Miles of golden sand? Check. Beautiful parks and nature attractions on its doorstep? Check. A huge choice of places to eat, drink and party? Check. Located on the south coast, Bournemouth has become one of UK’s most popular destinations during this latest staycation surge. If you’re looking for a perfect weekend getaway, we might just have found it for you. So, sit back, take five, and discover what this charming seaside town has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Hallmark Hotels has two ideally located places to stay in Bournemouth, Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth Carlton and Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth East Cliff both boast dramatic sea views. With self-catering apartments available, 24-hour room service and free Wi-Fi, you can customise your weekend stay to suit your needs.
Bournemouth's public transport system will help you get to all the attractions on this guide easily. The 'Getting About' bus ticket is a handy smartcard that offers unlimited travel on the town’s buses for just £5 per day. Pokesdown and Boscombe are quickly reachable via train. Plus, there’s an extensive network of designated cycle paths, making the town fantastic for navigating by bike.
Hit the shops
Saturday morning is the ideal time for some retail therapy. Bournemouth’s town centre is where you’ll find the usual mix of high street stores and luxury boutiques. However, if you’re looking to pick up a bargain and don’t mind venturing a little further afield, Christchurch Road in Pokesdown is home to an eclectic mix of retro clothes, bookshops, and antique stores. Or to uncover a potential treasure in waiting, head to the intriguing vintage market at Boscombe’s Royal Arcade on the first Saturday of every month.
Explore the glorious gardens
Bournemouth’s Lower Garden is located just a short walk from Hallmark Hotel Carlton and Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth East Cliff. Characterised by its Grade II listed Victorian charm, the park is renowned for its spectacular floral displays, achieving Green Flag status every year since 1999. In the spring and summer months, the park hosts special events, including live music in the iconic Pine Walk Bandstand.
Several chines (narrow gorges) that have been transformed into remarkable gardens can also be found dotted around the town. Alum Chine is the largest and most popular. Here you will find a tropical garden displaying exotic flowers and plants, and three fabulous suspension bridges that tower over the park, offering spectacular views of the fantastic foliage and sculpted landscapes below.
Go on an underwater odyssey
Great for young children, Oceanarium Bournemouth plays host a very special colony of sea creatures. Fitting for an afternoon adventure, you can watch loggerhead turtles, jellyfish, sharks, otters and penguins making a splash in this mini underwater world. The Oceanarium also combines virtual tours, interactive displays and feeding talks to educate visitors on the importance of protecting the world’s oceans and wildlife.
Eat, drink and…
Combining an abundance of fine dining experiences, there’s a restaurant to cater for every taste bud in Bournemouth.
With its trendy retro furnishings, Sixty Million Postcards offers a spin on traditional pub grub and excellent vegetarian choices. Made using only organic ingredients, Kino Lounge serves an exceptional and varied menu of salads, soups, tapas, and mezes. The award-winning Renoufs is a cheese and wine restaurant that pairs the finest local and international cheeses with an assortment of wonderful wines. And set against the stunning views of Bournemouth beach, Roots is an exclusive dining experience that serves only 24 lucky guests at a time.
With your stomach lined and your spirits high, you can enjoy whatever type of night on the town you want in Bournemouth.
Bar So has been voted best night out by Bournemouth’s tourist board for five years in a row; in the early evening, it’s a great venue for sipping fine wine, before it converts into a dynamic dance venue for late-night partygoers. The Old Fire Station has hosted some of the best musical talents around, including David Guetta, Bloc Party, Ed Sheeran, and Dizzee Rascal. And DYMK is one of the best gay bars in the country, serving delicious cocktails and spinning cheesy tunes in one of the warmest and most friendly atmospheres you’ll find in Bournemouth.
Take a beach stroll
Stretching between Southbourne and Boscombe, you can get to Fisherman’s Walk easily via the M2 bus. This gorgeous stretch of coast includes a charming walkway, eye-catching beach huts, a Blue Flag beach and safe swimming. For those unafraid by heights, the cliff lift nearby takes you up the steep, giving way to sumptuous sea sights and panoramic views of Poole Harbour and the Isle of Wight.
For the more adventurous, there’s Rock Reef on Bournemouth Pier. As the ultimate activity centre for kids and adults young at heart, you can climb, jump, swing and fly to your heart’s content thanks to the 28 indoor climbing challenges. The venue is also the place to go for PierZip: the world’s first pier to shore zip wire. Over 230 meters in length, it’s the only place to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Bournemouth coastline while soaring like an eagle.
Head into the New Forest
If you fancy trekking beyond the town for an afternoon, look no further than the New Forest, a mere 20-minute drive from Bournemouth. Spread across 200 square miles, this sprawling country haven includes over 150 miles of routes mapped out especially for walking, cycling and exploring. You can find the best of these routes on the Park’s official site. But, if you just turn up on the day, you’re guaranteed to see wild woods and a diversity of native wildlife, including the iconic wild ponies.
The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC)
Whether you want to see your favourite musician, comedian or take in an exhibition, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at the BIC. At 10,000 people, it’s the biggest live venue on the south coast, with some of the biggest names in showbiz gracing the stage. Find out what’s on at the BIC here.
We hope our guide to the perfect weekend in Bournemouth will help you plan an unforgettable break. Don’t forget that our staff knows the area inside out, so will be happy to answer your questions and give personalised recommendations during your stay.