Things to do in Bournemouth

Top 18 things to do in Bournemouth – things to see and do in Bournemouth

Looking to move your home? Wondering if Bournemouth is the right place for you, then this blog post will tell you all about where some of our favourite spots are.

Where is Bournemouth?

Bournemouth, Dorset, is a famous seaside town in Southern England. Located on the coast of the English Channel, this popular tourist destination is surrounded by hills and cliffs that make it one of the most picturesque towns in all of Britain.

There are plenty of things to do while you’re there – here are some top picks for something to do in Bournemouth!

Bournemouth beach – fun for all the family

The first thing that makes the city of Bournemouth so desirable is its sandy beaches. It has some of the best beaches on the south coast and is one of the most popular attractions for visitors from all over England and abroad.

The town has a long history with tourism dating back over 100 years when people came here for their summer holidays.

Bournemouth beach has seven miles of award-winning beaches! Bournemouth beach is nestled beneath a magnificent cliff line, has a micro-climate, some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK and stunning views of the Isle of Wight and the Purbecks.

Bournemouth beach and the Poole coastline provides a beautiful selection of watersports to try, including swimming, sailing and windsurfing. You can even try surfing if you want to!

Some of the finest beaches in Bournemouth include:

  • Bournemouth seafront central beaches (Bournemouth beach)
  • Durley Chine Beach
  • Alum Chine Beach
  • Boscombe Beach
  • Southbourne Beach

Bournemouth Pier

Take a walk along Bournemouth Pier and witness the beautiful views of this bay.

Bournemouth pier is perfect for family fun. With ten miles worth of golden sand and breathtaking views that will take your breath away framed by two different landscapes (Isle Of Wight on one side & Purbeck hills), there’s something here to enjoy every day!

Whether you’re, looking for rides at an amusement park or just some time spent relaxing in front-of-the seaside cafes & restaurants with friends – Bournemouth pier has something for everyone.

Enjoy life beneath the sea at Oceanarium. Then, have a delicious meal in one of many restaurants. Finally, stop by for information about what’s happening around town before continuing to explore the iconic pier!

From the town centre, head down to Pier Approach through our beautiful Lower Gardens and enjoy the seafront attractions, cafés and restaurants, not forgetting the fantastic views of the bay from the historic Bournemouth pier.

Boscombe Pier

Not far from Bournemouth pier is Boscombe Pier. In the Boscombe Pier entrance structure, you’ll discover the Reefside Café and coffee shop, a takeaway, and a beach shop.

There’s also a viewing platform at the pier’s end. Check out the heritage trail along the windbreak if you want to learn more about the pier’s history.

Fishing is permitted from the end of the pier. For additional information about paying, call 01202 123 800.

Boscombe Chine Gardens

Not far from Boscombe Pier, and another of the top things to do in Bournemouth is the delightful Boscombe Chine gardens regenerated in the early 2000s.

Victorian Chimie Gardens have been restored in Boscombe since the 1990s. However, the gardens were overgrown and associated with antisocial behaviour until they were partly cleared out and replanted.

Two spa shelters and a hotel sit within two acres of vibrant flower beds. Kids can make a quick splash at the water play area.

Families can play on the mini-golf course open during the summer. Near the side of the upper gardens of the chine is the clock cafe where you can recharge with a cup of tea or coffee in the upper part of the garden.

Bournemouth Lower Gardens

The Lower Gardens in Bournemouth are only a five-minute walk from the main shopping centre, the beach and the pier.

The lower gardens are Grade II Listed and have the TripAdvisor TTravellers’Choice Award for 2020.

Visitors who walk through the gardens will be amazed by the beautiful floral displays that combine various colours, textures and scents.

The Lower Gardens also have plenty of activities to keep visitors busy, including music at the Pine Walk bandstand, an aviary, a crazy golf/mini-golf course and an art exhibition during the summer.

It’s a beautiful setting to sit, watch the world go by with a coffee or have a delicious picnic with friends and family, as well as a welcome haven from the hustle and bustle of the town.

During the winter, the fantastic Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland features a beautiful trail of Christmas trees and seasonal activities and attracts thousands of visitors every year. There is also a large rock garden built in the 1930s.

Bournemouth Central Gardens

The Central and Upper Gardens, built in the 1870s, trace the course of the Bourne back from the centre of the town to a small body of water called the Coy Pond.

A war memorial with lovely rose borders, a Rhododendron Walk and heather beds now dot the grounds.

To commemorate the borough’s one-hundredth birthday, a Pergola was built in 1990.

The Bournemouth Gardens are full of beautiful floral displays that will delight you. The pathways are marked with signs and information boards, allowing you to follow the route in the parks much more quickly.

Bournemouth is rightly proud of its gardens and floral history, which provide a peaceful getaway from the city’s hectic life and an alternative to the Bournemouth beaches and represent one of the more relaxing things to do in Bournemouth.

Bournemouth Upper Gardens

The original Upper Gardens were created as a personal garden for the Durrant family in the 1860s. However, shortly before the gardens were constructed, the lease was transferred to Bournemouth Council.

The Upper gardens deviate from the theme of the other two and have a three-continent theme with three separate sections. The first has a European theme, the second an Asian theme, and the third is based on North American plant species.

The central and upper Gardens include several uncommon tree species, including a North American Giant Redwood (supposedly the largest in the UK) and a group of mature Persian Ironwood trees.

The trees were mostly planted in the latter half of the nineteenth century and are well over a century old.

Hengistbury head visitor centre

In 2014 a new sustainable visitor centre was added in the natural reserve behind Hengistbury Head.

The centre has Interactive Expositions focusing on archaeological, geological and ecological disciplines. In addition, there is an information board about fish types found in the water of Christchurch Harbour and the saltwater of the Channel.

You’ll also be brought up to speed on 14,000 years of human history in the area and will hold objects from the Bronze Age, Stone Age and Iron Age to tell you about the Stone and Bronze Age periods during which humans first settled in the area.

The site is of special scientific interest and is a UNESCO World Heritage site of natural resources.

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Atop the East Cliff stands an elegant Art Nouveau villa built at the turn of the 20th century for the Earl Merton Russell-Cotes, the owner of The Royal Bath Hotel.

Located in the Russell Cotes art gallery is the Japanese ceramics collection. There are also pre-Raphaelite paintings and memorabilia relating to the Victorian stage actor Henry Irving.
Around the clock, there are temporary artist exhibitions, special drop-in tours and presentations, as well as Board Game Fridays at Cafe Gallery.

Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes resided at East Cliff Hall. East Cliff Hall was built in 1897 and underwent significant modifications until completed in its current form in 1901.

The hall was filled with exciting items they collected along their travels around the world.

Bournemouth’s entertainment and nightlife

Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) and Pavilion Theatre have live entertainment from children’s shows and comedy to ballet and ice dance.

Tourists come from miles all-around to explore these significant entertainment spaces. 

Additionally, BIC hosts several festivals to suit everyone’s families needs and for the enjoyment of all ages.

Music Events in Bournemouth

Whatever you’re into, Bournemouth has something to fit the bill. From the biggest names in music to open mic nights showcasing budding local performers, whatever sounds you enjoy, Bournemouth has it covered.

We have a variety of live music locations. There are large, world-class concert halls like the Bournemouth International Centre and Lighthouse – Poole’s Centre for the Arts and theatre buildings in the heart of town. In addition, there are numerous fantastic and unusual pubs and venues in our seaside villages of Boscombe, Southbourne, and Westbourne. So there are several locations to see your favourite artists and enjoy live music.

Bournemouth International Centre has a star-studded lineup all year, with tour dates for some of the world’s most famous pop and rock recording artists. In addition, the Pavilion Theatre offers touring opera troupes and top West End musicals, as well as jaw-dropping tribute acts from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson.

Open mic nights and intimate shows from some of the best rising acoustic and rock’n’roll artists, as well as DJ sets, are popular at Boscombe.

Westbourne

Westbourne is a beautiful seaside village with a fascinating history, located near Bournemouth to the west.

Westbourne’s diverse appeal has attracted an increasing number of cosmopolitan eateries, bars, delicatessens, off-licences, cafés, food stores, and independent retailers as part of a thriving neighbourhood vibe.

The Victorian shopping arcade has a metal and glass canopy and an alternating brick and white limestone façade. Outside the building sits the smallest cinema in the UK called the Bournemouth Colosseum, including 19 seats.

The region is 15 minutes away from the city centre and is between Poole Road and Seamoor road.

Hengistbury Head Beach

Six miles east of Bournemouth Town lies Hengistbury Head. The whole area is designated as a Local Nature Reserve, a Site of Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

Hengistbury Head is a favourite with walkers, especially walkers with dogs since dogs are permitted on the beaches all year.

Several paths lead to the top of the Headland, from which you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the nature reserve, Christchurch Harbour, Mudeford Sandbank, Mudeford Quay, Poole Bay, and across to the Needles on the Isle of Wight.

Oceanarium

Bournemouth Oceanarium is a fascinating aquatic experience and home to over 1,000 species of fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. So make your way beneath the waves into a journey full of wonder and excitement at Bournemouth Oceanarium.

Submerge yourself in our newly re-themed underwater tunnel, which features breathtaking sharks, Carrie the loggerhead turtle, and other creatures. Get up close to a sly crocodile, a curious otter family, stunning jellyfish, vibrant clownfish, and not to mention our energetic colony of Humboldt penguins!

The fantastic 350 thousand litres of saltwater in the Shark Wreck Reef! The recently restored walkthrough tunnel exhibit with a shipwreck motif set within gorgeous coral is jam-packed with over 75 animals, including sharks, southern stingrays, moray eels, and a giant turtle.

Alum Chine Beach

The most popular beach in Bournemouth is probably Alum Chine Beach. It is a beautiful Blue Flag-winning beach and is especially appreciated by the locals for its vast, exceptionally pure, sandy and shingle beaches that are further to the west of Bournemouth, away from the buzz of Bournemouth Pier and town centre.

Several pirate-themed attractions and toilets with baby changing stations, lost kids centres, an RNLI lifeguard station, pubs, and ice cream kiosks. On the promenade from Bournemouth Pier to Alum Chine Beach, youngsters will be delighted by waving at the land train that drives by frequently.

The Tropical Garden is located to the rear of the beach, just into Alum Chine and immediately above the children’s play area, and features a lovely tropical garden.

The beautiful Alum Chine Beach, which won a prize for its beauty, also has a plentiful supply of colourful beach huts to lease all year long from the local beach office. New more extensive and more comfortable than previous versions, the 20 new super huts were just finished and provide a broader range of accommodation at the beach.

On a clear day, you may take in the stunning vistas of the Isle of Wight and Old Harry’sRocks.

West Cliff Lift

Cliff Lifts offer easy access to the beach and clifftops, as well as stunning views of the coast.

The Cliffs lift railway, which runs on rails, is classified as a light rail. So for the most unusual railway journey of your life, get aboard.

The West Cliff Lift (built-in 1908) connects the beach with the Bournemouth International Centre, is South DDorset’smajor entertainment venue and meeting place.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s is a historic Grade 1 listed Civic Church of Bournemouth. It is one of the two churches in the Town Parish, and it offers services that include worship & teaching about Christianity to its members as well.

St Peter’s was designed by George Edmund Street, famous for the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London.

There are frescoes and stained glass of the beautifully decorated Clayton and BBell’sfactory.
The chancel is particularly rich and has frescoes and stained glass by the feted Clayton and Bell workshop.

The church also holds the Shelley family vault and is the burial place for Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and their son Sir Percy Florence Shelley.

Mary Shelley had initially been interred at St Pancras with her eminent parents Mary Wollstonecraft (pioneering feminist) and William Godwin (political theorist) but was moved here by her son.

Bournemouth Natural Science Society

On the outskirts of Lansdowne, the Bournemouth Natural Science Society and Museum is located in a 19th-century landmark. It has a diverse range of exhibits, a library and garden, and lectures and events throughout the year.

The Bournemouth Natural Sciences SSociety’sheadquarters is a large, late Victorian building located on the city’s outskirts. It includes a varied museum with collections from Natural History to Egyptology and two libraries with over 5,000 volumes. Furthermore, the BNSS has an exquisite garden intended to attract wildlife in an urban setting.

The BNSS has acquired many thousands of objects from all around the world since its inception in 1903.

The museum houses a large menagerie of preserved natural history specimens, including birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, eggs and shells, fossils, rocks and minerals, ancient hand axes, and even an Egyptian mummy.

There are various interest groups in the society, including

  • Botany
  • Ornithology
  • Zoology
  • Entomology
  • Science
  • Astronomy
  • Geology
  • History
  • Egyptology
  • Archaeography

Bournemouth town centre shopping

If you are still looking for things to do in Bournemouth, you could turn to a spot of retail therapy!

Bournemouth’smain shopping area is located in the town centre, which is entirely pedestrianised and features a variety of well-known fashion labels, traditional shops, and independent boutiques.

There are a lot of places to unwind and relax after a busy day, including restaurants, bars, street food and coffee shops, with something for the whole family.

Westover Road, also known as “Bournemouth’sBond Street,” runs alongside the gardens and offers shoppers a chance to browse for designer labels, art, and jewellery beneath the canopy.

The Triangle is well known for its eclectic, bohemian vibe.

Lanesborough is Bournemouth’scommercial centre, and flower shops and speciality retailers can be found along Old Christchurch Road among the bars and restaurants.
Stay a day on a sandy beach, enjoy the unique landscape of these two islands, dine on some local cuisine.

Everything is within walking distance of the towns historic gardens and gorgeous white sand beaches, so why not make a day of it?

Frequently asked questions

How do I spend a day in Bournemouth?
Bournemouth is a resort in the south of England, located on the beautiful English Channel. You can spend your day enjoying one of the many sandy beaches, sunbathing, swimming or surfing.

 

You can also visit some of Bournemouth’s historic gardens and sites, such as St Peter’s Church, designed by George Edmund Street and commissioned for work on the Natural History Museum and the Royal Courts of Justice.

Bournemouth is also famous for its nightlife and has a bustling scene, with various bars and clubs to choose from and quaint pubs, many within walking distance of the town.

Top 17 attractions and places to visit in Bournemouth;

  • Bournemouth beach
  • Bournemouth and Boscombe’s Pier
  • Boscombe Chine Gardens
  • Bournemouth Lower Gardens
  • Bournemouth Central Gardens
  • Bournemouth Upper Gardens
  • Hengistbury head visitor centre
  • Russell-Cotes Art Galleries
  • Bournemouth’s entertainment and nightlife
  • Westbourne
  • Hengistbury Head Beach
  • Oceanarium
  • Alum Chine Beach
  • West Cliff Lift
  • St Peter’sChurch
  • Bournemouth Natural Science Society
  • Bournemouth shopping
If you’re looking for an estate agent in Bournemouth to help you find your perfect home visit our estate agents in Bournemouth page.

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