Best Places to Eat and See in Bournemouth

If you think that Bournemouth is your typical British seaside town, think again. We decided to visit for a few nights over the August bank holiday weekend as we just felt that travelling abroad was too risky this year, and we honestly made the best decision.

Why is it that as soon we get some time off we jump on a plane and go abroad?! There are some seriously cool places in the UK that we need to appreciate more and Bournemouth is certainly one of them. We basically have a mini Spain just a 2 hour drive away from London! Our hotel even had a balcony which is very rare for a hotel in the UK so this just added to that holiday feel. The sea was beautifully blue and clear, the sand white and pebbleless, and so many bustling restaurants and bars with gorgeous views.

On that note, here’s a round up of the best places to eat and see in Bournmeouth:

1. The Cosy Club

So I’m not normally one to go to restaurant chains when I am away as I like to try what is unique to the city I am in, however I don’t mind when it is a chain that we do not have in London. I have been to the Cosy Club in Cardiff for drinks and Birmingham for dinner, and was not disappointed on either occasion, so when I saw that the Cosy Club was near our hotel in Bournemouth and had literally every breakfast option you could possibly imagine on their menu, I booked it straight away.

A must visit for a yummy, hearty breakfast in quirky 1920s surroundings.

Visit their website here.

2. Boscanova

Unfortunately I didn’t get to try this one myself as it’s in a neighbouring town of Bournemouth pier called Boscombe which was only about a 6 minute drive, but as I was travelling with 5 people, and you cannot make a reservation, we didn’t want to risk it. Especially as it was bank holiday Monday and the last day of Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Perhaps if we were there for another day, we could have visited this area as there is also a pier here, but we wanted to see more of the main part of Bournemeouth before we left.

From what I could see online, Boscanova is a trendy, environmentally friendly cafe which serves a good cup of coffee!

Visit their website here.

3. Key West Bar & Grill

Whilst this is the biggest tourist trap in Bournemouth as it is the only restaurant on the pier, the prices certainly do not reflect it. It’s definitely worth a visit to enjoy a a spot of lunch and a few cocktails whilst looking out onto the beautiful sea that surrounds Bournemouth. Beware, if you eat outside, you may have to swat some wasps but the view is worth it. You may also need to pay a fee to get onto the pier but it is only about £1 or 2 pounds.

A great lunch spot to soak up the rays, sit back and enjoy the views over Bournemouth beach.

Visit their website here.

4. Sandbanks

I honestly thought that Bournemouth beach was the nicest beach I’d ever seen in England; that was until I visited Sandbanks. Just a short drive from the centre of Bournemouth, Sandbanks is known for its huge houses and gorgeous beach.

If you’re planning a trip to Bournemouth, be sure to take the car and take the time out to travel here. Don’t forget to take some towels along too unless you want to pay £12.99 for a beach towel from the only shop along the beachfront.

Admittedly, there isn’t many restaurants and bars along the beach, but there are some lovely restaurants and pubs just opposite the beach on the main road, and a few minutes drive away.

An essential for some escapism and to feel like you have left the UK.

Learn more about Sandbanks here.

5. The Canford

Due to the fact that Sandbanks is known for its wonderfully large houses and home to many of the Bournemouth football team, it is quite an affluent area, so hard to find a reasonably priced restaurant. Luckily, we know someone that lives in Bournemouth who recommended a pub just around the corner which wouldn’t even come up on Google. We were lucky enough to walk in and get a table for 6 in their lovely garden and even sit in one of their cool tiki huts! The blood orange gin and the fish and chips is to die for.

A hidden gem behind sandbanks serving British classics with an artisanal feel.

Visit their website here.

6. Aruba

Just at the start of Bournemouth pier, Aruba does seem like another tourist trap but looks like a lively place to go for a few drinks after dinner or after a nice walk along the beach. Decorated with palm trees and right next to the beach, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a holiday beach bar.

Beachside tropical themed bar with fun cocktails and great views over Bournemouth pier.

Visit their website here.

7. Tropical Gardens

If you want to continue with the tropical vibe of Aruba, be sure to visit the Tropical Gardens which is about a 15/20 minute walk from the start of Bournemouth pier in the Alum Chine area. Again, another one we unfortunately didn’t get to visit but was highly recommended to us. We did however get to see the beautiful lower gardens of Bournemouth which we were still in awe of.

Gardens with towering, exotic trees for nature lovers and Insta fiends alike.

Learn more about the Bournemouth Tropical Gardens here.

8. Urban Garden

Located on a hilltop within the Bournemouth lower gardens, this is another hidden gem that we only stumbled across as we were leaving. It’s hidden behind leaves and trees and looks like you are walking up the stairs to an enchanted forest. Lovely spot for some hip lunch or a few relaxed drinks.

Chilled hilltop restaurant and bar with an enchanted forest vibe.

Visit their website here.

9. Arbor Restaurant

As we were on a family break, we didn’t feel that a Michelin star restaurant was quite the right vibe, but next time I visit Bournemouth (which I 100% will), I’ll pay Arbor a visit. Not only was it highly recommended to us by people we know that live in Bournemouth, I’d also found it on my search for restaurants before visiting. From afternoon tea, to posh pizza to traditional Dorset crab, Arbor looks like a foodie’s paradise.

Fine dining with cuisine from all over the world in the heart of Bournemouth.

Visit their website here.

10. Coconut Tree

Last but not least, the Coconut Tree; Sri Lankan street food designed for sharing. Similarly to the Cosy Club, the Coconut Tree is a chain of restaurants outside of London. I’d never had Sri Lankan food before but now that I’ve had it, I’m trying to find a local one to me now.

It’s a fusion of Indian and Carribbean flavours with saucy dishes like curried goat, chicken curry and black pork served with rice and interesting sides like creamy cashew nuts and battered mushrooms. Everything was so flavoursome and didn’t feel greasy at all. Be sure to try one of their famous hoppers too accompanied by a “cocotail” (or cocktail lol).

Flavourful Sri Lankan street food located near the shopping centre of Bournemouth.

Visit their website here.

I hope this blog post has given you a flavour of what Bournemouth is like and some inspiration about where to visit and #discoverdifference. If you’ve been before or will be visiting soon, let me know in the comments below!

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