21 Fun Things to Do In Bournemouth

Are you searching for an entertaining city to spend your vacation or weekends? Bournemouth is one of the top places you should consider. It is a sophisticated Victorian seaside resort lying on the South Coast of England and prides itself on a clean, stately reputation.

Bournemouth is among the cities in England renowned for having many gardens grown with sub-tropical species such as palms, and ferns, thriving in the city’s warmer micro-climate.

Again, Bournemouth features some of the warmest sea temperatures in the U.K., over seven miles from the coast. These seven miles of coast include the like of four Blue Flag beaches, considered among the best the country can offer.

The beaches, meanwhile, are surrounded by green cliffs, which you can climb down using funicular railways. There are so many fun things to do in Bournemouth for adults, families, kids, couples, and for the weekend, which we’ll share with you today!

Where is Bournemouth Located?

A coastal resort city in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council area of Dorset, England, Bournemouth town is a section of the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of 465,000.

Located on the English south coast, equidistant from Dorchester and Southampton, the city was founded by Lewis Tregonwell in 1810.

However, before this period, the place was an abandoned heathland seldom visited by fishermen and smugglers.

Formerly known as a health resort, the city got a significant boost during its appearance in the book “The Spas of England” by Augustus Granville,” published in 1841. 

And with the railway construction, Bournemouth began to develop and become a town in the 1870s.

According to the 2011 U.K. census, the city’s population is approximately 184,000, which makes it the most populated town in Dorset. Below are the top attractions and fun things to do in Bournemouth.

See Also: Fun Things to Do in Weymouth

Fun Things to Do In Bournemouth

1. Bournemouth Beach

One of the most visited places in Bournemouth and England is Bournemouth Beach, and you can do well to join in this fantastic vacation center, often regarded as the best in the country.

The phrase “Bournemouth Beach” is a term that explains all seven miles of the city’s coastline.

However, it is significantly seen as the focal area by the pier and Lower Gardens.

This area features a comprehensive collection of golden sand, skirted by the Undercliff Promenade, featuring several cafes, ice cream parlors, and lovely wooden beach huts with painted doors.

Every beach part features windbreaks, deck chairs, and parasols for hire. Also, younger kids will find it fun to use the Land Train if you pass through one of the quieter neighboring beaches. Bournemouth Beach is fun for people of all ages.

Address: 6 Poole Hill, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 5PS, United Kingdom

2. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & museum

Photo by diamond geezer via Flickr

Sitting on top of the East Cliff is an incredible Art Nouveau villa constructed at the beginning of the 20th century for Merton Russell-Cotes, the C.E.O. of the Royal Bath Hotel.

It was offered as a present to John’s wife, Annie, and featured unique bits and pieces.

The couple picked up these pieces on their tour around the world to countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Russia, and Japan.

You can breeze in to explore those fabulous Art Nouveau interiors, which are reflected by stained glass skylights and an incredible bay window in the conservatory.

Those of the Japanese are acclaimed, and several other pre-Raphaelite paintings and memorabilia concerning the Victorian stage actor Henry Irving are also present in the room he lodged during his visit to the couple.

Events and art activities are hosted throughout the year, including special drop-in tours and talks and Board Game Fridays.

Address: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum East, Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth BH1 3AA

3. Lower Gardens

When you visit the Lower Gardens, you will think that it is a place where every path intersects.

The Lower Gardens is at the base of a 3-km string of green spaces on the course of the Bourne. It is 5 minutes from the primary beach and pier and 5 minutes from Bournemouth’s central shopping center.

During the summer season, you could spend a few moments of your time resting in the tall cedars and pines of the garden.

It features a fantastic golf course for golf enthusiasts while offering an aviary, the Pine-walk Bandstand, and an outdoor art activity.

By August, it hosts Candlelight Nights, a century-old tradition that sees thousands of tea lights arranged in imaginative and creative patterns.

By December, the Lower Gardens presents a show named “Bournemouth’s ice rink,” which is fun for all ages.

Address: Westover Road, Bournemouth BH2 5AH, United Kingdom

4. Westbourne

Photo by Alwyn Ladell via Flickr

Westbourne is an upmarket shopping and dining area, popularly called “The Village,” and is just a 15-minute stroll from Bournemouth town center.

This venue will make more sense during summer vacations, as you will see several great outdoor seating, including cafes, restaurants, and bars, all giving Westbourne a world-class status.

Westbourne is a fantastic Victorian shopping center that stretches to Poole Road and Seamoor Road and features a metal and glass canopy and a blend of brick & white limestone façade. 

The arcade features design shops, boutiques, cafes, eateries, and specialty food stores. It is home to the smallest cinema in the U.K. called “Bournemouth Colosseum,” featuring only 19 seats.

Address: Westbourne Medical Center Milburn Road, Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 9HJ

5. Hengistbury Head Beach

Hengistbury Head Beach is a center of unique scientific interest lying 6 miles east of Bournemouth town center.

The Head is a promontory that looks over the English Channel and where people have resided since the Upper Palaeolithic. You can go there through the Land Train or cycle along the promenade for those without a car.

You will find a continuous beach that faces the west and north of headland, backed by nothing over a natural reserve and the waters of Christchurch harbor.

The beach facing south features a mix of shingle and sand, but the one facing northwards on the Mudeford Sandbank features golden sands on bays divided by groynes.

Address: Hengistbury Head Christchurch, Bournemouth Dorset, BH6 4EN

6. Hengistbury Head Visitor Center

A new sustainable center was established in the nature reserve at the back of Hengistbury Head in 2013.

The center has a thatched structure featuring interactive activities for the community’s geology, ecology, and archaeology. It also features an experienced staff that can reveal everything you wish to know about Hengistbury Head.

The center also has information boards concerning the different species in Christchurch Harbor’s freshwater and the Channel’s saltwater.

You can view live footage in nesting boxes around the Site of Special Scientific Interest on screens.

You’ll also be taken through a rapid moment on 14,000 years of the area’s human history and touch objects from the Stone Age, Bronze Age & Iron Age.

Address: Hengistbury Head, Broadway, Southbourne, Bournemouth BH6 4EW, United Kingdom

7. Oceanarium

Oceanarium is an Aquarium situated on Bournemouth’s seafront, recreating ten distinct marine and river habitats worldwide.

They include the Great Barrier Reef, The Mediterranean, Key West, and the Amazon, which all houses their native species such as clown fish, piranhas, green sea turtles, stingrays, puffer fish, dwarf crocodiles, zebra sharks, etc.

A recent addition to the Oceanarium is Humboldt penguins, living in a sharply designed beach environment where you can witness them on top and beneath the water. There’s also a “Playzone” for kids and a feeding routine to carry out all day.

Address: Oceanarium Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, United Kingdom

8. West Cliff Lift

Photo by Alwyn Ladell via Flickr

Apart from the several fun places to do in Bournemouth, the city features many routes and lifts that will take you up and down to the beach and promenade.

One such handy and great lift is the West Cliff Lift, featuring a funicular railway containing 12 passengers simultaneously up and down the cliff west of Bournemouth Pier.

Established in 1908, it is among the three funiculars in the town, all operating during the summer season. However, the West Cliff features the steepest gradient on its 44-meter line of the three funiculars, at 70%. 

During the middle 60s, the ancient wooden vehicles were replaced by the current aluminum cabins when the line was electrified. These features satisfied the sceneries of the pier towards the east.

Address: W Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth BH2 5DU, United States

9. Bournemouth Pier

Bournemouth Pier is a 305-meter structure that has been central to Bournemouth for almost 140 years and remains the center of attraction during summer.

During this period, you will only need to pay a small sum to gain access, and you won’t have to pay for the winter.

It’s a walk you can make at any period of the year when you can explore Bournemouth’s seven miles of shore, the western areas of the Solent, the Isle of Wight, and sceneries of the Purbeck Hills towards the west.

During the summer, the pier features every joy of the English seaside, including traditional games, an arcade at the landward end, and concession stands.

The pier was initially a theater, which closed down in 2014 and is now used as a play center for kids, whereas older kids and adults can ride the pier Zip, which whisks you across the shore.

Address: Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, United Kingdom

10. Boscombe Chine Gardens

Photo by Alwyn Ladell via Flickr

Recreated since the 2000s, the Boscombe Chine Gardens is a fantastic Victorian chine garden that lies behind the Boscombe Pier.

There was a time spanning 50 years when the park became so bushy and said to have antisocial behavior until they were slightly pruned and replanted, all while keeping some of the Victorian resort structures.

The garden features two spa houses and a lodge decorated with colorful flowerbeds. Your kids can make a splash in the water play area while families are free to play a round of the mini-golf course, which is open in the summer seasons.

Theirs is a Clock Café for you to regain energy with a cup of tea or coffee near the mini-golf area and tennis courts at the upper end of the chine.

Address: Sea Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH5 1BL, United Kingdom

11. Alum Chine Beach

Photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr

If you are searching for a quiet place to spend your holiday or vacation, you can choose to visit Alum Chine Beach. It lies within the western side of Bournemouth and is secluded from noisier pier areas.

It is a blue flag beach that features an effective combination of sand and shingles, making the area a tourist attraction for visitors and locals with vacation homes in Branksome and Canford Cliffs.

Coming with children in tow, you can quickly get there on Land Train, moving along the promenade from Bournemouth Pier.

The beach features a “KidZone” at Alum Chine Beach, which helps to reunite lost children with their guardians, and an adventure playground, ice cream stands, and pubs.

It is named for Alum Chine, the biggest chine in Bournemouth, while within the area is a Tropical Garden nourished by the microclimate of Bournemouth.

Address: 36 Burnaby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH4 8JG, United Kingdom

12. Central & Upper Gardens

Central & Upper Gardens is less noisy than the Lower Gardens, which trace the course of the Bourne back from the middle of the city to a small body of water known as the Coy Pond.

It has a paved greenway close to the river where you can pass to the Poole suburb of Branksome. 

You can either make a turn around to make a repeat journey or meet the train for a one-stop back to Bournemouth.

As long as the Central Gardens are concerned, they are more manicured gardens featuring heather beds, rose borders, and a rhododendron tour.

A pergola was also established in 1990 to celebrate the Borough of Bournemouth’s centenary. The Upper Gardens are loosed and a little more natural and feature a series of cute red bridges that cross the Bourne.

Address: 27a Surrey Road, Bournemouth BH4 9JX, United Kingdom

13. Shelley Theater

Established in honor of the famous Mary Shelley, this theater is an outstanding theater with about a 160-seat capacity. Mary Shelley was the author of Frankenstein and the husband of Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the famous Romantic Poets.

The Shelley Theater was built alongside Boscombe Manor, the residence of the Shelleys from 1851, and is presently used as a medical center. Mary Shelley died briefly before the theater was even completed.

Then, her son and his wife, Lady Jane, established the now larger venue that opened in 1870.

With time, an aging Lady Jane Shelley could only watch performances via a shutter inside her bedroom, which currently serves as the theater’s projection booth.

Address: Shelley Manor, Beechwood Avenue, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH5 1LX, United Kingdom.

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14. St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s Church is a 62-meter building landmark for Bournemouth. It is a great Gothic Revival church that George Edmund Street, most popular constructed for the Royal Courts of Justice at the strand in London.

Meanwhile, some Victorian architectural stars also had a hand in the interior.

The church features a rich chancel made of frescoes and stained glass by the feted Clayton and Bell workshop.

St Peter’s Church also houses the Shelley household vault and is a place where Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their son, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, are buried.

Mary had initially been interred at St Pancras alongside her eminent parents, Mary Wollstonecraft (pioneering feminist) and William Godwin (political theorist) but was subsequently moved to this place by her son.

Percy senior passed away at a young age in 1822 in a shipwreck in Sardinia.

Address: Hinton Road, Bournemouth BH1 2EE, United Kingdom

15. A.F.C. Bournemouth

If you are an ardent football lover, you would love a visit to A.F.C Bournemouth, an incredible sporting tale unfolding in Bournemouth. It is a local soccer club that has played much of its 108-year history in the third tier of the English game.

However, in recent years, it has sped up from League Two (Fourth Tier) to the Premier League (Top Tier) within six years. Also nicknamed the Cherries, A.F.C. Bournemouth plays their home games inside their 11,360 capacity stadium, otherwise called Dean Court.

This stadium, meanwhile, is arguably the smallest in the Premier League but famed for its Noisy and vibrant atmosphere, hugely because its fans are still shocked over their successes in recent years.

Again, they are not the stadium owners because they sold it in 2005 to offset some of their financial crisis and are working to construct a new stadium.

The Premier League season starts from August to May, and Bournemouth will host a game virtually every fortnight.

Address: Dean Court, Kings Park BH7 7AF Bournemouth, Dorset, England

16. Southbourne Beach

Southbourne Beach is among the favorite Blue Flag award-winning beaches of Bournemouth.

It is mainly a favorite of residents, possibly because of its broad, immaculate, sandy, and shingle beaches located a bit towards the west of Bournemouth and behind the hustle and bustle of Bournemouth Pier and town center.

You can enter the beach quickly from Southbourne high street via Fisherman’s walk.

The beach is notable among young families for its comfortable structures like restrooms with baby-changing amenities, lost children centers, RNLI lifeguard stations, pubs, and ice cream stores.

Through the Fisherman’s Walk nature trail, you can take a great walk along the cliff top between Fisherman’s Avenue and Portman Crescent in Southbourne, connecting to Southbourne Grove.

This trail is a narrow strip of wooded land featuring a nature trail, woodland flowers, shrubs, and lots of wildlife. The beach also offers refreshments and a fantastic walk down the zig-zag to the beach.

Above Southbourne, you will find the attractive Hengistbury Head, which is invariably a non-spoilt beach that constantly features in the yearly TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for beaches.

The beach features a south-facing pebble alongside imposing clay and ironstone cliffs and soft, sandy beaches at Mudeford spit, lined alongside the famous colorful Mudeford beach huts.

It also features many colorful beach huts available for rent from the local beach office throughout the year.

Address: Southbourne Beach, Bournemouth, BH5 2EL, United Kingdom

17. Boscombe Pier

Bournemouth is not only a home of incredible attraction centers and adventures, but it is also one of the country’s top destinations for many kinds of sports.

With Boscombe Pier, you will have an ideal vantage point for watching volleyball and table tennis.

It is a fantastic destination for those feeling adventurous, as you can try scaling the close-by, purpose-constructed boulders adjacent to the pier or challenge slacklining.

You will find close-by cafes, takeaways, and beach shops within walking distance of the pier.

The pier is open to all and features many enjoyable activities for individuals and families. You are free to fish from the end of the pier, as long as you will contact the office for payment information.

If you are a frequent visitor to the beach, you can use this chance to witness other seafront areas.

You will have many to choose from. Meanwhile, the BCP Beach Check App was initially made to check the busy beaches and can be downloaded for free using any Apple or Android device.

However, during the winter, it is not the ideal app for locating another beauty area.

Address: 2494 Undercliff Dr, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH5 1BL, United Kingdom

18. Bournemouth Pavilion Theater

Established during the 1920s, Bournemouth Pavilion Theater is Bournemouth’s fantastic Art Deco theatre that entertains throughout the year.

This thrilling theater maintains its original and great styling and features various touring West End Stage shows, Opera, Ballet, Pantomime, Comedy & concerts.

B.H manages the theater. Live, and runs in tandem with its sister venue, Bournemouth International Center, to offer guests, both far and near, some of the most outstanding facilities on England’s south coast.

Do not miss out on a fun-filled day in the Bournemouth Pavilion Theater.

Address: Westover Road, Bournemouth BH1 2BU, United States

19. The Square

Photo by Alwyn Ladell via Flickr

Located right in the middle of Bournemouth, only 550-meters from Westcliff Beach and 550-meters from Eastcliff Beach.

The Square has accommodation with city views and features free Wi-Fi. The building is only 2.7-km from Talbot Campus Bournemouth University and 3.2-km from Queen’s Park.

The structure features 1 bedroom, one flat-screen T.V., and a completely equipped kitchen, providing visitors with a microwave, a fridge, a washing machine, and an oven. You will also be offered clean towels and bed linen.

There are famous interest points close to The Square like Alum Chine beach, Bournemouth International Center, and Grosvenor Casino Bournemouth. Bournemouth Airport is the nearest airport, lying just 7 km apart from the building.

Address: Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, BH2 6HE, United Kingdom

20. The Bournemouth Big Wheel

Located at Bournemouth’s Pier Approach area, The Bournemouth Big Wheel is a summer season entertainment center close to the sea that features enjoyable attractions.

You can enjoy incredible panoramic views of Bournemouth beach, pier, and town from the Big Wheel.

Standing over 100 feet tall, the wheel will provide good value for your money with its fantastic scenes during the day or ride at the sunset. It offers a great way to witness this award-winning resort’s magnificence.

Both locals and visitors are offered opportunities to get 2 complete rotations of the wheel and take some nice shots of photographs.

The big wheel is open from 10 am to 10 pm daily, and you can buy your ticket on arrival at the ticket booth, as there’s no website for online booking.

Address: Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, United Kingdom.

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21. Poole Hill Brewery

Popularly known as The Home of Southbourne Ales, this Poole Hill Brewery was considered Dorset’s best brewer in 2018.

Meanwhile, the taproom and visitors center is opened daily alongside brewery tours, live music, and multi-award-winning ales.

This Victorian-themed brewery and taproom is only half a mile from Bournemouth Pier or Square and features amazing reviews on the tours from 12 noon to 5 pm.

The tour begins inside the brewery’s cinema and offers a guide to the history of beer, Southbourne Ales tale, etc.

In this brewery, you will also discover the raw materials, then the brewery plant, and learn how the beer is manufactured, resulting in a guided tasting of some of the draught wonders in the taproom. 

You are free to come with your kids, as they will be provided with non-alcoholic samples during the tasting in the visitors center.

You can also rent the visitors center for private events. Finally, monthly quizzes are hosted every last Wednesday of every month at 8 pm.

Address: crazy mental transit, 41-43 Poole Hill, Bournemouth BH2 5PW, United Kingdom