Bournemouth is located on the south coast of England, with easy access to many of the UK’s loveliest scenery and liveliest tourist spots
Five miles or so to the East is Christchurch, on the shores of its own spectacular natural harbour. Christchurch is an ancient town with a fascinating heritage, beautiful coastline and countryside, many shops and a famous church – the Priory.
On the other side of Bournemouth, five miles to the West, is Poole – Europe’s largest natural harbour. Here you can enjoy cruises to the Sandbanks peninsular or Brownsea Island, where the English Scouting movement was born. Visitors can enjoy watersports, beaches, café bars and restaurants on the bustling Quayside with its vibrant atmosphere and busy marina; or sit and watch the multi-million Sunseeker yachts cruise by. The Poole Pottery outlet store and Poole Museum are great free attractions, with the Old Town providing several quirky shops and gourmet restaurants.
On the way to Poole from Bournemouth is Compton Acres – one of the finest gardens in Europe. Just outside is the Tower Park leisure complex with something for all ages from an indoor water park to a 16 screen Empire cinema – a great all-weather attraction
Dorchester and North Dorset
Dorchester, the county town of Dorset, is 28 miles to the west and the home and inspiration of famous author Thomas Hardy – his cottage in Lower Bockhampton is now owned by the National Trust. Travelling further into the countryside you will find several market towns including Blandford Forum, Gillingham and Shaftesbury, with its famous beauty spot Gold Hill. Monkey World, the Tank Museum and the seaside town of Weymouth are all popular attractions in the wider county of Dorset – and don’t forget the ghost village of Tyneham, left as it was since 1943, when the villagers had to move out.
Swanage and the Purbecks
The Swanage Railway runs for six miles through the Purbeck Hills from Norden to Swanage, where the world-famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site begins. On the way you can see the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle, or visit the country town of Wareham. Walkers can travel the South West Coast Path, passing the geological landmarks of Old Harry Rocks, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. Swanage has its own Blue Flag beach and the Studland National Nature Reserve is perfect for wildlife lovers. Lulworth Castle, destroyed by fire in 1929 but since recreated as an attraction is also well worth a visit.
Salisbury and Stonehenge
Just under an hour away from Bournemouth, Salisbury has some of England’s finest historic houses, a great shopping centre and the majestic Salisbury Cathedral, boasting Britain’s tallest spire. Just outside is Stonehenge – the most famous ancient stone circle and World Heritage Site in the UK and a must-see for visitors.
Half an hour away from Bournemouth is the beautiful and historic market town of Wimborne with its 1300 year-old Minster, the Priest’s House Museum, a beautifully detailed model village for children and plenty of cosy pubs and impressive restaurants.
New Forest National Park
Lying just outside Bournemouth, the New Forest has remained largely unaltered in its 1000 year history. Acres of ancient landscapes, heathland and woodland allow ponies and deer to roam freely. There are miles of cycle and horse-riding tracks, a National Motor Museum, Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and the popular Paulton’s Park family attraction featuring Peppa Pig World. Exbury Gardens is beautiful in every season; and Moors Valley Country Park is a day out in itself with a play trail, a Go Ape high wire course, miniature railway and golf course.