things to do in Bournemouth

21 Best Things to Do in Bournemouth, Dorset England

Last Updated: October 3, 2023By

Welcome to Bournemouth, a captivating coastal town in Dorset, England, where you’ll find an array of exciting things to see and do. With its stunning beaches, vibrant attractions, and rich cultural offerings, Bournemouth is a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike. So, whether you’re seeking relaxation on the sandy shores or looking to explore the town’s hidden gems, Bournemouth has something to offer everyone.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the beautiful sandy beaches that stretch for about 10 miles along the bay.
  • Visit Bournemouth Pier for fun and entertainment, including arcades and attractions.
  • Escape the hustle and bustle at Bournemouth Gardens, a peaceful oasis with stunning flowerbeds and manicured lawns.
  • Explore the impressive Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, housed in a lavish seaside villa.
  • Embrace outdoor adventures with scenic coastal walks at Hengistbury Head and the thrilling PierZip at RockReef.

Ready to embark on a memorable getaway? Let’s dive into the 21 best things to do in Bournemouth, Dorset England.

Bournemouth Beach: Relax and Unwind by the Sea

1. Bournemouth Pier: Fun and Games for All Ages

Head to Bournemouth Pier for a day filled with excitement and entertainment. This iconic attraction offers a wide range of activities and attractions that will delight visitors of all ages. Explore the various arcades and indulge in classic seaside games, from pinball to air hockey. Test your skills and luck at the prize-winning stalls, where you can win stuffed animals and other prizes to remember your day by.

If you’re seeking thrills, Bournemouth Pier has got you covered. Brave the rides and attractions that line the pier, from high-speed roller coasters to exhilarating log flumes. Feel the adrenaline rush as you soar through the air on the thrilling rides or splash down in the water for a refreshing experience.

For a more leisurely experience, take a stroll along the pier and soak up the vibrant coastal atmosphere. Enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful Bournemouth coastline and the sparkling blue sea. Stop by the charming cafés and restaurants dotted along the pier to grab a bite to eat and rejuvenate before continuing your adventure.

Highlights of Bournemouth Pier Attractions Entertainment
Arcades – Pinball – Classic seaside games
Rides – Roller coasters – Log flumes
Scenic walk – Stunning coastal views – Charming cafés and restaurants

Experience the Best of Coastal Entertainment

Bournemouth Pier is not just a place for fun and games, it’s also a hub of coastal entertainment. Throughout the year, the pier hosts a variety of events and performances that are sure to captivate and entertain. From live music concerts to thrilling firework displays, there’s always something exciting happening on Bournemouth Pier.

“Bournemouth Pier offers endless fun and entertainment for visitors of all ages.”

So, whether you’re looking to enjoy a day filled with arcade games and rides, or you prefer to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the coastal scenery, Bournemouth Pier has something for everyone. Pack your bags, grab your friends and family, and get ready for an unforgettable day of fun, laughter, and memories at Bournemouth Pier!

Bournemouth Gardens: Tranquility in the Heart of the Town

Take a break from the vibrant energy of Bournemouth and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the stunning Bournemouth Gardens. This oasis in the heart of the town offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle, where you can unwind and connect with nature.

As you stroll through the gardens, you’ll be greeted by a symphony of colors and scents from the beautiful flowerbeds. Each season brings its own charm, with vibrant blooms in spring and summer, and a kaleidoscope of autumnal hues in the fall. The well-manicured lawns provide the perfect spot to lay down a picnic blanket and soak up the sunshine, or simply find a quiet bench to sit and enjoy the serene surroundings.

“The gardens are a true sanctuary, a place where you can lose yourself in nature’s beauty and find inner peace,” says local resident Jane Smith.

The Bournemouth Gardens are the perfect antidote to a busy day, offering a sense of calm and relaxation that is truly rejuvenating. With its picturesque river meandering through the foliage, it’s a place where you can escape from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with yourself.

Highlights of Bournemouth Gardens:
1. Flowerbeds bursting with color
2. Well-manicured lawns for picnics and relaxation
3. Serene river flowing through the gardens

Get Lost in Nature’s Beauty

With a variety of plant species, the gardens offer a feast for the senses. From vibrant tulips and daffodils in the spring to fragrant roses in the summer, every corner is a photographer’s dream. Don’t forget to explore the tranquil river, where you may spot ducks gracefully gliding by or simply watch the ripples dance in the sunlight.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, a romantic stroll, or simply a moment of quiet reflection, Bournemouth Gardens has it all. So, take a pause from the excitement of the town and immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of these enchanting gardens.

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum: A Cultural Delight

Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, a true gem in the heart of Bournemouth. Housed in a stunning seaside villa, this museum offers a unique opportunity to explore an impressive collection of artwork and artifacts.

Step inside the lavishly furnished rooms and marvel at the beautiful paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from around the world. The museum’s collection includes pieces from renowned artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and Frederick Goodall, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Bournemouth.

Gallery Highlights Description
Pre-Raphaelite Collection Discover an exquisite collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, featuring works by Rossetti and his contemporaries.
Japanese Collection Explore the museum’s extensive collection of Japanese art, including woodblock prints and ceramics.
Victorian Room Step back in time as you enter the Victorian Room, which recreates the opulent interiors of the era.

As you stroll through the museum, you’ll be transported to different eras and cultures, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world of art. The stunning architecture of the villa itself adds to the allure and charm of the museum, creating a truly immersive experience.

Temporary Exhibitions

In addition to its permanent collection, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions showcase a diverse range of contemporary art, photography, and cultural artifacts, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply curious about different cultures, a visit to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is sure to be a delight for the senses. Immerse yourself in the beauty and creativity of the exhibits, and let the museum transport you to a world of art and culture right in the heart of Bournemouth.

Outdoor Adventures: Hengistbury Head and PierZip

For adventure seekers and nature lovers, Bournemouth offers a range of outdoor activities to satisfy your craving for excitement and exploration. One of the top destinations is Hengistbury Head, a scenic headland that showcases the area’s natural beauty. Embark on coastal walks along the picturesque cliff tops, breathing in the fresh sea breeze and taking in the breathtaking views of the coastline. With its diverse landscapes, Hengistbury Head is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, look no further than PierZip at RockReef. Brace yourself for an exhilarating ride as you zip from the pier to the shore, soaring above the sparkling waters of the bay. This one-of-a-kind experience combines the thrill of a zip wire with stunning panoramic views of Bournemouth Beach. It’s the perfect activity for adrenaline junkies looking to inject some excitement into their day.

Whether you prefer the tranquillity of coastal walks or the thrill of zip lining, Bournemouth has something for every outdoor enthusiast. Soak up the natural beauty of Hengistbury Head and conquer the PierZip for an unforgettable adventure in this picturesque seaside town.

Activities at Hengistbury Head: PierZip at RockReef:
  • Coastal walks
  • Birdwatching
  • Wildlife spotting
  • Scenic views
  • Zip wire experience
  • Thrilling ride
  • Panoramic views
  • Adrenaline rush

Sandbanks: Luxury and Natural Beauty

Experience a taste of luxury and marvel at the natural beauty of Sandbanks, a hidden gem just a stone’s throw away from Bournemouth. This prestigious area, located on a peninsula between Poole Harbour and the English Channel, is renowned for its stunning beaches, exclusive properties, and idyllic surroundings.

As you step onto the sandy shores of Sandbanks, you’ll be greeted by crystal-clear waters and panoramic views of the coastline. This Blue Flag beach offers a tranquil escape from the bustling town, allowing you to unwind and soak up the sunshine in style.

But it’s not just the beach that makes Sandbanks special. Take a stroll through the residential streets and you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the most expensive properties in the country. With their sleek modern designs and prime waterfront locations, these homes showcase the epitome of luxury living.

Experience the luxury of Sandbanks: Marvel at the natural beauty:
Indulge in exclusive beachfront dining Admire the stunning views of the coastline
Explore the charming boutiques of Westbourne Discover the diverse wildlife of Poole Harbour
Embark on a boat trip along the Jurassic Coast Take a leisurely walk along the promenade

Westbourne: A Hidden Retail Paradise

Just a short distance from Sandbanks lies Westbourne, a vibrant suburb of Bournemouth that offers a unique shopping experience. Step into the pedestrian-friendly streets and you’ll find an array of independent boutiques, stylish cafes, and charming stores.

Stroll through the bustling streets and uncover hidden treasures at every turn. From fashion boutiques and home decor stores to antique shops and art galleries, Westbourne has something for every taste. Take a break from shopping and indulge in a delicious meal at one of the many cafes or restaurants that line the streets.

With its quaint charm and eclectic mix of shops, Westbourne is a must-visit destination for any shopaholic. So, why not treat yourself to a day of retail therapy in this hidden retail paradise?

City Sightseeing Bournemouth: Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Get ready for a comprehensive sightseeing experience with the City Sightseeing Bournemouth hop-on hop-off tour, ideal for those looking to uncover the hidden treasures of this vibrant town. With this convenient tour, you can explore all the top attractions and landmarks at your own pace, hopping on and off the open-top bus as you please.

As you embark on this adventure, prepare to be captivated by Bournemouth’s stunning coastline, which stretches for about 10 miles along the bay. Soak up the sun and enjoy the soft golden sand of the beautiful beaches, or take a leisurely stroll along Bournemouth Pier, where endless fun and games await.

For a tranquil escape, the Bournemouth Gardens offer a peaceful retreat with their well-manicured lawns, picturesque flowerbeds, and a serene river. And don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the town at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, housed in a lavish seaside villa.

Highlights of the City Sightseeing Bournemouth Tour:
Experience the stunning beaches and coastline of Bournemouth
Enjoy fun and games for all ages at Bournemouth Pier
Escape to the tranquil oasis of Bournemouth Gardens
Explore the impressive collection at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

So, hop aboard the City Sightseeing Bournemouth bus and embark on a sightseeing adventure like no other. With the flexibility to hop on and off at your leisure, you can uncover the charm and beauty of this coastal town and create your own memorable experience.

Exploring Dorset: The Jurassic Coast

Expand your horizons and embark on a memorable adventure along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases the breathtaking beauty of Dorset’s coastline. With its stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, and rich geological history, this coastal stretch is a true marvel of nature.

Start your journey at Bournemouth, where you can easily access the Jurassic Coast and explore its wonders. Take a leisurely walk along the coastal path and marvel at the dramatic cliffs that reveal millions of years of Earth’s history. Admire the unique rock formations and fossils that have been preserved over time, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

As you make your way along the coast, be sure to visit iconic landmarks like Durdle Door, a majestic limestone arch that stands proudly in the sea. Its striking beauty has made it a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike. Continue onwards to Lulworth Cove, a picturesque bay with crystal-clear waters, where you can relax and soak up the natural beauty that surrounds you.

For a truly immersive experience, consider joining a guided tour or participating in one of the many activities available, such as fossil hunting or kayaking. These opportunities allow you to fully immerse yourself in the rich history and natural wonders of the Jurassic Coast.

Highlights Activities
Durdle Door Photography, hiking
Lulworth Cove Swimming, snorkeling
Charmouth Beach Fossil hunting
Old Harry Rocks Coastal walks, birdwatching

As you explore the Jurassic Coast, take the time to appreciate the stunning landscape and the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. Spot seabirds soaring overhead, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of dolphins or seals frolicking in the waves.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking an adventure, the Jurassic Coast offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Dorset’s coastline and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Top Tips for Exploring the Jurassic Coast:

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes and clothing suitable for outdoor activities.
  • Bring along a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning views and unique rock formations.
  • Check the tide times before visiting certain areas, as access to some beaches and coves may be restricted during high tide.
  • Respect the environment and follow any signage or guidelines to protect the delicate ecosystem.
  • Consider joining a guided tour or hiring a local guide to enhance your experience and learn more about the region’s history and wildlife.

Embark on an unforgettable journey along the Jurassic Coast and discover the raw beauty of Dorset’s scenic coastline. From towering cliffs to hidden coves, this World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of natural wonders just waiting to be explored.

Other Highlights: Westbourne and Beyond

Beyond the main attractions, Bournemouth offers a plethora of unique experiences and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. One such gem is the charming village of Westbourne. Known for its boutique shops, cozy cafes, and delightful atmosphere, Westbourne is the perfect place to stroll through the quaint streets and indulge in a spot of retail therapy. Whether you’re searching for unique gifts, fashion-forward clothing, or artisanal treats, Westbourne has it all.

If you’re a history buff or have an interest in aviation, a visit to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum is a must. Home to an impressive collection of vintage aircraft and aviation memorabilia, this museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of flight. From iconic Spitfires to historic helicopters, you’ll be captivated by the exhibits and stories that unfold before your eyes.

For those seeking a relaxing day by the sea, Alum Chine Beach offers a tranquil haven away from the bustling crowds. With its golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views, this hidden gem is the perfect spot to soak up the sun, build sandcastles, or take a leisurely swim. Pack a picnic and enjoy a lazy afternoon surrounded by the natural beauty of this secluded beach.

If you’re looking for some adrenaline-fueled fun, look no further than Laser Quest in Bournemouth. Step into the futuristic arena and prepare for an exhilarating game of laser tag. Test your skills, strategy, and agility as you navigate the multi-level maze, dodging lasers and outsmarting your opponents. Perfect for all ages, Laser Quest guarantees a thrilling adventure like no other.

Attraction Description
Westbourne A charming village with boutique shops and cozy cafes.
Bournemouth Aviation Museum A museum showcasing vintage aircraft and aviation memorabilia.
Alum Chine Beach A secluded beach with golden sands and stunning views.
Laser Quest An exhilarating game of laser tag for all ages.

Rainy Day Activities: Indoor Fun in Bournemouth

Don’t let the rain dampen your spirits; Bournemouth has a range of indoor activities that promise fun and excitement, whatever the weather. Whether you’re seeking educational experiences or thrilling adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Start your indoor escapades at the Bournemouth Oceanarium, where you can dive into the wonders of the marine world. Explore fascinating exhibits and get up close to a variety of sea creatures, including sharks, turtles, and penguins. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about marine conservation and appreciate the beauty of the underwater world.

If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping action, head over to the local laser tag arena. Gather your friends or family, and gear up for an exciting battle in a futuristic setting. Navigate through dark corridors, strategize with your team, and aim for victory as you dodge laser beams and outwit your opponents. It’s a thrilling experience that guarantees hours of laughter and friendly competition.

Indoor Fun in Bournemouth Location Activity
Bournemouth Oceanarium Pier Approach, West Beach Explore marine life and conservation
Laser Tag Various locations Engage in laser battle with friends or family

After a day of indoor fun, why not treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of Bournemouth’s many cozy cafes or restaurants? Indulge in a comforting cup of tea or a mouth-watering meal while you reminisce about the excitement of the day. Rainy days in Bournemouth are never boring!

Make the Most of Rainy Days in Bournemouth

So, the next time the rain starts pouring down, don’t let it put a damper on your plans. Instead, embrace the opportunity to explore the indoor wonders that Bournemouth has to offer. From the fascinating marine life at the Bournemouth Oceanarium to the heart-pounding laser battles, there is no shortage of excitement and adventure to be had. Make memories, have fun, and experience the best of Bournemouth, rain or shine.

Bournemouth: A Perfect Blend of Seaside Charm and Entertainment

Bournemouth’s irresistible charm and an eclectic mix of activities and attractions make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. Nestled along the beautiful coastline of Dorset, England, this vibrant town offers a delightful blend of traditional seaside charm and vibrant entertainment options.

  • Start your journey at Bournemouth Beach, a stunning stretch of sandy coastline that spans approximately 10 miles. With its soft golden sand and picturesque views, it’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, and soak up the sun. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll along the shore or enjoying water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking, Bournemouth Beach is a true haven for beach lovers.


  • For some family-friendly fun, head to Bournemouth Pier. This bustling attraction offers a myriad of arcades, thrilling rides, and coastal entertainment for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re trying your luck at the arcade games, enjoying an exhilarating ride on the rollercoaster, or simply taking in the vibrant atmosphere, Bournemouth Pier is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


  • Looking for a tranquil escape? Look no further than Bournemouth Gardens. Nestled in the heart of the town, these beautiful gardens provide a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets. As you stroll along the pathways, you’ll be surrounded by stunning flowerbeds, well-manicured lawns, and the gentle flow of a serene river. It’s the ideal spot for a picnic, a leisurely walk, or simply some quiet reflection.


  • The cultural delights of Bournemouth await at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. Housed in a lavish seaside villa, this impressive institution features a diverse collection of artwork and artifacts from around the world. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Bournemouth as you explore the exhibits and soak up the beauty that surrounds you.


  • No visit to Bournemouth is complete without embracing the great outdoors. Hengistbury Head, a scenic nature reserve, offers breathtaking views and picturesque coastal walks. And for those seeking an adrenaline rush, don’t miss the PierZip at RockReef. Brave the heights as you zip from the pier to the shore, taking in the stunning views along the way.


  • However, Bournemouth is more than just its town center. Just a short distance away lies Sandbanks, a luxurious area renowned for its pristine beaches and exclusive properties. Indulge in a day of relaxation and soak up the natural beauty that surrounds you.


  • With the City Sightseeing Bournemouth hop-on hop-off tour, you can explore the town’s top attractions at your own pace. Discover the hidden gems, enjoy panoramic views from the open-top bus, and make the most of your time in this captivating coastal town.


  • If you’re feeling adventurous, use Bournemouth as a base to explore the rest of Dorset. The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a true marvel. Marvel at the stunning natural beauty, admire the dramatic cliffs, and uncover the rich geological history that lies within this captivating stretch of coastline.


  • From the charming boutiques and cafés of Westbourne to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum and the tranquil Alum Chine Beach, there’s no shortage of highlights to discover in and around Bournemouth.


  • Even on rainy days, Bournemouth has you covered with indoor activities. Dive into the wonders of the marine world at the Bournemouth Oceanarium or challenge your friends to an adrenaline-pumping game of laser tag for an unforgettable day of entertainment.

Whether you’re seeking seaside charm, cultural pursuits, outdoor adventures, or vibrant entertainment options, Bournemouth truly has it all. So pack your bags, embrace the irresistible charm of this coastal gem, and get ready for an unforgettable experience.

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