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Things to do inSwanage

Visitor information for Swanage in Dorset

  • Swanage
  • Swanage
  • Swanage
  • Swanage

For traditional seaside holidays, where the beaches are golden and the sun always seems to shine, Swanage is hard to beat!

The main beach is a corker – it consistently achieves European Blue Flag status and runs the whole length of the town. Here you can enjoy the many water sport activities on offer such as sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and pedalo hire, or simply relax and soak up the sun. If you don’t want to carry all your gear to the beach each day then why not hire a beach hut: with deckchairs, a table and electric power they make an ideal base from which to enjoy not only the beach but also the nearby public gardens and town centre shops. Stroll along the Victorian pier, or gain an insight into the town’s history at the Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre which is situated in The Square, just off the lower High Street.

Things to do in Swanage

Other attractions include Putlake Adventure Farm and also the famous steam rail at Swanage Railway, the latter of which offers a nostalgic journey through the Purbeck countryside to Corfe Castle. Just a mile from the town centre is Durlston Country Park with its stunning sea views and a mix of cliffs, ancient meadows, hedgerows, woodland and downs. Within the park is Durlston Castle, built between 1887 and 1891 as the centrepiece of Victorian philanthropist George Burt’s Durlston estate. A major refurbishment project, completed in 2011, included a new ‘gateway’ Visitor Centre to the Jurassic Coast. A spectacular new cafe, exhibition area and gardens have also been incorporated, which make a visit to Durlston even more attractive.

Swanage Railway

The steam railway within Swanage is one of the flagship attractions that makes the town so special. Why? Swanage Railway is the most intensive preserved steam railway service than any other. The railway was demolished by British Rail in 1972, so the community of steam rail fanatics proved the power of human will and rebuilt the railway.

After relaying the track by hand, the hard work and dedication led to the railway reopening in 1979. Since then, Swanage Railway has been expanding its parameters and offering a spectacular experience for visitors. You can now visit Wareham, Corfe Castle and Norden on the classic steam locomotives.

Developments over the years have allowed for a variety of experiences alongside a regular trip; from fine dining on a journey to getting a hands-on experience of driving the locomotives. It makes for the perfect gift or a simple, unique experience that will wind back the years.

History of Swanage

Although Swanage’s known history dates back as far as 6000BC, the town developed in the 12th century upon the growing demand of Purbeck stone to use for buildings such as cathedrals. This demand bolstered even further after the Great Fire of London for similar reasons.

In the 19th century, a road was built along Swanage’s seafront which attracted a visit from Princess Victoria; this led to the town gaining a reputation as a seaside resort. The popularity of Swanage’s seafront allowed for businesses to make the most of the increasing number of visits, to which the town was soon populated by shops, pubs and restaurants later in the 19th century.

In more recent years (20th century onwards), Swanage Pier was rebuilt after its demolishment during WWII, and the Swanage Railway development followed.

The timeline of events that lie at the heart of Swanage make the town what it is today – nothing short of exquisite.

Swanage Map

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You can also explore all of the Swanage venues on our Swanage Map.

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