Holiday resort, shopping centre, student hub… Bournemouth is many things to many people and has plenty to offer whether you’re staying for a while or just passing through. Here are our suggestions of things to do if you find yourself in Bournemouth.
Bournemouth has seven miles of sandy beaches, so naturally, we want to start off by telling you about the beach. Whether you want to explore the sand or go on coastal walks across the cliffs, there are lots of options for you in this part of town.
The cliffs offer plenty of walking trails with spectacular views across the ocean and access to Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve to one side and Alum Chine where you can explore tropical gardens to the other.
Aside from the cliffs, there are the award-winning beaches and an awe-inspiring seafront, where you can find the beach huts – perfect for instagramming or for hire during your stay. You can walk along them towards Boscombe to the east and Poole to the west or if you fancy taking a load off, hopping on the land train that runs along the promenade.
The coastline is where all the action takes place, you’ll find restaurants, bars and attractions lining the front and of course, there is the pier too with its family friendly activities and its food stalls.
Speaking of food…
Bournemouth is home to a whole variety of restaurants, cafes and bistros with everything from seafront eateries offering incredible views over the ocean, fine dining experiences, quick lunches and more both in and around the town centre. Perfect for those of you wanting a little refreshment while out shopping or anyone wanting to indulge in the tradition of fish and chips.
If you’re a fan of seafood, you absolutely must try one of the many establishments offering locally caught fish, the seafood that can be found around the Dorset coast is some of the best in the UK. Whether you’re just a battered cod kind of person or a rich, indulgent scallops kind of person, there are plenty of opportunities to sample Dorset’s fresh fish. Being vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to suffer from rumbly tummies when in town, there are a whole host of establishments with dedicated menus and being home to students, you’ll find dishes that suit every taste and every budget.
As well as having a fine selection of places to eat, Bournemouth is home to some of the best suppliers of local produce in the country and many of the dishes found at restaurants and cafes in the town come directly from those local businesses.
For those of you who like a tipple, there are of course, plenty of establishments around the town for you to visit, but don’t forget to check out the local distilleries and breweries. Gin is seeing a big resurgence at the moment, and this is true in Dorset too. Conker Spirit are the creators of award-winning Dorset Dry Gin and Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur and can be found in the town as can The Bournemouth Distillers Limited who make the famous BH1 Gin, so grab a glass, or two, while you’re out and about. For gin liqueurs made with the best locally grown botanicals and fruits, look no further than Smith and Western branding when enjoying yourself in the local establishments. Alternatively, if you’re more of an ale fan, Southbourne Ales are located just outside the town centre and their drinks can be found in a selection of Bournemouth’s pubs, restaurants and hotels. Another is the Vintage Port Company, if you try some, you have the added luxury of being able to buy it online and enjoy it from home!
You can find more of the food and drink suppliers in Bournemouth here.
Shop til you drop
While you’ll have to travel a little out of town for the malls, there are plenty of high street names to be found in the town centre. Whatever you’re looking for, from clothes to shoes, to electronics, you’ll find it all on the main high street. Bournemouth’s shopping areas date back to the Victorian times and you’ll find that some of the original Victorian arcades are still present. The shops that can be found in this unique hide aways offer some of the more unusual gifts as well as jewellery, fascinating boutiques and a range of independent retailers, selling a host of local produce.
Dance the night away
There is a university campus in Bournemouth, so naturally, the town centre is a hive of activity particularly during term time. There are pubs and bars galore for you to enjoy each with their own charm and atmosphere but you’ll also find the Pavilion Theatre and the Bournemouth international Centre where a whole host of events take place all year around, from live music to comedy, to club nights to theatre shows, Bournemouth has unlimited options when it comes to entertainment. Of course, if you’re planning to experience the night life, you’ll want somewhere to stay, lucky for you, Bournemouth’s popularity as a seaside holiday resort means that there is an abundance of accommodation options. Whether you want a big, brand name hotel or a small, independently run one, a guest house, a B&B, a self catering cottage or a holiday park on the outskirts, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. For a truly indulgent night’s stay, look for the hotels on the cliff tops, sunrise over the bay is a really special experience.