Wondering how to enjoy Bournemouth with a small budget? Boasting the best beaches in Britain, Bournemouth is a brilliant destination for sunseekers. But the UK isn’t exactly known for being a budget-friendly destination, so how does a beach bum or any kind of traveller save money on a trip to Bournemouth?

    From transportation tips to low-cost attractions and the best free festivities in town, we cover some money-saving tips in Bournemouth. And by keeping these nifty travel hacks at hand, you’ll save enough extra pounds to buy a few pints of lager at the end of an action-packed day. 


    Get a Getting About SmartCard

    Save big on transportation in Bournemouth

    • Budget

    The Getting About SmartCard is the first thing you need to acquire to travel around Bournemouth on the cheap. The city’s best beaches and attractions are too far apart to walk, and the cost of taxis could easily add up quick. For the budget-orientated traveller in Bournemouth, public transport is the obvious choice.

    Although tickets can be purchased individually, it’s cheaper and more convenient to buy a Getting About SmartCard. The tap-on/tap-off token is available at the Bournemouth Railway and Coach Station or the Yellow Buses office and offers unlimited travel on a daily or weekly basis. And should you fancy venturing further afield, the card is valid in Poole and Christchurch, too (but not at the airport).

    Location: Holdenhurst Rd, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH8 8HX, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 451451


    photo by Phil Scott (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Visit the best beaches of Bournemouth

    Have fun in the sun without spending a cent

    The beautiful (and free) beaches of Bournemouth and beyond are a sight to behold for their pristine golden sands and gentle green-tinged waves. But these places are no state secret – scores of sunseekers come to work on their tans every time the summer mercury soars.

    Most of the action revolves around the busy Boscombe Beach, with its bustling promenade, lively beach games, and iconic pier. Further afield, you’ll find a multitude of Blue Flag-recognised beauties such as Durley Chine, Alum Chine, and Southbourne Beach, each equally pretty yet sans the crowds.


    New Forest National Park

    A verdant woodland outside the city

    • Budget
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    New Forest National Park is a vast wooded region to the northeast of town that’s not to be missed by serious nature lovers visiting Bournemouth. Getting there takes just 40 minutes on the Southern Western Railway Line, and the daily return ticket won’t send you broke.

    Upon arrival at the free park, you’ll have endless green rolling hills and lush woodlands to explore, plus a smattering of lakes and a selection of historic buildings. Donkeys and fowls roam the fields, and there’s always an abundance of fluttering butterflies and blooming wildflowers on display. Just pack sunscreen and get ready to contend with ticks because you’re certainly not in the city anymore.

    Location: Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Dr, Lyndhurst SO43 7GQ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1590 646600


    Boscombe Market

    Fresh produce, street food, and an assortment of artisanal knickknacks

    • Food
    • Budget
    • Shoppers

    Boscombe Market is arguably the best place in town to pick up affordable fresh groceries and artisanal foodstuffs – a gastronomic haven for the self-catering traveller. The open-air market has been serving quality goods to local foodies since 1992, with a loyal contingent perusing the stalls on trading days (Thursday and Saturday).

    The spot is worth a look even if you don’t plan on cooking as you’ll find an array of ethnic street food stalls as well. The tempting aromas of Indian, Thai, and Brazillian delicacies waft through the air, while the freshly caught Bournemouth fish and chips are always a hit. Don’t miss the legendary Pastel Club, which is famous for doing the most delicious sweets in town.

    Location: Unit B, The Cotton Exchange, 501-507 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH1 4AE, UK

    Open: Thursday and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 456173


    Bournemouth Pier

    A lively central pier with an epic Friday fireworks display

    • Nightlife
    • Budget
    • Photo

    The epicentre of the city, Bournemouth Pier offers picture-perfect views of the coast, and it won’t cost you a cent to stroll from end to end. Surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers set the scene as far as the eye can see, making it an obligatory photo stop for anyone visiting the city. Amusement rides, a theatre, and a rock-climbing wall are available should you fancy parting with a few pounds.

    During the summer, throngs of tourists pack out its trendy cafes, restaurants, and watering holes to people watch and soak up the ocean views. Friday nights are especially electrifying as the lights go out, and the council puts on a dazzling fireworks show.

    Location: Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 925825


    Arts by the Sea Festival

    Embrace your artistic side at this happening event

    Arts by the Sea Festival is a must for bohemians visiting Bournemouth in September or October (the date changes from year to year). The lively festival sees scores of talented acts descend on Bournemouth from all over Britain and abroad, entertaining the crowd through theatre, food, and dance.

    The vast majority of performances are entirely free, although the more popular shows may require advanced bookings through the official website. The 3-day event takes place in the gardens between the Town Hall and the Bournemouth Pier and sees the city come alive with artistic expression.

    Open: September or October (dates vary)

    photo by Tanya Hart (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Hengistbury Head

    A laid-back peninsula with stunning ocean views

    Hengistbury Head is a windswept peninsula and coastal nature reserve east of Bournemouth. Walking along the near-deserted beach and admiring the seaside scenery is the highlight here, all of which comes completely free.

    Wander a little further east, and you’ll encounter the gorgeous Mudeford Sandbank, where technicoloured beach shacks serve coffee with killer ocean views. Head back via the lagoon to surround yourself with birdlife and peer out over the Christchurch Harbour. To get there on the cheap, take a bus or train to Christchurch, then a transfer service or taxi to the Broadway Shops.

    Location: Broadway, Southbourne, Bournemouth BH6 4EW, UK


    Brownsea Island

    A historical island with stunning vistas

    • Budget
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Brownsea Island makes for a brilliant day trip from Bournemouth, accessible only by a scenic ferry from the nearby Sandbanks Jetty. The 10-minute ride departs every half hour, affording beautiful views of the island and Poole along the way.

    Upon arrival, you’ll find several verdant walking trails to explore, each with a contingent of curious deer and endangered red squirrel. Take the time to peruse the historic churches and houses, most of which have been built up along the bay shore. Brownsea Island is an excellent spot for a picnic, so remember to pack a takeaway lunch. Camping is possible and provides both a picturesque and affordable place to stay.


    Coy Pond

    A gorgeous inner-city park to relax in

    • Budget
    • Photo

    Coy Pond is the quintessential British provincial park, complete with quaint gardens, quacking ducks, and a gently flowing stream. The lush spot feels worlds away from the kerfuffle of the city, making it a must for stressed-out travellers in need of a quick nature fix.

    Rumour has it that koi carps inhabit the pond (no fishing allowed), and you’ll see plenty of frogs, coots, and newts wandering around. A half-hour footpath winds its way through the most picturesque parts of the park, and entry into the area is free.

    Location: 14-44 Coy Pond Rd, Poole BH12 1JU, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)7585 164185


    photo by Chris Downer (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Boscombe Chine Gardens

    Enjoy the scenery at the city’s best gardens

    The Boscombe Chine Gardens connect the central Christchurch Road with the bustling Boscombe Beach – the perfect route to walk between the 2. Lush ferns, vibrant flowers, and winding walkways make for a pleasant stroll, and there are a plethora of family-friendly facilities should you decide to linger.

    Over towards the Bournemouth Pier, the Lower Gardens are another superb place to wander, once again connecting the beach with the city. A charming channel splits the park in half, with abundant open green space to sprawl out on.

    Location: Sea Rd, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH5 1BL, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 451629


    photo by Chris Downer (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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