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Helping you plan your stay in Bournemouth

Reclining on the south coast of England, Bournemouth exists at a relaxed pace. A popular resort for well over a century, it's a welcome cliché of invigorating air, pleasant weather, and clean seas gilded with sandy beaches. Despite its reputation as a retirement town, the Dorset haven has since been rejuvenated by a trendier, more bohemian crowd; earning it the nickname 'BoMo'. Now a colourful destination, Bournemouth is awash with fabulous amenities, plenty to do and a buzzing nightlife. Of course, it still retains that British seaside charm.

Things to see in Bournemouth

Bournemouth's biggest draw is undoubtedly its coast. With views of the Purbecks and Isle of Wight, its clean golden beaches are considered as some of the best in Europe, covering a seven-mile stretch. Its famous pier offers some good old-fashioned family fun with a games arcade at the entrance, whilst a traditional theatre and café are located on the pier itself. The Bournemouth International Centre is the largest entertainment venue in the area, hosting some of the biggest stars in music – so check what'll be on prior to your visit.

Architecture enthusiasts can visit St Peter's Church, a refined, late 19th-century church championing a gothic revival style, topped with a sharp-pointed spire. For more captivating architecture, stop by the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, an elegant cone-topped Art Nouveau structure surrounded by a fountain-studded exotic garden.

For tropical fragrance and Victorian fancy, take a turn around Bournemouth Lower Gardens. With outdoor concerts held during the summer months and views to the sea, you can spend an afternoon picnicking before inhaling the famously healthy air of the Pine Walk. Nature lovers can also venture outside of the town proper to Hengistbury Head, a hilly tree-dotted headland jutting into the English Channel waters. Hengistbury is both a nature reserve, due to its rich array of birdlife, and an ancient monument, due to the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Roman artefacts recovered here. Back in Bournemouth, families can visit the Oceanarium, a waterfront aquarium housing sea turtles, stingrays and sharks.

Hotels in Bournemouth

The town has been a holiday hotspot ever since the 1800's when the Victorians descended and built an impressive portfolio of lavish accommodation for England's holidaying high society. With such establishments still operating today, hotels in Bournemouth all follow a common theme: sheer relaxation and genteel leisure. The luxury hotel options boast health and beauty spas, indulgent dining, and breezy sea views. Many of the reasonably priced mid-range hotels also provide leisure facilities, along with one or two posh accoutrements. For those on a budget, cheap hotels in Bournemouth come in the form of renowned chain hotels and cheerful B&Bs.

Types of food and restaurants in Bournemouth

Bournemouth celebrates the traditional English fish and chips takeaway restaurant; you'll find many a cheap chippy down by the oceanfront and in the town centre. Bournemouth's cuisine scene also offers up an international fare, particularly Chinese and Indian restaurants. In the buzzing Triangle Area – a central arts, dining, and entertainment hub – you'll find several Mediterranean restaurants. For fine dining, explore the luxury hotels in Bournemouth, many of which offer upscale in-house restaurants serving French-inspired cuisine and seafood.

Getting to Bournemouth

International visitors will possibly touch down at Bournemouth International Airport. Located just 4 miles north of Bournemouth, various European airlines fly directly there. If you're coming from further afield then nearby London airport such as Heathrow and Gatwick are better-connected gateways. Getting to Bournemouth by train is simple, with direct services from London Waterloo to Bournemouth Station operating regularly, whilst many trains from the north terminate at Bournemouth. For the budget holiday maker, buses and coaches are much cheaper, with the National Express Bus taking 2.5 hours to reach the resort from London.

Public transport in Bournemouth

Bournemouth proper is small enough to explore on foot – bicycle rentals are a popular option too, particularly in the summer months. To reach areas outside the central town, travel in Bournemouth is a breeze thanks to the extensive bus routes that twist throughout the centre, down along the coast and out to surrounding suburbs. Bournemouth is also flush with taxicabs providing quick and easy rides – for total convenience, telephone a cab in advance of travel.

When is the best time to visit Bournemouth?

Visit Bournemouth during the spring months for a relaxed and tranquil seafront town atmosphere – you'll find plenty of cheap Bournemouth hotels in this season, too. Similarly, the cooler autumn months, from October to November, boast plenty of discount hotels. In winter, Bournemouth erupts with festive activities, like charming old-fashioned craft markets. The summertime, from June to September, sees Bournemouth bounce with Carnival Week, and the sun-struck days provide a perfect environment to enjoy Bournemouth's expanse of sandy beachfront.

Fun facts about Bournemouth

  • Adrenaline seekers will be happy to discover that Bournemouth is home to the world's first pier-to-shore zip line, spanning from Bournemouth Pier across the ocean waters to the sandy beach.
  • Before the arrival of the railway line in 1870, Bournemouth was largely deserted but regularly visited by gangs of smugglers.
  • Bournemouth lies on the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast – a continuous tract of coastal rock covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. As such, the rocky beachfront along this coast is covered in millions of prehistoric fossils.

Bournemouth Travel Guides & Things To Do

Read about other things to do in Bournemouth