Bournemouth

Bournemouth is a seaside resort town in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. Bournemouth is known for its popularity with pensioners and has many residential care homes due to its constant and warm weather (by English terms). However, it is still possible to find vibrant nightlife and youthful activities like watersports.

Bournemouth's main Pier

Understand

Bournemouth’s spa magic has been revitalised and history is repeating itself. A century ago the cream of Victorian society including royalty flocked to Bournemouth’s pine forest landscape of luxurious villas.

They were eager to sample the relaxing ambience of the town, breathe its healthy air, bath in the pure sea water and unwind at leisure. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy affectionately described Bournemouth as ‘a Mediterranean lounging place on the English Channel’. The aroma and perfume of the pine trees were considered health-giving and many a famous person came here to take advantage of it including J.R.R. Tolkien and D.H. Lawrence.

The first spa hotel was built in 1885 - the Mont Dore Hotel (now Bournemouth’s Town Hall) Apart from luxury rooms and tennis courts, the hotel also offered the Mont Dore cure which was said to be a healing water and could not be found anywhere else in England. Sea and pure water from the Bourne stream were pumped into the basement of the hotel to allow the additional luxury of soaking and perspiring in Turkish and salt baths.

Since then, Bournemouth has grown into a thriving seaside resort and many of the big hotels offer spa treatments of their own as well as spa and beauty boutiques peppered throughout the town centre catering for men as well as women.

The pine trees still exist and visitors can still stroll through ‘Pine Walk’ in Bournemouth Gardens today to breath in the healthy air. During the summer, the Pine Walk Open Air Art Exhibition is held here.

In recent years, Bournemouth's growing population of students, gays and surfers have given it a more bohemian image than a typical south coast retirement town, leading to the nickname "BoMo".

Get in

By car

Unless travelling from the South-West of England most journeys by road will be via the M27 which turns into the dual-carriageway A31 and passes through the New Forest. At Ringwood look for the (A338) Bournemouth exit. Care is necessary when entering into Bournemouth on the Wessex Way as there are numerous speed cameras.

Only those with a penchant for long queues of congestion should think about arriving at mid-day/early afternoon on a warm and sunny day! It is strongly advised to either get there very early or even arrive the evening beforehand otherwise you will be sitting in traffic for a considerable length of time on the A31.

By train

SouthWest Trains from London Waterloo and other locations on the South coast, such as Poole and Weymouth. Served by express and semi-fast services which continue to Weymouth, and a slow service which terminates in Poole.

CrossCountry trains from Manchester via Birmingham New Street terminate at Bournemouth, some trains arrive from other cities like Nottingham and Newcastle. Summer sees a wider variety of places linked directly to Bournemouth.

By bus

Greyhound and National Express Bus from London direct (approx. 2 hours 30 minutes).

By plane

A few airlines fly directly into Bournemouth Airport from various destinations throughout Europe.

Bournemouth airport has no train station however shuttle bus services operate.

Alternatively fly to Southampton Airport and take the train into Bournemouth (35-45 mins £12.50).

Get around

Bournemouth is small enough to walk around, but local bus services operate frequently within the town centre. Bus services are generally good (particularly in the East-West direction), but there is a wrinkle: the town is served by two companies who do not accept each other's tickets. They are the "yellow" Bournemouth buses, whose service extends to Christchurch and the east; and the "blue" Wilts and Dorset buses, whose routes extend more to Poole and the west. The main termini are at the rail station and the Square.

Taxi services in Bournemouth are cheap for short journeys, with an initial charge of approximately £2. It is best to call for a cab rather than to queue at a rank near Holdenhurst for the best fare.

The station is a hike (10 or 15 minutes, uphill) from the centre, so consider transport.

Orientation

The Square is the name given to the open space where the Tourist Information office is, the main gardens are, the pier can be accessed, and the river Bourne empties (although it is not in fact particularly square). It is naturally the lowest point in central Bournemouth, so you can generally aim for it by walking downhill.

The main shopping area is due inland/north from the Square. Old Christchurch Road (note the 'Old') marks the upper limit of the main shopping area. Holdenhurst Road, leading from Old Christchurch Road to the station, is a student area of late-night takeaways. Christchurch Road (without the "Old") is a very long road leading out of the town centre to the town of the same name several miles to the west, with the Boscombe and Pokesdown strung along it.

West Cliff is the clifftop, seafront area overlooking the Square, where there is collection of upmarket hotels and the International Centre. The Triangle, Bournemouth's gay village and specialist shopping area, is up Commercial Road from the Square.

Further west is Westbourne, a very twee and cute area of boutiques and cafes, mostly along Seamoor Road, and its associated arcade. Popular with an older clientelle, it is not particularly jumping at night.

West Bournemouth eventually merges with Poole. About halfway between them and worth a visit is Lower Parkstone, a small area of specialist shops and trendy eateries that resembles a mini-Brighton.

Bournemouth's scruffy little brother to the east is Boscombe, with a population inclining towards foreign workers, surfers and other idlers. The O2 Academy, and antique shops (particularly toward the Pokesdown end) are the main draws.

See

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth is famous for its 7 miles of golden sandy beaches and clean seas. The beach has retained the international Blue Flag award status since it was first introduced in 1996 and in 2011 also secured 4 Blue Flag awards for Alum Chine beach, Durley Chine beach, Fisherman’s Walk beach and Southbourne beach.

The Pier is almost in the middle of the beach and offers a small fair, boat trips, an arcade, a café/bar and some other shops.

Museums and galleries

Landmarks

Do

Weather

Bournemouth is famous for its year round mild and temperate climate. The warmest months are May to September which is when you will enjoy long, hot and sunny days. It can get very cold in the depths of winter though, and will sometimes reach temperatures below zero. Bournemouth's annual rainfall is well below the national average. Take a look at the latest Bournemouth weather forecast before planning a trip.

Buy

Bournemouth has a good range of shops with mainly well known high street outlets in the centre but also many independent shops. Examples of large stores are Beales, Dingles, Debenhams and Marks & Spencers. The Boscombe area is well known for its many antique shops and for those who are into designer, vintage, and specialist clothes, Westbourne offers a good variety of designer boutiques.

For out of town shopping the massive Castlepoint Shopping centre is easily accessible by public transport, although there is little else to do in the area

Eat

Bournemouth has many different restaurants suiting different tastes and budgets. The Old Christchurch Road at the "top" of the main shopping area has a string of low to mid-range eateries alternating with your orientated bars and clubs. There is another crop of eateries in the West Cliff area (around the International Centre), and in the Triangle, and in Westbourne. The number of takeaways in Bournemouth has also increased over the years, offering a cheap alternative to a restaurant meal.

Drink

At night the town comes alive with a vibrant bar and club scene. It is one of Britain's most popular clubbing locations, with many stag and hen parties held in Bournemouth. There are over 50 nightclub venues which are open every day of the week. On busy clubnights, roughly 40,000 people are out in Bournemouth. The Triangle area in Bournemouth (5 minutes walk up Commercial St from the main square) is where the gay community is concentrated with several gay friendly clubs and pubs. Most night clubs are located in and around town centre, with the exception of the O2 Academy in Boscombe. Old style pubs are at a premium in the centre with the emphasis more on trendy bars. Those fancying an ale pub crawl are advised to do by bus—the Goat, Porterhouse and Bermuda Triangle (see below) are all near stops.

Sleep

The American travel writer Bill Bryson commented on the amazing number of hotels there seem to be in Bournemouth, but there are so many because the town developed as a seaside resort in the 19th century and that is still its primary function.

Budget


Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

There is an absolutely incredible number of stag and hen parties passing through the centre during the summer, but they tend to be loud rather than dangerous. Drunken youths tend to congregate in Old Christchurch Rd late at night it is safe the rest of the time.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.