Things to See and Do in Swanage

From nostalgic steam train rides and promenading on the pier to stargazing and theatre shows, this coastal town offers plenty of things to see and do all year round. 

Attractions and activities 

No matter your age, budget or fitness level, you’ll find a great selection of fantastic visitor attractions and activities in Swanage. 

Whether you’re looking for something family friendly or where dogs are welcome and want to stay on dry land or get your toes wet, we’re sure you’ll have a brilliant day out. 

Being a traditional Victorian seaside resort, the town’s heritage attractions transport you back in time to a bygone era. And bringing you back to the present are the bright lights of the amusement arcades and irresistible aroma of fish and chips! 


Swanage’s popular and well-loved golden sandy beach has been the playground of families for generations. 

The gently sloping shore and soft sand make it safe and fun for little ones. There’s a designated bathing zone for swimmers and those wanting to venture out onto the water can hire a pedalo off the beach. 

Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten to bring a deckchair, windbreak or parasol as you can hire one when you arrive. Beach huts are also available to hire for the day, week or longer. 

Markets and shopping 

The main shopping area is just a few minutes' walk from the seafront. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Swanage’s eclectic and interesting independent shops. From clothing and jewellery to art and gifts – it’s all here. 

The town market is every Friday from 8am until 1pm at the main beach car park. Pick up a bargain or stop by for some groceries and chat to the friendly stallholders. 


No matter if you’re a total beginner or already interested in astronomy, you can join one of the regular stargazing events up at Durlston Country Park's astronomy centre and observatory. 

You will get the chance to view constellations, planets and meteor showers through telescopes, as well as hear from the experts about our galaxy and the universe. 

Events and festivals

All throughout the year, there are events and festivals taking place in the town and surrounding villages. 

From music and seafood to folk and pirates, there’s a festival for everyone. 

The highlight of the event calendar is the annual Swanage Carnival and Regatta week which takes place at the end of July. With lots of fun for all ages, there’s also a traditional carnival parade as well as evening firework displays. 

Things to do in the surrounding area

If you want to venture a little further out of town, the nearby villages of Studland, Langton Matravers, Worth Matravers and Corfe Castle are easily reached by public transport, on foot or by car. 

Each is picturesque and has their own charm, making for a great day out exploring the local area

Attraction & Activityhighlights

Cumulus Outdoor Adventure

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,...

Swanage Railway

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...

The Mowlem Theatre, Cinema and The Showbar

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...

Dorset Safari

Enjoy a guided 4x4 safari across the stunning Purbeck Hills & Jurassic Coast in our customised Land Rover Defender. OUR CLASSIC JURASSIC COAST & PURBECK HILLS SAFARI – 4 HOURS This...

Swanage Sea Fishing

Deep Sea Wreck Inshore Mackerel, Cod & Bass Trips Sightseeing Corporate Events & Competitions Singles & Private Charters Self Led Geography Trips  San Gina, San Gina II and Three...

Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre

The Museum and Heritage Centre contains information on the history, geology and geography of the town and surrounding area. Educational packs are available and talks can be given. There is also a...

Swanage Pier

Swanage Pier looks as glorious today as it would have done over 100 years ago and is an essential part of Swanage’s unique Victorian heritage. Situated at the eastern end of Dorset’s World...

City Cruises Poole Departing Swanage Pier

City Cruises operate daily from Swanage Pier and Poole Quay. From Swanage, we offer either a cruise along the Jurassic Coast or a trip through Poole Harbour to the town of...

Out and Aboutin Swanage

Attractions and Activities

From heritage attractions and crazy golf to sea fishing and diving, whether on land or at sea, there's lots to do...

Walking and Trails

There are many coastal and countryside walking trails to follow in Swanage.


The award-winning central beach is Swanage's pride and joy - great for a walk at any time of year.

Markets and Shopping

As well as lots of small, independent shops, there's also a weekly market in Swanage every Friday.

Things To Do Nearby

There are many small villages nearby to Swanage which can easily be reached on foot, bike, car, bus or train.

We handrawn heart Stargazing


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

More to see and do...

Family Friendly

Kids of all ages will love the family friendly attractions and activities on offer.

Accessible Swanage

There are many attractions and places to visit in Swanage which are accessible to all.

Group Travel

Coach parties, educational visits, walking groups and more are welcome in Swanage.