Here are some insider tips to help you get the most out of Bournemouth and the surrounding areas:
Tea is a national obsession in England, and the tradition of Cream Tea is particularly strong in the South West. Bournemouth is a perfect place to sit and enjoy the finely balanced flavours of jam, scones and a nice pot of tea! There are a number of charming tea rooms around town, but if you want something a little more sumptuous, the Print Room (theprintroom-bournemouth.co.uk) is a bar and restaurant in a fantastic art-deco building.
Bournemouth’s beaches have repeatedly been found to be the cleanest in the UK. A walk from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier (or vice versa) is a scenic way to check out this charming stretch of sand and to find the perfect spot in which to enjoy the sun. Along the way, you could stop for coffee, cake or a nice cup of tea. There is a small charge (less than £1) for entry to Bournemouth Pier.
Beach + sea + sunshine = watersports paradise. In Bournemouth, kayak, jet ski, kite-surfing, wake-boarding and windsurfing are among the most popular options, but you can try your hands at everything from paddle boarding to surfing. Check out coastwiththemost.com.
Especially in the summertime, hiring a bike can be a great way to get around Bournemouth and the surrounding areas. On Yer Bike in Charminster offers a city bike for £15 a week or a mountain bike for £20 a week (onyerbike.co.uk). A ride along the promenade from Hengistbury Head in the east to Sandbanks in the west is a great way to take in the local scenery, although cycling is not allowed on the promenade in July and August during the busiest hours of the day. Out of town, there are some beautiful rides in the countryside around neighbouring Christchurch and Poole.
Find out what’s going on locally
Do More magazine (domoremag.com) has good local listings for Bournemouth and Dorset generally. There is an online What’s On Guide (bournemouth.co.uk/whats-on) where you can search by month for all kinds of events, while Bournemouth News and Info (bournemouthnews.info) has its finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the student scene, along with local special offers.
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) Director: Karel Reisz
Emma (1996) Director: Douglas McGrath
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage – a series of cooking programmes that show off Dorset
Once upon a time, not long ago, Bournemouth had a huge IMAX cinema, in a beautiful location on the seafront. Unfortunately, it was housed in a “Britain’s ugliest building”. Local people rejoiced when it was demolished in 2013 and the local government even featured a demolition webcam on their website! So, the views have improved, but what about your cinema options? The two main cinemas in town are just a short walk from each other: the Odeon (35-43 Westover Road) and ABC (27-28 Westover Road) are both owned by the same company and show all of the big Hollywood movies. For something more underground, you will need to visit the Lighthouse in Poole (21 Kingland Road, lighthousepoole.co.uk).
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Let England Shake by PJ Harvey
Talking with the Taxman about Poetry by Billy Bragg
Parachutes by Coldplay
The O2 Academy Bournemouth (570 Christchurch Rd, o2academybournemouth.co.uk) is the place to go to catch established bands. Similarly, the Bournemouth International Centre ( Exeter Rd, bic.co.uk) hosts all kinds of events, including some well-known musicians. For a whole range of new music, The Old Firestation (36 Holdernhurst Rd, oldfirestation.co.uk) is the local university’s student union venue as well as a public nightclub, so you will meet plenty of interesting people there, particularly during the university term time. Halo (Exeter Road, halobournemouth.com) is a popular venue for electronic music, with a focus on house.