Bournemouth & Poole
Golden sands and sparkling sea, eclectic shopping and buzzing nightlife
ournemouth and Poole offer miles of award-winning golden sand beaches, a stunning harbour and bustling Quay , making these seaside towns perfect for swimming, sunbathing and, thanks to an artificial reef, surfing. Combine the best in beach life with beautiful parks and gardens, excellent shopping and a nightlife that is quite simply legendary, and you have a great short break destination. And you can always extend your stay and take in the nearby Jurassic Coastline , ancient castles and thatched villages.
History and Heritage
Before 1812, Bournemouth was a barren heathland with no permanent residents. That all that changed when Lewis Tregonwell bought some land, built a house and set the ball rolling for what would become the bustling seaside resort of Bournemouth. Poole, on the other hand, has been an important harbour since the 12th century and was Britain’s busiest port at its peak in the 1700s. Dwarfing the history of both towns is woodlands of the New Forest and the 200 million years old Jurassic coastline.
Arts and Culture
On Bournemouth’s East Cliff, you’ll find the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum where you can admire Rossetti’s Venus Verticordia or soak up the Victorian elegance of this fascinating museum-house. For a more contemporary experience visit Poole’s Lighthouse where music, theatre and film along with visual art exhibitions provide enough food for thought to keep even the hungriest culture vulture sated.
Must See Attractions
Rising to a dizzying 500 feet, the Bournemouth Eye helium balloon provides jaw-dropping views along the coast. And once you’ve seen the dazzling blue sea from the air, why not experience the dramatic coastline with a relaxing cruise or an adrenalin-pumping trip out on the Shockwave speedboat? For less adrenalin fuelled thrills, try the 17th century Lulworth Castle or the Poole Museum & Scaplen's Court for an interactive glimpse into Poole’s history.
Food and Drink
Peckish? With a plethora of restaurants and bistros serving everything from a light bite to a full-on feast, you’re guaranteed to have those taste buds tickled. The Urban Reef bar on Boscombe promenade is a great place to take in the surf action out and enjoy fresh flavours. If you want traditional seaside fare then Chez Fred offers cracking fish and chips. Speaking of seafood, Poole has a vast amount of great restaurants serving food fresh off the boat; the GuildHall Tavern and Corkers Seafood Restaurant being just two recommendations.
For those looking to keep active and have some serious fun, one word: watersports. On the Bournemouth and Poole coast you’ll find the UK’s widest range of aqua-based activities with everything from windsurfing to sailing available. Surf the artificial reef at Boscombe (one of only four in the world), paddle along the stunning coast kayak, or really let rip on a jet ski.
It’s not all buckets and spades you know. Westbourne, or “The Village” as it’s known locally, has design specialists to help transform your home. Bargain hunters should explore the antique shops along Christchurch Road in Boscombe before hitting the open air market on a Thursday or a Saturday. In Poole, the High Street, Old Town & the Quay offer independent boutique stores, while Falkland St hosts a general and farmers market every Thursday.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to coax the kids away from the beach then that’s the chance to swim with sharks in the world’s first interactive dive cage at Bournemouth’s Oceanarium . For hairier and funnier animals, head to Monkey World before letting your own little monkeys swing through the tree tops and tackle the high wires at Go Ape! in Christchurch.
Music and Nightlife
With pubs, bars and clubs galore, Bournemouth is a P-A-R-T-Y town. Join the students for a boogie at the Old Firestation or for bass-heavy beats and hands-in-the-air clubbing action then look no further than Slinky at the Opera House. For all round entertainment though it’s hard to go past the Lighthouse in Poole, the south coast’s premier arts venue that has a year long program including dance, music, drama, comedy, film and visual arts.
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Things to do
From events and attractions to fine dining and nights out; discover things to do in Bournemouth.