Bournemouth location guide

Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast; its location has made it a popular destination for tourists since Victorian times, attracting over five million visitors annually with its beautiful beaches and popular night life. The town is also a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). The borough has two piers: Bournemouth Pier, close to the town centre, and the shorter but architecturally more important Boscombe Pier. The promenade runs continuously along the Bournemouth and Poole shoreline. Bournemouth has a large university population and many language school students making it a vibrant and lively place to live and work with its many clubs, bars and restaurants located within the town centre.


Bournemouth is a tourist and regional centre for leisure, entertainment, culture and recreation with a thriving youth culture due to its large university population and many language school students. It has become a popular night life destination with UK visitors and in a 2007 a survey by First Direct, Bournemouth was found to be the happiest place in the UK, with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their lives.

Bournemouth is a major venue for concerts hosted at the BIC, Pavilion Theatre and O2 Academy. Bournemouth has four art galleries displaying paintings by popular artists. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1893 under Dan Godfrey, it became the first municipal orchestra in the country.

Bournemouth is currently host to a number of festivals including:

  • The Bournemouth Food and Drink Festival is a ten-day event which combines a market with live cookery demonstrations
  • The Arts by the Sea Festival is a mix of dance, film, theatre, literature, and music which was launched in 2012 by The Arts University Bournemouth.
  • The Bourne Free carnival is held in the town each year during the summer, initially a gay pride festival, it has become a celebration of diversity and inclusion
  • Since 2008, Bournemouth has held its own air Festival over four days in August attracting up to a million people over the four-day event

Bournemouth has two universities: Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth. In addition to some of the best local authority schools in the south west, it has language schools attracting many overseas students.


The town centre has many notable buildings including:

  • The Russell-Cotes Museum, a Grade II* listed villa, housing some fascinating artefacts and paintings
  • The Pavilion Theatre built in the Art Deco style in 1929 and situated close to the seafront, was at the time considered to be the greatest ever municipal enterprise for the benefit of entertainment. Built from brick and stone, the frontage features square Corinthian columns
  • The great glass Palm House known as the Winter Gardens
  • Bournemouth has three Grade 1 listed churches, St Peter's and St Stephen's in the town centre and St Clemment's in Boscombe. St Peter's Church’s has a 62 meter spire


As you would expect, with Bournemouth’s leisure heritage you will find many attractions in the area in addition to the beaches and sea, including:

  • The Lower, Central and Upper Gardens are Grade II* public parks, leading for several miles down the valley of the River Bourne through the centre of the town to the sea
  • The Bournemouth Eye, a helium-filled balloon with an enclosed steel gondola and attached to a steel cable in the town's lower gardens, it rises to a height of 150 m providing a panoramic view of the surrounding area
  • The famous Winter Garden
  • Promenade stretching along the sea front from Bournemouth to Poole
  • 2 Victorian Piers being iconic landmarks of the town


Tourism is important to the local economy with National and overseas visitors making over 5.6 million trips to the town a year and spending in the region of £460 million between them. Bournemouth seafront is one of the UK's biggest attractions with 4.5 million visitors a year.

With a third of all town centre businesses in the leisure industry, Bournemouth has a booming night life economy and is a popular destination for stag and hen parties In 2010 the town was awarded a Purple Flag for providing a wide variety of night-time activities while maintaining the safety of both residents and visitors.


Bournemouth has mostly pedestrianised shopping streets with modern shopping malls, Victorian arcades and a large selection of bars, clubs and cafés. North of the centre there is an out-of-town shopping complex called Castlepoint.


  • The town has a professional football club, AFC Bournemouth, known as the ‘Cherries’
  • Bournemouth Rugby Club competes in the National League division, has its home is at the Bournemouth Sports Club
  • The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) has become a venue for a round of the Premier League Darts Championship
  • The town has the Westover and Bournemouth Rowing Club which is reported to be the oldest sporting association in the county
  • Sailing is a popular sport in the region with a number of local sailing schools for the beginner to learn
  • Bournemouth has the third largest community of surfers in the UK and in 2009 an artificial surf reef, one of only four in the world, was constructed here


The principal route to the town centre is the A338, a dual carriageway that connects to the A31 and thereafter joins to the M27 at Southampton. National Express coaches serve Bournemouth Travel Interchange and Bournemouth University. There are frequent departures to London, Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Local buses provide a good means of getting around the area and there are two railway stations in the town the Bournemouth railway station and the Pokesdown railway station.

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