Europe's largest natural harbour
Visit Poole for harbours, marinas and beautiful beaches
Poole is a bustling tourist resort in the east of Dorset and is well known for Europe’s largest natural harbour, award winning blue flag beaches including the world famous Sandbanks Beach, a bustling quayside and a beautiful historic old town.
Nestled between Bournemouth, the Isle of Purbeck and the Jurassic Coast, Poole is a fantastic base for exploring the rest of Dorset.
Poole's harbour is a haven for sailors, wildlife and watersports and is a gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Poole is also home of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and their training college with hotel and restaurant is located right on the harbours edge.
Explore the treasures of Poole’s historic quayside, delve deep into the heart of the old town where sea captains and pirates once stood and immerse yourself in Poole’s fascinating history. Poole Museum, the Cockle Trail guided walk, treasure hunt and Poole Trail interpretation panels will help unravel Poole’s past for explorers young and old!
Things to see and do in Poole
Why not take to the water and enjoy some amazing watersport facilities. Poole Harbour’s safe, shallow waters are ideal for trying one of over 25 water based activities. Try your hand at windsurfing, sailing, a powerboat ride or you could try catching your own dinner on a chartered fishing trip.
Poole’s traditional working Quay is the gateway to its stunning harbour and islands. A great place to sit back and relax in one of the many cafés and bars on the waterside, watching ships, fishing boats and luxury Sunseeker yachts leave the harbour. You could also hop on a Condor Ferry from the nearby port for a day trip to Guernsey.
Just a short walk from Poole Quay is beautiful Poole Park, offering activities for everyone including water sports on the lake, crazy golf, Poole Park railway, soft play, ice rink and play areas.
The largest arts centre outside London, The Lighthouse always has a great line up of live shows, theatre, events and exhibitions for culture lovers.
Sports lovers will not be disappointed, have a night out with friends at the greyhound racing track or get the adrenaline going watching the Poole Pirates speedway both at Poole Stadium in the Town Centre.
And just outside the town is Tower Park Entertainment Centre - with ten pin bowling, American Pool, Cineworld Cinema, Gala Bingo, Splashdown Waterpark and a whole load of restaurants. It's family fun all round.
Harbour and peninsular
Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world (Sydney, Australia being the largest).
The best views and photo opportunities can be observed from the water. There are also plenty of opportunities from Poole Quay and Sandbanks Jetty to jump on a boat trip for an enjoyable cruise around the harbour or across to the National Trust's Brownsea Island - the largest of the harbour islands, home of the scouting movement and a variety of wildlife, including the rare red squirrel.
Poole Quay Boat Haven is a modern, purpose built haven, conveniently situated at the eastern end of Poole Town Quay, comprising of 125 fully serviced berths for visitors, with modern facilities available on the quay and the restaurants, bars and town within walking distance.
You can travel around Poole Harbour and beyond on the Purbeck Breezer buses, which are open top during the summer months. You'll get great views from the top deck across the harbour, so just sit back while someone else does the driving.
When arriving in Dorset by ferry from the Channel Islands or France, Poole offers a warm welcome and is the ideal place to start your holiday before travelling around Dorset and the South West of England.
With Poole’s natural coastal setting, you will find plenty of superb beachside and waterfront takeaways, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars - making it a great place to relax with family and friends.
If you want to treat yourself, head over to the exclusive area of Sandbanks where you will find one of Rick Stein’s restaurants along with other independent eateries all offering delicious food and drink.
But it’s not all about the coast. There are some fantastic places to eat out in Poole Old Town, on the High Street and in the urban villages of Ashley Cross, Penn Hill and Canford Cliffs.
There are 3 inter-connecting shopping areas in Poole town centre – the indoor Dolphin Shopping Centre, Poole’s traditional High Street and Poole Quay. They are easily walkable and will take about 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other.
The Dolphin Centre is one of Dorset’s indoor shopping centres – great for rainy days. You’ll find lots of well-known high street brands selling everything from clothing and jewellery to shoes and gifts. You’ll also find a range of cafes to take a coffee break or stop for lunch.
Head outside onto the pedestrianised High Street for a mix of all your favourite shops alongside small, independent retailers.
At the end of the High Street, you’ll find yourself in Poole’ s Old Town which leads onto the waterfront at Poole Quay. There are gift shops galore here and plenty of pubs and cafes to take a break from shopping.
Events and festivals in Poole
Check our what's on calendar to find out the dates for the popular Wave 105 Summertime in the South events programme, including Summer Breeze on the Quay. Live music, family entertainment and a magnificent fireworks displays every Thursday in the summer holidays.
Other highlights of Poole's events season includes the weekly Dream Machines bike event held every Tuesday from April to September. It is Europe’s biggest and best motor cycle event.
Are you a car enthusiast? Friday nights in July and August is Quay for my Car night on Poole Quay A different marque of car every week where enthusiasts gather and share their pride and joy with spectators.
Poole Harbour Boat Show is becoming a well respected event on every boat lovers calendar and takes place in May
The best of beach sporting events happen in July with Beach Volley Ball and then British Beach Polo Championships.
You will find an event happening to suit your taste throughout the year from live, music, arts festivals and open-air theatre to pirate days, folk festivals and blues festivals
Stay a while
Looking for accommodation? Poole has a full range of excellent places to stay during your holiday, from modern chain hotels and cosy B&Bs to independent townhouse hotels - some are found in luxury seafront locations.! Sometimes you may prefer to have a self-catering break and we have it covered with everything from modern quayside apartments to lodges on family friendly holiday parks and campsites.
Find out more about Poole...
Poole is such an exciting holiday location, we definitely recommend you staying for a while so you can enjoy all Poole has to offer!
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Poole is a resort for all seasons and the perfect choice for making unforgettable holiday memories.
From traditional quayside pubs to seafood restaurants and trendy bistros, you are spoilt for choice in Poole.
Whatever the weather, Poole's indoor and outdoor shopping areas are great finding that perfect holiday souvenir.
From big hotels and lively holiday parks to cosy B&Bs and family run campsites, there is plenty of choice in Poole.
Poole has a vibrant and exciting events calendar, from concerts and shows to popular annual quayside events.
Ideas for an overnight stay in Sandbanks.
Including ideas and inspiration and a map.
Map of Poole town centre, Poole Quay and Sandbanks including parking, coach parking, toilets and...
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