If you’re planning a cottage holiday by the seaside, you won’t be short of things to do in Swanage. The town contains some fantastic Dorset attractions, perfect for enjoying a day out with friends or family. From coastal walks to castles and steam engines, we’ve selected eight of our favourite things to do in and around Swanage.
Swanage Pier is a fantastic day out on the Swanage seafront, with plenty for the whole family to see and enjoy. From fishing and crabbing to scuba diving and boat trips, there’s something to suit everyone’s interests. They also host regular events, including guided walks and seasonal activities. Last but not least, the 1859 Pier Café & Bistro is open every day, providing hot and cold drinks as well as main meals, cakes and sandwiches.
Putlake Adventure Farm
If you’re looking for another way to entertain the kids, Putlake Adventure Farm is a pleasant way to escape the beach for an afternoon. The real working farm includes tractor rides, outdoor play equipment, Go-Karts, trampolines and, of course, plenty of animals! Children will love grooming the ponies, feeding lambs and milking the goats. There’s also an impressive (and massive) indoor soft play area, perfect should the Great British Weather decide to turn against you.
Old Harry Rocks: A Swanage Coastal Path
Not far from Swanage, you’ll find the famous Old Harry Rocks – the iconic towering chalk formations with unique views of the Jurassic Coast. The coastal walk down to the rocks is one of the most popular in Dorset, taking you from the village of Studland to Old Harry and on to Ballard Down. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Needles on the Isle of Wight, which were once connected to Old Harry by a line of chalk hills.
Neighbouring Studland Bay is looked after by the National Trust, which means there’s plenty of facilities to enjoy, including a café. You can find more information on the bay and the walk on the National Trust website.
The Swanage Railway, opened in 1885, is a real highlight of many people’s visit to Swanage. In fact, the excitement starts as you wander through the streets, catching glimpses of billowing smoke and listening to the whistles as the trains come and go. The station itself is located in the heart of the town, and once on board you can enjoy a 6-mile journey through the Purbeck countryside to the spectacular Corfe Castle. There’s also a diesel train that runs to Wareham on occasion.
The Railway also runs a series of events, including Santa Express, where little ones will have the chance to meet Father Christmas himself, dining evenings and even a chance to drive a train yourself!
The Square and Compass
If you’re after a quintessentially English pub, then look no further than the Square and Compass. Hailed by some as ‘the best pub in the world’, this cosy little bolthole is a favourite with locals and essentially like taking a step back in time. Imagine roaring fires, uneven ceilings, wooden beams and welcoming pub garden… the pub is best known for its tasty homemade pasties and good selection of real ales/ciders, and also has its own fossil museum which is well worth a quick browse. The popular pub is usually busy, but the spectacular views from the garden are well worth it.
If you jump on one of the Swanage Railway’s Steam trains, you could quickly find yourself at the Corfe Castle station. From here it’s only a short walk to Corfe Castle itself, which sits high on the top of the hill. With over 1,000 years of history, this atmospheric place has something to keep everyone entertained. Wander through the ruins and discover murder holes, fallen walls and secret hideaways. Adults will love the romantic views across Purbeck, while younger guests (and the young at heart!) can take part in the many events that take place throughout the year, including knight school and falconry displays.
Swanage folk festival
Swanage Folk Festival is a popular weekend which draws visitors from across the country every year. With live music, traditional dance, a ceilidh, children’s activities, craft fair and workshops, there’s plenty going on across the seafront and town centre. The whole town gets involved in the fun, while some of the top names in Folk Music make their way to the town to entertain the crowds. The 2020 Swanage Folk Festival will take place between the 11th and 13th September.
Durlston Country Park: A Swanage Coastal Path
You’ll find Durlston Country Park just south of Swanage, and their clifftop trail is another lovely coastal walk that’s popular with children and adults alike. The short walk takes you through the park itself, which is a 320-acre National Nature Reserve and home to a variety of important habitats and rare species (stop at the visitor centre for more information). The whole route is waymarked, and you can enjoy lovely views of the lighthouse or pop into the hide and see if you can spot any of the local seabirds! On your way back, you’ll have the opportunity to pay a visit to Durlston Castle, an extraordinary Victorian building built to look like a castle from years gone by.
Our collection of Swanage self-catering properties are perfectly located for exploring everything this beloved area has to offer. And once you’ve had your fill of exploring, you can be sure of having a cosy home-from-home to retreat to at the end of the day. To come and experience this fantastic part of the world for yourself, why not book your next cottage break today?