15 Best Things To Do In Swanage, England

15 Best Things To Do In Swanage, England

By will

Swanage is a beautiful seaside town located on the south coast of England, and is the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

With its stunning scenery, historic sites, and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, it’s easy to see why Swanage is so popular.

From exploring the ruins of Corfe Castle to walking the coastal path to Old Harry Rocks, here are 15 of the best things to do in Swanage, England.

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle
Photo by Peter Trimming

Visiting Corfe Castle is definitely a must-do while in Swanage – you won’t want to miss it!

This majestic ruin has been standing in the Isle of Purbeck since the 11th century, when it was built by William the Conqueror.

Through the centuries, the castle has withstood the test of time and it is now one of the most iconic sights of the area.

The castle is surrounded by impressive ramparts and scenic views of the Purbeck Hills, making it a great spot for a picnic.

Inside, you can explore the many rooms and secret passageways, as well as learn more about its turbulent history.

A visit to Corfe Castle is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Swanage Steam Railway

Swanage Steam railway locomotive 6695
Photo by roger geach

Experience the nostalgia of a leisurely journey through the charming countryside aboard Swanage Steam Railway. This unique attraction is a classic steam railway in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck. It operates along a six-mile round trip between Norden, Corfe Castle, and Swanage.

The railway’s vintage carriages take passengers back in time to a bygone era of steam locomotion, where they can enjoy the stunning scenery of the Purbeck Hills, the ruins of Corfe Castle, and the Jurassic Coastline. The journey takes about an hour, and the train stops at several points along the way to allow passengers to disembark and take in the scenery.

The friendly staff make sure that everyone has a pleasant and enjoyable ride, and the souvenir shop at the station is filled with a selection of unique items for passengers to take home as a memento of their time in Swanage.

Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage
Photo by Malc McDonald

Marvel at the stunning beauty of Old Harry Rocks, a series of chalk cliffs situated on the Isle of Purbeck in southern England.

Located near the resort town of Swanage, in the English county of Dorset, the iconic white cliffs of Old Harry Rocks stretch for almost a mile along the coastline.

Admire the spectacular views of the English Channel from either side of the cliffs, as well as the many geologic formations, including the rocky stacks, caves, and arches that have been formed by the sea.

Visit the nearby Old Harry’s Point, a popular destination for hikers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers alike.

Enjoy the stunning sunset views, as well as the spectacular panoramas of the surrounding coastline.

Explore the area by boat or take a guided tour of the cliffs and the nearby nature reserve.

Old Harry Rocks offer incredible views and activities, making it one of the best things to do in Swanage.

Durlston Country Park

Set off on an adventure to explore the wonders of Durlston Country Park, located near the cliffs of Old Harry Rocks in southern England. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich history, Durlston Country Park is a great place to spend a day.

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The park’s only resident is the park keeper, but visitors can explore the trails, bird watch, and enjoy the stunning views of Swanage Bay. The park is also home to an 18th-century lighthouse, a dinosaur museum, and a stunning walled garden. There are plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy, such as picnicking, bird watching, and exploring the trails. Visitors may even spot some of the park’s resident badgers and foxes.

For those who are looking for a unique experience, the park also offers an audio tour, which takes visitors through the history and natural beauty of the area.

Durlston Country Park is an ideal destination for anyone looking for a peaceful day out in the English countryside.

Durlston Castle

Take a stroll up to the ruins of Durlston Castle, a 13th-century fortress, perched atop a hill overlooking the sea. It was built by a local lord in the 1290s and served as a defensive fortification against the threat of French invasion. Today, the castle is a popular spot to explore and take in picturesque views of Swanage and the surrounding area.

The ruins have been partially restored, with a few of the original walls still standing. The castle grounds have been landscaped to include pathways, gardens, and an orchard. The views from the top of the hill are stunning, and the castle makes a great backdrop for photographs.

The grounds also include a cafe and a gift shop, making it a great place to grab a snack or souvenir. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a bit of history, Durlston Castle is the perfect spot.

Studland Beach

Just a short drive away lies Studland Beach, an idyllic destination boasting some of the finest shoreline in the region. This beach is one of the most popular spots in Swanage and is ideal for a family day out.

With miles of golden sand, the beach is great for sunbathing and paddling in the warm waters of the sea. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained, such as swimming, sailing, and kayaking. The beach also has a small pier, perfect for taking in the views of the nearby Purbecks and Old Harry Rocks.

Adjacent to the beach is Studland nature reserve, home to an abundance of birds and wildlife. Take a stroll along the nature trails, or hire a bike and explore the area. There are plenty of nature reserves along the coast, so you can look out for rare species and stunning views. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the local seals or dolphins swimming in the sea.

With so much to do, Studland Beach is a great place to spend a day in Swanage.

Kimmeridge Bay

Perched on the rocky shores of Swanage lies Kimmeridge Bay, a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

This picturesque coastal area is home to some of the most stunning views in the entire region.

Visitors can take a stroll along the rugged seafront, admiring the dramatic cliffs, or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters.

Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted by the array of birds, seals, and other aquatic life that inhabit the bay.

For the more adventurous, there is the opportunity to explore the area by kayak or try your hand at fishing.

However, one of the best things to do at Kimmeridge Bay is simply relax and take in the captivating natural beauty of the area.

A must-see destination for anyone visiting Swanage, Kimmeridge Bay is the perfect place to spend a day of relaxation and exploration.

Agglestone Rock

Nestled in the heart of Kimmeridge Bay sits Agglestone Rock, a mesmerizing boulder of ancient origin that stands as a stark reminder of the area’s unique history.

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The huge rock stands at a height of about 5 meters and is composed of two main boulders and several smaller ones.

It is believed that its origin dates back to more than 350 million years ago, when the area was part of a vast sea.

Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word that means “fieldstone”, and it’s believed to have been used as a ritual site by the Celts.

Visiting Agglestone Rock is a must-do activity if you’re visiting Swanage, England.

It’s an incredible sight to behold and a great way to immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty.

Despite its immense size, it’s surprisingly easy to climb, so you can take in the breathtaking views from the top.

You can also explore the other attractions nearby, such as the nearby Kimmeridge Cliffs and the Durlston Country Park.

Dancing Ledge

Sitting atop the majestic cliffs of Kimmeridge Bay is Dancing Ledge, a unique rock formation that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a romantic getaway, with the cliffs and rolling hills of Swanage providing an idyllic backdrop.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters below. The rock’s unique name comes from the sloping shape of the formation, which appears to be ‘dancing’ when the waves crash against it. It’s a great spot for sunbathing and exploring, with plenty of interesting wildlife and geological features to uncover.

Plus, the nearby beach is a great place to relax and take in the stunning views of the Jurassic Coast.

Bournemouth Beach

Just a short drive away from Dancing Ledge, you’ll find Bournemouth Beach – a beautiful stretch of golden sand, perfect for days spent swimming, sunbathing, and soaking up the sun.

Whether you’re looking to relax, explore, or have some fun, this beach has something for everyone. The water is a stunning crystal-clear blue and the sand is soft and inviting.

The beach is well-maintained and there are plenty of amenities available, including public toilets and kiosks. You can also rent umbrellas and beach chairs, and there are a few restaurants and cafes nearby.

The beach is also dog-friendly, making it a great spot for families who want to bring their furry friends along.

Bournemouth Beach is the ideal place for a fun day out – take a dip in the sea, build sandcastles, or just sit back and watch the world go by.

St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church, overlooking the charming town of Swanage in England, is a breathtaking sight to behold. Its 19th-century neo-Gothic architecture is a reminder of the town’s rich history and culture, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the area.

Inside, you’ll find a variety of religious artifacts and artworks, as well as a beautiful stained glass window, all of which make for a great experience. The church also offers a unique view of the town and its surrounding countryside, so make sure to take a few photos while you’re there.

There is also a café next door that serves up delicious homemade cakes and refreshments.

Visiting St. Mary’s Church is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Swanage, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the area.

Swanage Pier

After taking in the calming atmosphere of St. Mary’s Church, why not continue your exploration of Swanage with a visit to Swanage Pier?

Built in 1896, this historic pier, stretching out nearly a quarter of a mile into the English Channel, offers fantastic views of the Jurassic Coast and a range of activities for the whole family.

Take a stroll along the pier and admire the views or grab a bite to eat and a hot drink at the café – there’s something for everyone!

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If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try your hand at fishing! The pier is a hotspot for anglers and the resident fishermen are always happy to share their tips and tricks.

There are also boat trips available from the pier, taking you out to explore the bay or along the Jurassic Coast.

With so much to see and do, Swanage Pier is a must-visit for any trip to Swanage!

Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre

Explore the history of Swanage at the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, where you can discover all sorts of fascinating artifacts and stories about the town.

From ancient fossils to the history of its coastal defense, the museum takes you on a journey through time.

The museum also features an interactive exhibition and activities for children, allowing the whole family to learn more about the town’s past.

From an old-fashioned sweet shop to the Victorian-era post office, you can explore the many things that have changed in Swanage over the years.

The museum also has a gift shop, so you can take home a piece of Swanage’s history.

The museum is open all year round, with free admission for visitors.

With a variety of events and activities throughout the year, there’s always something new to explore.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you won’t want to miss the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre.

It’s the perfect place to learn about the history of this charming seaside town.

Swanage Market

After exploring the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, I’m ready to explore the local market. Swanage Market provides a unique experience for visitors.

Approximately twice a week, the market square comes alive with a variety of vendors offering fresh produce, unique local art, and more. You can find anything from locally-made cheese, to handmade jewelry, to fresh flowers.

I love to wander around the market stalls, admiring the wares and sampling the delicious treats. The vendors are friendly and always willing to chat about their products.

I never leave Swanage Market without a souvenir or two!

Isle of Purbeck Golf Club

Golfing enthusiasts must experience the breathtaking views at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club, located in Swanage, England.

The championship-level 18-hole golf course hugs the Purbeck Hills, offering stunning views of the sea, the Purbeck Valley and the distant Isle of Wight. The golf course is a par 71 and features challenging obstacles like sand bunkers, water hazards and undulating terrain.

The club also hosts competitions and tournaments throughout the year, so golfers can test their skills against other players.

The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club has been around since the early 1900s and is known for its friendly atmosphere and welcoming staff.

There is a pro shop on site, featuring all the latest golfing equipment and apparel, as well as a bar and restaurant where visitors can enjoy a meal and a drink after a long day on the course.

The club also offers lessons and group coaching sessions for those looking to improve their game.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club is the perfect place to tee off in Swanage.


Visiting Swanage is an amazing experience. There’s so much to see and do – from exploring Corfe Castle and taking a ride on the Swanage Steam Railway, to admiring Old Harry Rocks and reveling in the beauty of Durlston Country Park.

It’s definitely worth checking out Durlston Castle and Swanage Pier too. Don’t miss out on a trip to the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre either – it’s a great way to learn about the area’s history.

It’s also worth visiting the local market and taking a round of golf at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club. There’s something for everyone in Swanage, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.