Bournemouth boasts a traditional seaside atmosphere, where fish and chips are the order of the day and a nice, windy walk along the beach is acceptable in all weather. If you want to keep dry in the unpredictable English weather, though, there are plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars to duck into to keep you occupied.
Fish and chips are the go-to cuisine when exploring the British seaside, and nowhere does a traditional battered cod like Chez Fred (10 Seamoor Rd, Bournemouth BH4 9AN). Popular with the locals, this laidback yet stylish takeaway and restaurant often has a queue out of its doors – a sure sign you’re going to be in for a chippy treat.
Tucked away in a modern building that’s all glass front and sea views, Edge Restaurant (4th Floor, Studland Dene Hotel, 2 Studland Rd, Bournemouth BH4 8JA) overlooks the Alum Chine and rolling views of the Dorset coastline. Here, you can tuck into a mouth-watering menu of European favourites which, when the weather’s nice, can be enjoyed al fresco on the panoramic terrace.
From the outside, towering pillars promise an elegant dining experience at Kayla Brasserie (42 Holdenhurst Rd, Bournemouth BH8 8AD), and the high-end charm doesn’t end there. Inside, the contemporary eatery boasts a menu filled with Italian delights, all of which can be enjoyed in the heart of Bournemouth.
Set inside the Green House Hotel, the Arbor Restaurant (The Green House Hotel, 4 Grove Road, Bournemouth BH1 3AX) serves up a fine dining experience fit for a king (or queen). Delectable small plates artistically share the latest foodie trends and seasonal treats against a stylish backdrop that looks like it’s stepped straight out of a magazine.
Soak up a warm welcome at Baraca Restaurant (129 Charminster Rd, Bournemouth BH8 8UH), which offers a cosy lantern-lit atmosphere perfect for a rainy, British day. Bring a bit of sunshine into the mix with the expansive Mediterranean menu, featuring light bites like Turkish mezze and kebabs, and hearty offerings like thick stews.
The bright interior of Flirt Café bar (21 The Triangle, Bournemouth BH2 5RG) is enough to lift anyone’s mood on a grey day. Inside the unique eatery, you can dine on lunchtime light bites or opt for something a bit more filling. The colourful furniture and the collection of art on display adds a creative dimension to the dining experience. Emailed for image
Real ale lovers rejoice in The Goat and Tricycle (27-29 W Hill Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5PF), a traditional British pub lined with pumps promising the best locally-brewed flavours. At any one time you can expect up to 11 guest ales, which you can soak up with a hearty pub meal. Weather good? Eat out on the patio so you don’t miss out.
Revel in a touch of American charm at 60 Million Postcards (19-21 Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AF), a cross between a traditional British pub and a US burger joint. The menu is packed full of towering meat dishes, while the selection of ales and beers is enough to keep you occupied for hours. At night, an eclectic array of DJs work their magic on revellers.
Got a sporting event to watch? The George Tapps (207-215 Old Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH1 1JZ) is the place to be. Inside this stylish, laidback pub, you can grab traditional pub grub, check out some of the too-good-to-be-true drink deals, and kick back and relax on the selection of comfy sofas, all while remaining in the eye line of the large-screen televisions.
For something a little more intimate, grab a table and a drink at Chaplins Cellar Bar (529 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH1 4AG), a quirky and quaint bar that promises a rota of local bands to provide a soundtrack. The cobbled terrace and fairy lights add to the charming ambiance of this fun, evening hotspot.
Get your American on in the Buffalo Bar (23 Woodend Rd, Bournemouth BH9 2JQ) , a lively drinking hole that fashions itself on the traditional American roadhouse theme. The quirky décor drawings on the wall provide the perfect backdrop for the drinks deals and delicious Tex-Mex menu.
Wood-panel walls give The Porterhouse (113 Poole Rd, Bournemouth BH4 9BG) a literary vibe, while the deep red furnishings look like they’ve been taken from a library. Here, you can sip on real ales and snack on traditional pub bites against a no-nonsense backdrop favoured by the locals.
Beachside Aruba Bar (Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA) boasts a sun terrace and sea views. By day, it’s a laidback sea front restaurant, but when darkness falls it turns into a trendy hangout that serves cocktails and party vibes via the eclectic array of DJs. Hit the dance floor when things really get going.
From the outside, Bar SO (Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AG) looks like a typical Med-style restaurant with wall-to-wall windows and polished wood floor. Step inside, and you’ll find an evening haven with a designated dance floor and booths set underneath stylish atrium lighting. On warmer evenings, there’s a heated patio outside to soak up the seaside vibes. Emailed for image
For an elegant lounge bar affair, head to Smokin’ Aces (103 Commercial Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5RT) for a fix of red leather couches and dark wood tables. The dimly lit bar exudes a sophisticated charm, while the brick walls and regular live music feels very “New York”. Grab a sophisticated G&T or opt for one of the classic cocktails that adorn the menu.
Set inside a former church, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d died and gone to heaven when you step foot in Halo (Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AQ). The impressive nightclub boasts several dance floors for different genres of music, or balcony lounging areas for those who’d rather kick back and watch the action unfold.
Set in the sophisticated confines of the Royal Exeter Hotel, 1812 (Royal Exeter Hotel, Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AG) brings punters an elegant evening of classy cocktails served up by the bar’s experienced mixologists. The outdoor terrace is ideal for balmy evenings, while the weekends bring a hot selection of live music to the proceedings.
Step into another world in the Lost Paradise Bar (30 Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AQ), a Bali-themed hangout that brings the tropical beaches of the Pacific to the shores of England. Tuck into the delicious selection of snacks finished up with a cocktail or two from the extensive collection while enjoying the pounding beats from resident DJs.
Dip into Enigma (100 Old Christchurch Rd, City Centre, Bournemouth BH1 1LR), a warm and welcoming jewellery shop in the heart of Bournemouth. Inside, the cosy ambiance sets the perfect backdrop for sparkling silver and rustic trinkets – great for picking up a souvenir or two to remind you of your seaside stay.
Turn back the hands of time in Clobber (918-920 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH7 6DL), a vintage clothes shop for men and women. Specialising in hot fashion trends between the 1920s and 1980s, there’s a lot of rails to rummage around. If you’re on the hunt for fancy dress or a statement piece to add to your seasonal wardrobe, it’s well worth a look in.
Opened by three former music students, Flat 13 Records (11 St Michael’s Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5DP) throws a nostalgic handshake back to the days of vinyl. Browse the vintage selection of old records, including famous names in jazz, hip hop, R&B, and everything in between.
Dive into a whimsical world at Imeldas (Gervis Pl, Bournemouth BH1 2AL), a boutique serving up a quirky selection of shoes, bags, and accessories. If you’re on the hunt for something a little bit different, this rabbit warren of goodies is the perfect place to start your search.
Put a dash of magic back in your day with a visit to Mike Danata’s Magic Studio (121 Palmerston Rd, Bournemouth BH1 4), one of the only brick-and-mortar magic shops left in the UK. Browse the collection of magic tricks paraphernalia and expose yourself to some weird and wonderful mind games.
Looking for a great read to while away the hours with? Pop into Westbourne Bookshop (65 Poole Rd, Bournemouth BH4 9BA), a stylish book seller with trendy polished floors and rows and rows of stellar reads. Pick up a fiction story to get lost in or discover something new with one of the many non-fiction finds.
For another ethical coffee, head to the Coffee Shop Bournemouth (222a Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 1PE), which specialises in exotic flavours from all over the world. Again, you can slurp on a delicious roasted brew, or grab one of the homemade sweet treats to give yourself an instant boost.
The rustic interior of Cools Bean Café (1089 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH7 6BQ) adds a trendy splash to Bournemouth’s coffee scene. Inside, you can enjoy a deliciously crafted coffee against the backdrop of exposed brick, or tuck into one of the tasty tapas dishes or sandwiches for a light bite.
It’ll be the traditional black and white chequered floor that catches your eye first, before you notice the extensive drinks menu at the Blue Hill Café (113-115 Commercial Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5LU). The family-run coffee shop not only promises a delicious selection of hot drinks, but it also serves hearty English food to fuel your day with.
Grab an eco-friendly coffee at Espresso Kitchen (69 Commercial Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5RT), an independent coffee shop based right in the centre of Bournemouth. Pick up a handmade cake and a hot drink to go, or sit inside and admire the quirky wall decorations while you slowly sip away. Gallery on site
Coffee and croissants are the name of the game at Le Petit Prince (48 Poole Rd, Bournemouth BH4 9DZ), a French-inspired coffee house that promises Parisian charm alongside a selection of warming drinks. As well as pastry delights, you can also grab a handmade cake to go with your coffee.
Vegan? Never fear! The Mad Cucumber Lounge (7 The Triangle, Bournemouth BH2 5RY) is here to save the day. This airy, spacious café venue boasts a brightly coloured interior that goes well with its vibrant vegan menu. Pick up just a hot drink, or dig deeper into the eclectic and extensive foodie options.