Your Swanage Questions Answered

June 1st, 2021

The Ulwell Holiday Park team have compiled a helpful list to answer all of your frequently asked Swanage Questions. We’ve tried to consider a range of topics to help you plan your Dorset holiday with ease.

We’ve grouped our Swanage Questions into categories so you can find the answers you are looking for quickly. Simply click on the categories below to navigate to the appropriate question and answer section.

Getting to Swanage

view over swanage town centre

Where is Swanage located?

Swanage is a popular seaside resort in Dorset. It is located on the South West Coast and within easy reach of Poole, Bournemouth, Wareham and Weymouth. Swanage is the most easterly town on the Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO world heritage site, famed for its spectacular scenery and unique geology.


How to get to Swanage?

There are two main routes into Swanage. The route you take will vary depending on your starting destination. You can arrive by road via Wareham on the A351. Alternatively, you can take the car ferry from Sandbanks. During peak summer season there can be a queue, so it’s best to arrive in plenty of time.


Can I visit Swanage without a car?

Yes, it is possible to visit Swanage without a car, however not all attractions are serviced by public transport. There is a reduced bus service outside of the main summer season, so you may experience delays and the areas you can visit may be restricted. The nearest train stations are Wareham and Bournemouth.


What is the nearest train station to Swanage?

Swanage does not have a mainline train station. The closest train station is Wareham, Poole or Bournemouth. If you are visiting by train you will need to get a bus or taxi from the station into Swanage.


Where does Swanage railway go?

Swanage Railway runs a heritage steam and diesel train service. You can join the train at the historic railway station and make the scenic journey to Corfe or Norden.


Is Swanage near Bournemouth?

Yes, Swanage is very close to Bournemouth. You can travel inland via the A351. This journey takes around 50 minutes depending on traffic. It is often quicker to take the ferry from Studland to Sandbanks. This route offers a saving of around 12 miles.


Is Swanage near Weymouth?

The drive from Swanage to Weymouth takes around 50 minutes. It’s a very scenic route that showcases some of the best of the Dorset countryside. You’ll enter Weymouth via the village of Osmington. From here you can enjoy picturesque sea views across Weymouth Bay to the Isle of Portland.


Is Swanage near Sandbanks?

You can access Sandbanks via the car ferry at Studland Bay. This is only a couple of miles drive from Swanage.


How far is Swanage from Birmingham?

The drive from Birmingham to Swanage takes around 3.5 hours via the M40 and M3.


How far is Swanage from London?

It takes approximately 3 hours to drive from London to Swanage. The most direct route is via the M3.


Is there a bus from Swanage to Bournemouth?

The Breezer 50 bus connects Bournemouth and Swanage via Westbourne, Canford Cliffs, Sandbanks and Studland. The service runs year-round with departures every hour or less throughout the peak season. There is a reduced service in the quieter winter months.


Can you get to Swanage by train?

If you are planning on visiting Swanage by train you will need to head to either Wareham, Poole or Bournemouth. From there you should disembark and continue your journey by bus or taxi.



Holidays in Swanage

ulwell cottage caravan park swanage

Where to stay in Swanage?

There are plenty of places to stay in Swanage. Of course, we might be biased, but we highly recommend Ulwell Holiday Park. Our family friendly site has a range of accommodation on offer, including camping and touring pitches, caravan holiday homes for hire and a wooden camping pod. Our facilities include an onsite bar and restaurant, children’s play area, shop and indoor swimming pool.


When is the best time to visit Swanage?

There is so much to see in Swanage all year round. All of the attractions are open in the spring and summer and you can take advantage of the beautiful beaches in the area. Autumn and winter are much quieter. It’s a great time to take in the sights at a slower pace. The scenery is beautiful in September and October as the leaves change colour.


Which Swanage campsite is near a beach?

Ulwell Holiday Park is situated in a prime position – within walking distance from Swanage beach and town centre. The walk is easy for visitors with pushchairs. It takes approximately 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. On the way back from town you will be walking slightly up hill.



Things to do in Swanage

Swanage Railway

Where should I visit in Swanage?

There are plenty of attractions to visit in Swanage, including Swanage Railway, Swanage Pier, Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre and Durlston Country Park. Other activities include water sports, boat trips and beaches.


What’s on in Swanage?

Swanage is a hive of activity and plays host to a number of events throughout the year. The most popular are the carnival, lifeboat week and seafood festival that take place during the summer. To stay up to date with the latest events in Swanage take a look at our blog. We’re always posting what’s on to keep our visitors well informed.


What is there to do in Swanage when it rains?

There’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained in Swanage on a rainy day. Take a look at our wet weather in Dorset blog, which showcases the very best activities and attractions to check out when it’s raining.


Where to eat in Swanage?

If you like eating out on holiday, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Swanage. There are a large selection of independent cafés, pubs and restaurants serving delicious local produce. We highly recommend a visit to our onsite bar and restaurant, The Village Inn during your trip. We’ve compiled lists of just some of our favourite beach cafes and restaurants in Swanage and the wider area to sample during your trip.



Swanage town and beach

swanage beach family

Photo credit: Herry Lawson, Flickr

Is Swanage a seaside town?

Yes, Swanage is a seaside town in the Isle of Purbeck. It is situated on Jurassic Coast close to Studland Bay. There is a wide sandy bay with beautiful blue waters. It is known for its fantastic diving opportunities.


Is Swanage beach sandy?

Swanage beach is sandy, making it an excellent choice for visitors with young children. It has won numerous awards for cleanliness and water quality. There are plenty of facilities within easy walking distance from the beach.


What is at Swanage beach?

Swanage beach is a multi award-winning beach. It has a vast expanse of golden sand and excellent water quality. The beach is flanked by a number of stores selling beach goods, food and drink. Toilets and beach showers are on the beach front.


Where to park in Swanage?

There are a number of car parks to choose from when visiting Swanage. Long stay car parks include Broad Road (BH19 2AP), North Beach (BH19 1PU) and Main Beach (BH19 1PW). Short stay car parks can be found at Mermond Place (BH19 1DQ) and Central – Co-Op food store (BH19 1HP). Guests at our holiday park in Swanage can leave the car on-site and make the short walk into the town centre or beach.


Is Swanage beach dog friendly?

Swanage beach is dog friendly for part of the year. There are no restrictions between 1st October and 30th April. Outside of this time dogs are not allowed on the beach. Monkey Beach, which is located in between the Stone Quay and Swanage Pier is dog friendly year-round. There are plenty of dog friendly beaches in Dorset.


Are there dog friendly restaurants?

There are plenty of dog friendly cafe’s, pubs and restaurants to choose from in Swanage. Some of our favourites include the Village Inn, Seventh Wave and Love Cake.


Is Swanage Pier open?

Swanage beach has re-opened following major refurbishment. It is open daily year-round, except Christmas Day. The shop and café are seasonal. Opening times vary throughout the year. For up-to-date times consult the Swanage Pier website.


Do you have to pay to go on Swanage Pier?

There is a small fee to access Swanage Pier.

Adults – £1.50

Children (5 – 14) – Free (must be accompanied by a paying adult)

(Prices correct as of March 2022)


What supermarkets are there in Swanage?

There are a number of places to stock up on essentials in Swanage. Our on-site shop sells a variety of local produce. In town there is a Co-op on Kingsroad, a Budgens on Station Road and a Costcutter on the High Street.

What shops are there in Swanage?

Swanage has a bustling high street consisting of independent boutiques and a small number of national brands. You can pick up a range of goods including clothing, homeware, gifts and food.

Clothing stores – Surprise ‘N’ Store, Saltrock, Forever Summer, Rainbows End, Ocean blue, Tilly Whims, Surfari

Homeware & gifts – Curiosity, Leonard’s Gifts, Old Harry’s Locker, Jurassic Outdoor, Candleworld


What is the number for a taxi in Swanage?

To book Swanage Associated Taxis call 01929 421122.

When is Swanage market?

Swanage market is held on Friday mornings in main beach car park.


Can you see the Isle of Wight from Swanage?

Yes, it is possible to see the Isle of Wight from Swanage on a clear day, when the weather conditions are right.


Is Swanage good for kids?

Yes, Swanage is a great place to visit with kids. There are plenty of attractions and activities to keep children entertained, both in Swanage and in the wider Purbeck area. Younger members of the family can enjoy a day at the beach, watersports activities, amusement arcades and more.


Does Swanage have arcades?

Yes, there are arcades in Swanage. Children will also love Santa-Fe fun park crazy golf course.

What our guests say

  • A lovely quiet site

    Andy Blackwell

    A lovely quiet site, nice warm amenities with good sized shower cubicles, shop not open yet as it’s too early but the local pub is ideal. Staff were very friendly and helpful. If you’re reasonably fit you can walk into Swanage but the bus service is great so why would you want to. Overall a very nice break, we will be back.

  • Super swimming pool

    Joseph Molford

    Fantastic site, we have had a brilliant holiday. Super swimming pool and changing facilities. Site really handy to get to Swanage and Studland. Will definitely return. Thanks to all the staff for a lovely holiday.

  • Excellent quality caravan site

    Peter Skrobacz

    Excellent quality caravan site, top quality, small and friendly, location fantastic. Been visiting Ulwell for over 25 years now and every year is special.

  • An amazing week at Ulwell

    Jenny H

    We have just returned back from our weeks stay at Ulwell Holiday Park with our 2 small children and dog. It was an absolute brilliant week! The site has everything you need, and more! A lovely comfy pub on site for drinks and a bowl of chips, a small shop, swimming pool, large play are with park, and the bus stops right outside.. what more could you want

  • Easter break


    We have just returned after a brilliant Easter break. Couldn’t fault anything at all and we didn’t want to leave. We didn’t visit the pub but the shop is stocked with local produce and essentials. The facilities are great and the location convenient. Our van was spotless and had everything we needed. We will definitely be back

All reviews


We are currently at an amazing 4.5 score at TripAdvisor, based upon 200+ reviews from verified guests.

Latest reviews

Proudly associated

Over the years the family has developed the park to award-winning standards and in a style which compliments its surroundings.

  • Camping and caravanning
  • AA
  • British Holiday & Home Parks assocation
  • Poole Tourism
  • Visit Britain
  • premier park 2020 logo

Finding us


From Bournemouth via the Sandbanks chain ferry and following the B3351 into Swanage.

From Wareham using the A351 into Swanage, turn left along the seafront towards Studland.


The park is situated on the main bus route from Bournemouth to Swanage.


1 ° 58’ 16” West, 50° 37’ 34” North



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