For weekend visitors and daytrippers it’s Bournemouth’s picturesque beaches, fascinating coastal geography, and historic castles dating back to the Anglo-Saxon era that make a daytime visit just as exciting as the city’s high-spirited nightlife.
The great outdoors
There are four different beaches at Bournemouth Beach – Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne – which boast some of Britain’s warmest water temperatures, so don’t forget your bathing suit. Bournemouth built the first public beach huts in the UK back in 1909. A century later, sun-worshipping is still a favourite Bournemouth pastime, with traditional deck chairs and beach huts available for rent. Those who prefer to keep the sand out of their toes will find plenty of fetching cafes and restaurants lining both the pier and the Bournemouth Beach promenade. Sip a coffee or a cocktail on a cafe terrace, or enjoy a lunch of fresh fish and chips in the bracing ocean breeze.
Hengistbury Head is a veritable paradise for outdoor adventurers, naturalists, conservationists, and anyone looking for an inspiring day out in nature. With diverse wildlife and rare plants, hiking and cycling trails and stunning views, the rugged “head” itself is a notable archeological feature that forms a division between Poole and Christchurch Bays. Friendly volunteers and interactive exhibits at the Hengistbury Head visitors’ centre explain the history and environment of this special area, which was first visited by end-of-the-Ice-Age Europeans around 12,000 years ago. Each year, scores of visitors climb Hengistbury Head’s grassy plateau, called Warren Hill, to drink in the views of Christchurch Harbour.
Located on the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle is an 11th century jewel of Britain’s National Trust that has seen it all during the past millennium. Erected by William the Conqueror, it served as a military stronghold during Anglo-Saxon times and was later destroyed during the Civil War. The restored ruins of Corfe Castle now provide a dramatic backdrop for countryside rambles through idyllic Corfe Village and the Dorset countryside.
With an unlikely – and undeniably spectacular – location on a shingle spit in the narrow strait between Dorset’s west coast and the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle attracts daytrippers with its historic lighthouse. Built by Henry VIII in 1544 as part of a series of coastal forts, Hurst Castle has played an important role in British history and was briefly the prison of King Charles I. From Bournemouth, it’s an easy 30-minute drive to Keyhaven, where frequent ferry service connects to the Hurst Castle April through October.