In the Area

Swanage lies on the south east coast of Dorset, about 10km south of Poole. It is on a strangely shaped peninsula called the Isle of Purbeck, which is not actually an island at all. It has an east facing sandy bay which makes it popular with summer visitors.

The town was originally a small port and fishing community and it flourished when local quarrying for its prized Purbeck marble was at its zenith. The marble was used for paving the streets of London after the Great Fire of London in 1666. With the arrival of the railway in 1885, Swanage attracted the attention of wealthy Victorians when sea bathing became fashionable. Tourism remains Swanage's main industry today.

The lighthouse was built in 1880 and two piers were built around that time, one of which was used for pleasure steamers.

Swanage is credited with the development of radar which stood for "radio detection and ranging" when it was worked on in secret during World War II. Swanage is mentioned in several books including Howard's End by E.M. Forster and international writer and artist, Philip Sugden, was born here.

Things to See and Do In and Around Swanage

Durlston Country Park (<1 Mile)

Durlston Country ParkDurlston is a fabulous 113 hectare (280 acre) countryside paradise, consisting of sea-cliffs, coastal limestone downland, haymeadows, hedgerows and woodland.

Whether it is the fabulous views, walks, the Great Globe, the superb geology, 400+ species of plant, 250+ species of bird, 34 species of butterfly, or the wide range of other wildlife, there is always something different to see at Durlston.

Swanage Railway (<1 Mile)

Swanage RailwayThe award-winning Swanage Railway currently operates on the six miles of track between Swanage and Norden, through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle. The Isle covers approximately 100 square miles but it is not a true island even though the English Channel, Poole Harbour and the River Frome almost surround it.


Scuba Diving, Kayaking, Water Sports & Fishing (<1 Mile)

Swanage PierSwanage is a very popular site for divers, and is home to the oldest diving school in the UK. Equipment hire and boat chartering are available, many of which are centred around the pier. Fishing and pleasure boats trips can be enjoyed, and there are regular cruises to Poole.


Studland Beach and Nature Reserve (3 Miles)

Studland BayStudland Bay is a stunningly beautiful stretch of Dorset coastline near Swanage, part of which is owned by the National Trust.

It is separated from the well-known sands ofBournemouth by the Poole harbour, and a chain ferry runs from Poole to Shell Bay which is at the head of Studland Bay.


Corfe Castle (5 Miles)

Corfe CastleOn the site of the ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset there once stood the most magnificent castle of Middle Age England.

Even in its current ruined state it is very easy to imagine its former grandeur.


Brownsea Island (6 Miles)

Brownsea IslandAs an island nation we have a special fascination with islands and Brownsea Island is no exception.

A visit to this tiny island set in Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney, is a real adventure.


Compton Acres (7 Miles)

Compton AcresCompton Acres invites you to escape to a different world.

Individual themed gardens set in ten acres with spectacular views over Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills. It's a uniquely beautiful journey of discovery.


Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum (9 Miles)

Russell-CotesRussell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum was built in 1897 as a home for Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes. It was gifted to Bournemouth Borough Council with its contents of a substantial art collection, furniture, ceramics, sculpture and world-wide collection when they died.


Lulworth Castle and Park (10 Miles)

Lulworth CastleLulworth Castle was built between 1608 and 1610 and became the family home of Humphrey Weld when he purchased the estate in 1641. It was built primarily as a hunting lodge and has played host to a total of seven monarchs.


Lulworth Heritage Centre (11 Miles)

Lulworth Hertitage CentreA variety of displays illustrate the natural and social history of the area. A modern rocks gallery tells the story of Lulworth from 150 million years ago to the present day. There is an information desk giving guidance and details of our regular walks and events held in this stunning area.


Knoll Gardens (13 Miles)

Knoll GardensHidden away in a quiet corner of east Dorset is the garden of internationally acclaimed plantsman Neil Lucas. Strolling around this secluded four-acre garden you'll discover rare and unusual trees and shrubs, quiet places of contemplation and dramatic focal points, from the fabulous Dragon Garden to the glorious grassy Decennium Border.


Monkey World (15 Miles)

Monkey WorldWorld-renowned ape rescue centre and home to chimpanzees, orang-utans, gibbons, marmosets, lemurs and many, many more. Established in 1987, Monkey World works with foreign governments to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia.


The Tank Museum (16 Miles)

Tank MuseumAn extraordinary collection of armoured fighting vehicles from around the world, a number of which have been completely restored and featured in major films. Regular live action displays, particularly during holiday periods. An absolute must for history buffs.