Your ultimate guide to the UK’s sunniest seaside town
The southern coastal town of Bournemouth prides itself on its friendly locals and seven miles of sandy beaches. Enjoy the action on the sand or in the sea, tuck into fresh fish’n’chips, sup a locally brewed ale and then when evening rolls around the vibrant nightlife offers an array of clubs, bars and pubs where you can party the night away.
At a glance:
- Home to some of the UK’s biggest free beach festivals including the Bournemouth Wheels Festival, Bournemouth Air Festival and Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival
- A more ‘upmarket’ alternative to the traditional perception of a British seaside destination
- Has an impressive array of music, comedy, theatre and art exhibitions
- Europe’s largest natural harbour makes the sea at Bournemouth ideal for a range of watersports
Old Christchurch - student central
Home to the SU Club, this area is usually swarming with students on the hunt for cheap drinks and fast food. An assortment of clubs and bars accommodate every music taste, from pop to rock, indie to electronica. If you're after a night of cheesy chart tunes and cut-price drinks, then Christchurch is the place to be. Popular chains like Revolution, Bar Me, Cameo, Walkabout and Yates are located within a few hundred yards of each other making this an ideal location for a bar crawl.
The Beach - the pearl of Bournemouth
Seven miles of beach provide the perfect setting for indulging in dinner and drinks, enjoying fresh fish‘n’chips with a beer or nurturing your inner child with arcade games and funfair rides.
The Triangle - not for squares
Flirt Café Bar (http://www.flirtcafebar.com/
) and The Goat & Tricycle pub have put the area on the map with hugely popular offbeat nights and a varied music scene that includes everything from reggae to rock n roll.
Best bars and pubs in Bournemouth:
The Goat & Tricycle, Westhill Road
The Goat & Tricycle offers its guests 10 pumps of real ale goodness. The atmosphere is always warm and the home-cooked food is comforting as well as reasonably priced. http://www.goatandtricycle.co.uk/our-beers
Chaplin’s & The Cellar Bar, Boscombe
If you’re willing to take a short bus ride to Boscombe, Chaplin’s & The Cellar Bar provides a vibrant environment to enjoy a hand-pulled pint. This CAMRA award-winning bar and music venue boasts a lush garden, a menu of locally sourced produce, live music seven days a week and a handpicked cocktail list that changes on a weekly basis.
Dean Park Inn, Wimborne Rd
The Dean Park Inn is known for serving tasty food and fine Wadsworth ales, with the selection changing to suit the seasons. It’s a great place if you want a drink in a traditional pub atmosphere, with darts, board games and Sky Sports for entertainment, plus an open fire for those colder evenings.
The Old Fire Station, Holdenhurst Road
This converted fire station is a regular feeding ground for students and ticks all the boxes whether you’re after pop nights, drum n bass raves or even stand-up comedy. Depending on what night you visit you could end up watching anyone from Kano to Graham Norton, but rest assured you will almost definitely be accompanied by a happy mass of 20-somethings.
Walkabout, Old Christchurch Road
If you’re looking for a sports bar, Walkabout is the ‘go to’ location. With ice-cold beer on tap, plasma screens on every wall and a friendly Australian theme, it’s the perfect place to kick back and watch the game. To ensure you get the best seat in the house it’s worth booking a booth in advance. http://www.walkaboutbars.co.uk/venues/bournemouth/details
Buffalo, Woodend Rd
If you fancy getting out of central Bournemouth, try Buffalo in neighbouring Winton, a unique twist on a bar and grill. This relaxed venue brings together live music, pool tables and delicious melt-in-your-mouth burgers. Try the ‘buckshot’ to get the full Buffalo experience.
Best clubs in Bournemouth:
Halo, Exeter Road
This newly revamped club is housed inside a converted former church which makes it a particularly unique setting for shuffling to the house sounds of Duke Dumont, or raving to drum’n’bass. There is a variety of VIP options available from booths with table service to elite private rooms, both with an exclusive view over the dancefloor. The drinks packages are also worth exploring, with prices for groups of 10 starting at £160 for three ‘fish bowls’ and a bottle of vodka with unlimited mixers.
Bonsai Lounge, Exeter Road
Describes itself as an elite clubbing venue that fuses extravagant Japanese couture with western club culture. Offers a range of 2-4-1 champagne cocktails for a reasonable £5.95 and stays open until 5am on Cocoloco Saturdays. VIP options are available for larger parties looking for a bespoke clubbing experience.
Le Chic, Old Christchurch Rd
Another luxury bar and lounge that attracts a glamorous crowd. The VIP experiences on offer make this place perfect for stylish stags. Their ‘Gold Room’ option comes complete with security and table service whilst the VIP Room has its own secret entrance and private bar. Drinks packages start at £150 for a bottle of spirit and a bottle of Moet and go up to £800 for a bottle of Jay-Z’s favourite, Ace of Spades champagne (Armand de Brignac to use it’s ‘real’ name), and a magnum of Grey Goose Vodka.
Spearmint Rhino, Yelverton Road
Probably the best known lap-dancing chain in the world, Spearmint Rhino has been entertaining stags for years. Its Bournemouth branch has special deals at various times of year as well we as a top VIP package that includes entry for 10 guests, reserved seating, a £200 bar tab and the chance to get your lucky stag up on stage with two of the girls.
Food: eat like a local:
Harry Ramsden's (http://www.harryramsdens.co.uk/england/bournemouth/
) is first choice for traditional fish‘n’chips on the seafront but Bournemouth is a town brimming with a diverse range of ethnic eateries.
Koh Thai Tapas (http://www.koh-thai.co.uk/
) in the Christchurch area offers a fresh approach to Thai cuisine. Combining traditional flavours with a modern flair, the highlight is the tapas menu which allows you to try a little of everything.
If you’d prefer a classic Chinese, Ocean City (http://www.oceancitybournemouth.co.uk/
) is the place to indulge in a traditional chow mein before a big night out. Reasonable prices, friendly staff and well-cooked food are consistent features. The dim sum is a definite highlight.
For an authentic, no-frills taste of southern India try Dosa World (http://dosaworldbournemouth.co.uk/
). Great for vegetarians and inexpensive prices, it’s the place to go for a curry and a pint before a big night out.
Fast food lovers in need of something right now want the Burger Shop (http://www.burgershop.co.uk/
) in central Bournemouth. It wins every time with its striking urban design and simple menu of delectable burgers and hot dogs.
Struggling to find a BYOB joint? Pizza Co (http://www.bournemouthpizza.co.uk/
) near the station whips up fresh, handmade pizzas cooked in wood fired ovens. It only costs a quid to bring your own booze, but their own drinks prices are pretty reasonable too.
No self-respecting seaside town can have less than 20 seafood restaurants jostling for space, but The Crab (http://www.crabatbournemouth.com/
) is one of Bournemouth’s best.
Casa Brazil (http://www.casabrasilrestaurants.co.uk/bournemouth-main/
) is a unique buffet experience with all-you-can-eat prices starting at £11.95. In traditional Brazilian style, guests are invited to eat from the buffet and use a red/green card system to enjoy a table service of freshly sliced marinated meats. For the full Brazilian experience, kick your meal off with a round of Caipirinhas.
Binnies is located a short walk from central Bournemouth on Wimborne Road. It keeps things simple with exposed beams, checked table linen and a full English that is guaranteed to hit the spot after a night on the town.
If you can handle breakfasting in the same place you did your drinking, Buffalo (http://www.barbuffalo.co.uk/
) in Winton does a cracking fry-up for a very reasonable price. The atmosphere is friendly as empathetic staff understand the pain of a heavy night.
Things not to miss:
One of the UK’s most unique festivals takes place over the May bank holiday weekend. Combining music, drinking and competitive team sports, Bournemouth 7s is the place to go with your mates to try your hand at dodgeball, hockey, rugby, netball, or any of the other hundreds of activities on offer. Non-sporty types needn’t worry – there are dance tents, mini beer festivals and some of the biggest live music acts in the country on hand to ensure an unforgettable time.
Almost everything you might need in the heart of Bournemouth is within walking distance but there are taxi ranks and bus links throughout the town if you want to take the weight off. The bus is cheaper than a taxi and purchasing a day ticket gives you unlimited travel for a whole day.
On Friday and Saturday nights it's well worth taking advantage of the night bus as a cheap alternative to a taxi. A single fare on the N1 or N2 will only set you back £3.20.