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Local Secrets: The Top Hidden Gems in Bournemouth

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When it comes to top things to do in Bournemouth, there’s no shortage of great places to explore. But what about the hidden gems that you may not know about? In this blog post, we’ll uncover some of the local secrets of this beautiful seaside town and take a look at the top hidden gems in Bournemouth. From secret gardens to lesser-known art galleries, these are the must-see attractions, cafes and restaurants that should be on your radar.


Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
Experience the magic and explore art and artefacts from around the world 
Just a few minutes walk away from Bournemouth pier, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is a treasure trove of secrets, stories and treasures ready to be discovered.
This magical museum has beautiful gardens which overlook Bournemouth Beach and in the Summer you can sit outside enjoy the view from the terrace.

The cafe is free to use all year round, just let the staff know you’re headed up to the cafe and enjoy the peace and traquility of this hidden gem.
Step inside the stunning Victorian villa and be transported back in time to the lavish lifestyle of the Russell-Cotes family. The museum houses an extensive collection of art and artefacts from around the world, including beautiful works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edwin Landseer.

With regular exhibitions and events, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is the perfect destination for a cultural day out with family and friends. You can even walk up the East Cliff zig zag straight from Bournemouth beach to find the Russell-Cotes entrance.

Durdle Door
Durdle Door is one of the most iconic landmarks in the area, and for good reason. This natural limestone archway is simply breathtaking, especially on a sunny day. It’s located just over an hour’s drive from Bournemouth and is well worth the trip.
You can access Durdle Door by parking in the Lulworth Cove car park and walking down a steep footpath to the beach. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the archway and the crystal-clear waters of the Jurassic Coast.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even swim through the archway to reach a small cove on the other side. Just be sure to check the tide times before attempting this!
There are also plenty of hiking trails in the area that offer spectacular views of Durdle Door from above. One popular route is the South West Coast Path, which takes you along the clifftops towards Lulworth Cove.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach or an adventurous hike, Durdle Door is a must-visit attraction in the Bournemouth area.

Highcliffe Castle
Nestled in the seaside town of Highcliffe, Highcliffe Castle is a hidden gem that offers visitors a glimpse into the opulence of Victorian times. The castle was built in the 1830s and has since been restored and transformed into a fascinating museum. A visit to the castle is a fun and educational experience that the whole family can enjoy.

One of the most interesting things about Highcliffe Castle is its beautiful grounds. You can wander through the gardens and explore the intricate details of the castle’s architecture. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables where you can relax and take in the stunning views of the coast.
Inside the castle, you’ll find a range of exhibits that showcase the history of the castle and the people who lived there. The displays include everything from furniture and artwork to clothing and personal belongings. You can also take a tour of the castle and learn about the many fascinating stories and legends associated with the building.

If you’re looking for a unique and fun day out, Highcliffe Castle is definitely worth a visit. The beautiful setting, rich history, and engaging exhibits make it one of the top hidden gems in Bournemouth. So pack a picnic, grab your family, and head to Highcliffe Castle for a day you won’t soon forget.

Hengistbury Head
Walk from Bournemouth along the coastal path
If you’re looking for a great day out in Bournemouth, be sure to check out Hengistbury Head. This stunning nature reserve boasts beautiful views of the sea and the surrounding area, making it the perfect spot for a picnic or a relaxing stroll.
One of the highlights of Hengistbury Head is the Iron Age fort, which dates back over 2,500 years. Visitors can walk around the fort and learn about the history of the site, while enjoying the amazing views from the top.
Another must-see at Hengistbury Head is the beach, which is one of the best in the area. The beach is wide and sandy, and is great for swimming and sunbathing in the summer months. There are also plenty of cafes and shops nearby, making it easy to spend a whole day at the beach.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are plenty of activities to try at Hengistbury Head. You can go kayaking or paddleboarding along the coast, or take a guided tour of the area to learn more about the wildlife and the history of the site.
Overall, Hengistbury Head is a fantastic place to visit in Bournemouth. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out or an exciting adventure, you’ll find plenty to see and do at this stunning nature reserve. So why not pack a picnic and head out for a day of fun in the sun?

Bowl Central Bournemouth
A retro bowling alley with games, pizza and a bar
Are you looking for a fun and unique activity in Bournemouth? Look no further than Bowl Central. This retro bowling alley offers more than just a few frames of bowling – it’s an all-out entertainment experience.
Bowl Central boasts an extensive selection of arcade games, from classic favorites like Pac-Man and Space Invaders to newer hits like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Take a break from bowling and challenge your friends to a high-score competition on your favorite game.
When hunger strikes, head over to the on-site pizza parlor. Choose from classic options like pepperoni or indulge in a specialty pie like the BBQ chicken or veggie supreme. The bar is fully stocked with a variety of drinks to quench your thirst while you play.
The retro vibes at Bowl Central make it the perfect spot for a night out with friends or a unique date idea. So gather your crew, lace up your bowling shoes, and get ready for a night of fun and games at Bowl Central in Bournemouth.

Cafes & Restaurants

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum Café (free to use without a ticket)

Freshly baked scones and the best sea views of Bournemouth

One of the most hidden cafe’s in Bournemouth, did you know that you can visit the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum café for free? Just a short walk from Bournemouth Pier, the museum cafe is located on the second floor, plus the terrace cafe looks out on to Bournemouth Beach. The views are unrivalled, there’s nothing better than a day out finding the perfect spot to sit with a coffee and a cake. With a varied menu, the museum cafe has freshly made scones everyday along with cakes, sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soup in the Winter. Enjoy you cream tea on the terrace, or you can even book Afternoon Tea for 2, where you can enjoy the sea views for as long as you want.

South Coast Coffee
The best coffee in Bournemouth
If you’re in need of a caffeine fix during your visit to Bournemouth, look no further than South Coast Coffee. This small, independent café is located just a stone’s throw away from the beach and serves up some of the best coffee in town.
Their menu features a variety of espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, and specialty drinks like matcha lattes and chai tea. But what sets them apart from other coffee shops is their commitment to sustainability. They source their beans from ethically-minded farmers, use compostable packaging, and even have a mug library for customers to borrow from instead of using disposable cups.
In addition to coffee, South Coast also offers a range of tasty treats, including pastries, cakes, and sandwiches. Their avocado toast and homemade granola bowls are particularly popular.
So next time you’re strolling along the beach, be sure to stop by South Coast Coffee for a delicious cup of coffee and a snack. Your taste buds – and the environment – will thank you.

Espresso Kitchen Bournemouth
A secret spot to catch up with a friend
If you’re a coffee lover, Espresso Kitchen Bournemouth is a must-visit hidden gem in the city. Located on Wimborne Road, this café serves some of the best coffee in town, made from freshly roasted beans sourced from local roasters. Their baristas are trained to perfection and can create latte art that will make you fall in love with your cup of joe.
Aside from coffee, Espresso Kitchen also offers a range of baked goods, including cakes and pastries. They’re all freshly baked in-house, and you can taste the difference in the quality of ingredients used. The atmosphere at Espresso Kitchen is cozy and inviting, with friendly staff always ready to welcome you with a smile.
Their outdoor seating area is a perfect spot for people-watching, and the perfect place to relax and enjoy your coffee. Espresso Kitchen Bournemouth is a must-visit spot for any coffee lover visiting Bournemouth. Whether you need your morning caffeine fix or are looking for a place to relax and unwind, this café is definitely worth a visit.

Picnic Park Deli
Through Winter & Summer best cafe to stop for a drink or cake
If you’re in the mood for a picnic or just want to grab some tasty food to go, Picnic Park Deli is the perfect place for you. Located in Bournemouth’s Upper Gardens, this hidden gem is a popular spot for locals in the know.
The deli offers a variety of delicious sandwiches, pastries, and snacks that are perfect for taking to the beach or enjoying in the park. Their cheese and charcuterie boards are especially popular, with a range of cheeses, cured meats, olives, and bread to choose from.
Not only is the food top-notch, but the location can’t be beat. The Upper Gardens are a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city, with plenty of benches and grassy areas to relax and enjoy your meal.
Picnic Park Deli also offers catering for events and parties, so if you’re hosting a gathering in Bournemouth, be sure to check them out.
If you’re looking for a delicious and unique food experience in Bournemouth, make sure to add Picnic Park Deli to your list of must-visit spots.

Ojo Rojo
A little slice of Mexico in the heart of Bournemouth
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, look no further than Ojo Rojo. This Mexican-inspired restaurant and bar serves up delicious cocktails and small plates with a twist.
Start with the queso fundido, a melted cheese dip served with tortilla chips. For the main event, try the tacos al pastor, a traditional Mexican dish made with marinated pork and served on a soft tortilla. Pair it with one of their signature cocktails, like the Ojo Rojo Margarita or the spicy Bloody Maria.
But Ojo Rojo is more than just a restaurant. It’s a hub for the local creative community, with regular events like live music, art exhibitions, and workshops. Plus, their vibrant decor and colorful murals make it a fun spot for Instagram-worthy photos.
If you’re looking for more things to do in Bournemouth, Ojo Rojo also hosts a popular cocktail-making masterclass. Learn how to shake and stir your own cocktails while sipping on some of their expertly crafted drinks.So, add Ojo Rojo to your list of things to do in Bournemouth and experience a little taste of Mexico in the heart of the city. Whether you’re looking for a lively night out or a unique dining experience, Ojo Rojo is the perfect spot to visit. Their welcoming staff and cozy atmosphere make it a great place to unwind and relax.
But Ojo Rojo isn’t just for adults. They also have a kid’s menu and are family-friendly, making it a great spot for a day out with the family. The vibrant decor and exciting atmosphere will keep the little ones entertained while you enjoy your meal.
Overall, Ojo Rojo is a must-visit on any list of things to do in Bournemouth. From their delicious food and cocktails to their creative events and lively atmosphere, it’s a spot you won’t want to miss. So, gather your friends, bring the family, and experience a little slice of Mexico in the heart of Bournemouth at Ojo Rojo.


Vicolo Restaurant Pizza & Pasta

Food that will make you die and go to heaven 

Located in the heart of Bournemouth, Vicolo Restaurant is a true hidden gem. This cozy Italian eatery serves up some of the best pizza and pasta in town.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with rustic brick walls and soft lighting that create an intimate ambiance. The menu is extensive and offers a range of traditional and contemporary Italian dishes, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Their pizzas are simply divine, with thin crispy crusts and generous toppings. Their pasta dishes are equally delicious, with perfectly cooked noodles and flavorful sauces. Don’t forget to try their tiramisu for dessert – it’s simply heavenly.

The service at Vicolo Restaurant is exceptional, with friendly and knowledgeable staff who are always happy to help. The prices are reasonable too, making it a great choice for a casual night out or a romantic date.

Whether you’re a local or just passing through, Vicolo Restaurant is definitely worth a visit. You won’t regret it!


May 30, 2023

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