Bournemouth is a coastal resort town in the English county of Dorset. The Victorian architecture in the town centre is noteworthy. Bournemouth’s location has made it a popular tourist destination, attracting over five million visitors per year with its beaches and vibrant nightlife.
You’ve turned up here because you’re curious about what places to visit in Bournemouth, what secret offbeat spots to visit, where to eat, and what cuisines are popular in the area. This guide will be your perfect companion in determining the best things to do in Bournemouth
Top 8 things to do in Bournemouth, recommendations from loveholidays
1. Hit the Bournemouth Beaches
Bournemouth’s most appealing feature has to be its long, beautiful, sandy beach. Between Hengistbury Head and the mouth of Poole Harbour, there are approximately 10 miles of beaches. The iconic pier stretches out into the sea closest to the town centre, with wide swaths of sand on either side, as well as amusement arcades, chip shops, and ice cream stalls, so this section is particularly popular. However, you can walk along the promenade to Sandbanks in the west or Southbourne in the east, with amenities available most of the way.
2. City Sightseeing Bournemouth
If you’re short on time, City Sightseeing’s hop-on, hop-off bus, and boat tour are ideal. Take a ride on one of the bright red open-top buses for panoramic views, complete with an audio guide to explain what you’re seeing. You can get off at any time to explore and then reboard the next bus when you’re ready to continue your journey. Tickets start at £13 per person. However, you can walk along the promenade to Sandbanks in the west or Southbourne in the east, with amenities available most of the way.
3. Visit Sandbanks
Sandbanks is a small peninsula that juts out from Bournemouth across the entrance to Poole Harbour. Because of the high prices of the waterfront mansions, the area is known as the “most expensive seaside in the world!” You can spot a few of the best as you walk down Sandbanks Street, also known as “Millionaires Row.” There are several marinas and yacht clubs to visit, as well as top-tier seafood restaurants like Rick Stein’s which are considered some of the best restaurants in the town. And, of course, Sandbanks has one of the best beaches on the entire south coast of England, so don’t miss out on that!
4. Take a Jurassic Coast Tour
If you’re here for a few days and want to see more of Dorset, you must take a Jurassic Coast tour. A road trip with your car is simple enough, but if you prefer the ease (and information) of a guided tour, there are several options.
Jurassic Coast & Isle of Purbeck Day Tour – from £49.20pp
Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door Coach Trip – from £30pp
Poole to Swanage 2-hour Coastal Cruise – from £15pp
5. Explore Westbourne
Westbourne is a coastal “village” on the western outskirts of Bournemouth. Although it is very much a part of the town, this upscale neighborhood has a distinct feel and a strong community spirit. It’s also a fantastic shopping destination, with an eclectic mix of fashion boutiques, gift shops, and vintage stores.
6. Take a Hike at Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head marks the eastern end of Bournemouth’s large bay. Despite being a small headland, the area is home to a variety of ecosystems, so a circular walk from the carpark will take you through a wetland, woods, heaths, and more.
Medford Sandbank, a spit of white sand stretching out into the sea at one end of Hengistbury Head, is lined with pastel-painted beach huts. There’s also a café and a coffee shop tucked onto this stretch of beach, which is a decent place to sit and eat, making it ideal for a picnic before finishing the walk back.
7. Visit the UK’s Smallest Cinema
The Bournemouth Colosseum is the UK’s smallest cinema! So, if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Bournemouth, this is ideal! This quirky little cinema, located beneath the Vintage Lounge coffee shop in the heart of Westbourne Arcade, shows an eclectic mix of modern films and age-old classics. They also show sports and other live events on occasion!
8. Play Adventure Golf at Mr. Mulligan’s
Mr. Mulligan’s, located within the BH2 Leisure complex, is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Bournemouth! It’s an indoor adventure golf centre with three distinct themed courses.
From a live-action comic book, an ‘unearthly light experience’, or a post-apocalyptic crash scene. The scenery and theming are fantastic, and there’s a bar serving food and drinks if you need to refuel between games.
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