Things to do in Swanage

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Planning a weekend getaway? Swanage makes for a fantastic day out. An idyllic coastal town situated on the glorious Isle of Purbeck, Swanage is a thrilling seaside town that puts people of all ages under its spell.  

Famous for its sandy beaches and amazing outdoors, Swanage is also home to the enchanting Corfe Castle and the famous Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its fossils and limestone formation. 

With an array of tourist attractions and outdoor activities to get you active, it's easy to see why Swanage is one of the most famous towns in Dorset.  

From kayaking to coasteering and rock climbing, Swanage showcases the very best of Dorset. Ready to take a trip to this coastal town? Our wonderful Rockley Park Holiday Park, located a mere 20 miles from Swanage, is the perfect base for exploring the best of this historic town. Check out our list of the best things to do in Swanage.

1. Hike the cliff trails

Swanage sits at the centre of the Eastern coast of the Isle of Purbeck, on the South Dorset Coast. Surrounded by water on three fronts, this almost-island town boasts some of the most spectacular coastlines in the entire country.  

So, it's truly a hiker's paradise.  

Here are some of the best coastal trails to enjoy in Swanage. 

  • The Purbeck Way - A spectacular 15.5-mile route within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – of course you don’t have to walk it all! 

  • Smugglers Way – A 3-mile circular trail that takes you down ancient lanes  

  • South West Coast Path – A 4.7-mile trail from Swanage to Studland

2. Hit the water

2. Hit the water
Poole Harbour: a place of prestige (and pubs!)

Swanage's coastline makes the town an ideal spot for a range of water activities.  

And there's a list of experts waiting to take you out onto Studland, Swanage Bay, Poole Harbour, and west along the Jurassic Coast.  

If you like getting active, there are a ton of water sports in Swanage to give you an adrenaline rush. Hire a Kayak and spend the afternoon exploring the bay and surrounding cliffs. You can even try cannoning, paddleboarding, and raft racing if you like your activities water based.  

Scuba diving and coasteering are also available, perfect for those who like exploring rocky coastlines and underwater life.

3. Jump aboard the railway

3. Jump aboard the railway

Address: Railway Station Approach, Station House, Swanage BH19 1HB

The Swanage Railway provides a nostalgic way to explore this coastal town. It's a historic heritage railway running the Isle of Purbeck and is one of the magnificent tourist attractions in Dorset.

For the ultimate expedition, park at Norden and hop onto a steamy train to the coast. Along the way, you'll pass by the breathtaking vista of Corfe Castle and see the arresting landscape before pulling into the restored historic station in Swanage town centre.  

A steam train offers you the rare opportunity to go back in time to the glorious days of steam locomotives. Swanage steam trains run for about six miles, traversing through the glorious Purbeck countryside and past the majestic ruins of Corfe Castle.

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4. Visit the Museum and Heritage Centre

Address: The Square, Swanage BH19 2LJ

If you're a fan of history, you'll want to visit Swanage Heritage Centre and Museum.  

Here, you'll uncover the history of Swanage, from the Seaside Resort to the Jurassic Coast and the Second World War. The 19th-century Old Market Building on the Swanage seafront has some interesting exhibits on the town's history, including its geological formation.

Containing some fascinating facts about the history and geology of the town, the museum will tell you everything you need to know about how Swanage transitioned from a stone trade destination to the successful holiday resort it is today.

5. Stroll the historic pier

5. Stroll the historic pier

Address: Shore Rd, Swanage BH19 1LB

The pier, situated a few miles away from our Rockley Park Holiday Park, is the perfect place for a day out with your loved ones. This historic pier is one of the most iconic sights in Dorset. The views from this delightful Victorian seaside pier rival any pier in England, providing a panoramic view of Swanage Bay.  

Admire picture-perfect views of the famous Jurassic Coast and its surrounding from this historic pier, built in the 18th-century. The pier is perfect for enjoying cool coastline scenes, and its far end is also popular for fishing and crabbing.

6. Hit the beach

6. Hit the beach

Address: Shore Rd, Swanage BH19 1LB

A trip to Swanage wouldn't be complete without enjoying a refreshing swim on the fabulous sandy beaches.  

The sweeping sandy beach in Swanage is one of the most popular beaches in Europe. This fabulous beach has won many European Blue Flag awards and the seaside award, owing to its calm atmosphere and many tourist-friendly features.  

The beach is great for solo travellers and families, boasting excellent facilities, including public toilets, huts for hire, and many nearby amusement parks. You can hire a kayak, pedalo, deck chair, or sun bed as you enjoy a drink.

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