A Guide to Bournemouth on England's South Coast

Experience the top attractions of this coastal resort.

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Bournemouth Tourism, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Hotel Miramar, www.bournemouth.co.uk 

Photo By: Schpoons & Forx, Hilton Bournemouth

Bournemouth Beach

The United Kingdom has an abundance of stunning seaside resort towns such as St. Ives in Cornwall and Weymouth in Dorset, but one of the lesser-known and best-kept secrets of England's south coast is Bournemouth. Pristine beaches, Victorian architecture, lovely parks and gardens, recreational activities for families and annual festivals are just a few reasons to visit this picturesque beach resort.

Bournemouth Pier

A signature attraction of the resort town is Bournemouth Pier, which is situated in the middle of a seven-mile-long sandy beach. During the day you can enjoy stunning views across the bay, shopping and arcade games, while at night the pier beckons visitors with its entertainment and dining options like the Key West Bar and Grill.

The Lower Gardens

For a seaside resort, Bournemouth is particularly unique for its green space, offering 2,000 acres of gardens and parks to explore. The most famous gardens are in the town center and are split into three areas: the Lower, Central and Upper Gardens. The Lower Gardens host many events and activities during the summer months and are renowned for their floral bedding displays throughout the seasons.

The Central and Upper Gardens

The Central Gardens of Bournemouth extend from the town center to Coy Pond and encompass nature trails, a Rhododendron walk, heather beds, rose borders, tennis courts and a children's playground. The Upper Gardens was originally a private garden in the 1860s and designed with a three-continent theme, incorporating plant species and design elements from Europe, Asia and North America. It also features a Gothic-style Victorian water tower and many unusual tree species.

The Russell-Cotes Museum

Situated on a clifftop overlooking the coast, The Russell-Cotes Museum is the former seaside villa of art collectors Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife, Anne, and showcases their art treasures. The museum is an architectural wonder, and the holdings include paintings, sculpture, stained glass and countless rare artifacts from the art collectors' travels around the world.

Annual Events

There's always something happening in Bournemouth, with a yearly calendar offering more than 400 annual events. One of the most popular is the four-day Bournemouth Air Festival in late August with its flight exhibitions, aerobatics teams and pyrotechnic night flying stunts. Other popular events include the 10-day Bournemouth Food and Drink Festival in June and the Pier to Pier swim competition in July.

Hengistbury Head

A great place for hiking and nature excursions is Hengistbury Head, which is near Bournemouth and is famous for its Bronze Age excavations and importance as an Ancient Monument. Visitors can explore the surrounding heathlands and wetlands and take advantage of the educational programs offered at the Hengistbury Head Visitor Center.

Outdoor Activities

Just because Bournemouth is a seaside resort, that doesn't mean recreational activities are limited to swimming, boating and surfing. Some of your other outdoor sports options include zip lines, rock climbing, cycling, go-carts, mini golf, volleyball and table tennis on the boardwalk.

Where to Stay

You can expect a wide range of accommodations in Bournemouth, from economy-priced lodging to high-end affairs with limitless amenities. But when it comes to the most deluxe accommodation in town, it's hard to top Hotel Miramar (pictured) with its seaside rooms offering panoramic views of the coast. Their on-site restaurant, Ocean Bar and Terrance, is also popular with visitors, as is their afternoon tea service. Other local accommodations include the Langtry Manor with its Victorian decor, the boutique-style Urban Beach and the family-friendly Hallmark Hotel.

Top Dining Spots

A top destination for foodies, Bournemouth offers a limitless variety of cuisine options, from pub fare to fresh seafood to fine dining. One of the more deluxe offerings is Schpoon and Forx (pictured), which specializes in shared plates like chorizo and butter beans and dishes from their tandoor oven. Other local favorites include The Crab for gourmet seafood dishes, Vesuvio for Italian specialities and The Four Horsemen pub for seasonal dishes and awarding-winning ales.

Shop This Look