Are you looking for the best day trips from Bournemouth? Here’s a full list of places to visit around the Dorset town.
Basking on the south coast of England, Bournemouth’s a thriving hub of holiday charm and golden beaches.
But this south coast town’s strategic position means that there are tonnes of places to visit around Bournemouth.
At the meeting point of the English Channel’s waves to the south and the rolling English countryside, Bournemouth’s a springboard for day excursions spanning various counties and regions.
One day, you might attempt to decode the ancient enigma of Stonehenge (good luck!) and the next, you could be navigating the verdant expanses of the New Forest.
From Bournemouth, you can day trip to Salisbury’s imposing gothic cathedral or take a road trip along the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast.
I live nearby in East Devon, so I’ve visited all of these Bournemouth day trip locations numerous times! So let’s dig in – here are all the best things to do near Bournemouth.
What are the best Bournemouth day trips?
Bournemouth’s surrounded by a wealth of day-trip-worthy destinations.
The surrounding counties and regions encompass a wealth of cities, towns, parks and attractions.
The best day trips from Bournemouth include:
- Salisbury: This quintessentially English city charms visitors with its magnificent cathedral and the ancient wonder of Old Sarum.
- Stonehenge: The mystery-laden prehistoric monument is a must-see. Is it a calendar? An ancient healing centre? You decide.
- New Forest National Park: A vast expanse of ancient woodland and open moors, perfect for wildlife spotting and outdoor activities.
- Bath: This city is a showcase of stunning Georgian architecture and the world-renowned Roman Baths.
- Jurassic Coast: A natural UNESCO World Heritage site that spans 185 million years of Earth’s history. You’ll need more than one day trip to see it all!
- Winchester: A city steeped in history, home to one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and the legendary Round Table.
- Portsmouth: A vibrant waterfront city with a strong naval history. The Historic Dockyard is a must-visit.
- Isle of Wight: A beautiful island with sandy beaches, charming coastal villages, and the famous Needles.
- London: While most tourists to Bournemouth will have already been to London, it is possible as a day trip destination. The British capital needs no introduction, but if you do visit, make sure you check out Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London – and some of the best free things to do in London too!
So, let’s go into them in a bit more detail!
Best day trips from Bournemouth
Here’s a detailed description of all of my favourite Bournemouth day trips!
As the town of Bournemouth fades into the rearview mirror, the rolling Wiltshire countryside takes centre stage.
About an hour’s drive away, Salisbury, steeped in ancient history yet thriving with contemporary energy, awaits your arrival.
Salisbury is perhaps most famous for its grand cathedral, a beacon of English Gothic architecture.
With the tallest spire in Britain, the cathedral punctuates the city’s skyline.
And if its striking façade isn’t enough, the cathedral also houses the world’s oldest working clock and an original copy of the Magna Carta.
Just outside sits Cathedral Close, a tranquil green space perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Venture beyond the cathedral and you’ll discover a bustling city teeming with independent shops, traditional pubs, and an exciting arts scene.
Explore the charming streets lined with historic timbered buildings, pop into the Salisbury Museum or catch a show at Salisbury Playhouse.
How to get there
Salisbury is a 45-minute drive from Bournemouth via the A338.
To get there by public transport, take a train to Southampton (35 minutes) and then connect to one for Salisbury (40 minutes).
There’s also a direct bus – the X3 – but this takes one hour 20 minutes!
While you’re in Wiltshire, head to one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries: Stonehenge (you could do this as a combined day trip with Salisbury, or visit it independently on another day).
Located just a stone’s throw away (pun absolutely intended) from Salisbury, this iconic landmark leaves visitors pondering over its origins and purpose.
Constructed somewhere between 3000 and 2000 BC, Stonehenge is a testament to the engineering prowess of our Neolithic ancestors.
Its collection of mammoth standing stones, carefully arranged in a circular formation, casts a silhouette against the sky that has enthralled the human imagination for centuries.
The sense of mystery is palpable as you wander around this ancient site – and your questions will definitely outnumber your answers!
Was it a temple, a burial ground, a celestial calendar, or perhaps all of the above?
We may never know.
But that’s part of the charm that makes Stonehenge so irresistibly intriguing.
The Stonehenge Visitor Centre offers some theories to the answers – although, of course, there are no real answers.
While Stonehenge is certainly the poster child for Neolithic stone circles in South West England, there are others nearby too.
It’s well worth visiting Woodhenge (just an eight-minute drive away), and if you’re really fascinated by ancient British history, Avebury Stone Circle is around a 40-minute journey.
If you’re thinking of joining either, it’s well worth doing so BEFORE visiting Stonehenge, as entry is costly!
Check out my English Heritage vs. National Trust membership post to decide which is best for you.
Apologies for the oversight. Let’s correct that.
How to get there
Driving from Bournemouth to Stonehenge takes approximately 1 hour, depending on traffic. You can use the A338 and A360 roads for the fastest route.
Alternatively, take a train from Bournemouth to Southampton (approximately 35 minutes) and then change to Salisbury (about 40 minutes).
Then, take the Stonehenge bus which departs regularly from Salisbury station and goes directly to Stonehenge.
An easy day or half-day trip from Bournemouth, Blandford Forum is just a 30 minute drive away.
Set along the banks of the River Stour, in Blandford Georgian architecture and a friendly small-town atmosphere combine.
Blandford’s claim to fame is its remarkably well-preserved Georgian architecture, best appreciated by taking a leisurely stroll through its historic town centre.
Visit Dorset calls it the “most complete, small Georgian town in England”.
Keep an eye out for the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul and the eye-catching frontage of the Corn Exchange.
And if you’re visiting on a Thursday or Saturday, don’t miss the local market which offers a variety of fresh produce and handmade crafts.
How to get there
Blandford Forum is just a 30-minute drive from Bournemouth via the A350.
Public transport options are also available. The X8 bus service runs from nearby Poole to Blandford Forum regularly, and the journey takes just over an hour.
New Forest National Park
Trade Bournemouth’s coastline for the verdant, rejuvenating tranquillity of New Forest National Park.
This haven is just a brief drive away from the coastal town, making it one of the easiest day trips from Bournemouth.
There’s something intoxicating about the New Forest, with its primaeval woodland, open moors, and free-roaming wildlife.
This isn’t a manicured, landscaped park – it’s raw, it’s wild, and it’s enchanting.
Lose yourself amidst the ancient trees, keeping an eye out for the iconic New Forest ponies that call this place home.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot a shy deer or two darting through the undergrowth!
Once you’ve explored on two feet, there’s a wealth of other outdoor activities.
Hire a bike and pedal your way along the scenic forest trails or try your hand at horse riding.
As the day draws to a close, refuel at one of the local pubs or eateries, where fresh, locally sourced produce takes centre stage. The Royal Oak in Fritham is a popular choice.
Savouring a hearty meal with the sounds of the forest as your dinner music, you’ll find that food simply tastes better in the New Forest!
How to get there
New Forest is only a 30-minute drive from Bournemouth via the A35.
If you’re looking to take public transport, you can take a train to Southampton (35 minutes) and then the number 6 bus to Lyndhurst (40 minutes), one of the main villages in the New Forest.
The Jurassic Coast
One of the best day trips from Bournemouth, parts of the Jurassic Coast sit just a half-hour drive away.
The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretches 95 miles from East Devon to Dorset, and travelling along it provides a tangible journey over 185 million years through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
This stretch of coast boasts some of England’s most iconic natural landmarks, from the rugged Old Harry Rocks (the official start of the coast, near Dorset), to the near-perfectly conical Lulworth Cove and the nearby natural arch of Durdle Door.
The East Devon section is older, with the cliffs by Orcombe Point (near Exmouth, which is where I live!) dating up to 250 million years. However, this section’s about a two-hour drive from Bournemouth – so you might choose to stick to the Dorset area.
The whole cost is part of the 630-mile-long South West Coast Path.
And as you explore, keep an eye out for the fossils that the area is renowned for. It’s not every day that you get to see a 185-million-year-old ammonite, after all!
Don’t have a car? No problem!
There are a few day trips that depart Bournemouth for the Jurassic Coast. Click through to read about the following:
- Full-day Jurassic Coast tour from Bournemouth: taking 10 hours, this tour visits highlights like Corfe Castle, Durlstone Castle, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.
- Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door trip from Bournemouth: this six-hour trip is a more condensed journey to some of the Jurassic Coast’s highlights.
- Boat trip from Poole to Swanage: Departing nearby Poole, this boat trip takes in Old Harry’s Rocks and Studland Bay, along with the resort town of Swanage.
How to get there
If you’re not doing a day tour, drive or take a bus to Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay.
It’s approximately a 45-minute drive via the B3065, which includes a short ride on the Sandbanks Ferry.
If you’re taking public transport, the Breezer 50 bus service runs from Bournemouth to Studland Bay regularly, and also uses the Sandbanks Ferry!
For a drive to Durdle Door, you’re looking at just under an hour via the A351 from Bournemouth.
Public transport’s possible too – you’ll need to take the train to Wool, and then hop on the X50 Jurassic Coaster bus or bus number 30 to Durdle Door.
Is history your thing? Head to Winchester, a historic capital less than an hour’s drive away.
This ancient city was once the capital of Wessex, and its rich history is tangible in the form of its stunning cathedral, medieval streets and, of course, the legendary King Arthur’s Round Table.
Winchester Cathedral, the world’s longest, dominates the cityscape with its imposing structure and intricate carvings.
It’s not just an architectural marvel, but also the final resting place of some notable figures, including Jane Austen.
Take a stroll along the majestic High Street, explore the ruins of Wolvesey Castle, and don’t forget to visit the Great Hall – home to the legendary Round Table.
Spoiler alert: it’s not round, and King Arthur probably never used it, but it’s an impressive sight nonetheless!
How to get there
Driving from Bournemouth to Winchester takes approximately 45 minutes via the M27.
If you’re taking public transport, direct trains connect Bournemouth and Winchester, also taking around 45 minutes.
The AONB of Cranborne Chase is known for its rolling hills, wildflower meadows, ancient woodland, and quaint villages.
Cranborne Chase is crisscrossed by numerous walking trails, offering viewpoints and plenty of picnic spots.
Are you a history buff? There’s a wealth of archaeological sites, including the Iron Age hillfort at Badbury Rings and the intriguing Neolithic henge at Knowlton Church.
The eponymous Cranborne village, with its charming thatched cottages, ancient manor and delightful gardens, is well worth a visit too.
How to get there
Driving is the most practical way to get to Cranborne Chase from Bournemouth, and it will take about 40 minutes.
Public transport to this area is limited due to its rural nature.
However, you can take the X8 bus to Blandford Forum and then a local taxi to reach Cranborne Chase.
Drive east from Bournemouth and you’ll find the vibrant waterfront city of Portsmouth.
This city encompasses a rich naval history that seeps from every cobblestone.
The Mary Rose Museum, housing the remarkably preserved Tudor ship and her artefacts, provides a unique glimpse into life on board a 16th-century warship.
Portsmouth isn’t just about historic ships, though.
The Spinnaker Tower, a soaring emblem of modern Portsmouth, offers panoramic views over the city, harbour and, on a clear day, far out into the English Channel.
If you fancy an adrenaline kick, brave the Sky Walk with its glass floor – a 100 metres above sea level experience.
How to get there
Portsmouth is approximately a 1-hour drive from Bournemouth via the A338 and M27.
By public transport, direct trains from Bournemouth to Portsmouth require a change in Southampton and take around 1.5 hours.
Isle of Wight
Fancy a trip to one of the UK’s most beloved islands?
Check out the Isle of Wight, just a short ferry ride from nearby Lymington.
The island’s natural beauty is its biggest draw.
Think sweeping sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, charming coastal villages and a pace of life that’s just that little bit slower.
There’s a plethora of walking and cycling trails, and if you fancy getting out on the water, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.
No visit to the Isle of Wight would be complete without a trip to the Needles, one of the best Isle of Wight attractions.
These three distinctive chalk stacks jutting out of the sea are best viewed from the chairlift at Alum Bay.
If history’s more your thing, check out Osborne House, which was Queen Victoria’s summer home (and features in the period drama Victoria) or the striking Carisbrooke Castle.
How to get there
You can drive to Lymington (about 40 minutes away from Bournemouth) where you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight.
The ferry ride itself will take 40 minutes.
Or, you can take a train to Lymington Pier (you’ll need to change at Brockenhurst) and then catch the ferry to the Isle of Wight.
No UK trip is complete without visiting the iconic city of Bath, and if you’re on a holiday in Bournemouth, this grand city is only a 90-minute drive away.
Bath is a city straight out of a Jane Austen novel (quite literally, as she lived here for a time!).
Its honey-coloured Georgian buildings, elegant crescents, and stunning Royal Victoria Park come together to form the legendary cityscape that’s graced TV screens in Bridgerton and encapsulated visitors time and time again.
The pièce de résistance, of course, is the Roman Baths; not just an ancient spa complex, but also a pillar of Roman society.
And of course, no trip to Bath would be complete without a visit to the iconic Bath Abbey (which is where the first king of all of England was crowned) and the sweeping Royal Crescent (which you’ll recognise if you’re a Bridgerton fan!).
Once you’re done exploring, why not do as the Romans did and take a dip in one of the city’s modern spa facilities?
After all, you’re in Bath – it’s practically obligatory!
Soaking in the warm thermal waters, you’ll understand why Bath has been a wellness destination for millennia.
If you’re visiting Bournemouth when it’s raining, a day trip to Bath may be a good idea.
Firstly because there are a lot of indoor attractions here, and also because it’s a decent drive away – so the weather may well be better in Somerset!
How to get there
Bath is around a 2-hour drive from Bournemouth, leading through the Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset countryside.
For public transport, trains run from Bournemouth to Bath Spa with one change at Southampton Central. The journey generally takes around 2 hours 15 minutes.
What to Consider When Planning a Day Trip
When you’re planning an excursion from Bournemouth, there are a few important things to remember! Here’s our full checklist to ensure that you don’t forget anything:
Choose your transport
You may have driven down to Bournemouth and have your car with you – and all of these day trips are accessible by road (you can even take your car on the Isle of Wight ferry).
However, for some of them, I would advise looking at public transport.
For example, Winchester is easily accessible by rail, and taking the train means that you won’t have to worry about parking.
Don’t have your car with you? Choose public transport-friendly day trips, hire a car, or check out Get Your Guide for guided trips.
Season and weather considerations
As a seasoned (pun intended) British holiday-goer, take it from me – the weather in the UK can be somewhat… unpredictable.
Check the forecast before you head out, and bring a light raincoat or umbrella just in case the heavens decide to open.
There’s nothing worse than being out on a day trip and not having the right clothes!
Day trip essentials
Here’s what I pack on all day trips around the UK.
If you’ve forgotten any of these, you can click on the item name to purchase it on Amazon.
- power bank with lead
- day pack – I love Osprey bags and use this one
- refillable water bottle – I use chilly’s bottles which keep my drinks cold all day
- rain jacket
- extra layer of clothes
Expand your Bournemouth holiday with these day trips!
Ranging from Stonehenge’s timeless mystique to Portsmouth’s contemporary marvels, these Bournemouth day trips help you to fully explore and appreciate this part of England.