England's most endearing seaside resort is well may be Bournemouth (pop 155,000). Founded in 1810 between Poole and Christchurch, Bournemouth is relatively new city by European standard.
The town has nothing exceptional, but is pleasant enough, with its chines (mountain ridges) running down to the littoral. Bournemouth's beaches have been ranked the cleanest in Britain, as well as the best for open-air sex if we believe the survey by a famous condom maker.
Bournemouth is justifiably famous for its public gardens as well. The 17.5 hectares Upper and Lower Pleasure Gardens (whatever that means...) where laid in the mid-19th century and neatly divide the town in two parts. Compton Acres combines 12 styles of gardens, from Japanese to Italian, Roman or alpine, and is certainly one of the finest of its kind in the region. Other interesting gardens include the Alum Chine including Argyll Gardens, Knyveton Gardens and Seafield Gardens.
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery has an eclectic collection of 19th century paintings and sculptures as well as samurai armours and katanas.
Other attractions include the Oceanarium and Vistrarama balloon.
How to get there
Trains take 1h45min to 2h from London's Waterloo station (£32.90), 10min from Poole (£2.60) and 40min from Dorchester (£8) and 55min from Weymouth (£10.10).
National Express buses connect Bournemouth to London (2h30min, £20.50) and Oxford (3h, £18.50).
Train timetables & reservations