boscombe Pier - and away from the crowds. The Urban Reef Restaurant is a great, chilled place to have some first-class food and its balcony offers the most amazing views!

  • Boscombe Pier, Undercliff Drive, Bournemouth BH5 1
Candlelight Nights
Lauren Mannion by Lauren Mannion

Resident in Mexico City, Lauren loves photography and writing about all her travels.

When I was little I loved the Candlelight Nights held in the Lower Gardens. On Wednesday evenings in summer, tea lights are placed in coloured glass holders and families flock to light the candles. Best of all, it’s free – you'll find lit tapers at the stall next to the crazy golf.

Hengistbury Head to Mudeford Quay
Nathan Payne by Nathan Payne

Welsh Nathan likes escaping to the country and coast where he can feel the sand between his toes.

Hengistbury Head is a beautiful coastal nature reserve that’s packed full of wildlife. It has fantastic sea views – you can even see the Isle of Wight on a clear day! If you walk past the colourful beach huts along Mudeford Spit, you can take the little ferry across to Mudeford Quay.

Read our FAQ on this destination >

Recommendations for Bournemouth

After a tiring drive from London, a nice pint in the bar in comfortable sofas.

Maybe more ice cream stalls, public toilets

Long and sandy!

Transport

Bournemouth transport

Air- Bournemoth Airport

Bournemouth Airport is located 6 km north-east of the city and is easily accessed by the Yellow Bus A1 route, which takes 20 minutes to reach the railway station. It runs between 07.00 and 20.00, 7 days a week and a single ticket costs GBP 2.10. Taxis can be found outside the terminal and should have official markings and badges showing. Journeys cost between GBP 30 and 40 to the city centre.

Air- Southampton Airport

Southampton Airport offers more national and international connections than Bournemouth Airport and is just a 35-minute train journey away. There are further swift rail connections to cities including Portsmouth, Reading and London with the station just a minute’s walk from the terminal. Taxis can be found outside the terminal but bear in mind that a journey to Bournemouth would cost in the region of GBP 60 each way. The airport closes between 23.00 and 05.00.

Train

The city has 2 main stations, Bournemouth Central and Pokesdown, which offers connections to Boscombe’s beaches. The city’s Central Station is a hub for local buses run by More Bus and Yellow Buses with the airport connection stopping here. Taxis stop outside and train tickets can be bought at machines inside. The station offers regular connections to Weymouth, Poole, Manchester and London, as well as surrounding towns.

Bus

The city's reliable bus network is run mainly by Yellow Buses, as well as some other operators. Tickets can be bought on board but change is generally not given. Single fares cost between GBP 1.50 and 2.10, depending on the journey length, while all-day tickets are GBP 3.90. Colour-coded bus routes generally run from 06.30 until between 23.00 and 00.00. A night bus single ticket will cost GBP 3 and these later routes are available between 00.00 and 05.00.

Taxi

Taxis are offered by several providers in the city and can be booked in advance, or be picked up around the centre and train station. Most taxis offer a facility to pay by card and fares are charged according to a meter. Some fares will incur a surcharge after midnight and if you travel outside the city boundaries. After bars close on the weekends, you may have to queue at ranks, or wait longer for a taxi as it will be busy.

Car

If you’re travelling around the city centre, it’s best to stick to foot, or public transport. Public parking, both during the day and at night, is subject to charges that start around GBP 1.30 per hour, and range from GBP 10 to 12 for a whole day’s parking. On-street parking can be subject to restrictions according to areas and times, and you cannot park on double yellow tram lines. Rental car companies can be found around the centre and at the airport.

Food in Bournemouth

Top restaurants in Bournemouth

Cheap 'n' tasty
Mediterranean
Kino Lounge
Good value
International
Sixty Million Postcards
Good value
Spanish
La Tasca
Cheap 'n' tasty
Thai
Blue Mango
Good value
Italian
La Strada
High-end dining
Seafood
The Crab at Bournemouth
High-end dining
Seafood
Funki Griller
High-end dining
Seafood
The Crab
Good value
European
Mad Cucumber
  • 7 The Triangle, Bournemouth BH2 5RY, UK
  • Open Monday 12:00-18:00, Tuesday 12:00-21:00, Thursday-Friday 12:00-21:00, Saturday 10:00-21:00, Sunday 10:00-18:00
  • www.madcucumber.com
  • 0044 1202236407
Good value
Spanish
Lolitas
Good value
Mediterranean
Cristallo
  • 3 West Cliff Road, Bournemouth BH2 5ES, UK
  • Open Monday-Friday 10:00-00:00, Saturday 10:00-02:00, Sunday 10:00-01:00
  • 0044 1202556767
High-end dining
Seafood
WestBeach restaurant
Good value
International
Aruba
Good value
Argentinian
Rancho Steak House
Good value
Brazilian
Casa Brasil
Good value
Thai
Tiien
Good value
Indian
Eye of the Tiger
Good value
South African
Nativ
Cheap 'n' tasty
British
Chez Fred
High-end dining
European
The Edge
Cheap 'n' tasty
American
Geneve
Cheap 'n' tasty
International
The Stable
Cheap 'n' tasty
International
Chicken Shack
Cheap 'n' tasty
European
Cafe Boscanova
High-end dining
Mediterranean
Bistro on the Beach
  • Solent Promenade, Southbourne Coast Road, Bournemouth BH6 4BE, UK
  • Open Monday-Wednesday 10:00-16:30, Thursday-Saturday 10:30-16:30 and 18:30-20:30, Sunday 10:00-16:30
  • www.bistroonthebeach.co.uk
  • 0044 1202431473
Find accommodation in Bournemouth

Travel guides for top destinations

Travel guide Torquay
Scenery · Relaxation · Restaurants
Travel guide Brighton & Hove
Shopping · Restaurants · Beaches
Travel guide Weymouth
Beaches · Harbours · Beach walks
Travel guide Poole
Harbours · Scenery · Relaxation
Travel guide Southampton
Shopping · Harbours · Restaurants
Travel guide London
Sightseeing · Shopping · Museums