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Staying Busy in Beautiful Bournemouth

Bournemouth Balloon
Bournemouth Balloon

Historically one of the United Kingdom’s most important seaside town, Bournemouth is an enchanting resort that has experienced a recent revival. In the past, the city has been touted as ‘a Mediterranean resort on the English Channel’. Well, Bournemouth doesn’t have the climate or the turquoise waters to match a Mediterranean coast township, but it does have a nice sandy shoreline and a relaxed atmosphere.

Bournemouth originated as a spa resort in 1885, with many residents of southern England flocking to the coastal town for its healthy sea water, clean air and laid-back ambience. Today, hundreds of thousands of travellers visit this magnificent city, especially during the warmth of summer. Surfers and students alike have turned this ‘retirement settlement’ into more of a bohemian culture paradise.

There is an international airport serving the city, but flying to Bournemouth is only one of the many ways tourists can conveniently travel to this southern English town. From London, take the M27 to the southwestern region of England and then follow the signs to Bournemouth, if driving. The summer months see the operation of many train routes to the city, including direct trains from London Waterloo.

Getting around the city is best done on foot, although taxis are a viable means of transport for travellers who plan to stay centrally. The centre of the city is known as the Square, from where the main landmarks can be explored on foot.

Accommodation is abundant in the city. However, it is best to make reservations for a Bournemouth hotel before holidaying here. The town developed as a tourist settlement in the 19th century, which is why so many hotels can be found here. Some of these establishments may seem a little outdated, but there are modern accommodation options, too.

The city has a variety of options to keep visitors entertained while holidaying here. Undoubtedly, the number one feature of Bournemouth is its seven miles of beaches. Visitors can head straight to the pier that sits in the middle of Bournemouth’s beaches or hit the shoreline for bathing or sun-baking. The pier has a number of diversions, including retail shops and an arcade.

The Bournemouth Oceanarium is a must-visit, while the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum boasts a tremendous array of Japanese-influenced exhibitions and artwork. Don’t forget to take an hour to explore St Peter’s Church, which is where famous author Mary Shelly is buried.

When it comes to activities, there are plenty of them on offer in Bournemouth. See the sites of the city all at once from a bird’s eye view by visiting the Bournemouth Eye. This tethered balloon feature is popular among tourists. Every August, the Bournemouth Air Festival takes place, and the Bourne Free gay and lesbian pride parade in early July attracts thousands of participants and spectators alike each year.

There are interesting places to go for a drink after the sun goes down in Bournemouth. However, don’t be surprised when a drinking session with friends is interrupted by a stag or hen party, with these parties having become frequent occurrences in the city over the last decade. If running into such groups doesn’t sound appealing, avoid Boscombe High Street after dark and check your hotel’s policy on accommodating these party-goers.

John is a travel writer and runs Bournemouth Hotels Online and Holidays in the UK