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The ultimate travel guide to the southern seaside town of Swanage in Dorset

By LLM Reporters on 26th August 2020

Sitting on part of England’s only natural World Heritage Site that is the Jurassic Coast, the town of Swanage is a popular tourist destination for those looking to combine a stunning geological location and the allure of a coastal town into their staycation.

Tucked on the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck peninsula in the south east of Dorset, the town boasts a rich history and enviable location for a relaxing and enjoyable stay.

History

One of the town’s most notable spots in history is during the industrial revolution when it flourished due to the increase in demand for building materials. The abundance of Purbeck stone in the region made the town a vital quarrying port and after the railway was built, municipal buildings and red-bricked houses followed, giving Swanage its distinct Victorian character.

Fast-forward to now, and the spectacular coastline is the primary reason why tourists can’t get enough of this beautiful coastal town. Swanage Bay spans the length of the town, from the stunning Old Harry Rocks to the north and Peveril Point to the south.

Swanage, much like most of the south coast, is also blessed with mild weather, therefore providing a popular holiday destination year-round due to the lack of snow in winter, while the summer months enjoy a cool sea breeze to counter even the town’s hottest days.

swanage
Swanage is a popular tourist destination for those looking to combine a stunning geological sight and the allure of a coastal town into their staycation

What to do in Swanage?

Both tourists and local residents make the most of the town’s natural attractions, starting with Swanage Beach. Swanage News reports that the beach has been awarded a Blue Flag, which means that the water meets high standards of quality – a big plus for the town.

Aside from sandy beaches and water sports for the adventurous, there are plenty of attractions and activities that await tourists of all ages. One of the town’s most iconic attractions is the Swanage Railway with the heritage line having been restored by local volunteers. You can also check out the Swanage Pier where you can get a great view of the Old Harry Rocks and head off on a cycle route to explore the local area and nature reserves.

Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park is a place you can’t afford to miss during your time here, especially if you have a keen fascination for the outdoors. Located south of Swanage, this nature reserve offers stunning views of the sea and the Isle of Wight and be sure to visit Durlston Castle where you can dine in the cafe, shop for souvenirs and relish the art exhibitions.

Kimmeridge Bay

If you’re interested in fossil hunting, then the wider Jurassic Coast will surely be a treat. Kimmeridge Bay is a must-visit and it is famous for its unique shale rock ledges and the ammonite fossils that date back 150 million years. Head to the Etches Collection to see different kinds of fossils and unleash the palaeontologist within.

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Kimmeridge Bay is a must-visit and it is famous for its unique shale rock ledges and the ammonite fossils that date back 150 million years

Festivals in 2021

There are two Blues festivals each year taking place in early March and October, while June sees the fish festival return once again for all to embrace all things fishy with an array of seafood and family activities. The town’s Carnival week takes place in the first week of August after the Wilkswood reggae festival in July, while the folk festival will surely please in September with Morris dancers, folk music concerts and workshops being a big draw.

Where to stay

There are a wide range of holiday cottages in which you can create a home from home on your visit to Swanage, which are the ideal base from which to explore the town, water and surrounding countryside. You can choose from a selection of sizes with your desired amenities to suit those coming with you. However, some like to head off on holiday and let others do the hard work, so you can take your pick from popular local destinations including The Pig – on the beach, Grand Hotel or Purbeck House Hotel.

Located in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck, The Grand Hotel has stunning views across the bay and has direct access from the gardens to the private beach

Where to eat

In a location like this you won’t be surprised to find a wide range of seafood options on the menus of restaurants and cafes, after all, it would be remiss not to make the most of the local larder. Depending on the type of dining you require there is a good choice of eateries to please. Highly rated options include Chilled Red, Tawny’s Wine Bar, Castaways, Bliss Food co. and The 1859 Pier Café and Bistro but there’s nothing like meandering the streets of a new place and gazing at the selection of menus as you pass by to decide on your dinner locations.

How to get to Swanage?

The town is accessible via road, or train from Wareham, or across the Sandbanks Ferry from Poole, which takes you to Studland.