Bournemouth is one of the most popular seaside resorts on the south coast and the largest settlement in Dorset. Thanks to its seven miles of golden sandy beaches, clean sea water, excellent weather (well for England anyway) and lively nightlife Bournemouth attracts over 6 million visitors each year.

Bournemouth Pier and West Beach on a sunny day taken from the West Cliff.
Bournemouth Beach (West) and Pier.

The town was founded in 1810 and was initially marketed as a health resort due to its mild climate and fresh sea air – a welcome break from the industrial smog being experienced by people living in the larger cities at that time. After the arrival of the railway the town quickly grew and became a recognised town in 1870. The town centre still has plenty of interesting Victorian architecture.

Bournemouth Pier in the evening taken from the beach on the east side. This image was taken using a long exposure.
Bournemouth Pier taken at twilight. Photo taken using long exposure

Top 10 Things to Do in Bournemouth

#1 Visit Bournemouth Beach & Pier

#2 If you prefer things a bit quieter try a nearby beach such as Durley Chine (11 mins walk west of the pier), Middle Chine (14 mins walk west) or Alum Chine (18 mins walk west). This is where you’ll find the locals. Don’t want to walk? then take the Seafront Land Train.

#3 Cool off by taking a stroll through the Lower Gardens which conveniently runs between the pier and Bournemouth town centre.

#4 For a better view of the beaches take a ride on the Big Wheel

#5 Visit the Oceanarium next to the pier

#6 Take in a bit of culture at the Russell-Cotes Museum & Art Gallery

#7 Whizz down the Pier Zip Line

#8 Take the Purbeck Breezer 50 – an open deck bus to Sandbanks & Swanage

#9 Go for a coastal walk along the seafront promenade. Bournemouth Pier to Sandbanks Shore Road Beach is 3 miles and takes 1 hour. Its 4 miles in total if you walk to Sandbanks Ferry (1 hr 20 mins from Bournemouth Pier). It only costs £1 for a return trip on the Sandbanks Ferry across to Shell Bay. If you don’t fancy the walk back then you can catch a bus (open topped Purbeck Breezer 50 see above).

#10 Ride the City Sightseeing Bus to Poole Quay and take a Cruise to Swanage

Photo of Bournemouth Pier in the summer. At the end of the pier you can see the ZipLine tower which connects a dual biplane to the beach.
Bournemouth Pier taken from the West Cliff looking east. You can see the white cliffs of the Needles on the Isle of Wight in the background. You can also see the tower at the end of the pier which connects a dual zip line to the beach on the far side. For more information about the zip line see our page RockReef ZipLine

There is always plenty going on throughout the year. Free events include the Bournemouth Air Festival which is usually held towards the end of August. The Christmas Tree Wonderland and Market starts in mid-November and continues until the end of the year. Check out Bournemouth’s official tourism website for more events or visit the Visitor Information Centre infant of the pier.

For parking recommendations and charges see our webpage Bournemouth Car Parks

Sand castles on the beach.
Sand castles on the beach
Aerial photo of Bournemouth Pier taken by drone.
View of the pier taken from a drone. You can see the zip-line tower on the end of the pier.
A view of Bournemouth Beach taken from the top of the West Cliff looking towards Sandbanks.
View from the West Cliff Gardens (Google map) looking west towards Sandbanks and Studland beaches. The path leading down to the beach is the West Cliff Zig Zag. The next beach along is Durley Chine Beach, then Middle Chine Beach, Alum Chine Beach, Branksome Dean Chine Beach, Branksome Chine Beach, Canford Cliffs Beach, Flag Head Beach, Sandbanks Shore Road and then Sandbanks Beach – 4 miles of golden sands.
View of Bournemouth Pier late in the evening looking east along the beach.
Bournemouth Pier in the evening. This photo was taken using a long exposure to make the waves look soft and blurry.
Bournemouth East Beach and Pier.
View from the East Cliff looking towards the pier. You can see Old Harry Rocks near Studland in the distance.
Deckchairs on the promenade on a sunny day
There are plenty of deck chairs available along the sea front at Bournemouth but you’ll have to pay to hire them.
Durley Chine Beach looking towards Bournemouth Pier. The two little rowing boats in the foreground are still used by fishermen early every morning and the fish is sold just outside the nearby beach office.
Fishing boats on Durley Chine Beach at sunrise. You can see Bournemouth Pier in the distance. These small rowing boats go out to sea early every morning, weather permitting, and the catch is sold from the beach on their return.


Related Pages: Bournemouth Beach | Bournemouth Car Parks | Bournemouth Oceanarium | Russell Cotes Museum | City Sightseeing Bus | Purbeck Breezer Bus | RockReef & PierZip | Big Wheel | Boscombe Beach | Durley Chine | Bournemouth Air Festival