Heritage & Culture in Swanage

Swanage offers not only breathtaking natural beauty but also a rich heritage and culture that's waiting to be discovered.  

Whether you're a history enthusiast, a lover of traditional British seaside culture or simply seeking a peaceful coastal getaway, Swanage offers a unique blend of heritage and culture that's bound to leave you with cherished memories. 

Come and explore the captivating history, thriving arts scene and traditional seaside charm that define this delightful town. 

Swanage is also one of the few seaside towns to host the iconic Punch & Judy puppet show every Summer on the beach to entertain young and old alike. 

A glimpse of Swanage's history 

Swanage's history is deeply rooted in its geological heritage. The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretches along this coast, providing a window into the Earth's past. Here, you can witness millions of years of history etched into the dramatic rock formations along the coastline.  

The stone trade has always been significant to Swanage, dating back to the 1st century AD. Purbeck Stone is used in buildings across the country and London. The stone boats returned from the city with cast iron bollards, relics and monuments as ballast, which can still be found in Swanage today. 

Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre is a treasure trove of information about the town's past. From the Stone Age to the Victorian era and the development of Swanage as a seaside resort, the museum provides a fascinating insight into the town's evolution. 

Durlston Country Park and National Nature Reserve is a fantastic place to begin your journey through time. Discover stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, exciting events and Victorian history as you explore one of the gateways to the Jurassic Coast. 

Swanage's cultural scene 

Swanage isn't just a place of historical significance; it's a thriving cultural hub. The town is home to numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the fabulous annual Carnival with its parade, fireworks and daily events throughout a week of family entertainment. 

The Swanage Jazz Festival, Folk Festival and Blues Festival are just a few examples of the vibrant cultural scene that enriches the town every year. 

If you're a fan of the arts, don't miss out on the chance to visit the Mowlem Theatre and Cinema which hosts a wide range of performances to suit all ages. 

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 much more.  

Immerse yourself in a range of creative festivals including the open studios at the annual Purbeck Art Weeks and biennial Dorset Arts Weeks

Take a journey back in time 

Enjoy a day of excitement and nostalgia with a trip on the Swanage heritage steam railway

A trip on a steam locomotive will take you through the beautiful Purbeck countryside where you’ll be treated with stunning views, including travelling past the iconic ruins of Corfe Castle, built in a gap in the Purbeck Hills. 

Discover traditional seaside charm 

Swanage is a quintessential British seaside town. With its golden sandy beaches, Victorian architecture and charming promenade, it's the perfect place to enjoy the timeless pleasures of a traditional seaside holiday.  

Swanage Pier, originally constructed in 1896, is a picturesque landmark and a fantastic spot for leisurely strolls or fishing.  

Take a gentle walk along the promenade next to the beach, breathe in the salty sea air and indulge in classic seaside treats like fish and chips or ice cream from one of the many independent restaurants and cafés. 

Alternatively, treat yourself to a touch of nostalgia by making up a picnic hamper and enjoy your sandwiches on the sand! 

More to see and do...

Things To Do

Heritage attractions, watersports, walking trails and beaches are all on offer in Swanage.

Stargazing

Swanage is the only town in Dorset to have its own Astronomy Centre and Observatory.

Where to Stay

For all budgets and requirements, there's a holiday accommodation in Swanage to suit.

What's On

There's a packed events programme throughout the whole year in Swanage.