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Bournemouth beach and pier

Discover Bournemouth

Book a coach to Bournemouth and you’re in for a treat. This south coast beauty lines up seven miles of golden sandy beaches, with more Blue Flag stretches than any other beach destination in the UK when you factor in next-door Poole. Unsurprisingly, life here revolves around the cliff-backed coastline – whether you’re sunbathing, paddleboarding or surfing, or just people-watching from a beachside café. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find Dorset’s largest town also has a thriving independent shopping scene, vast Victorian gardens and nightlife that’ll have you coming back for more.

Bournemouth: top 3 things to do

1. Spend a day by the seaside

Bournemouth and beaches go hand in hand, and you’ve got a whole bunch of blissful sweeps to choose from. From the town centre, head down to Pier Approach and you’ll end up on the most lively central stretch – this is the place for minigolf games, boat trips and ice creams on the sand. For something a little quieter, head west of Bournemouth’s central beach to Durley Chine beach – a wide golden stretch that’s popular with families. And if it’s a bit of beach glamour you’re after, keep going all the way to Sandbanks Beach. This pristine peninsula near Poole harbour was most recently home to Mr Harry Redknapp.


2. Take a wander along the pier

A visit to Bournemouth Pier is an absolute must for the proper Bournemouth experience. In peak season – April to October – entrance is £1.40 for adults or £1 for over-fives, and one ticket lasts all season. The price is worth it for the views alone, and there are arcade games, cafés and the RockReef indoor activity centre – which is a great option for a rainy day. If you’re feeling brave, you can tackle PierZip, the world’s very first pier to shore zipline. It’s a dual line, which means you can race your mates 250 metres across the sea to see who makes it to the beach first.


3. Go for a ride on a land train

If you want to travel along the coast in true seaside style, it’s got to be the land train. Hop on at Bournemouth Pier and it’ll take you all the way to Boscombe, which has its very own beautiful Blue Flag beach. Even further out east, there’s a land train at Hengistbury Head. This wildlife-filled nature reserve has a postcard-worthy pebbly beach and 360-degree views of Christchurch harbour, Bournemouth Bay and the Isle of Wight over the water.


Bournemouth: getting around

Take the megabus to Bournemouth and you don’t need to worry about where to park – just hop off the coach and you’re free to explore. The route starts from London’s Victoria Coach Station and you can get off at Bournemouth Interchange, the town’s main coach station next to Bournemouth West Railway Station, or Bournemouth University.

Once you’re in Bournemouth it’s nice and easy to get around. It takes about half an hour to walk from the coach station to the main beach, or you can hop on a bus and get there in 10 minutes. And if you want to nip over to neighbouring Poole, no worries – the megabus stops there, too.


Bournemouth: best for nightlife/restaurants

Bournemouth’s sizeable student population can often be found on Old Christchurch Road once the sun’s set – head to the Walkabout for cheap beers, or Camel Bar for shisha and late night partying. Lansdowne is another area popular with the student cohort thanks to The Old Fire Station, AKA the UK’s oldest student union venue. The Triangle is popular with Bournemouth’s LGBTQ+ community and home to some really cool venues including Canvas, a loft bar and live music place that serves incredible cocktails. And if you’re just out for dinner, it’s got to be Moose Kitchen – the Canadian cuisine gets rave reviews from visitors.

Bournemouth: best for shopping

You can fill your boots (or should we say bags?) with high street brands along Commercial Road and Old Christchurch Road, and the same applies to Bournemouth Arcade – which has the benefit of being covered. For designer gear it’s got to be upmarket Westover Road, better known as the Bond Street of Bournemouth thanks to its concentration of swanky shops.

If independents are more your thing, walk about 15 minutes out of town towards Poole and you’ll hit Westbourne – the area’s hub of quirky little boutiques and cafés. 


Bournemouth for free – our top 3

1. Go on a culture crawl

Bournemouth has a handful of excellent museums and galleries with free admission, so you’re in the right place if you’re looking for culture. TheGallery at Arts University Bournemouth is a good place to start – it hosts contemporary exhibitions from students as well as international artists and designers. And if history is more your thing, head over to Poole Museum instead for a lesson in the area’s maritime heritage.


2. Picnic at the Lower Gardens

Bournemouth’s Grade II listed Lower Gardens are plum in the middle of the town centre and the beach, so it’s only a five-minute walk between each one. Bursting with blooming flowerbeds, neat lawns and huge trees, the gardens are a great spot for a picnic in summer, or a wander through the Christmas tree wonderland in winter. The Central and Upper Gardens are well worth a visit for more of the same, and they tend to be quieter as they’re a bit further out.  


3. Walk to Sandbanks Beach

The four-mile walk from Bournemouth Pier to Sandbanks is well worth the legwork, and it’ll only take you an hour or so. Follow the lower promenade and you’ll pass brightly-painted beach huts, several of Bournemouth’s pretty chines – or river valleys – and no end of cafés and ice cream kiosks to stop off and refuel at. Your prize at the end is one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, so you can laze on the sand until you’re ready to wander back again.

Book your Bournemouth coach tickets by using the journey planner at the top of this page.


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