Swanage Pier & Old Harry Rocks

Swanage Pier & Old Harry Rocks

Swanage Tourist Information Centre

Swanage Tourist Information Centre

Swanage is a beautiful family friendly seaside resort on the east Purbeck coast. Originally a fishing port, it became popular as a Victorian seaside resort and famous children's author Enid Blyton regularly took holidays in Swanage. Nineteenth century businessmen shaped the town, developed transport links and brought back pieces of architecture from London - literally! Today it's a sunny, family-friendly seaside resort with an award-winning beach, numerous watersports and the South West Coast Path runs through the town, perfect for year round coastal walking breaks. A great place to start your tour of Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck is the tourist information centre on Shore Road (just opposite the beach) with a variety of brochures, leaflets and guides on local attractions, walks and heritage trails and maps.

Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre

Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre

The award-winning three mile long sandy beach is just a short walk from Swanage town centre and ideal for families with safe bathing waters and magnificent views towards Old Harry Rocks. Watersports including sailing, diving and windsurfing are all popular, and you can hire boats, canoes and pedalos on the beach. A wealth of boat trips and boat charter opportunities are available around the Pier including summer sailings on the famous Waverley Paddle Steamer. The historic pier originally built in 1859/60 by James Walton of London for shipping stone is a real centrepiece in the resort. It took off as a pleasure pier when George Burt began a steamer service between Swanage, Poole and Bournemouth in 1874 which was popular with day trippers. Today the pier offers a host of attractions and activities including fishing, diving, watersports, shops, a cafe and craft stalls.

Swanage is a relaxing retreat all year round

Swanage is a relaxing retreat all year round

Town Trails

Head off along one of the three town trails in Swanage. There's the Stone Trail which takes in the Bankers where the quarried stone was once stacked for shipping to London, the Victorian Trail which takes you up the coast path to Durlston Country Park and the Town Trail which guides you around buildings of historic interest, many of which seem to have pilfered from places in London! Swanage's Town Hall seems rather grand for a small seaside town. The reality is that the 17th century facade was once that of Mercer's Hall in Cheapside, London. George Burt who helped modernise the town in the 19th century brought the entire building front to Swanage when the original building had to be dismantled to widen the road!

Following the Trails you'll find all sorts of former London landmarks like the Gothic Wellington clock tower brought back from London Bridge, a stone archway from Hyde Park Corner in Purbeck House gardens and the entrance pillars and bollards that once welcomed you to Millbank Prison in London. The Town Trail leaflets are available from Swanage's Tourist Information Office for a small fee. There are other sights in the town such as St Mary's Church and Mill Pond where the town's water was sourced. Find out more about local history at the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre.

Family fun on the award-winning sandy beach in Swanage

Family fun on the award-winning sandy beach in Swanage

Beach, Pier & Watersports

The real jewel of Swanage is its gently shelving sandy beach and clear, quality bathing waters. The beach is consistently awarded a Blue Flag award, and the waters off Central Beach regularly meet the highest of European standards. A safe bathing zone is clearly signposted within the three mile stretch of fine sandy beach which is close to town centre amenities. Facilities adjacent include wcs, baby changing facilities, cafes and seaside shops. Views from the beach looking north over to Old Harry Rocks are stunning. Watersports including sailing, diving and windsurfing are popular in Swanage and you can hire boats, canoes and pedalos. Dogs are welcome on Swanage beach off peak between October and April every year. In peak season (May to September), dogs are welcome on 'Monkey Beach' situated near the old stone quarry and Swanage Pier.

Boat trips & ferry services along the Purbeck Coast, to Bournemouth & Poole, and the Isle of Wight

Boat trips & ferry services along the Purbeck Coast, to Bournemouth & Poole, and the Isle of Wight

There are designated areas for boat launch and jet-ski use in the bay from March to September. Vessels can be launched from the Boat Park just off Broad Road car park and small craft can also be launched off the Parish slipway. Sailing is incredibly popular around the Bay and you'll find the long-standing Swanage Sailing Club at the head of the Pier on Buckshore. During summer, diving in the crystal clear waters around the pier is incredibly popular, and you'll find numerous boat charter and boat trip companies here. The pier end is also a top spot for fishing with magnificent views across to the Isle of Wight. Fishing rates are great value and Seaclean bins for discarded fishing lines are provided on the pier.

Swanage Railway

The Swanage Railway is a restored standard gauge steam railway that runs for six miles from Swanage on the coast through the Purbeck countryside to Corfe Castle. The Trust is hoping to eventually run a regular service all the way up to Wareham where the line could connect with the mainline network. It's one of the resort's top attractions, passing through some of Dorset's most beautiful countryside to Corfe Castle village with its famous castle ruins and quaint model village. The railway runs regular themed events through the year from steam galas to Santa specials and evening/lunch dining services.

Durlston Country Park near Swanage

Durlston Country Park near Swanage

Where to Stay

Swanage and the surrounding Purbeck area offers a superb range of accommodation including family friendly holiday parks close to the beach, cosy holiday cottages perfect for both couples and families, period guest houses and charming seaside hotels, a selection of which include swimming pools. Spacious luxury holiday homes are perfect for large family groups and most seaside guest houses in Swanage offer the warmest of welcomes to families, and usually the family pet too. Whether you're looking for a beach holiday home in high summer or a coastal walking weekend retreat on Purbeck, browse Swanage accommodation below and book online or direct.

Accommodation in Swanage

  • Corfe Castle   (3.1 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 7
    Prices from
    £295
    7 nights (seasonal)
     
    Range of attractive cottages in the Purbeck peninsula, all boasting excellent self- catering facilities, period features & stylish furnishings. Please enquire to discuss your needs
     
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  • Swanage   (0.6 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Prices from
    £56
    Per room per night B&B
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 97 reviews
    Rating from 97 reviews
    Friendly guest house just minutes from Swanage beach & town centre. All en-suite rooms with toiletries & generous hospitality trays. Superb breakfasts. Free wifi and parking.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 97 reviews
    Rating from 97 reviews
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  • Swanage   (0.1 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £345
    Per Week, Seasonal (Sleeps 4)
     
    Special Offer
    Reduced Occupancy discounts - SAVE UP TO £75
    Swanage self-catering cottages providing holiday accommodation by the beach. Suitable for families, with designated parking and easy beach access. Sleep 4 or 6.
     
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  • Langton Matravers   (3.0 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £425
    Per Week (seasonal)
     
    Self Catering annexe near Swanage with off road parking and large garden. Children, pets and smokers welcome. Free Wi-Fi internet & SKY+ HD. Established since 1991. Sleeps 8 + cot.
     
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  • Swanage   (0.4 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 8
    Prices from
    £395
    Per week (seasonal)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 14 reviews
    Rating from 14 reviews
    Family friendly Edwardian terraced house offering comfortable holiday accommodation for up to 8 people in Swanage. Two lounges, enclosed garden, sea views. Street parking nearby.
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    Rating from 14 reviews
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  • Wareham   (4.3 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Prices from
    £50
    Per Week (Seasonal) Sleeps 2-6
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 190 reviews
    Rating from 190 reviews
    Charming Farmhouse apartments near Swanage with stunning views over the Purbeck Hills. Ideal for couples or families with full self catering facilities. Free parking & bike storage
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 190 reviews
    Rating from 190 reviews
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  • Swanage   (0.0 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £450
    weekly includes ALL utilities, bedding, towels, parking
     
    4 Star spacious luxurious holiday apartment over two floors by the beach front at Swanage. Comfortably sleeps 6 people, superbly equipped, pet friendly. 2 bathrooms. Wi-Fi
     
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  • Swanage   (0.3 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Prices from
    £70
    per room, per night B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 294 reviews
    Rating from 294 reviews
    Family-run guest house in Swanage. Established for over 20 years. Off-road car park. Few minutes from town centre and beach. Delicious breakfast with local produce. Free Wi-Fi.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 294 reviews
    Rating from 294 reviews
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  • Swanage   (0.4 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £545
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
     
    Stylish waterfront apartment in Swanage close to the Victorian Pier with fantastic balcony directly over the sea. WiFi and private parking included. Sleeps 4.
     
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  • Swanage   (0.4 miles from the centre of Swanage)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £360
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
     
    Beautiful Gold Award stone worked cottage in Swanage 10 minutes' walk from the town centre and beach with parking adjacent and a wonderful bright interior. Sleeps 4
     
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