Things To See and Do in Swanage

Beaches galore

Looking to soak up the sun on a fabulous sandy beach, or enjoy an invigorating swim with a fantastic view? You are spoilt for choice. 

Swanage beach is one of the main attractions of the town and backed by a promenade lined with amusements and attractions. You can hire a deck chair, pedalo, kayak or sun bed or enjoy a drink or ice cream. Why not hire a beach hut? – you won’t need to take all your gear down to the beach each day! Sit back and relax.

With four miles of golden, sandy beaches and gently sloping waters, nearby Studland Beach offers views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight. To escape the crowds, venture into the heathland nature reserve behind the beach – in summer the heather forms a purple haze and you might be lucky enough to spot one of our six British reptiles – they all live here!

History and heritage

Did you know that local quarried stone was shipped from Swanage seafront to London, where it was used in the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of London?

Why not visit Swanage Heritage Centre and Museum to find out more about this fascinating town which Thomas Hardy named Knollsea. Uncover the story of Swanage from Dinosaurs and the Jurassic Coast to Seaside Resort and the Second World War. If you have ancestors from Swanage, the Museum can also help you to research your family tree.

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.

Experience a unique journey on Swanage Railway which offers you a chance to go back in time to the days of glorious steam and is a picture postcard branch-line to the seaside. Steam trains run for 6 miles, weaving their way through the beautiful Purbeck countryside and past the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle, with stations en-route to enable you explore this unique and historic area.  If you are coming for the day, why not park at Purbeck Park and let the train take the strain as you travel to Swanage?

Wonderful wildlife

If you want to see meadows of cowslips, hear the noise from nesting seabirds, or have the chance of spotting a dolphin swimming past, Durlston Country Park and National Nature Reserve is the place to go! Find out more at the Durlston Castle Visitor Centre.

Durlston Castle located within Durlston Country Park is an extraordinary Victorian building, featuring rooftop views of the coast, a gallery of changing exhibitions, displays for adults and kids, and a café.

Life on the Ocean waves?

Why not admire the stunning countryside, cliffs, beaches and harbour from a boat? For the adventurous, try dingy sailing with the Shell Bay Sailing Centre. Or relax and take a cruise from Swanage Pier along the Jurassic Coast with City Cruises or the Dorset Belle.

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 seafishing. 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!

Pedal around Purbeck

Burn some calories and enjoy the view as you cycle around the countryside!

Bring your own bike or hire bikes from Cycle Experience at Purbeck Park and get out and explore.

The waymarked Rempstone Ride offers a 12 mile, mainly off-road circular route which is great for all the family, and gives glimpses of Poole Harbour and purple heather in the summer. If you want something more challenging, other routes on quiet roads include hills and provide spectacular views!

Adventure holidays

If you want to join with friends for an action-packed adventure holiday, Swanage is a perfect place to come.

Choose from a variety of residential activity centres, and let their experienced staff provide activity days to celebrate that special occasion, or just go for fun!

Try climbing, bushcraft or a high ropes course – the choice is yours! If you are bringing a school group, there are some great accommodation options.

If you enjoy the adrenalin rush of extreme sports, contact one of our many outdoor adventure specialists for coasteering, abseiling, climbing, paddle-boarding or kayaking.

Travel a Trail

Walking is a great way to see the scenery and heritage, and Purbeck has a variety of routes to suit all tastes and ages.

Swanage Seen Art Trail follows the trail of paintings of Swanage by famous artists, while the 3 mile circular Smugglers’ Ways walk explores spectacular sea cliffs and a secretive cove.

The Purbeck Way is a longer route linking Swanage with Corfe Castle and Wareham. Why not walk the Purbeck Way along the chalk ridge, enjoy afternoon tea in Corfe Castle, and catch a bus or steam train back?

If you want a local perspective on the area, why not try a professional guided walk or tour? You will learn more about the world famous coastline and have an experience to remember! Or go Nordic Walking to combine a workout with amazing scenery!

Get active

Enjoy an afternoon at the Swanage Beach Gardens Sports Park, where you can play tennis or basketball or have a go at putting or bowling. All equipment can be hired so you don’t need to bring it on holiday with you!

The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club offers 2 courses with stunning views over Poole Harbour. The Club dates back to 1892 and once owned by Enid Blyton and her husband Dr Darrell-Waters. The courses are set within a nature reserve where many rare plants can be seen as well as rare birds.

If you would rather try your hand at pitch and putt or crazy golf you will also find options to play in Swanage.

Try your hand at carving a stone animal, flower or sculpture at Burngate Stone Carving Centre in nearby Langton Matravers. They offer 2 hour course for adults and children and longer courses for adults.

Find out more about Swanage

Now you know about things to do, find out where to staywhere to eatevents and festivals and interesting shops to discover.

You can also download the Swanage Visitor Guide which includes a town map.

Need extra advice? Contact our Information Centre for helpful information.

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