Swanage is a picturesque seaside town that hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years. It’s a family-friendly resort that becomes busy for a few months over the summer and then returns to it’s sleepy self out of season.

The beach is gently sloping with clean golden sand and clear unpolluted water. It’s a great choice for a relaxing break and the town makes an ideal base for exploring the nearby Purbeck Hills and Jurassic Coast. There are plenty of more adventurous activities to keep you busy such as walking, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling, sea fishing and diving to mention a few.

View of Swanage Beach
Swanage Beach

Top 10 Things to do in Swanage

#1 Enjoy the beautiful sandy beach

#2 Take a walk through the town and along the Pier. Have an ice-cream or fish & chips

#3 Visit the Tourist Information Centre (Google map) – it’s located right on the seafront in The White House along Shore Road. The centre has loads of brochures and maps, information about events, accommodation, boat trips, bus timetables and excursions etc. The staff are also friendly and helpful so if you’ve just arrived in Swanage on holiday and you’ve already dipped your toes in the sea and eaten an ice-cream then this is your next port of call.

#4 Swanage Railway – take a steam train through the beautiful Purbeck countryside to Corfe Castle

#5 Durlston Country Park offers clifftop walks with stunning views and is located only 1 mile away.

#6 Take a Boat Trip to Poole Quay

#7 Visit Studland Village and its nearby pretty beaches

#8 Walk to Old Harry Rocks (for a guide to the best walks around Swanage see https://www.dorsetwalks.co.uk/

#9 Explore the Jurassic Coast: Worth Matravers, Kimmeridge Bay, Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door

#10 Do something adventurous. Try an Adventure Activity

Panoramic of Swanage Beach
Panoramic image showing the beach front and chalky headland beyond called Ballard Cliff.
View of the beach and of Banjo Pier which is a short stone pier.
The promenade and seafront. Banjo Pier is the name given to the short stone pier. It actually forms the storm-water outflow from the road drainage system so in times of heavy rain it’s probably not the best place to go swimming. However I have heard that it’s quite a good place to fish from.
At the start of Banjo Pier is a wooden shelter with a small clock tower.
The clock tower shelter at the entrance to Banjo Pier located about half way along the beach (Google map)
View along the beach-front looking towards the pier.
View along the seafront back towards town. You can see Swanage Pier in the distance.

Swanage Main Beach Car Park

Sat Nav postcode is BH19 1AP (Google map) . This is the largest and most convenient car park for visiting the beach. 

Payment can be made using cash, phone or using an online app (JustPark location 5951).

More information about this car park can be found on the website https://www.swanage.gov.uk/

Swanage Main Beach Car Park Charges

July-AugApr-Jun, Sept-OctNov-Mar
up to 1 hour£1.80£1.50£1
up to 2 hours£3.40£3£1
up to 4 hours£6.40£5£1
up to 6 hours£7.20£6.50£1
up to 24 hours£8£8£1
Charges apply 24 hrs Mon-Sun. Information checked/updated on 27 March 2023
Ice cream kiosk on the promenade with queues of people
Banjo Pier Swanage
Banjo Pier – always a popular spot with photographers. The pier point east so good for a sunrise but sometimes at sunset you can some really beautiful skies.
Punch and Judy shows on the beach during the summer
Punch and Judy show on the beach during the summer months
There are quite a few independent shops around the town including art galleries, handicrafts and even a bear shop Corfe Bears https://www.corfebears.co.uk that can be found in the High Street
Fish and Chip shop The Fish Plaice on The Square
A visit wouldn’t be complete without fish and chips. The Fish Plaice http://www.fishplaice.co.uk is recommended and can be found on The Square just a few metres from the waters edge (Google map). Eat inside the restaurant if possible. If you order a take-away and go and sit near the sea then you can be sure the seagulls won’t leave you in peace for long.
Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre - free entry - in the Old Market Building.
Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre https://swanagemuseum.org.uk (Google map) The museum is located on The Square opposite the fish and chip restaurants. Entrance is FREE. The museum is a great source of information on the history, geology and geography of the town and surrounding area. This used to be the Old Market Building.
A view up the High Street towards Purbeck House Hotel
A view looking up the High Street. At the top on the left you can see the lovely Purbeck House Hotel. If you continue past the hotel for another 150m and turn right into Church Hill you will see St Marys Church and next to the church is the Mill Pond.
St Marys Church in Swanage located in Church Hill next to the Mill Pond
St Marys Church, Church Hill (Google map) is the ancient parish church that has been entirely rebuilt in 1860 apart from the tower which dates back much further.
The Mill Pond at Church Hill
Just to the left of St Marys Church is the Mill Pond (Google map). This is a particularly attractive and peaceful area. The pond is fed by water from an underground source originating under the Purbeck Hills.
Panoramic image of the Mill Pond Swanage
Panoramic view of the Mill Pond
The Stone Quay
The Stone Quay.
Entrance to Swanage Pier
Entrance to Swanage Pier https://www.swanagepiertrust.com Entrance fee Adults £1.50, Child (5-14yrs) Free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Swanage Pier
A boat at the pier. There are boat trips to Poole Quay a couple of times a day in the summer months
Boats run from the pier to Poole Quay. There are also trips along the Jurassic Coast. For more info see our Boat Trips from Swanage
The Best Swanage Walks https://www.dorsetwalks.co.uk/

Related Pages: Swanage Railway / Swanage Beach / Durlston Country Park / Old Harry Rocks / Studland Village / Studland Beaches / Corfe Castle Village / Corfe Castle / Worth Matravers