by Swanage.co.uk
The Sandbanks Ferry pulling in to Shell Bay side

Explore Swanage from coast to coast by hopping on one of the ferries that dock here, or take a short cruise somewhere new from Swanage Pier.

A ferry is one of the best ways to experience Purbeck’s stunning Jurassic coastline – pick one up from Swanage Pier for a fantastic day out on the water and a unique way to view the gently curving Swanage Bay.

Sandbanks Ferry

Swanage to Poole & Bournemouth via Studland

People walking on Shell Bay with Sandbanks Ferry behind

The ferry coming in to Sandbanks

The chain ferry connecting the Isle of Purbeck to Poole and Bournemouth runs between Sandbanks and Studland – it’s just a 15 minute drive from here to Swanage.

The Sandbanks car ferry is the area’s main ferry and runs throughout the day, every day, from around 7am till late.

You can drive or go as a foot passenger on this service, as well as taking the bus – simply catch the No 50, which runs a regular service across the ferry between Swanage and Bournemouth.

The chain ferry crosses Poole Harbour in just four minutes and is a handy and picturesque alternative to going around the road.

Along the way from Swanage you’ll pass through the village of Studland and see the beautiful expanses of heathland that stretch out either side of the road and down to the sandy beaches of Studland Bay. You’ll also get a good view of Brownsea Island as you make the short crossing.

Chain ferry prices

  • Pedestrians, bikes, motorbikes £1
  • Cars & light vans £4.75
  • Buses, coaches & goods vehicles £9.50

Swanage day cruises

Swanage Jurassic Coast cruise

Old Harry Rocks sea view

Old Harry Rocks

Enjoy a cruise along the beautiful Jurassic Coast right from your doorstep in Swanage and soak up the scenery with a drink from the on-board bar.

Choose from a circular cruise that will take you from Swanage Pier, past Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay, on into Poole Harbour and back, or a shorter Swanage to Poole Quay cruise, with a few hours’ stop-off to explore Poole town.

Running daily from March to October, weather permitting, the cruise takes around two hours and 15 minutes, or an hour for the shorter cruise.

If you’re coming to Purbeck from Poole, a great way to explore the area for the day is on the popular Sea Train Adventure – from Poole Quay you’ll sail to Swanage before taking a ride on the heritage Swanage Railway line from which you can explore the historic Corfe Castle village and its striking castle ruin or walk the Purbeck Ridgeway.

Depart and return times on a blackboard for Jurassic Circular Cruise from Swanage Pier

You can check the departure times for the Jurassic Circular Cruise at the Swanage Information Centre

Prices for a return cruise from Swanage to Poole are £17.50 for adults and £12 for children. Family discounts are available.

Dogs are welcome on board at a cost of £2.

Find out more on our Poole to Swanage page.

For full details of all City Cruises visit their website: www.cityexperiences.com/poole/city-cruises/sightseeing-tours/ 



Boat trips from Swanage Pier

Paddle Steamer Waverley

The Waverley

Regular special boat trips run from the restored Victorian pier throughout the summer months, including the famous Waverley – the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.

Waverley is a famous and striking vessel, with a special place in the hearts of many around the world. As well as Swanage, calling ports in Dorset include Weymouth and Poole, as well as further afield at Southampton, Portsmouth, Worthing and Yarmouth.

Check all the latest updates and sailing timings on the Swanage Pier Trust website: www.swanagepiertrust.com/boat-trips

Swanage Pier

Person sailing past Swanage Pier

Sailboat by the pier in the evening

Swanage Pier is a must-visit attraction in itself, for old-world British seaside charm.

Explore its history in the pier’s museum, take photos of the atmospheric old pier that runs alongside the newer one, and enjoy an ice cream or light lunch at the pier’s very own café.

You’ll be treated to panoramic views across to the Isle of Wight, Old Harry Rocks and the Purbeck Hills, along with sweeping views of the entire length of Swanage Bay.

Brownsea Island Ferry

Swanage to Brownsea Island via Sandbanks or Poole

Have a fun day ferry-hopping to and from Brownsea Island from Swanage.

Take the short journey by ferry from Sandbanks to Brownsea to explore this rugged little island that is home to the red squirrel amongst other wildlife, and which is regarded as the birthplace of the Scouts.

The 'Purbeck Princess' ferry for Brownsea Island Ferry docked at Poole Quay

The ‘Purbeck Princess’ Brownsea Island Ferry docked at Poole Quay

From Swanage, drive or take the bus to the Sandbanks chain ferry to cross over the harbour to pick up the Brownsea Island Ferry.

You can also catch the ferry to Brownsea from Poole Quay, which is a 20-minute journey.

The Brownsea Island Ferry is a foot-passenger service only. National Trust members may visit the island free of charge, however the ferry fee is payable by all visitors.

* Note that the Sandbanks journey is currently suspended until further notice (as of June 2021)*.

Brownsea Island is open between 21 April – 31 October 2021.

Crossing timings

The hourly Poole service to Brownsea starts at 9.30 in the morning. You’ll get three-and-a-half hours to explore the island before your return ferry leaves.

Red squirrel sitting on a branch in a tree

You can spot red squirrels on Brownsea Island

Bookable slots are as follows:

  • Depart from Poole Quay at 9:30am, returning at 1pm
  • Departs at 10:30am, returning at 2pm
  • Depart at 11:30am, returning at 3pm
  • Depart 12:30pm, return at 4pm
  • Depart 1.30pm, return at 5pm

Postcode for departure: Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HJ

Car parking is available at the Quay Visitors’ multi-storey car park on Old Orchard Road (BH15 1SB).

Ferry tickets & prices

Entrance tickets to Brownsea Island include both admission to the island and the ferry journey to and from it.

National Trust members only need to pay for the ferry.

Boats moored at Poole Quay with view toward Brownsea Island

Boats moored at Poole Quay, with Brownsea Island in the distance

Combined ferry & entrance tickets
  • Adult £21.50
  • Child (aged 5 -17) £11.50
  • Family £54.50
  • One adult + up to three children £33.00
Entrance cost for National Trust members
  • Adult £12.50
  • Child (aged 5 -17) £7
  • Family £32
  • One adult + up to three children £19.50

Ferry tickets can be booked via the National Trust website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island/features/visiting-brownsea-island-what-you-need-to-know

Wareham river cruises

Paddle steamer Monarch

The Monarch paddles steamer on the River Frome in Wareham

Paddle Steamer Monarch

The spring and summer service on the 42-foot paddle steamer, Monarch, takes you on a picturesque forty-minute cruise up and down the River Frome from Wareham, which is around a 15 minute drive from Swanage.

Wareham Quay is a delightful place to stop for lunch, with a choice of pubs and restaurants nearby. On the quay itself is The Old Granary, with its riverside seating, as well as boutique hotel The Priory. The Quay Inn pub and The Italian Kitchen restaurant are also set just back from the quay.

The Saxon town of Wareham is a good way to spend the day if you’re staying in Swanage, with its ‘Wareham Walls’ walks (earth ramparts constructed by King Alfred the Great), an effigy of Lawrence of Arabia in one of its churches and a variety of places to have a bite to eat or try some local food. There are pleasant walks alongside the river, as well as easy access to Wareham Common, Wareham Forest and Wareham train station if you want to explore further afield.

Monarch operating times

First sailings are usually at 11.30am at the following times, however the Frome is a tidal river and timings may change:

  • May to September – Saturdays and Sundays
  • August – Most days throughout August, weather permitting
  • September – Certain days in September

Check the sailing times calendar for exact, up-to-date days and timings, or call in advance:

📞 01929 556031

ℹ️ paddlesteamermonarch.wixsite.com/ps-monarch 

Poole to Wareham river cruise

Visitors can also take a return ferry from Poole Quay to Wareham Quay – cruise duration time is around three and a half hours, including a stop for an explore and lunch. You can also do a one-way cruise, which is approximately an hour and ten minutes.

People on Board the Wareham River Cruise

Ferry docked at Wareham Quay

Cruise prices

  • Adult return £15
  • Child return (age 5 -15) £10
  • Adult single £10
  • Child single £5

If your group is of ten or more people, ticket costs are discounted for the return river cruise as follows:

  • Adult £13
  • Child £7

Check Wareham River Cruises for more information: www.greensladepleasureboats.co.uk/wareham-river-cruise

International ferries from Poole

Poole to France, Jersey & Guernsey *(would we refer to G & J as international?)

Two ferries serving Poole Port

Brittany Ferry and Condor Ferry, Poole (Picture credit: Ian Kirk)

If you live here in Swanage and fancy crossing the English Channel for a holiday in France, you can sail from nearby Poole.

Ferries also go direct from Poole to Jersey and Guernsey.

It’s around a half an hour drive to Poole Port from Swanage. You can also catch a bus from town or a train to Poole from Wareham to leave the car behind, although you’ll probably want to grab a taxi from the station to the port itself.

Poole ferry destinations

There are two main ferry companies that sail from Poole: Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries.

Brittany Ferries runs the Poole to Cherbourg route and Condor operates the St Malo, Guernsey and Jersey sailings.

Crossing durations are as follows:

  • Guernsey – Three hours
  • Jersey – 4.5 – 5 hours
  • Cherbourg, France – 4 hours, 15mins
  • St Malo, France – 6hr 30min

Visit Brittany Ferries’ website for full details of the Poole – Cherbourg crossing: www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/ferry-routes/ferries-france/poole-cherbourg 

Visit the Condor for St Malo, Guernsey & Jersey crossings and information on Poole Port: www.condorferries.co.uk/ferry-routes-ports/plan-your-journey/ports/poole 

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