Bournemouth Travel : Everything you need to know if you are visiting Bournemouth

Big wheel in bournemouth

What to do in Bournemouth

Bournemouth is on the south coast of England in the country of Dorset. It is a seaside town which makes a great day trip or few days break in the UK.

Bournemouth has a large university and is a renowned retirement spot for UK residents so it has different things going on for all ages.

Enid Blyton lived in Bournemouth and local area Studland was the inspiration for the famous Toy Town used in Noddy. Also, famous JRK Tolkien moved to Bournemouth when he retired. Local Boscombe manor was built for Mary shelly she is now buried in St Peters churchyard in Bournemouth.

There are a number of free events and festivals in Bournemouth to watch out for throughout the year from food festivals to a by the sea arts festival and the annual air show.

red arrows flying at the Annual free air show in Bournemouth
Annual free air show in Bournemouth

Getting to Bournemouth

Bournemouth is easy to get to by roads. There are several council owned car parks, on street parking is limited but you can find out more about disabled parking here.

Bournemouth has a good bus network. I have visited Bournemouth without a car and found it easy to get around. I also stayed in Poole and have gone to Bournemouth for the day on a local bus.

Bournemouth has a large train station which has trains arriving and departing to many UK destinations. If there are no direct trains to where you live it is easy to get into major cities for connecting trains.

Bournemouth also has a small regional airport that has a few low-cost flights to European destinations.

Arial view of the beach a great thing to do in Bournemouth
Arial view of the beach a great thing to do in bourenmouth

Attractions in Bournemouth

There are many things to do in Bournemouth to keep you entertained for a few days break.

One of the things I love about UK seaside destination are the amusement arcades playing on penny slot machines. The arcades are a great place for adults and children making Bournemouth a great family destination.

There is a water feature on the seafront for younger kids and for those a little bit older you can play of game of crazy golf. Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf is fun pirate themed 18 holed min golf adventure in Bournemouth.

I can’t play crazy golf, I am too competitive and if I start losing, I start sulking like a big kid. This attraction is wheelchair accessible but there is no discount for carers if you play you pay if however, you are accompanying someone and not going to play you can walk around for free.

With Bournemouth being a seaside resort the highlight is visiting the beach if the weather is nice. There is a large pier, there isn’t much going on but it is lovely to walk along. I saw people with fishing nets leaning over to see what they could get in the murky waters below.

Pier in Bournemouth
Pier in Bournemouth

If you are daring, you can see a different perspective of Bournemouth by flying down the zip line. You can also learn to surf or if you are an experienced surfer, this is supposed to be a cool place to surf on the south coast of the UK

There are two piers in Bournemouth the main one just down from the town and a smaller pier just along the beach in Boscombe, you can get the land train between each pier or walk along the promenade.

land train on beach in Bournemouth
Land train on beach in Bournemouth

Bournemouth beach is a sandy beach with colourful beach huts and claims to be one of the safest beaches in the UK. There is a land train you can get along the beach promenade and due to the flat smooth pavement, it also makes it a lovely place to stroll or ride a bike.

Colourful beach huts on Bournemouth beach
Colourful beach huts on Bournemouth beach

Bournemouth claims to be the location of the country’s first municipal beach hut in 1909, as the old bathing machines (which were wheeled into the water) gave way to the static beach hut. 

There are dog friendly parts of the beach if you want to walk your canine friend.

There are several sandy beaches in Bournemouth including Boscombe, Branksome chime and Southbourne beach. There are accessible beach huts on Boscombe beach.

There are 3 funicular railway cliff lifts in Bournemouth, the west cliff, the east cliff and the fisherman’s walk. They don’t really do much apart from help you get from the beach promenade up the cliff, but it is a bit of fun. All three operate between April and October

East Cliff in Bournemouth
East Cliff in Bournemouth

The Coastal Activity Park has sport centre, water sports and a place to have something to eat. You can also walk the musical trail – a selection of large hand-crafted musical instruments, including tubular bells, seaside chimes and a babel drum, which line the historic pier at Boscombe and make for traditional sonic challenge suitable for both adults and children.

There is a big wheel to get views of Bournemouth but it is quite pricy and I would recommend going to the sky bar at the Hilton hotel in Bournemouth for a decent view of the town and also a cheeky cocktail but this is only for adults.

Big wheel in bournemouth
Big wheel in bournemouth

Parks and Gardens in Bournemouth

There are several parks and gardens in Bournemouth with lots of green space to get plenty of fresh air. I like Bournemouth lower gardens which always seems to be buzzing with people having a walk or sitting on a bench watching the world go by.

In the park is a large balloon that goes into the air for a panorama view of the town. I love the aviary and there are a few stands to get a snack and sometimes there is music playing in the bandstand.

There are also the upper and central gardens which are a little quieter with a war memorial, cycle paths and stream there is even a coy pond. In the gardens there are is also an area for little ones to play. You can do guided walks and tree trials in the gardens

war memorial in Parks and Gardens in Bournemouth
Parks and Gardens in Bournemouth

Alum Chine Tropical Gardens and Boscombe Chine Gardens offer a lovely mix of scenery and activities with formal flower beds, large grassy areas for recreation, mini golf and a water-themed playground. 

Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre

Kingfisher barn visitor centre has events to raise awareness about the wildlife in the Bournemouth area. You can do self-guided walks along the two mile stretch of riverside footpath, meadows, hedgerows and woodland.

Things to do in Bournemouth in the rain

Like with the rest of the UK it can rain a lot in Bournemouth but that doesn’t mean you still can’t go out and have a nice time as there are a number of things you can do in the rain in Bournemouth.

The are lots of high street names for shopping in the town of Bournemouth, along with brand named restaurants and supermarkets.

When I was in Bournemouth and it was raining, we went to the cinema, there is only one cinema in Bournemouth which is the Odeon.

However, if you like to see a show or live music then check out the latest for what’s on at the Pavilion theatre, Shelly theatre and Bournemouth symphony orchestra. The Bournemouth international centre and O2 academy have concerts from famous artists. These all have accessible seating and ticket options check each website for information.

The Oceanarium

If you like aquamarine life, then the Oceanarium is a great place in Bournemouth to visit and you don’t have to wait for a rainy day. They have several animals including fish, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals.

If you time it right, you can see the animal at feeding time. The oceanarium is accessible for all but they do not have their own car park as its on the seafront so it may be difficult to park nearby. If you purchase your tickets online, you save a little money. They do not offer free places for carers but there is a reduced rate of 50p.

Russell Cotes Art Gallery

Russell Cotes Art Gallery is a grade ii house on the east cliff promenade a short walk from Bournemouth pier. The house is from the late Victorian era with a grand staircase and room showcase art collections. There are also 4 galleries showing the work of the artist Russell Cotes.

Electric and manual wheelchair users can access most of the Russell-Cotes, provided that the dimensions do not exceed those of the UK reference wheelchair size. The house has lift access apart from the lower floor. There is a fee for entrance to the Russell cotes art gallery with some concession available.

Westover Gallery

Westover gallery is an independent art gallery in Bournemouth showing work from local regional and international artists

Things to do close to Bournemouth

Bournemouth is a great base for touring in Dorset as there are so many places near Bournemouth to visit.

Kingston Lacy House

Kingston Lacy House is just outside Bournemouth and is a national trust house and gardens. It is lovely to explore on a sunny day and have a picnic in the beautiful gardens, but you can also escape into the house if it starts to rain.

To visit the house, you need a timed ticket which can be purchased online however you can get them on the day on a first come first served basis.

The house has many paintings from famous artists including Rubens, van Dyck, Titian and Bruegel. There is also the Egyptian room with the UK largest collection of Egyptian artefacts.

Bournemouth Aviation Museum

Bournemouth Aviation museum is located nearby in Christchurch and has hand on exhibitions if aviation if your thing you will love this museum as you can a chance to pretend you are flying an aircraft by sitting at the controls

Moors Valley Go Ape

For the more adventurous there is a Go Ape Centre where you can climb through the forest and zip line.

Monkey World

I love Monkey World this is a great place to spend the day watching the different species of mischievous monkeys.

The thing I loved about monkey world was I was able to hire a mobility scooter for free. The monkeys are spread out and I would have struggled walking around the park, but the mobility scooter meant I could get around leisurely.

Monkey World in Dorset
Monkey World in Dorset

There is an excellent park for children to play on with a disabled swing for children in wheelchairs which I have never seen before.

My favourite primates were the orangutans, I could have sat watching them for hours they were fascinating and quite inquisitive watching us humans.

Peppa pig world

Any toddler at the moment is going to love going to Peppa Pig World as the cute pink creature is such a hit with our youngsters.

I haven’t personally havent been as I am a little too old although I do actually like Peppa pig but my friend who has a 2 and 3 year old has been on a number of occasions and says her girls love it and each time they do something different.

Peppa Pig World
Peppa Pig World

Food and Drink in Bournemouth

There are so many placers to eat and drink in Bournemouth. Near the pier you can get fish and chips but the best fish and chips in Bournemouth will be found at Chez Fred in Westcombe.

A visit to the seaside is not compete without getting some rock or hot doughnuts which can also be found on the pier.

In the town there are many high street restaurants. If you are a steak eater, then I would recommend the Hilton hotel for the best steak in Bournemouth.

If you want somewhere a little unique for a cup of tea, then check out the Pause cat café. And if you are a beer lover try the Poole Hill Brewery.

If you like afternoon tea they even have Frieda tea bus where you get a tour of Bournemouth seafront whilst having a luxury afternoon tea.

Where to stay in Bournemouth

There is somewhere to stay in Bournemouth to suit everyone’s budget and requirements. You have a choice of local Bed and Breakfasts, guesthouses and caravan parks.

Sea views in Bournemouth
Sea views in Bournemouth

If you have a bigger budget, you can stay at the Hilton Hotel where I stayed which is in an excellent location for access to Bournemouth town centre.

You can also find sea view guest houses in Bournemouth as well as self-catering accommodation.

There are also the Grove Hotel which specialists in accommodation for cancer patients and people with life threatening illnesses.

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