The ping of penny machines on the pier, the squawk of seagulls, the nostalgic scent of fish and chips permeating the fresh seaside air; if you’re looking for the quintessential British seaside escape then you can’t get much better than Bournemouth. But just like any beach break in Britain, you have to untangle some tat and sift some stodge to get to the really good stuff. Well, we’re here to help, with these; our 6 IDEAL things to do on your weekend away in Bournemouth.

FEAST ON THE LOCAL FISH

If you’re this close to the sea, where the fish is that little bit brighter, fresher and more delicious, you’ve just got to indulge. With a prime position on the sand and skimming stone’s throw away from the pier, West Beach is reputedly the best restaurant in Bournemouth and with good reason. Specialising in locally sourced seafood and serving up daily catches, the menu reads like a seafood lover’s dream. The atmospheric, glass-fronted building with folding doors that open onto a beachfront terrace is the perfect environment to enjoy the ocean’s bounty. Indeed, who needs Heston’s Sound of the Sea when you’ve got this?

Should that not satisfy your fish fix, there’s also Arbour restaurant. Located in an eco-friendly (they keep their own honey bees on the roof and the kitchen uses low energy induction cookers) hotel and boasting 2 AA Rosettes, it’s all about seasonal, sustainable, local ingredients here. Also good is Urban Reef, particularly for lunch, with its sundeck right on the promenade offering panoramic views of the Boscombe Bay.

© WestBeach Facebook© WestBeach Facebook

HIT THE TOWN

There’s a reason why Bournemouth attracts so many stag and hen dos; it boasts a bright, breezy and vibrant nightlife. While the city’s bar and nightclub scene is constantly changing and evolving, making it hard to keep up with where’s hip and trendy, there are certain pockets where it will always be busy. Most of the top nightlife spots are right in the centre and The Triangle (often referred to as the Gay Village) is home to a great LGBTQ+ scene.

If you’re looking for somewhere on the seafront then it’s got to be Aruba – by day families, tourists and locals come here to enjoy the chilled out vibes and food, come nightfall the music gets turned up a few notches and the dancing begins. The cocktails here are fantastic, especially their frozen strawberry daiquiri; refreshing and downright delicious.

© Aruba

GIGS GALORE

Bournemouth is home to three major concert venues, the Pavilion Theatre, BIC,and O2 Academy. For a city of its relative small size, it attracts some huge international names. Christine & The Queens and Madness both performed sold-out, critically acclaimed shows recently and next month sees both Bryan Adams and Shakin’ Stevens playing in the city.

WANDER AROUND THE UPPER, CENTRAL & LOWER GARDENS

Running between Bournemouth’s square and the sea, the award-winning Upper, Central and Lower Gardens are one of the most charming things about Bournemouth. Listed Grade II and retaining much of their original character, these gardens are the ideal place to take a stroll and appreciate Victorian inspired fauna and flora. During the summer months, the Lower Gardens, home to a bandstand, hosts concerts and throughout the year holds other events like candlelight nights and art exhibitions. There’s also a mini-golf and a giant tethered balloon in the lower gardens. Something for everyone, we think.

ENJOY PIER APPROACH & THE BEACH

Recently regenerated in 2018, Pier Approach is the gateway from Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens to the seafront, and is a stretch that most visitors to the city will likely step on during their time in the city. Last year saw the completion of a regeneration project which has made the approach a thriving destination in its own right; its big wheel offers sensational scenes of beach and town in the daytime and makes for a romantic ride when the sun is about to set.

Speaking of beaches, Bournemouth’s was crowned the U.K’s best at this year’s TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards. Offering a seven-mile stretch of soft golden sand, combined with swimmer-friendly waters and the fact that Bournemouth gets warmer weather than most of the UK, it’s one of the top places in Britain to enjoy the sand, sea and surf.

VISIT THE RUSSELL-COTES ART GALLERY & MUSEUM

With all this talk of sea, sand and silliness, you might think Bournemouth has little to offer in the cultural department. You’d be wrong. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is home not only to biannual exhibitions and the impressive, unique art collection of Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, but it’s also a fine, striking piece of architecture to boot. Designed by the architect John Frederick Fogerty, the building is part seaside villa, part tropical garden, both of which house stunning marble and bronze sculpture, painting and, of course, fantastic views of the sea.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.