Things to do in Swanage

Most who visit Swanage come from the beautiful beach, quaint seaside town and relaxing way of life. But there are so many local attractions to enjoy. We have put together the best days out in Swanage

Swanage Railway

Swanage is perhaps most famous for its steam railway. From the town centre you can alight a vintage steam train and chug to the historic village of Corfe Castle, passing the Purbeck countryside on the way. The railway line now joins the main line at Wareham, so Swanage is now fully accessible by train.

The railway puts on many events through the year for you to enjoy. Full details can be found here but the highlights include a Christmas Lights train, Devon Belle fine dining and driver experience days.

Durlston Country Park

On the town fringes in a clifftop position lies Durlston Country Park. The park access is through the town and parking is available on site (pay and display). The park can be enjoyed as a whole day out. Start with the free visitor centre at Durlston Castle and enjoy tea and cake in the cafe. There is also an art gallery in this part of the park

Park rangers are on hand to help you discover and explore the nature reserve and walks, which overlook Swanage and the sea. You might even be lucky enough to stop some dolphins!

The park puts on a pretty impressive range of events, suitable for all age ranges. These include, but are not limited too, childrens seabird activity days, night-time stargazing and living land exhibition.

Swanage Pier

No visit to Swanage would be complete without a stroll along its restored, Victorian Pier. The pier was built in 1895 for passenger services and today you can take a boat trip to Poole Quay and back. The pier is home to a dive club, cafe and is often visited by the paddle steamer ‘Waverley’.

The Pier is mostly run by volunteers, who have opened a gift shop, exhibition centre and small aquarium. The aquarium shows some of the marine life that lives under the Pier.

In film the Pier appeared in the 2017 adaption of Howards End.

Swanage Museum

Another fabulous FREE attraction in Swanage. Swanage Museum is home to exhibits that cover the recent and ancient history of the area. Starting with information on the haul of dinosaur footprints and fossils that have been found in the area, through to the history of Swanage as a source of Purbeck stone for the capital.

Putlake Adventure Farm

Putlake Adventure Park is ideal for little ones that love animals and the countyside. A former farm now converted to a visitor attraction. Watch the cows being milked, feed the baby lambs, have lunch in the cafe and if you have the energy – explore the soft play area. You can even ride on a tractor!

Swanage Beach

Swanage beach is a firm favourite with families. It has a lovely, long sandy beach. Toilets are located over the Shore Rd with good changing facilities and sand showers / water taps. The beach has consistantly been awarded Blue Flag status and is generally regarded as a safer batheing option. Lots of places to purchase and enjoy locally made ice-cream as well as cafes and restaurants. The visitor centre is also on Shore Rd, an award winning centre where the staff are happy to answer your questions.

Pedalos, beach chairs and deck chairs can be hired by the half or full day.

Old Harry Rocks

A good view of Old Harry Rocks can be enjoyed from Swanage beach, one of many boat trips or by walking to the the clifftop (but please remember to follow the safety advice below). You can walk from Swanage town but there is a closer car park at Studland South beach – with a good overflow car park. We would advice arriving early as its very popular in the summer months.

old harry rocks swanage

Safety advice – Old Harry Rocks

As with all coastal walks, keep away from the cliff edge at all times – children should be supervised and dogs kept on a lead. 

Beach Gardens

Beach Gardens is a haven of activity from April to the end of September each year.

The gardens are home to an outdoor bowling green tennis courts, basketball court and an 18 hole pitch and putt golf course.

There is a tea on the green kiosk, which sells light refreshments, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the gardens, the sea and the Purbeck Hills. Free Wifi.

You can join the Swanage Tennis Club ( or Swanage Bowling Club (

For booking enquiries: April to September please call 01929 424339. October to March please call Swanage Information Centre 01929 766018.

Sorry, no dogs allowed.

Anvil Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse can be accessed by parking at Durlston Country Park car park (small charges apply) and then following the signposts to the lighthouse. The path takes you along the coast, where you can enjoy panoramic sea views.

Swanage Pitch and Putt