The seaside city of Bournemouth is crowned by its Victorian pier. Opened in 1880, Bournemouth Pier was built of cast-iron and designed as a public promenade and a place for entertainment. That's still true today, and the pier is now home to amusements, a restaurant, an activity centre and even a zip line. Here's our round-up of eight great things to do at Bournemouth Pier.


Take in the Views from the Bournemouth Big Wheel

Bournemouth's Big Wheel stands at the entrance to the pier, rotating slowly to take you up to around 100 feet (33m) in partially enclosed glass gondolas. Expect views of the pier, town and sea.

The best time to ride the wheel is just before sunset. That said, it tends to get busy at this time, so plan to arrive a little earlier in the day in case of a queue.

Get an Adrenaline Rush on PierZip

Bournemouth Pier's most exciting activity is arguably the PierZip zip line. The ride starts at the far end of the pier and zips in a diagonal line over part of the pier and then crosses the water, touching down on the sand.

The line is a dual zip, meaning two people can ride simultaneously on separate but adjacent wires. Kids aged as young as six can take part - so long as they meet the minimum height and weight restrictions.

Have Sundowners at the Key West Bar & Grill

Key West is a good all-around restaurant made all the better by its amazing location at the far end of Bournemouth Pier. There's a big indoor dining room but the drawcard is the huge outdoor terrace, which offers some of the best sea views in Bournemouth.

The menu is extensive, with lots of crowd-pleasers like burgers and pizza, as well as a solid range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. This is a great place to plop down for lunch, dinner or a drink when you're out on the pier.


Play Games at the Pier Amusements

No Victorian seaside town would be complete without amusements - and Bournemouth Pier doesn't disappoint. The Pier Amusements is an all-ages entertainment arcade, with plenty of video games, rides, slots and game machines aimed at both kids and teens.

The Pier Amusements is located at the entrance to the pier. Another arcade, Happyland Amusements, is a three-minute walk west on the promenade past the Oceanarium.

Go Climbing at RockReef

This indoor activity centre offers a range of family-friendly activities, which are geared to both adults and children. There are a total of 28 'clip 'n climb' climbing challenges that you can sign your kids up to, including the 'lightning crack', 'dry ice' and the 'triffid'.

There's also a full-size rock climbing wall for adults. RockReef also runs the PierZip, and there are a few other adrenaline-pumping activities geared towards kids, including a vertical-drop slide and a ball-pit cave course.

Watch High Flyers at the Bournemouth Air Festival

The annual Bournemouth Air Festival is an air show that is held over the course of four days every August. One of the most popular seaside air shows in the UK, up to 200,000 people flock to Bournemouth Pier, the promenade and the beaches nearby to watch all manner of jets, gliders and light aircraft putting on amazing flying displays.

Bournemouth Air Festival was also the first in the UK to present a program at sunset, which incorporates fireworks and LED lighting. It's completely free and family-friendly, but, if you're planning on staying in town, we recommend you plan ahead and reserve a hotel several months in advance, as places do book out.

Explore Marine Life at the Oceanarium

Bournemouth's aquarium, the Oceanarium, is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions near Bournemouth Pier. There are a variety of displays here, showing habitats and creatures from across the spectrum of marine life.

Otters, penguins and exotic Amazonian sea fish are some of the most beloved sea animals that live here. There's also an important display on global warming, climate change and the melting ice caps.


Dance the Night Away at Aruba

This Caribbean-themed bar is at the entrance to Bournemouth Pier and has a large terrace with a grand view of the pier and sea. Aruba really comes into its own when the sun goes down, with bartenders mixing strong cocktails from a regularly-changing drinks menu.

On weekend nights, resident DJs keep the party going until late. It hosts the Aruba Beach Club on Saturdays, which is the only beach-club party in Bournemouth. DJs play until 3am, and the terrace stays open all night, so you can watch the sunrise over the sea.

Find somewhere to stay by checking out our hotels in Bournemouth.