Explore Bournemouth Pier: Your Guide to its Incredible Attractions and History
Updated: Aug 11
Bournemouth Pier, a hidden gem nestled along the southern coast of England, is more than just your average seaside attraction.
With its rich history, stunning beaches, and exciting activities, it really is one of the UK's must-visit seaside resorts. So, why not join us as we take you on a journey through the Pier’s excellent attractions and history, providing you with everything you need to know for an unforgettable visit?
Set in the middle of ten miles of golden sand and equipped with the world’s first pier-to-shore zip wire, Bournemouth Pier has something for everyone, whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing day by the sea and want to browse the retail outlets.
Let’s dive in and uncover all that this iconic landmark has to offer us.
Explore Bournemouth Pier to discover its vibrant attractions & history.
Adrenaline junkies can enjoy thrilling activities while everyone else can take in the stunning views and delicious dining options.
Car park and wheelchair accessibility make it easy for all visitors to have a stress-free experience!
A Journey through Bournemouth Pier
Our adventure begins at the picturesque Bournemouth Beach, where golden sands stretch ten miles, as far east as the eye can see, and the crystal-clear waters of the bay invite you to take a dip. As we make our way towards the pier entrance, we pass through an open promenade brimming with ice creams, sunny day essentials, lovely fresh orange juice, and enticing attractions.
And it’s not just the pier’s stunning location that impresses – its rich history and ever-evolving attractions make it a fascinating place to visit, with plenty to discover on our journey from the pier approach to the end of the pier.
Bournemouth Beach is a sight to behold, with its golden sand and stunning views of the Purbeck Hills and the Isle of Wight.
As one of the UK’s most beautiful coastal spots, it’s no wonder that visitors flock here to soak up the sun, swim in the sea, or relax on the sand.
With plenty of beach huts, a promenade, and an array of restaurants and shops, it's voted the number one thing to do in Bournemouth on TripAdvisor. So there’s always something to do or see at Bournemouth Beach, making it a perfect destination along the Bournemouth seafront.
Pier Approach and Entrance (suggested duration 1-2 hours)
As we enter the pier approach, the amusement arcade, Pier Amusements Family Entertainment Centre (open daily from 10am to 10pm), and Oceanarium greets us with the promise of fun and excitement.
This lively arcade is a favourite among visitors and has even been graced by the presence of the Lord Mayor of London in the past. Inside, you’ll find the newest games, including smugglers cove crazy golf and a variety of stalls selling everything from ice cream to sun hats and postcards.
Right above the arcade, you’ll find the Aruba Bar and Restaurant, offering beautiful views of Bournemouth Beach and the surrounding area.
This is just one of the many dining options available at Bournemouth Pier, such as Vicolo, Coffee Reef Cafe, Offshore Cafe, WestBeach Restaurant, and the RockReef Café (mezzanine level in the rock reef adventure) - more on that later!
Bournemouth Oceanarium (suggested duration 1-2 hours)
On the right side of the pier approach, discover the stunning underwater world and witness sharks, stingrays, a Loggerhead turtle, and otters! Don't forget to watch the cunning crocodiles, the menacing piranhas, clownfish, eels, and our colony of Humboldt penguins!
Tickets are good all day, so take advantage of the great aquarium with captivating regular feeds and talks.
Recharge in the newly-refurbished Offshore Café and find the perfect unique gifts and souvenirs in The Cove Gift Shop. The underwater adventure is open daily from 10am to 6pm; last admission is at 5pm.
The Evolution of Bournemouth Pier
The history of Bournemouth Pier is a fascinating tale of progress and innovation. The first pier was completed in 1856, designed by Eugenius Birch and extended to over 1000 feet in length over the years. The Pier saw numerous developments, including the addition of covered shelters and a bandstand in 1885 and a reconstruction of the pier head in 1950.
In recent years, the Pier has continued to evolve, with the theatre being converted into the RockReef indoor activity centre and the addition of the thrilling PierZip. This ever-changing attraction is a testament to Bournemouth’s commitment to providing visitors with an engaging and entertaining experience.
New Bournemouth Pier
The new Bournemouth Pier opened in August 1880, and boasts a wealth of modern attractions and facilities for visitors to enjoy. From the impressive theatre, restaurants, and shops to adrenaline-pumping activities like the PierZip and RockReef Adventure Activity Center, the Pier has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
The evolution of Bournemouth Pier is a testament to the town’s commitment to providing an exciting and memorable experience for all who visit. By continually updating and improving its attractions, Bournemouth Pier ensures that it remains a relevant and engaging destination for years to come.
Thrilling Activities on the Pier
RockReef Adventure Activity Center (address: Pier Approach, BH2 5AA)
If you’re looking for a rush of adrenaline, Bournemouth Pier has got you covered.
At the RockReef Adventure Activity Center, you can tackle a variety of thrilling challenges, including Clip ‘n’ Climb, Highline, Pier Cave, and the heart-stopping ‘Leap of Faith’ jumping challenge.
It’s the perfect place to test your limits and have a blast with friends or family.
Clip'n climb Prices
Weekends and Holidays -£17.50
Weekdays - £12
Weekends and Holidays (Groups of 10+) - £12 each
For those seeking an even greater thrill, look no further than the PierZip. Opened in September 2014, this exhilarating zip wire stretches from the pier to the shore, offering a unique and unforgettable experience.
As the world’s first pier-to-shore zip wire, the PierZip is a must-try for any adrenaline junkie visiting Bournemouth Pier.
Pier Zip Pricing
Summer (Apr to Sep): 1 Person - £22
Summer: 2Person (dual)- £40
Winter(Oct to Mar): 1 Person - £17
Winter: 2Person (dual)- £30
Requirements: Minimum Height: 1.3 meters, Min Weight: 30kg, Max Weight: 120kg
Whether you’re an experienced thrill-seeker or a nervous first-timer, Bournemouth Pier offers a range of exciting activities that cater to all levels of adventure. From the challenging obstacles at RockReef to the high-flying fun of the PierZip, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Dining Options: Key West and Beyond
After a day of exploring and enjoying the attractions at Bournemouth Pier, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Luckily, the Pier offers a variety of dining options to satisfy your hunger. One popular choice is the key west restaurant, which serves delicious meals and refreshing drinks with a stunning view of the surrounding area.
Another great option is the Aruba Bar and Restaurant, situated above the arcade at the pier entrance. With a menu full of tasty dishes and a vibrant atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a meal after a day of fun.
Of course, these are just a couple of the many dining options available at Bournemouth Pier. With Vicolo, Coffee Reef Cafe, Offshore Cafe, WestBeach Restaurant, and the RockReef Café also on offer, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to satisfying your cravings.
Parking and Accessibility
For those visiting Bournemouth Pier by car, there are several convenient car park options nearby, including Bath Road North & South, BIC, Winter Gardens, Beacon Road, and Eden Glen. Additionally, the pier is accessible for wheelchair users, and disabled parking spaces are available. See the map in the FAQ section below.
With these facilities in place, Bournemouth Pier ensures that all visitors can enjoy an amazing service, providing a stress-free and enjoyable experience with free entry.
Bournemouth Pier - Exciting Annual Events
Bournemouth Pier-to-Pier Swim
With some waves and gorgeous views of England’s South Coast as your backdrop, join swimmers from across Europe on the first Saturday in July, for a unique fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation.
How far is Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim?
Join the Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim and take on the challenge of swimming 1.4 miles between the iconic piers.
Put your willpower to work and help support their research! Sign up today and make a difference.
Bournemouth Air Festival
The Bournemouth Air Festival is a highly anticipated annual event that takes place over four days along the seafront. It showcases breathtaking aerial stunts by the RAF Red Arrows, Typhoon, and Battle of Britain planes, making it a must-see for visitors to Bournemouth.
Alongside the thrilling aerial displays, the festival offers sea-based activities, static displays, and military demonstrations, providing diverse entertainment for all ages.
If you're an aviation enthusiast or enjoy a jaw-dropping show, the Bournemouth Air Festival from 31st August to 3rd September is an unforgettable experience that shouldn't be missed.
TripAdvisor Ratings and Reviews
Bournemouth Pier consistently receives high praise from travellers on TripAdvisor, where it is rated in the top 20 best things to do in Bournemouth, with over 90% of visitors recommending it as a must-see destination.
Many reviewers appreciate the variety of attractions, the beautiful views, and the pier’s rich history. The excellent service provided by the various establishments on the pier also receives frequent mentions.
It’s clear that Bournemouth Pier is a beloved attraction among both locals and tourists alike. With its stunning location, thrilling activities, and diverse dining options, it’s no wonder that visitors continue to share their positive experiences on TripAdvisor, encouraging others to visit this iconic landmark.
What are Bournemouth Pier's Opening Times?
The Pier is open year-round, from 1 Jan 2023 - 31 Dec 2023
Monday - Sunday 09:00 to 23:00 *opening times are subject to change due to adverse weather
From its humble beginnings in the 19th century to its modern-day status as a thrilling seaside attraction, Bournemouth Pier has stood the test of time. With its gorgeous beach, fascinating history, and an array of exciting activities and dining options, it’s no wonder that it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
As we conclude our journey through Bournemouth Pier, it’s clear that this iconic landmark and town has something for everyone, whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to bask in the beauty of the UK’s stunning coastline.
So why not make Bournemouth Pier your next destination and experience the magic for yourself?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Bournemouth Pier Theatre still open?
The Pier Theatre was once a historic venue that hosted a variety of performances and events, providing entertainment for visitors and locals alike.
This iconic theatre was a significant part of Bournemouth Pier’s history and an integral part of the seaside experience.
Though the Pier Theatre is no longer in operation, its spirit lives on through the RockReef indoor activity centre, which now occupies the space.
This transformation is a prime example of how Bournemouth Pier continues to adapt and evolve, offering new and exciting experiences for visitors while preserving the memories of its storied past, even when the pier closed for a brief period.
How many piers are there in Bournemouth?
Surprising as it may sound, Bournemouth has a total of two piers – so why not take a leisurely walk between them and take in the scenery? Or make a day of it and explore the area?
There are plenty of attractions to keep you entertained, from the beach to the gardens and the pier itself. You can even take a boat trip and head out to sea and enjoy the views of the coastline.
Where is the best place to park for the beach in Bournemouth?
If you’re looking for the best place to park for a stroll along the Pier and beach in Bournemouth, the nearest parking is only 5 mins walk, they're well-maintained and offer plenty of parking spaces, making them a good choice (if a little expensive).
For those on a budget we suggest parking a bit further up the hill where people have found a car park for £5 all day.
Bath Road North & South par parks - 0.2 miles
BIC Car Park - 0.2 miles
If during high season they are full, the Winter Gardens Car Park, Beacon Road Car Park and Eden Glen Car Park are all within a short stroll (0.3 miles) of the beach.
As the map below shows, there are plenty of car parks that are all conveniently located and offer a great way to get to the beach quickly and easily.
What activities are available at Bournemouth Pier?
Bournemouth Pier is the perfect spot for a fun day out, with activities ranging from rock climbing to the thrilling PierZip. There’s something for everyone at this popular attraction.
When does the Bournemouth Air Festival take place?
The Bournemouth Air Festival is an annual event that takes place every summer, usually during the last week of August. So plan your visit now to be part of the spectacle!
The Air Festival is a great opportunity to experience the thrill of aviation and to witness some of the world’s most impressive aircraft. From the Red Arrows to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, there is something for everyone.
Can you fish off Bournemouth Pier?
Yes, there is great fishing but due to the popularity of the pier during Summer, it's recommended to fish on an incoming tide, early in the morning or late in the evening.
From June through to September, expect to catch Sea Bass, Dogfish, Soles, Flounders, Mullet, Mackerel, Garfish, Gurnard, Bream, Scad and even Ray.
In the Winter, be on the lookout for Plaice, Codling and Whiting.
For the latest news, including if fishing is closed on Bournemouth Pier, please get in touch with the BCP Tourist Information Centre on 01202 123800.
Directions to Bournemouth Pier
By Road - From the A338 Wessex Way, follow the brown signs to the beaches or Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). Parking - The closest pay and display car parks are just a few minutes walk to key west. The closest car parks are: Bath Road North & South Car Parks – 0.2 miles, BIC Car Park – 0.2 miles, Winter Gardens Car Park – 0.3 miles, Beacon Road Car Park – 0.3 Miles, Eden Glen Car Park – 0.3 Miles. By Coach - Coaches can drop passengers off in the turning area next to the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), a two-minute walk from Bournemouth Pier. By Rail - The closest railway station is Bournemouth Train Station – 1.5 miles away By Air - The closest airport is Bournemouth International Airport – 6.5 miles away
Bournemouth Pier is wheelchair accessible with flat surfaces. The main entrances to RockReef Activity Attraction and Key West Bar & Grill have small ramps and wide double doors. Both buildings have toilets on the ground floor, including a disabled toilet on the East side of the pier. Baby changing facilities are available as well.
Is Bournemouth Pier Dog Friendly?
Yes, dogs and Assistance dogs are welcome on Bournemouth Pier and all dogs must be kept on leads. Key West Bar & Grill, is a dog-friendly restaurant where dogs are welcome at any time and water bowls are available upon request.