Bournemouth Travel Guide
For its variety of attractions and the warmth of its climate, Bournemouth has earned the flattering nickname, “London by the sea.”
A dream locale, Bournemouth is nestled on England's south coast and boasts of one of the warmest climates in the entire United Kingdom. With numerous road, rail and air links, it certainly isn't hard to find.
Naturally, Bournemouth's vibrant town centre is one of its main attractions, flanked by lush green gardens and a busy pier. The town centre overlooks several miles of golden sandy beaches, each adorned with popular promenades. To get to the beaches, you take a short cable car ride from the town centre or walk through the zig-zagging path.
Over 100 years ago, Bournemouth was a favoured holiday venue of the cream of Victorian society, including such famous personalities like D.H. Lawrence and J.R.R. Tolkien. Royalty flocked to Bournemouth's impressive array of luxurious villas, drawn by the town's relaxing environment, healthy air and pure sea water. In those days, Bournemouth was regarded as a “Mediterranean lounging place on the English Channel.” It was blessed with the fragrant and, some say, health-giving aroma of pine trees constantly filling the air.
Aside from its attractive setting, Bournemouth was also known for its famous spa hotels. The first such venue was the Mont Dore Hotel, established in 1885, and which is now Bournemouth's town centre. The Mont Dore featured tennis courts and luxurious accommodations as well as mysterious healing water that could not be found anywhere else in England. Drawn from the Bourne stream, this water was pumped into the Mont Dere Hotel's basement, where the hotel's esteemed clientele could soak and perspire in salty Turkish Baths.
With the success of the Mont Dere, many other big hotels soon followed suit until Bournemouth evolved into a thriving seaside resort known for its spa treatments and beauty boutiques that cater to both men and women.
Today, Bournemouth has much to offer beyond its famous spa hotels. There are five areas that you should not fail to visit:
- Alum Chine and Westbourne
Bournemouth's renowned tropical gardens, peppered with colourful tropical plants and palm trees, can easily make you forget you're in Britain – and you haven't even made it to the beach yet. That's the setting for Alum Chine, an ideal spot for a lovers' stroll. Or, you can engage in the other famed activity in the area -- basking under the sun in any of three Blue Flag Award-winning beaches where you can admire the glistening sea and run your toes through the golden sand. All the amenities you require are on hand. You can also venture into nearby Westbourne, a virtual shopper's paradise of boutiques and specialty shops. End your day with a romantic dinner in any of Westbourne's excellent restaurants as you soak in the holiday atmosphere.
- West Cliff and Central East
On West Cliff, you will find Durley Chine beach, another winner of the Blue Flag award, boasting of magnificent sand and sea. West Cliff houses many hotels and guest houses as well as outstanding first-class restaurants, which combine to give the area a distinctly resort-like feel. You can play a few sets of tennis or a round of golf at the nearby Meyrick Park golf course. West Cliff also hosts the town centre and the award-winning Upper, Lower and Central Gardens. And if you ever get tired of all the beauty around, West Cliff is just a short train ride to any of Bournemouth's other beaches.
- East Cliff and Central East
The East Cliff of Bournemouth is renowned for the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, a famous attraction that draws thousands of visitors a year.
The gallery was once the home of two key figures in Bournemouth's development, Merton and Annie Russell Cotes, and it houses the varied artefacts and treasures that they collected from all over the world.
At Central East, you will find the Travel Interchange, the perfect base for travelling in and around Dorset. The nearby Westover Road features many boutiques and the Pavilion, a venue for magnificent nightly shows. Of course, you can't miss the immensely popular Bournemouth Pier beach and its own set of top-rate attractions and great restaurants.
The Boscombe Pier beach seems to have something for everyone. The beach is a popular haven for surfers while shoppers adore the area's wide variety of shops and their unique offerings, especially the antiques.
Shelley Park is another popular attraction because of its year-round series of events such as the week-long Arts Festival each July when various artists, musicians and performers join hands to celebrate art.
Meanwhile, the Boscombe Gardens beckon as a venue for romance, reflection and relaxation.
The beach at Southbourne is yet another Blue Flag Award-winning beach that boasts of golden sand and a host of amenities and facilities for couples and the whole family.
The first-class beach-side restaurants offer a breath-taking view of the area's romantic landscapes. For the more activity-minded, there's the Seafield Gardens, a winner of the prestigious Green Flag Award, and a venue for tennis, bowling and croquet and is close to yet another beautiful beach, Hengistbury Head.