Our guide to holidays in Poole
Life in Poole centres around the largest natural harbour in the whole of Europe, and there’s a continental feel to this laidback resort that sits shimmering on Dorset’s famous coastline. Tucked between Bournemouth and the Jurassic World Heritage Coast, Poole’s the kind of town where you can try your hand at something new (thanks to the thriving watersports scene), catch up on sleep on the sandy beaches and take in some of the unique attractions that make Dorset so special…to be honest, there’s something for everyone.
One of the best ways to admire the sight of Poole in all its glory is from the harbour itself, and there are boat trips on hand to ferry you around the harbour so you can take in the five islands that call it home. And if you spend a day at the National’s Trusts wooded Brownsea Island (the home of the scout movement), make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the red squirrels.
Things to do in Poole
With a setting on Dorset’s energetic coastline and a laidback atmosphere that attracts visitors of all ages, we’re happy to say that the things to do in Dorset are all about doing what you enjoy in a spectacular setting. There are all kind of ways to get your adrenaline pumping during your time on this busy stretch of Dorset’s coastline, but let’s start with the walking trails that criss cross the town.
The Poole Trail’s a good one to find your feet (as it were) and get to know the town at the beginning of your Poole holiday, and you can follow it on your phone as you wander to bring the route to life for the whole family.
If you’re after a walk that’ll keep the kids entertained until it’s beach time, then have a go at the Poole Quay Treasure Hunt. You’ll need to pop into the TIC and grab the treasure trail leaflet, and it’ll take you around Poole Quay and the Old Town, with stories and characters to make it great fun for the younger members of the family along the way.
Events in Poole
The Poole events diary’s home to some of the region’s best-loved days out, and if you fancy going along to something a little bit different during your holiday then this is the place to do it. Firstly, there’s Dream Machines Bike Night, which sees bikers turn up on Poole Quay in their hundreds every Tuesday evening. Picture this, a balmy summer evening, visitors wandering the quay as they make the most of the last of the sunshine and up to a thousand gleaming bikes lined up and ready to wow the crowds. Live music brings the atmosphere to life, and there’s usually a judge on hand to pick their favourite bike of the evening.
Just along the coast, Sandbanks Beach hosts the British Volleyball Festival each July, and this celebrity-dotted sandy beach is a glamorous backdrop for the annual battle for the title of champion. As the players give it their all on one of the finest sandy beaches in the UK, the games make great watching if you’re in the area for the two day festival.
Poole family attractions
For those family days out, you’ll find a Poole attraction for every kind of weather (and every kind of family for that matter!). For those of you who are happiest enjoying flumes, wave machines and diving boards, head to Splashdown Water Park. If you want to challenge yourselves (and you have a head for heights) then try your hand at GoApe, the tree top adventure park that’s all about climbing, clambering and the odd zipwire to help you admire the views in style.
We mentioned it before but Brownsea Island’s so beautiful we should probably point you in its direction once more…this wooded island sits in Poole’s famous harbour, and not only does reaching it by boat give a day trip to it a sense of adventure worthy of the Famous Five, but there’s also plenty to see and do while you’re there. Owned by the National Trust, the island has a peaceful feel to it, and it’s a popular spot for a walk and a picnic if you fancy some time away from the mainland.
Home to the RNLI Headquarters, a stay in Poole’s a fantastic chance to learn more about the invaluable work carried out by the lifeboat crews all year round, and the RNLI Discovery Tours give visitors to the area a fascinating insight into just how much work goes into keeping our seas safe.
Restaurants in Poole
With all those days out in the sea air, it’s no surprise that restaurants tend to play a pretty big part in Poole breaks, and the good news is that there are plenty of impressive places for that foodie evening. There’s The Guildhall Tavern, a French restaurant close to the quay with a glowing reputation for its food and service. For a bistro with a cosy atmosphere, Bingley’s is a firm favourite on TripAdvisor, and it’s one of those where you’ll find the odd surprise on the menu to add a little twist to your meal.
If you find yourself with a hankering for Italian, Ginali’s is the kind of family friendly Italian where you can expect a warm welcome and good food with no fuss. Known for its friendly service and impressive menu, this one’s a firm favourite with families visiting the area.
Now, this one’s for that last evening of the holiday, meal to remember…Isabels has it all. Set in what was once a 19th century pharmacy, this restaurant’s been a favourite with the foodies of Pool for neary 40 years. Run by a husband and wife team, Isabels specialises in French and English cuisine, and the candlelit dining area gives it a laidback, intimate feel. Bon appetite!