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Why Visit Bournemouth: A Summer Guide

Bournemouth Beach and Pier
Seven miles of sandy beaches

Bournemouth is located on the South Coast of England, surrounded by the beauty of the New Forest, the crashing waves of the English Channel and the award-winning seven miles of golden sandy beaches.  There are many reasons to visit Bournemouth for your summer holiday.

Things to do in Bournemouth

Bournemouth has an abundance of wonderful locations, events and experiences for visitors and residents alike to enjoy in and around this cosmopolitan town nestled beside the sea.

Journey back to the beginning of time on the Jurassic coast

The Dorset Coastline, also known as the Jurassic Coast, is the only natural location in England that has been granted World Heritage Site status. The 95 miles of Jurassic rock, which includes Lulworth Cove, holds secrets dating back as far as 185 million years ago. This coastal area of Dorset is quite an honour to receive this status, as other World Heritage sites include the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.

Hengistbury Head

When visiting Bournemouth, be sure to check out Hengistbury Head, a local nature reserve that has been designated a protected special area of conservation due to the wide variety of wildlife that reside there all year round. This site is also steeped in history, with ancient settlers dating back as far as 12,500 years ago having once lived on this spot. However, at that time, the land extended further into the sea and thus the settlement was located further inland. Over time, erosion has taken its toll, and now Hengistbury is situated on the very edge of the English Channel.

Hengistbury Head
A view of Southbourne from Hengistbury Head

Reserve at least 2 hours to enjoy Hengistbury Head

Take the time to walk to the top of Hengisbury Head and enjoy the breathtaking views of Southbourne, Christchurch, Mudeford and the Isle of Wight. On your way back down, make sure to stop by the The Hiker Café for a leisurely lunch or a delicious cappuccino.

The Historic Town of Christchurch

A young swan on the River Avon in Christchurch
A young cygnet swimming on the River Avon in Christchurch

And finally, a visit to the historic town of Christchurch where one can wander around the wonderful Norman ruins of Christchurch Castle, or visit Place Mill, the Anglo-Saxon Watermill on the quayside.

From the quay one can take a short ferry ride over to Mudeford and Hengistbury Head, and also to neighbouring Wick, – this service is historical itself since it first began transporting villagers around 1880.

In the summer months pack up a picnic to take with you whilst you sit and soak up the rays and enjoy the comings and goings of the Christchurch swans and other wildlife, as well as local sailors and fishermen enjoying Christchurch Harbour.

Return to Bournemouth Beach

After gallivanting around Dorset, a little rest is in order, so pack up your beach bag and head for the soft sand and glistening waters of the English Channel. Many of the beaches in Bournemouth hold Blue Flag status for meeting high standards of cleanliness in water quality and environmental management.

Beach Huts – home away from home

Enjoy the sun's warmth and stroll from Bournemouth Beach Pier to Boscombe Pier ‘grabbing' an ice cream along the way as you pass the vibrantly coloured beach huts that adorn the boardwalk. These quaint beach cabins are becoming big business and may be rented by the day, week, month or year, or you may wish to purchase one outright, though note that there seems to be quite a market ‘trend’ for these humble beach dwellings. One listed on Mudeford Sandbank near Christchurch was advertised for sale with the request of, ‘offers over £145,000.00’ – astonishing! So, perhaps that weekly rental will be more appealing to the wallet this year?

Colourful beach huts on Bournemouth Beach
Beach huts in an array of colours on Bournemouth Beach

In Bournemouth, there are over 250 brightly coloured and beautifully cared for beach huts available to rent, from Alum Chine to Boscombe, Bournemouth to Fisherman’s Walk and on to Southbourne. I am told one may rent a Bournemouth beach hut, some dating back to the 1930s, for as much as £300 per week or £450 for 4 weeks – depending on where you are looking – a bargain for a little privacy!

From Southbourne to Nude Sunbathing at Studland

Bournemouth Beach and Pier are always bustling with holiday-makers and travellers from all around the globe. It's a great location to take the kids with plenty of activities to enjoy.  However, if you are looking for a more calm and peaceful beach experience, then I suggest heading to the serene Blue Flag beaches in Southbourne. You can also visit further along the coast which sits between Studland and Swanage where beaches are free from commercialism. In some areas going ‘au natural' and enjoying the nudist naturist beach, where all that one has to contend with is the sun, sea, beach huts and sounds of the Dorset wildlife, just be sure to bring plenty of sun protection!

Fireworks to Airshows

Families can enjoy the Bournemouth Fireworks displays arranged by the city every Friday evening in August. You can watch the display from the beach, or cliff-top, or take a night-time cruise for a unique view from the English Channel.

The annual Bournemouth Air Festival will take place from August 29-31st (2024), featuring flying displays from the world-famous Red Arrows, an RAF Typhoon, parachutists, and vintage WW2 aircraft. Special night-time events and flying displays will also take place, and some years, The Royal Marines Commandos and Army carry out an amphibious beach assault. The weekend will end with a fabulous fireworks display.

Eating out in Bournemouth

And finally, to round off the day following a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants Bournemouth has to offer, there is practically a restaurant with cuisine to suit most tastes, including Indian, Middle Eastern (in Charminster), Chinese, Japanese (sushi), Italian, French and modern European fusion.

How about taking in a show at the BIC (Bournemouth International Centre)?

Where to stay in Bournemouth

You’ll be spoilt for choice with the many excellent Bournemouth Hotels that stretch from the quiet and less populated Southbourne beach and historical Hengistbury Head to the more commercial sea view accommodations scattered along the East Cliff.

Traditional seaside guesthouses

Head on westwards a short distance and you’ll find yourself in popular Westcliff where you’ll discover a selection of traditional Bournemouth guesthouses. This area is popular due to its proximity to sandy Bournemouth Beach as well as the busy Bournemouth Shopping Centre, and pretty Bournemouth Gardens.

Is Bournemouth the happiest Town to Live in the UK?

Well, according to the Bournemouth Echo, and a ONS poll that it is the happiest place. Whether that still holds true is another matter, but one thing is for sure Bournemouth is a serious UK destination for a weekend visit or a summer holiday.


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