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The coastal resort town of Bournemouth in West Country England is a popular tourist destination thanks to its vibrant nightlife, day spas, seven miles of beautiful beach and fun water sports. It has plenty of attractions and landmarks, including the Bournemouth Eye, Saint Peter’s Church, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum and the famous Bournemouth Pier, but its key location also makes it an appealing destination for exploring the rest of the region. Castles, seaside cliffs, forests and cathedrals are less than an hour’s drive away. With a car rental, you can drive along the coast and into the picturesque countryside.
Who to Book With
Car hire is available right in Bournemouth’s city centre and at the Bournemouth Airport, but it should be booked online before arrival to ensure a vehicle is available and to snatch up the best deals. Renowned firms, such as National, Avis and Thrifty, supply car rental in Bournemouth, as do local outfitters Cavendish Cars and Bournemouth Car Hire.
Best time to go
Bournemouth’s coastal location gives it a moderate climate all year round, but the summer is the best time to visit. This is when rainfall is at its lowest and temperatures at their highest, but also when rates are at their peak. May and September are also quite pleasant and are ideal months for taking excursions.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up your vehicle, the following documents are needed:
- Both parts of your UK driving license
- Proof of identification
- The credit card used when making booking
- Printed booking confirmation
Driving in Bournemouth in the summer time is not the best idea, as the roads are prone to heavy traffic, especially in the middle of the day. If driving, it is best to do so early in the morning or in the evening to avoid sitting in long queues. On-street parking can be found all over the city and can be paid by mobile phone (RingGo) or by pay and display. Most on-street spaces have a two-hour maximum stay, but tariffs are reasonable, with an hour being charged at between £0.50 and £1.
The dual-carriageway A338, which connects with the A31 and onto the M27, is the main road into town. These routes link Bournemouth to the rest of Dorset, as well as to Wiltshire, Hampshire and the rest of the country. The A350 connects Bournemouth to the Somerset region.
The A338 and A31 are both trunk routes, distinguished by their green signs with yellow numbers. Motorways are marked with blue signs and white numbers, while smaller routes are marked with white signs and black numbers. Signage in the city itself is quite good, and the town is easy to navigate when using the Square as a base.
Bournemouth can easily be explored on foot or with the help of one of the local Yellow Buses that run through the town centre. Routes also run between Bournemouth and other nearby destinations, yet having your own car is still the best way to get out and explore. The other option is to take the More Bus, which connects the town centre with the rest of the Bournemouth.
Bournemouth is served by three railway stations: Bournemouth Railway station in the town centre, Pokesdown Railway station on the east side of town and Branksome Railway station at the west end of Bournemouth towards Poole. All three stations are on South West Trains’ South Western Main Line, which runs between London Waterloo and Weymouth. The Bournemouth Railway station is also served by CrossCountry train No.4 from Manchester, which terminates here.
There is a taxi rank on Holdenhurst Road near the Bournemouth Railway station, although taxis can also be called in advance, which is often cheaper. Taxis are quite inexpensive, starting at £2 and going up from there according to how many miles are driven. Bournemouth United is one of the town’s most reputable companies, while Streamline Warrens Taxis is another great choice.
Buses and Trams
Yellow Buses and the More Bus provide a convenient way of getting around Bournemouth and to nearby destinations such as Poole and Christchurch. National Express connects the town to various locations in London, as well as to Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport and Northampton. Tickets can be purchased from the driver, with a single journey on the Yellow Buses costing around £1.40 to £2, and £1.40 upwards on the More Bus. The best deal is to purchase a pass, with a seven-day Glo Smartcard (Yellow Buses) costing £14 and a seven-day More Bus pass costing £13.
Being in Dorset means that Bournemouth is surrounded by a variety of different landscapes, from stunning coastline to hills and dairy farms. There is much to see outside of the town and a large number of opportunities for daily excursions and picturesque drives. The port city of Southampton, just 45 minutes to the northeast, connects travellers by car ferry to the Isle of Wright, while Salisbury and its impressive Cathedral are just over 28 miles to the north. Visitors can enjoy the sea, historical landmarks, the English countryside and lovely forests on daytrips from Bournemouth.
The Jurassic Coast - Running from Swanage to Orcombe Point, this consists of magnificent cliffs that showcase 180 million years of geology. There are natural arches, limestone coves, beaches and fossils. The entire 96-mile stretch is truly beautiful.
The New Forest - This is a stunning national park with a variety of landscapes, including grassland, heathland, plantations and, of course, woodland. It is home to a plethora of wildlife, such as the Dartford Warbler, the European Nightjar, adder snakes and sand lizards, as well as donkeys, horses and ponies. In fact, horseback rides are a common way to explore the park, but there are also some fantastic footpaths.
Corfe Castle - Found around 18 miles south of Bournemouth, the castle can be reached via a lovely drive along the coast. The 11th century castle, built by William the Conqueror, was one of England’s first ever stone castles. Today, the majority of this Grade I listed building is in ruins.
Shaftesbury - Perched on a chalk hill around 33 miles north of Bournemouth, this picturesque town dates back to the 18th century and is most famous for its ruined abbey and for being the set of the iconic Hovis bread television advert in the 1970s and 1980s. This truley historical English countryside village is well worth a drive to.