Bournemouth is one of the UK’s most vibrant and popular beach resorts, with its beautiful stretch of sandy coastline, its famous pier and all the classic attractions of a typical British seaside town. But, with any town in England comes the risk of good ol’ Great British weather – rain. So, what is there to do when you can’t bask in the sun on Alum Chine Beach or explore Hengistbury Head?

    Lucky for you, this award-winning holiday destination has got you covered in more ways than one, with plenty of indoor activities and attractions to keep you smiling through the rain. From museums to theatre shows and all things in between, here are the top things to do in Bournemouth when it rains.


    Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum

    Visit one of the town’s most popular attractions

    • History
    • Photo

    Considered one of the top things to do in Bournemouth, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is a must-see, whatever the weather. Perched at the top of East Cliff, the stunning villa once belonged to Victorian collectors Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes.

    The couple, who were keen travellers, filled their home with a remarkable collection of art, sculptures and cultural artefacts from their travels all around the world. It was then sealed in time and has become one of the country’s most fascinating historical houses. There are regular exhibitions, tours and talks going on. Plus, when you’re done discovering highlights such as the Pre-Raphaelite art and the Japanese souvenirs, you can soak up the breathtaking sea views from the onsite café.

    Location: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum East, Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth BH1 3AA, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 451800


    Shelley Theatre

    Watch a classic show in an historical setting

    • Nightlife
    • History

    Steeped in history, the famous Shelley Theatre provides an awesome setting to escape the rain and enjoy a memorable stage performance of your choosing. The 160-seat theatre is Bournemouth’s oldest, having been built in 1870 on the property of Shelley Manor – the private family home of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.

    Following over a century of alternative uses, extensive renovations are taking place to restore the theatre to its former glory and add further creative spaces to the venue. Check out the calendar of events and take your pick from a range of comedy gigs, theatre shows, live music, film showings, dance performances and more. Arrive early to enjoy a pre-show drink in The Shelley Theatre Bar.

    Location: Shelley Manor, Beechwood Ave, Bournemouth BH5 1LX, UK

    Open: Hours vary by show times

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 413600


    photo by Phil Guest (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    St. Peter’s Church

    Discover the significance and beauty of Bournemouth’s central church

    St. Peter’s Church boasts magnificent architecture and is a friendly welcome for visitors to Bournemouth. The church’s central location makes it a great place to head to when the weather takes a turn. Step out of the rain and into the beautiful surroundings of the nave, with its colourful stained glass windows and distinctly gothic style.

    While at the church, literature fans can pay a visit to the final resting place of Mary Shelley, author of the world-famous gothic novel, Frankenstein. For musical fans, the church is home to 3 choirs and has regular choral evensongs taking place. Enjoy a hot drink and a piece of cake at the coffee shop while little ones can keep entertained in the play area.

    Location: Hinton Rd, Bournemouth BH1 2EE, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 290986


    photo by Nick Fewings 5 Million views (CC BY 2.0) modified


    RockReef Indoor Activity Attraction

    Experience non-stop thrills and excitement, all under one roof

    RockReef Indoor Activity Attraction is action-packed and it's where you can fill an entire day with fun and adventure. Located at the end of Bournemouth Pier, this incredible adventure complex is suitable for kids and adults of all ages and is sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

    Inside, you’ll find 28 different Clip ‘n Climb climbing walls with varying degrees of difficulty. There’s also a vertical drop slide, a Highline high ropes obstacle course and the ‘Leap of Faith’ jumping challenge. The explorers among you will love the dark Pier Cave and, if the weather picks up, you can even try PierZip – the world’s first pier-to-land zip wire.

    Location: Bournemouth Pier, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (pre-booked groups daily from 10 am to 7 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 983983


    Frieda’s Teabus

    Indulge in a unique afternoon tea experience

    • Food
    • Unusual

    Climb aboard Frieda’s Teabus and treat yourself to an afternoon tea with a difference. It adds a unique twist to the traditional British pastime. Tuck into delicious homemade sandwiches, cakes, pastries and warm scones as you’re taken on a 90-minute tour of the Bournemouth seafront in a converted double-decker bus, adorned with colourful bunting.

    Departing from the pier, the vintage bus lets you soak up the sea views from the comfort of your table. It makes a number of stops along the route, including Boscombe Pier, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch. A popular activity for larger parties, if you’re hiring the Teabus for a special occasion, it’s possible to book your own performer or entertainer for the journey.

    Location: 7 Stafford Rd, Bournemouth BH1 1JH, UK

    Open: Tours depart Bournemouth Pier Saturday–Sunday at 2 pm (weekday tours available on request)

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 291981


    photo by KK70088 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Oasis Fun Bournemouth

    Entertain the whole family at Bournemouth’s main leisure complex

    There’s nothing harder than trying to keep kids entertained when it’s raining, but luckily Oasis Fun Bournemouth can take care of that for you. Conveniently located in the centre of town, there’s so much here to occupy everyone, from toddlers to teens and even the adults, too.

    The little ones will love crawling around in the brightly-coloured soft play area, while the big kids will have hours of fun playing games in the arcade. Get the whole family involved in a round of adventure golf or strike it lucky at the 6-lane bowling alley. Grab a drink at the adults’ bar while the kids are playing, then enjoy a family meal at the classic American diner.

    Location: Glen Fern Rd, Bournemouth BH1 2LZ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm (Fridays and Saturday until 11 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 311611


    Watch a show at the Bournemouth Pavilion

    Enjoy year-round entertainment at the 1920s theatre

    • Nightlife
    • Photo

    Bournemouth Pavilion is a stunning Art Deco building overlooking the seafront. It's a must-visit venue that puts on spectacular shows all year round. Built in the 1920s, the building has maintained its elegant style and décor both outside and inside, with the 1,448-capacity theatre featuring the classic red curtains and seating.

    Whatever your tastes, you’re bound to find a show to suit them, as the pavilion plays host to famous West End shows, music concerts, comedy acts, operas, ballets, pantomimes and more. You can book your tickets in advance or, if the rain makes you change your plans at the last minute, the box office stays open until 30 minutes after a show starts.

    Location: Westover Rd, Bournemouth BH1 2BU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm and for shows

    Phone: +44 (0)300 500 0595


    photo by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    The Library of Liquor at The Larderhouse

    Sip a specially-made cocktail at one of the best bars in town

    • Nightlife

    The Library of Liquor is a unique speakeasy that's hidden away above Bournemouth’s Larderhouse restaurant. The bar serves a superb selection of drinks and cocktails. After entering the restaurant and heading through an unassuming door to the upstairs, you’ll find yourself in a fabulously decorated Edwardian library, complete with comfy leather chairs and dark mahogany furnishings.

    For those who know it, the tiny 2-roomed bar is one of the best in town, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait to be served – it’ll be well worth it. Owned by one of the UK’s top mixologists, you won’t need to look at a menu. Instead, just tell the bartender what your favourite spirits are and they’ll tailor-make a cocktail just for you.

    Location: 4 Southbourne Grove, Bournemouth BH6 3QZ, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 6 pm to 12 am, Sundays from 3 pm to 12 am (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 424687


    Bournemouth Natural Science Society

    Step back in time on a journey through history

    The Bournemouth Natural Science Society is one of the seaside town’s many hidden gems. It provides a fascinating insight into all things natural science and history. Located on the outskirts of town in a beautiful Victorian Grade II listed building, the museum prides itself on delivering fun and educational exhibitions, open days and social activities throughout the year.

    Run by a team of friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, they’ll gladly personally show you around each of the museum’s sections, including the superb Egyptology exhibition. It’s here that you’ll find the famous Tahemaa – a 25th-Dynasty Egyptian mummy. Just remember, it’s normally only open to visitors on a Tuesday, except for special events and holiday activities.

    Location: 39 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3NS, UK

    Open: Tuesdays from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1202 553525

    Sadie Geoghegan-Dann | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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