The Best Bournemouth Attractions That You Shouldn’t Miss


Bournemouth is one of the most popular English seaside towns, with 7 miles of sandy beach, a thriving city centre and vibrant nightlife. There are many Bournemouth attractions for all ages, like the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, the Oceanarium and Hengistbury Head. In the 1800s, Bournemouth became popular with those people suffering from health problems thanks to the fresh sea air. It became a favoured destination of affluent holidaymakers, and the arrival of the railway in 1870 further contributed to its ascent. In the 1900s, famous authors Enid Blyton and JRR Tolkein were residents.

Things To Do In Bournemouth

Bournemouth beach is rightly famous for its golden sand, and it’s also the home of Britain’s oldest beach hut, built in 1909. Visitors can walk, cycle or run for miles in either direction, or simply take in the sea views from the comfort of their beach towel.

Beach huts in Bournemouth
Bournemouth Pier dates from Victorian times but has been completely renovated and houses an amusement arcade, climbing walls and the world’s first pier to shore zip wire.  If you’re wondering what to do in Bournemouth with kids, then this is a good place to start.

Check out our vlog from the zipline, would you dare to do it?

There’s a nice bar and grill on the pier with a large outdoor terrace, Key West, where you can watch the zip wire action or recover from your own session!

Key West on Bournemouth Pier in Dorset, UK
Oceanarium, aka Bournemouth Aquarium is close by and a good option for a rainy day. Adults and kids alike will enjoy Bournemouth Land Train, taking you between Alum Chine, Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier. From Boscombe Pier, you can walk to the scenic headland at Hengistbury Head.

Bournemouth Land Train
Bournemouth has some award-winning gardens, totalling over 842 hectares. Upper, Central and Lower Gardens have been Green Flag winners since 1999. It’s a lovely 3 kilometer walk from Bournemouth Pier up to the outskirts of Poole. The Lower Gardens boast a popular mini golf, an aviary, bandstand and Street Food Corner.

Bournemouth Lower Gardens - Dorset, UK
The Upper Gardens are something of a hidden gem – we’d been visiting Bournemouth for many years before discovering them! Follow the path from the Lower Gardens and you’ll come across ornamental red bridges, a tower folly and finally, a Coy carp pond. Another garden that you should not miss in the Bournemouth area is Compton Acres, one of the most beautiful private gardens in the UK.

bournemouth gardens - a lovely relaxing spot
One of our favourite things to do in Bournemouth is to visit The Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. It’s a fascinating place that was a birthday gift from Sir Merton Russell-Cotes to his wife Annie. Built in the Art-Nouveau style, it was completed in 1901. The couple were passionate about art and amassed an impressive collection on their travels. They donated their home and the collection to the town of Bournemouth in 1907, continuing to live there for the rest of their lives. There are over 1,000 objects including some beautiful Pre-Raphaelite paintings, such as Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The views from the house and gardens towards the sea are stunning.

The Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery in Bournemouth, Dorset has a great collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings
Bournemouth Shopping

Bournemouth city centre is known for its shopping and people come from miles around for some retail therapy. Beales is the oldest Bournemouth department store, and there are a good number of independent boutiques here and in nearby Westbourne. The Arcade is a Victorian covered gallery that’s good for gift shopping in Bournemouth. It has stores such as Cath Kidston, Waterstones and several jewellers. Castlepoint Shopping Centre has many well-known stores such as B&Q, Marks & Spencer and Topshop.

Shopping in Bournemouth
Places to Eat in Bournemouth

Ventana Grand Cafe is a stylish 2 rosette restaurant on East Overcliff. Located inside The Cumberland Hotel, it has an Art Deco vibe and very friendly service. They serve delicious food that is beautifully presented and there’s a great wine list, as well as locally made Giggi gelato.

For a great cup of coffee in the town centre, head to South Coast Roast. As the name suggests, they roast their own coffee beans and also host regular supperclubs.

Ice cream fans will enjoy the artisanal flavours at Giggi Gelateria, as well as at Lollipop Gelato Lab. A few doors down from Lollipop, you’ll find the quirky Flirt Cafe Bar which scooped The Family Eating Experience Award at the 2017 Bournemouth Tourism Awards. Enjoy a “sexy OMG hot choc” whilst sitting on an airline seat.

West Beach is a great place to relax and enjoy Bournemouth seafront while tucking into a great plate of seafood. Fish and chips is a British seaside classic and Chez Fred in Westbourne is a family run business established by Fred and his Dad Pete in 1989. It’s a smartly decorated restaurant that prides itself on the finest sustainable fish and tasty chips overseen by Big Steve, the Chief of Spud Operations – yes really!

Best restaurants in Bournemouth Dorset UK
When to Visit Bournemouth

Any time of the year is enjoyable, just bear in mind that the beach does get busy on Bank Holidays. Bournemouth Air Festival is the UK’s largest air festival and hugely popular. This year it takes place between 31 August and 3 September, and it’s advisable to book accommodation well in advance.

Weather in Bournemouth

The weather in Bournemouth is generally pretty good. Dorset is one of the 3 sunniest counties in the UK and Bournemouth is blessed with an average 7.7 hours of sunshine in Summertime. Still, it’s advisable to bring an umbrella with you outside of the Summer months, as you would for the rest of the UK.

What to Wear in Bournemouth

For walking along the beach, espadrilles or wedge shoes will come in handy and nautical accessories will add flair. Those sea breezes can get chilly at times so a lightweight bomber jacket will help keep you warm. Bournemouth is a great place to do watersports, so neoprene swimwear will also come in handy.

Getting to Bournemouth

Bournemouth Airport flies to a number of overseas destinations including Geneva, Ibiza, Krakow and Turin. For flight timetables and the best prices, check Skyscanner here. One of the most relaxing ways to visit Bournemouth is by train, with South West Trains reaching London in under 2 hours. If travelling by car, take the A35 from the Suoth or West and the A338 from the North or East.

Where to Stay in Bournemouth

The Cumberland Hotel is one of the best hotels in Bournemouth, thanks to its spectacular views over the coast. The iconic Art Deco building has been carefully updated to retain many original features . The heated outdoor pool is a lovely place to relax and enjoy a cocktail. Its neighbouring sister hotels have more facilities for guest to enjoy, such as an indoor pool, games room, squash courts and award-winning spa. The food here is second to none, with Ventana Grand Café holding 2 rosettes and Mirabelle Restaurant doing some great set menus. If you can tear yourself away from that pool, it’s just a few minutes walk to Bournemouth seaside and the beach.

The Cumberland Hotel Bournemouth Dorset UK
See our vlog for the full list of things to do in Bournemouth:

We hope that we’ve inspired you to visit Bournemouth and try out some of these experiences for yourself. Which would be your favourite Bournemouth attractions? 

The Best Bournemouth Attractions That You Shouldn't Miss

  • Looks great

  • Iuliana Marchian

    Bournemouth looks great and your photos are very beautiful. I’d jump in my shoes and head there right now. I love the beach huts, I am not sure why – maybe because I am in love with beaches or maybe because I love blue. I am sure that would be the first place where I go.

    • Suze

      I have a thing for beach huts too, there’s something so retro about them!

  • Such a quintessentially British seaside town. Cannot beat a good tourist trail! You look to have been very lucky with the weather too

    • Suze

      We were so lucky with the weather, the sun was shining the whole time. It certainly helped us to explore more of Bournemouth!

  • cute beach houses! and that hotel looks like from a Poirot movie:)

    • Suze

      You’re right, Tanja, the hotel does feel like it could be in a book or a film!

  • Wow, what a lovely place and offers a lot of stunning scenery. It is very vibrant and colorful. I wouldn’t mind getting tired to amble around Bournemouth while enjoying the beautiful landscape. I also love the fact that they also have a boat load of luscious food, which I always love to try whenever I get to the new place. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Suze

      There’s definitely a great selection of food in Bournemouth, and lots to see as well

  • Love those cute blue beach huts – they are just adorable. Bournemouth looks beautiful with its gorgeous beachfront, shopping arcade, great restaurants and the view from Cumberland Hotel looks stunning!

    Miriam xx

    • Suze

      We really loved the view from our room, there’s something so relaxing about looking out to sea! We’re trying the pier zipwire next!

  • I used to visit Bournemouth a lot when I was younger but I didn’t realise how much there was to see!

    • Suze

      There’s so much to see and the surrounding area is great too – fantastic boutique shopping at Westbourne and some great coastal walks

  • I absolutely love visiting Bournemouth, and your suggestion of what to do there is spot on! The Russell-Cotes Museum & Art Gallery makes for such a fun afternoon, and I love the Eugenia Kim sunhat you’ve suggested!

    Gabrielle

    • Suze

      I remember that you are a fan of the Russell-Cotes, it really is a fascinating museum

  • Paige Brown

    I hadn’t heard of Bournemouth, but I’m heading to the UK for the first time in May and will be there at least a month, so this looks like a wonderful spot to explore while we’re there! I definitely want to go to the pier and ride that ferris wheel. Plus, it looks like a wonderful place to enjoy photographing!

    • Suze

      Well it’s very easy to get to by train in particular so I hope you get a chance to visit!

  • I have never heard of Bournemouth and now I want to go! That Bournemouth Land Train looks like so much fun and it’s so cute:) After some fun in the sun, being able to visit The Russell-Cotes Museum would be the perfect day.

    • Suze

      The train is great fun, I haven’t been on it in a good few years though!

  • Claire

    I went to Bournemouth when I was a kid, and loved it! I would like to back again to go to that art museum and enjoy the sunshine! Those beach huts are so cute too!

    • Suze

      Aren’t the beach huts gorgeous – a real piece of British seaside history!

  • Vyjay Rao

    I absolutely love these seaside towns. They have a certain old world charm which is so alluring. Bournemouth seems to exude the same kind of Victorian charm and warmth. The amusement park is something that promises kids a lot of fun. I would say that Bournemouth seems to be a perfect family getaway.

    • Suze

      There is something very quaint about those seaside towns as you say! The nice thing is that Bournemouth has modernized itself without compromising its traditional charm

  • Natasha

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together. If I ever find myself in Bournemouth, I now know what to do/see! I want to eat up all of the food and also spend time exploring the Upper Gardens and the Lower Gardens!

    • Suze

      Those gardens are lovely, I can’t believe I’d never explored them properly before!

  • Lucy

    Bournemouths gardens are beautiful and they have some excellent foodie gems. Love and Friebds do som great clothes Lucy x

    • Suze

      The food in Bournemouth is really good. I’m a fan of Lovers and Friends clothing too

  • Bournemouth is one of my favorite UK cities. This hotel sounds amazing too!

    🙂
    Hadas

    • Suze

      It was a really lovely place to stay, Hadas!

  • There’s certainly a lot to do in Bournemouth! The beach huts along the pier are very cute and the Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum sounds fabulous!

    • Suze

      It’s one of my favourite seaside resorts, I love the wide sandy beach!