10 things to do in Swanage
- Ride the Swanage Railway
- Visit Durlston Country Park
- Burngate Stone Carving Centre
- Go Coasteering
- Take a walk to St Aldhelms Head
- Follow the Smugglers’ Way
- Handmade chocolates at Chococo
- Beachside dining at The Cabin
- Sundowners and shell fish at Gee Whites
- Enjoy a pasty, a pint and a view at The Square and Compass
Swanage is a small seaside town marking the eastern end of the world famous Jurassic Coast and is very popular for its sandy beaches and coastal walks. It has a working steam railway, historic pier and plays host to many events and festivals throughout the year. Browse cottages in Swanage here.
Worth Matravers and Langton Matravers are located immediately to the West of Swanage and both were originally quarrying villages. Langton Matravers runs up the hill from Swanage and Worth Matravers is an iconic Dorset village with a legendary pub only a short way further West.
We’ve picked 10 things to do in Swanage to give you some ideas for your Dorset holiday.
The Swanage Railway is a central part of Swanage life. With the station located in the heart of the town, you can hear the whistles and see the steam as you wander through the town centre. You can enjoy the ride through the Purbeck countryside on a six-mile journey to Corfe Castle by steam as it would have been in yesteryear, or at certain times of the year, take a diesel train to Wareham. For a more involved experience, there are driver experiences, dining trains and plenty of other special events.
Durlston Country Park is a 280 acre national nature reserve on the edge of Swanage. Start your day at the castle with its visitor centre, shop and café/restaurant. Then set off across the park following well-marked trails and enjoy the views across the cliff tops and meadows, whilst viewing the abundant wildlife. Finish off with a visit to the lighthouse which is a Swanage landmark.
Burngate Stone Carving Centre teaches traditional stone carving skills for all ages and you can choose the length of your course to create your masterpiece. The Centre also provides other art and rural craft courses and family activities. There is a craft shop and tea room where you can sit back and enjoy the view over Swanage to the Isle of Wight.
If there was a national centre for coasteering then Purbeck would probably be the place. There are numerous companies that operate off the Purbeck cliffs, normally concentrated on Dancing Ledge. The two main companies are Land and Wave or Cumulus and it is a great fun way to see a whole different aspect of the Jurassic Coast – by jumping off ledges and into the sea.
St Aldhelms Head is the most southerly point of the Purbeck Coast. With a Norman chapel, coastguard lookout and a line of white cottages, it is an iconic Purbeck landmark. There is a great circular walk from Worth Matravers, where you can enjoy a well-earned rest at the Tea Rooms.
Smugglers’ Way is a circular walk from Worth Matravers to Seacombe. You walk down the valley through fields from Worth Matravers to Winspit Cove. Winspit Cove is famous for its quarry caves which were used as a backdrop for Dr Who in the 60’s and 70’s. The cove is a limestone lagoon and is great for swimming and snorkelling in good weather as well as fantastic cliff jumping. You then head east along the South West Coast Path to Seacombe – a rocky limestone ledge with more great rock jumping and swimming. You can then either extend your walk to Dancing Ledge or head back to Worth Matravers by heading up the valley.
Tucked away in a pedestrianised lane in the centre of Swanage is Dorset’s answer to Willy Wonka’s factory – a chocoholic’s heaven. These handmade chocolates are to die for and you can either buy from the shop to indulge in at home or enjoy their Chocolate Kitchen opposite. They even have chocolate workshops where you can learn their secrets – no Golden Ticket required.
The Cabin is Swanage’s best kept secret. Tucked away at the Eastern end of Swanage’s beach is this great café sitting right on the beach. Famous for its lobster ’n’ crab burger which is a must try. You can dine al fresco at their chairs and tables or you can forget taking a picnic to the beach and just order a takeaway.
Gee Whites is an al fresco seafood restaurant on the quay in the centre of Swanage. This is a great spot to watch the harbour’s comings and goings as the rest of the world goes by. A little known secret that most people miss is an upstairs seating area that gives a great view right across the bay and away from the crowds.
Many people refer to this pub as their best pub in the world. The bar is a small hatch in the wall with a large selection of cider and real ale as well as homemade pies and pasties on paper plates. Add in the amazing view down the valley to the sea, the big stone tables and benches outside, the chickens wandering around and the fossil museum, and this becomes a must visit pub in an iconic Dorset village.