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Bournemouth: The ultimate visitors’ guide

Boasting a stunning coastline that any instagrammer would die for (#OMG), Bournemouth has been THE ultimate Great British beach destination for hundreds of years with thousands of sun worshipers flocking to its golden shores during the summer months. But this gorgeous English town is far more than just a beach, as there are a multitude of things to do, see, and eat – we’ve compiled our favorites, so feel free to start planning your weekend visit in three, two, one…

Stroll Along the Beach

No trip to Bournemouth is complete without a walk along the stunning coast: with over seven miles of sandy beach stretching in both directions, saunter east until you reach Hengistbury Head. A short climb up the rugged cliffs will see you rewarded with unrivalled views across the bay and on a clear day, a glimpse at the iconic white cliffs of the Isle of Wight. If you can handle your heights, a trip up the Bournemouth Eye, a tethered hot air balloon (pictured), is a must-do – you’ll see the same sweeping vista, but from high above the bay (hooray!).

Try Surfing

Home to Europe’s first artificial surf reef, Bournemouth is the perfect place to squeeze into a wetsuit and take to the water: surf schools offer tuition if you’ve never popped up on a board before, and annual summer surf competitions are open for seasoned surfers to show off their skills. The sea here is some of the warmest in the UK, so be sure to take a dip. Once you’ve exited the water, Urban Reef, a restaurant with a breathtaking view, is on hand for a celebratory beverage.

Walk The Length of The Pier

While you’re frolicking at the beach, don’t forget to visit Bournemouth’s most iconic landmark: the pier. Protruding majestically into the bay and featured in almost every postcard of the coastal town, it does far more than just stand and look pretty: here, you can try rock climbing, enjoy dinner with a view at the Key West restaurant, and zip-line to the beach to exit the pier in style.

Visit the Oceanarium

For a glimpse of life under the sea or for something to do on the rare occasion that English rain makes the beach seem less appealing, the Oceanarium next to the pier is packed full of amazing sea creatures: walk through the vast aquarium enclosures in a glass tunnel to get up close and personal with giant sharks, Humboldt penguins, otters and green sea turtles.

Try The Local Cuisine

When you’re visiting one of the sunniest cities in England, the chance to try its famously creamy New Forest ice cream is not to be missed. With an irresistible variety of flavors to choose from, grab a scoop (or three) and hit the beach like the locals do. When the evening comes, Bournemouth has a huge variety of restaurants and bistros to choose from but sometimes the simplest menu is the best: treat yourself to some traditional fish and chips with a view at Harry Ramsden’s.

Sample the Nightlife

Bournemouth is known for its vibrant nightlife with bars, pubs and nightclubs aplenty. We recommend you try a drink or two at Bournemouth’s legendary beach cocktail bar, Aruba, which is located on the pier itself and offers sweeping sea views and an open-air terrace for those warm summer nights. For nightcaps, sample the exotic Asian-infusion inspired cocktail menu at the lively Bonsai Lounge. Cheers!

Relax in a Café

Round off your weekend in Bournemouth and treat yourself to a sumptuous slice of home-made cake approximately the size of a small book, accompanied by a boiling pot of English tea at – now try saying this three times fast – The Real Eating Company Café’s Indulgence Dessert Lounge. This rustic café is the perfect place to seek a little peace and quiet away from the busy shopping streets.

Image by Martin Abegglen, Flickr / Creative Commons

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