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The pretty coastal town of Swanage sits on the east coast of the glorious Isle of Purbeck, on the South Dorset Coast. Famous for its sandy beaches and gorgeous countryside, Purbeck is also home to the enchanting Corfe Castle as well as the Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve.
Just over six miles south of the seaside town of Poole with its natural harbour and long stretches of beach, Swanage is twenty-five miles east of Dorchester, the county town of Dorset. If you want to stay closer to home, Swanage has its own beautiful sandy beach with lovely swimming water so is the perfect place for a family holiday by the sea. With a traditional seaside vibe, it has its own pier and promenade lined with amusements and is the home of the Swanage Railway, where you can hop aboard for a trip up to the enchanting Corfe Castle.
Things to do in Swanage
Durlston Country Park
This National Nature Reserve has to be one of the highlights of any stay in Purbeck. A heady mixture of 280 acres of coastal cliffs and pretty countryside, the area is a haven of wildlife and is an AONB, with its offshore waters forming part of the Marine Research Area. The Castle Visitor Centre is a great place for exhibits and the historic Great Globe and the renovated Durlston Castle shouldn’t be missed.
Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre
This unique little building is situated in the Old Market Building on the seafront. The Swanage Museum is a great mixture of history and geology and there are fascinating talks as well as educational packs for children. The little area selling local crafts is also worth browsing as it is the perfect place to pick up some presents for those left at home.
Hop aboard this steam train that will take you up to the renowned Corfe Castle, one of England’s most iconic surviving fortresses of the English Civil War era. With trains running daily from April to October and at weekends during the rest of the year, there is no more nostalgic way to get to the castle than winding your way through the beautiful Purbeck countryside.
Jurassic Coast Walking
One of the best ways to see the spectacular Jurassic Coast is along the South West Coast Path. There are 95 miles of interconnecting footpaths and bridleways to discover from Old Harry Rocks to Exmouth, which make up part of the SWCP National Trail. Not only will you be met with breathtaking scenery from the clifftops, at sea level you can admire the special rock formations, and even hunt for your own fossils.
Old Harry Rocks
This famous area standing proudly at the southern end of Studland Bay, is made up of three chalk formations, including a stack and a stump. Marking the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they are one of the most photographed locations in the world. Thousands of years ago, the Old Harry Rocks and the Needles on the Isle of Wight were actually linked by chalk hills but they eroded away during the last ice age. There is a great easy National Trust walk in the area which takes a couple of hours and is also dog-friendly, but remember to keep pooches on leads near cliff edges.
This wonderful sandy beach is the perfect spot to soak up the sun while not being too far away from the action. With its great quality water, Swanage Beach is the perfect place for a refreshing swim. It is backed by a traditional seaside promenade lined with amusements and attractions and you can hire pedalos, sunbeds and deck chairs, even a beach hut for the full English seaside experience! The four-mile stretch of sand has wonderful views of Old Harry Rocks as well as the Isle of Wight to the east.
Swanage is situated on the east coast of the Isle of Purbeck. Only 15 minutes by car to Studland, Worth Matravers and Corfe Castle, it is also approachable by the Sandbanks Ferry from Poole or Bournemouth which sails straight into Swanage.
Stay in Swanage
If we have inspired you to visit this beautiful area, why not have a look at our selection of cottages in Swanage? They will be the perfect base to visit all of the wonderful things that the eastern side of Purbeck has to offer.