Attractions Nearby Bournemouth, Day Trips and Excursions
(Bournemouth, Dorset, England, UK)
Most summer holidays in Bournemouth consist of a few days on the beaches and various days out to visit nearby attractions. Much of what you plan to do will be weather dependent, and with English weather being famous for its unpredictable nature, it make sense to choose the best days for the beach and earmark some possibilities for day trips when the sunshine is likely not to make such a strong appearance.
Right next-door to Bournemouth is the quayside town of Poole, while in the other direction, Boscombe, Southbourne and Hengistbury Head all come with some very worthy seaside attractions. At Hengistbury, many holiday makers choose to ride the land train all the way into Mudeford, where a particularly peaceful and secluded sandy beach awaits, enjoying a backdrop provided by colourful beach huts. Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and Breamore House are all within comfortable reach of Bournemouth, as is the safari park at Longleat, which suits those prepared for an early start straight after breakfast.
The medieval port town of Poole
is situated a mere 8 km / 5 miles to the west of Bournemouth and is brimming with quality waterfront attractions, including all kinds of water sports, such as windsurfing, sailing and jet skiing. Crowds of beach-goers head to the Sandbanks peninsula, where a vehicular chain ferry sails across to Studland, linking nearby Swanage. Canford Cliffs is a particularly affluent part of Poole and commands some of the world's highest property values.
Tower Park is a leading leisure complex based on the outskirts of Poole and features a 24-lane bowling alley (Bowlplex), a multi-screen cinema (Empire) and a water park named 'Splashdown'. This is the perfect place to come on a rainy day, and if you are here at lunchtime, you can choose between fast-food outlets and restaurants such as Georgie Porgie's, TGI Fridays and Nandos. Nearby is a large branch of the Tesco supermarket, should you need to stock up on supplies. It is worth noting that on busy days, the parking here can be extremely difficult.
is actually Wiltshire's only city and comes with some of the most historic attractions in England. Situated around 45 km / 28 miles from Bournemouth and comfortably less than an hour away by car, visitors regularly flock to Salisbury to admire its famous medieval cathedral, which dates back some 800 years ago and is of epic proportions.
Just outside of the city itself and standing on Salisbury Plain is the circle of monoliths going by the name of Stonehenge, which is now an English Heritage site and stands alongside the A303. These enormous stones are believed to have been transported here roughly 4,500 years ago and erected as a temple to the sun. If you visit Stonehenge, be sure to look around the surrounding plains, where you can see evidence of numerous burial mounds. Also nearby the city, you may like to check out Old Sarum Castle, Old Wardour Castle and the Rockbourne Roman Villa, while within the city centre, many concerts and theatrical shows take place at the Salisbury City Hall Entertainment Centre.
Isle of Wight
An 'area of outstanding beauty', the Isle of Wight
is always extremely busy during the summer months, when sailing regattas such as Cowes Week pull in the crowds, along with music fests such as Bestival at the Robin Hill Country Park. Sitting a mere 3.5 km / 2 miles from the Hampshire shoreline and some 58 km / 36 miles from Bournemouth, the island is easy to reach, being connected by around 400 daily ferry and hovercraft crossings.
Most holiday makers come here for the plentiful selection of sandy beaches, such as those at Compton Bay, Ryde, Sandown, Totland and Ventnor. Alum Bay also comes with an extremely popular beach, which is famous for its brightly coloured sands and can be reached via chairlifts from the adjoining Needles Pleasure Park. If you have come to the Isle of Wight for a cycling holiday, then you will be delighted to find lengthy cycle trails, many of which take in the coastline. Walkers will discover more than 800 km / 500 miles of pathways. Camping sites are in good supply, although if you prefer hotel comforts, then there is plenty of choice.
Christchurch is a small and charming town located only 8 km / 5 miles east of central Bournemouth and is famed for its rather imposing church, the Christchurch Priory, which has its origins in the 11th century and is actually bigger than many cathedrals. This region is also well-known for its pricey property market, sailing and fishing, with the seafood market at Mudeford being a great place to visit, offering cups of freshly cooked prawns and cockles. Many beaches are close to Christchurch and if you head to the east, you will soon find those of Highcliffe, Barton on Sea and Milford on Sea, before reaching Lymington and the New Forest.
Just 3 km / 2 miles from Bournemouth, Boscombe is more of a suburb than an adjacent seaside town and boasts a lengthy beachfront and recently restored pier, where many locals often come to fish for mackerel. Boscombe has a well laid-out shopping centre, much of which is pedestrianised and features many familiar stores. Southbourne lies right next door and is a little more upmarket, with its lengthy sandy beach leading all the way to Hengistbury Head.
A small market town located approximately 18 km / 11 miles from Bournemouth, Wimborne is to be found next to the meeting point of the River Allen and the River Stour. This attractive town has grown up around its interesting old minster, which dates back to Saxon times. Further notable attractions include several decent museums and a model town (at a 1/10 scale) of Wimborne, showing how the town appeared during the 1950s.
Address: Poole Harbour, Dorset, BH13 7EE, England
Tel: +(0)1202 707744
Brownsea Island is an important nature reserve owned by the National Trust and is located especially close to Poole. Famous for its healthy numbers of wild red squirrels, the island is connected by regular passenger boats and is roughly 500 acres / 200 hectares in size. As well as the red squirrels, the island is also called home by a number of friendly peacocks and wading birds, as well as some small holiday cottages and quiet beaches. Brownsea Island Ferries make frequent trips across to the island between the months of April and October, sailing from the Quayside at Poole.
Breamore House and Gardens
Address: near Fordingbridge, Hampshire, SP6 2DF, England
Tel: +44 (0)1275 512468
Standing close to Fordingbridge and around 30 minutes (29 km / 18 miles) from central Bournemouth, Breamore House enjoys enviable views across the Avon Valley. This grand Elizabethan manor house boasts an exceptional collection of paintings and antiquities, and was built towards the end of the 16th century. Additional attractions include well-preserved steam-powered farm machinery and a sizeable medieval turf maze. Of particular interest, Breamore House has been used for a number of film locations, including the 2005 British film 'Pride and Prejudice', starring Keira Knightley.
Open hours: daily - 14:00 to 17:30
Admission: charge, discounts available for children and families
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
Address: Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 7NW, England
Tel: +44 (0)1985 844400
There is a lot to see at Longleat, and so an early arrival will make sure that you really do make the most of your day. This popular attraction is some 82 km / 51 miles from central Bournemouth and by car, can be reached in around one hour and 15 minutes. When you arrive, a drive around the safari park will be your first port of call, passing by giraffes, zebras, monkeys, vultures, rhinos, lions and tigers along the way. There is a herd of friendly deer in one paddock, and you can purchase a cup of food and feed them out of your window if you so wish. After your safari excursion, you can choose between guided tours of Longleat House, a walk around the formal gardens, a boat trip on the lake to feed the sea lions and see Gorilla Island, and a ride on the miniature railway. Children will enjoy seeing the animals within the Jungle Kingdom and perhaps exploring the Adventure Castle, where tree-top walkways, huge slides and a summer splashpad offer lots of fun. Bear in mind that peak days can be busy, so expect lengthy queues and slow safari traffic, with lots of stopping.
Open hours: daily, April to early November
Admission: charge, discounts available for children
Other popular tourist attractions close to Bournemouth include:
- Blackgang Chine
Address: Blackgang, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 2HN, England
- Bluebell Railway
Address: Sheffield Park Station, Uckfield, TN22 3QL, England
- Brading Experience
Address: Isle of Wight Waxworks, 46 High Street Brading, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 0DQ, England
- Burley Wagon Rides
Address: Stavegate Mill Lane, Burley, Ringwood, BH24 4HP, England
- Bramble Bush Bay Ferry
Address: Ferry Road Studland, Swanage, BH19 3BA, England
- BSCC Millstream Raceway
Address: Unit 11 Millstream Trading Estate Christchurch Road, Ringwood, BH24 3SB, England
- Chessington World of Adventures
Address: Leatherhead Road, Chessington, KT9 2NE, England
- East Somerset Railway
Address: Cranmore Railway Station, Shepton Mallet, BA4 4QP, England
- Indulgence Charters
Address: 20 High Street Wendover, Aylesbury, HP22 6EA, England
- Medieval Masterpieces of Bere Regis
Address: Church of St. John the Baptist, Bere Regis, England
- Mid-Hants Railway
Address: The Watercress Line, The Railway Station, Alresford, SO24 9JG, England
- New Barn Field Centre
Address: Bradford Peverell, Dorchester, DT2 9SD, England
- Osborne House (English Heritage)
Address: Osborne House York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JY, England
- Quay Brewery
Address: Brewers Quay Hope Square, Weymouth, DT4 8TR, England
- Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Address: Gravell Hill Horndean, Waterlooville, PO8 0QE, England
- Rockbourne Roman Villa
Address: Rockbourne, Fordingbridge, SP6 3PG, England
- RSPB Birdboats
Address: Commercial Yard Wool, Wareham, BH20 6HE, England
- Steam Ship Shield Hall
Address: PO Box 1028, Southampton, SO18 1XT, England
- Swanage Railway
Address: Station House, Swanage, BH19 1HB, England
- Terracotta Warriors
Address: High East Street, Dorchester, DT1 1JU, England
Address: Tower Park, Poole, BH12 4NY, England