Our guide to living in Bournemouth

Boasting miles of stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and highly rated restaurants, Bournemouth truly has something for everybody.

Read our guide to discover the best that Bournemouth has to offer.

Paint the town red

Whether you’re looking for a bar to play pool or watch sports, a club to dance the night away, somewhere to sip high-end cocktails, or a great live music venue, Bournemouth has an array of great options.

For the ultimate holiday vibe, there are plenty of beach bars and eateries to enjoy as well.

A place to enjoy the arts

Bournemouth International Centre plays host to world-renowned musicians and comedians, while the beautiful Art Deco Pavilion Theatre puts on a varied programme of dance, theatre and live music throughout the year.

Bournemouth also puts on various outdoor arts festivals, including the very popular Arts by the Sea festival.

A first-rate education

As well as many highly rated primary and secondary schools (both public and private), Bournemouth also has a further education college and two well-respected universities, Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University.

For parents with young families or those with older children who are currently considering their university options, it’s hard to do much better than Bournemouth.

Bournemouth uni

A varied calendar of outdoor events

With an abundance of glorious open spaces, there is no shortage of great open-air events to attend throughout the year. Whether you want to feast your eyes on the spectacle of the Red Arrows at the Air Festival, enjoy the best of local sports at the Bournemouth 7s Festival, sample the best of local produce at the Chilli and Cheese festival, or live the life of luxury at Sandfest (which takes place at the prestigious Sandbanks beach in nearby Poole), there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

At Christmas time, Bournemouth Gardens and the town square are transformed with German-style market stalls, an Alpine bar, and an outdoor skating rink. The whole area is lit up with twinkling Christmas trees and glittering lights as far as the eye can see.

Fantastic travel links

Bournemouth is extremely easy to get around by bus. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hop on a free Beryl bike or e-scooter. With easy access to the A338, a central train station with direct trains to London (including a fast train to London Waterloo that takes just 97 minutes) and the Midlands, and an international airport, Bournemouth is ideal for both commuting and jetting off on holiday.

There is also easy access to a fast ferry service from neighbouring Poole to the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey.

Supporting an active lifestyle

Dorset is renowned for its amazing walks along the Jurassic Coast and South West Coast, as well as the nearby New Forest.

Jurassic Coast

For the budding athletes in the family, there is a great choice of both council-operated and private gyms and leisure centres dotted all around the town.

Football fans rejoice, as Bournemouth has a very successful (Premier League at the time of writing!) football team, AFC Bournemouth. Up the Cherries!

Green spaces all around

A 1.5-mile stretch of historic Green Flag, grade II listed land, the town’s biggest park is Bournemouth Gardens. Divided into three distinct sections (each with their own unique design and landscaping) and retaining a lot of their Victorian charm, the gardens are home to a large pond, exotic plants and old redwood trees, tennis courts, refreshment kiosks, and a bandstand.

In total, Bournemouth maintains 1000 hectares of wonderful parks and gardens, including the award-winning tropical gardens at Alum Chine, Hengistbury Head (a Green Heritage Site), and Stour Valley Nature Reserve.

Moors Valley, Avon Heath Country Park, and the New Forest are all just a short drive away also.

Something to satisfy even the most discerning of foodies

Bournemouth boasts an exceptional selection of highly rated restaurants, offering cuisines from all around the world. Several restaurants in Bournemouth hold an impressive two AA rosettes: Roots, Arbor Restaurant at the Green House Hotel, Ventana Grand Café at the Cumberland Hotel, and The Crab.

As you would expect from a coastal town, Bournemouth offers a wealth of fresh, delicious seafood. The area is also known for a range of other great produce, including cheeses (think Dorset Blue Vinny), beers and ales (try Southbourne Ales and nearby Ringwood Brewery), and even chillies (get ready to have your socks knocked off by the Dorset Naga!).

Great shopping

Bournemouth town centre is home to plenty of high-street stores, independent boutiques, and Bobby’s department store. As well as the main high street, the nearby areas of Westbourne and Southbourne offer wonderful independent boutiques, charity shops and more, while Charminster and Winton are home to a choice of world food supermarkets that sell Polish, Middle Eastern, Korean and Chinese produce.

Bournemouth town

Castlepoint is a large open-air retail park with free parking, restaurants and coffee shops, as well as a selection of well-known retail chains, supermarkets, and a large M&S with a food hall.

Fun for the whole family

Right in the heart of Bournemouth, the BH2 leisure complex is home to numerous eateries, an Odeon cinema, and fun activities such as Mr Mulligans indoor adventure golf and Centre VR, a virtual reality experience that will captivate people of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a family day out or a great date night spot, BH2 has something for everyone.

Other attractions include the Russell-Cotes Museum & Art Gallery, the pier amusements and zip line, and Bournemouth Oceanarium.

Looking to buy a home in Bournemouth?

Bournemouth beach huts
Bournemouth West Cliff
Bournemouth beach