Visit Swanage a seaside town, on the Jurassic Coast
The coastal town of Swanage is pure nostalgia. Ride a steam train through the countryside to this seaside resort, walk along the Victorian pier and gaze out over Swanage Bay from Durlston Castle.
Situated on the Isle of Purbeck, this fun family resort is ideal for relaxing breaks, walking and exploring the Jurassic Coast.
Swanage is known for its mild weather and unique micro-climate, and during the long days of summer you can really pack more into your visit to Swanage.
Book a relaxing break at any time of the year and you will be able to enjoy fresh air and coastal walks, great local food in restaurants, cafes by the sea and welcoming pubs.
Beside the seaside
Looking for a family friendly beach? The gently sloping, golden sand and clear water are just some of the great reasons that Swanage Beach has been awarded a Blue Flag and Seaside Award. RNLI lifeguards are situated within the bathing zone between May and September, which is the ideal location for your family swim.
Experience some of the south coast’s best weather while strolling along the promenade or why not hire one of the colourful beach huts to make your short break extra relaxing. Paddling in the water, collecting sea shells and building sandcastles is something that children will remember for years to come.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Swanage. Why not join one of our outdoor adventure specialists and have a go at coasteering, abseiling, climbing, paddle-boarding or kayaking?
Or perhaps scuba diving is your hobby? Swanage Bay is a popular dive site for all standards of diver and has several diving schools and boat charter companies for both diving and sea fishing.
Take a day cruise from Swanage Pier to Poole Quay with City Cruises for a scenic tour of the Jurassic Coast and Old Harry Rocks along the way.
Swanage Sea Fishing offer day trips for all ages and abilities. If you've never fished before they'll show you the ropes, plus rod and tackle hire is included in the price, so all you need to bring along with you is your sea legs!
If walking is what you want, the numerous local walking trails are celebrated during the annual Walking Festival. But if you can’t wait until Festival time, you can join a guided walk or let one of our experts plan a walking holiday for you at any time of year.
Our cycle routes cover a variety of distances and abilities, both on and off-road. Bring your own bike or hire one from one of our cycle hire experts.
Whatever the weather Swanage Beach Gardens is great fun and value with putting green, tennis and outdoor bowls. Equipment is available to hire if you haven't brought your own with you.
Catch the picture postcard railway to the seaside with Swanage Railway. Steam trains run through the beautiful Purbeck countryside and past Corfe Castle to the sandy beach of Swanage. Swanage Railway runs mostly thanks to volunteers and is no longer connected to the national rail network. However, during 2023 there is a trial train service linking Wareham to Swanage, meaning day trippers can travel by train all the way to Swanage this year.
Durlston Castle and Country Park is a countryside paradise just 30 minutes walk from Swanage Town Centre with coastal walking, stunning views and amazing wildlife. Don’t miss Durlston Castle Visitor Centre for events and exhibitions.
Swanage Pier is an integral part of the character of Swanage, reflecting its Victorian splendour and rich heritage. Enjoy a stroll with the finest views of Swanage.
Uncover the story of Swanage at Swanage Museum - from dinosaurs and the Jurassic Coast to seaside resort, stone trade and the Second World War.
Sample the local fare in the bistros, sea view restaurants, traditional pubs and tearooms. You’ll find something for every taste.
A firm favourite for visitors is our scrumptious traditional fish and chips. If you are self-catering or day visiting, Swanage offers a range of takeaway food and drink outlets from around the world - offering the best of locally caught fish and fresh Dorset produce.
Make sure you try our freshly caught seafood, handmade fresh chocolate or a scoop or two of ice cream for dessert. Don’t miss the Swanage Fish Festival which takes place every year in June.
Markets and local produce
There’s no need to stock up before arriving as Swanage has independent butchers, bakers, fishmongers and farm shops and well known supermarkets.
There is always a local convenience store or campsite shop just round the corner, but remember to try some of the locally produced food including: chocolate, ice cream, beer and cider and cheese. You won’t be disappointed!
Look out for Dorset Food and Drink and Purbeck Produce logos, so you know that it's been grown or made in Dorset.
Swanage has a town market which takes place every Friday in the main beach car park.
Entertainment day and night
Whatever time of year you visit you will find great entertainment, events and festivals.
For music lovers, the town has a fantastic range of festivals which everyone can enjoy, including Blues and Folk.
The Regatta and Carnival Week offers the lively atmosphere of a Caribbean-style carnival plus spectacular fireworks, music and dancing. The Fish Festival and Pirate Festival are also popular with locals and visitors alike.
Swanage has become a popular destination for sporting events, including marathons, triathlons and walking challenges because of the dramatic scenery.
Exploring the coast and countryside
No visit to Swanage is complete without walking a stretch of the Jurassic Coast. Recognised by UNESCO for its outstanding geology, our coastline is part of England’s only natural World Heritage Site. Along the way, you'll get to see spectacular geological features such as Old Harry Rocks.
Durlston Country Park is a National Nature Reserve and has been voted one of Britain’s favourites. It has spectacular cliff top walks and a Visitor Centre inside the Castle to help you discover the geology of 185 million years of Earth’s history. The Park was established by William Burt who called the area “Nature’s Open Book” - note the stone globe in the Park which has a particular perspective on the size of nations! It can be enjoyed 365 days of the year and highlights include wildflowers, migrating birds and a breath-taking walk to the lighthouse.
Arts by the sea
Many artisans live and work in and around Swanage, selling their creations in the studios, gift shops, galleries and workshops. Art lovers will find sculpture, photography, paintings, pottery, glass jewellery and more. Immerse yourself in a range of creative festivals including the open studios of Purbeck and Dorset Arts Weeks.
Up to the early 19th Century, Swanage was a small fishing port. However, the arrival of the railway meant it developed as a seaside resort and it retains much of its Victorian character to this day.
The Town Hall dates from 1872 and the façade was taken from the Mercere’s Hall in Cheapside London. Swanage became known as ‘little London’ thanks to this and other 'imports' from London made by George Burt, a local business man. Behind the Town Hall is a tiny lock-up of 1802, inscribed “For the Prevention of Vice and Immorality by the Friends of Religion and Good Order”.
The Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre has displays about the town’s quarrying history and about the Jurassic Coast.
Stay in Swanage
Whether you’re looking for a quaint cottage, farm stay, hostel, traditional B&B, posh hotel, lively holiday park or a rustic campsite, we have it covered for you to have a comfortable stay in Swanage. Check availability and book online or contact our Visitor Information Centres for help finding your perfect accommodation.
If camping is more your style, pitch your tent in one of the family friendly campsites in and around Swanage or hire a camping pod or shepherd hut. Most sites also cater for caravans and motorhomes.
Can’t bear to leave your canine friend at home? That’s not a problem as we have many places for you to stay, eat and visit which will welcome your faithful companion.
Download our Visitor Guide
Visiting in winter time
Winter and spring can be a special time for enjoying fresh coastal air and the mild weather. Rain or shine you are sure to have a great visit and never want to leave.
Travelling by car is always accessible and should the ferry not be running from Sandbanks when you visit, simply switch your route to travel via Wareham.
This winter you’ll also be able to travel to Swanage by More Bus on their Purbeck Breezer for just £2 for a single ticket.
Cumulus Outdoors offers unrivalled outdoor experience and a range of outdoor adventure experiences for families and private groups, a range of school residential programmes including field studies,...
Fore / Adventure host two hour taster sessions to three day expeditions for all ages and abilities, getting closer to nature by sea kayak and stand up paddle board and enjoying the fruits of natures...
Located in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck, The Grand Hotel has stunning views across the bay and has direct access from the gardens to the private beach. The Burlington Health Spa and...
Millbrook is a family run B&B that has been providing accommodation to holiday makers and visitors to the area for over one hundred years. We offer modern rooms, with free wi-fi and our own...
Situated on Swanage seafront The Mowlem, cinema, theatre, function rooms and sea view bar offer the perfect entertainment during your visit to Swanage. The refurbished and comfortable auditorium hosts...
We are an independently run, 43 bedroom cliff top hotel, enjoying stunning, panoramic views of Swanage Bay with our own private access to the sandy beach below. Quietly situated close to the South...
The Coast Restaurant is fully air-conditioned with commanding views across Swanage Bay, offering fine dining with exciting and innovative cuisine, using fresh local produce where...
You’ll find us at Studland Bay on the Isle of Purbeck, between Poole and Old Harry Rocks. Purbeck is a quiet landscape of coast, cliffs, heath and woodland, and a haven for wildlife. It’s...
Whatever the weather, take a journey back in time with an enjoyable day of excitement and nostalgia at the award winning Swanage Railway. Sit back and relax during a leisurely trip behind a historic...
What's our speciality? Seafood, ales or cider, scrumptious ice cream and chocolate.
Lots of quirky and independent shops to discover, everything you need for your holiday and more!
Hotels and B&Bs by the sea.
Holiday parks, cosy cottages and apartments by the sea, we have it all.
Boat trips to beach huts. Heritage attractions, nature reserves and the Jurassic Coast.
Swanage is a popular festival destination with an exciting calendar of events throughout the year.
Spend 72 hours in the Isle of Purbeck and have a jolly good time, just like the Famous Five did!
Explore the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Map of Swanage town centre including coach parking information, places of interest, parking and...