Things to do in Wareham

Known as the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck, Wareham is a small, Saxon-walled market town with the River Frome running along its southern edge. The quay has now become a focal point for tourists and locals alike with its selection of pubs, restaurants, regular local markets and boat trips. Many bike and walking trails start or end at Wareham, so it’s a great starting point for an adventure in the Dorset countryside. Read on for our favourite things to do in Wareham.

Have a look for a list of our self-catering holiday cottages in Wareham.

Darftord Warbler ArneArne RSPB nature reserve

Arne RSPB nature reserve is five miles outside of Wareham and is a headland in Poole Harbour. It provides a unique habitat for wildlife, with woodland, heathland, estuary and sea areas for you to explore. There is a wide range of birds to look out for and plenty of wild deer roaming through the reserve. Start at the RSPB car park and discuss with the friendly wardens what you might see that day and decide which route you want to walk. The walks are as long as you want to make them, you can head to a hide or just wander to the beach along the trails. Whatever you do, you can return to the RSPB café for well-earned refreshments.

Wareham boat hireMessing about in boats

Hire a boat from Wareham Boat Hire at the town bridge over the River Frome. Paddle, row or motor along the river at your own pace whilst it meanders through the water meadows to Poole Harbour. Take in the relaxing views and observe the river wildlife. A great way to while away a few leisurely hours.

The Blue Pool

Just outside Wareham, The Blue Pool is a long disused, flooded clay pit that has become a beauty spot popular for its peace and tranquillity. The lake varies in colour due to the minute particles of clay suspended in the water. It is surrounded by twenty-five acres of heath and woodland which you are free to wander through on well-marked sandy paths. A return to the Tea House for refreshments and a visit to the two museums, one describing the early clay mining in the area, the other displaying the Wareham Bears, complete a relaxing outing.

Sika TrailRide or walk the Sika Trail

Wareham Forest lies to the northern edge of the town and is a great spot to walk or cycle. The most common route is the Sika Trail which is an off-road seven-mile circular route through the forest mainly on tracks. Alternatively, you could attempt the Wareham Forest Way, which is a thirteen-mile route heading north through rural Dorset countryside to the pretty village of Sturminster Marshall.

Take a boat trip on the Frome

There are various operators offering a river cruise from Poole Quay up the River Frome to Wareham and back again. But, if you want to cruise in style, the Paddle Steamer Monarch is the boat for you. Gently steam down the river to Poole Harbour in one of only three paddle steamers left in Britain today.

The Old Granary WarehamDine by the river

For a truly al fresco dining experience, there are three options beside the river, each offering a different style of food. The Old Granary is a traditional pub in a historic grain store sitting right on the river. Upstairs holds the best view, where you can sit above the boats and look over the water meadows to the Purbeck hills beyond while enjoying good quality pub grub.

For a fine dining experience, The Priory is tucked away behind The Old Granary beside the church and is a boutique hotel and restaurant set in four acres of gardens on the river. You can dine on the river terrace while enjoying their a la carte menu, or you can join them for afternoon tea. As well as enjoying the views you can wander around the extensive gardens and even play a game of croquet.

If neither of those quite hits the mark, it’s only a short walk from the fish and chip shop to the quayside where you can sit and enjoy a bag of fish and chips while taking in the river views.

Watch a film at the Rex Cinema

Step back in time to the years of the local picture house. The Rex Cinema shows all the latest releases but in a traditional movie theatre setting of the 1920s. It is also one of the few cinemas where you can enjoy a glass of wine or a pint of beer from their mini bar during the movie.

Walk the Wareham town walls

Wareham’s walls are earth mounds built in  Saxon times to defend the town from Viking raids. The walls surround the town on three sides with the river being the fourth side. It is a gentle stroll with plenty of information boards along the way. Taking between 30 minutes and an hour, it is well sign-posted from the town centre.

The Salt Pig WarehamShop or dine at The Salt Pig

The Salt Pig is an urban farm shop and café in the centre of Wareham. The meat and fish are all sourced locally and are of the highest quality. The café is a must stop any time of the day and is very reasonably priced with excellent service. It’s been such a success, that they’ve opened another, The Salt Pig Too in Swanage, just a few miles down the road.

Pop into Purbeck Artisan Yard

Purbeck Artisan Yard is an art and craft market in the centre of town open seven days a week. It’s the perfect spot to buy that unique Dorset gift or just wander around and have a browse. There are nearly twenty local artists, makers, creators and up-cyclers displaying their wares. Attending one of their regular workshops might tempt you into becoming one of their next stall holders.

If our list of things to do in Wareham has inspired you to visit, have a look at our self-catering holiday properties near Wareham here.