You can get to Swanage from Poole by road and by sea for a quick and convenient way to spend the day at the beach.

Drive, take a direct bus, or combine your journey with a train, with a handy stop at Wareham, all of which are popular with tourists, commuters and students.

Many residents and visitors to Swanage make the easy trip to Poole by bus to access high street shops, entertainment options and sporting facilities.

There are also various taxi companies based both in Poole and Swanage that will transport you for a fuss-free journey.

Passing many of Dorset’s famous landmarks along the way, such as Corfe Castle and the Purbeck Hills, the journey by bus is a pleasant way to get to Swanage.

By car

Car with roof rack facing toward Purbeck heathland and hills

Take the Sandbanks chain ferry across Poole Harbour, or go around by road.

Both are relatively quick and easy routes, used by visitors and residents alike, and with picturesque countryside views en route.

 

By road

Purbeck Hills and Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site welcome sign, Swanage

Welcome to Swanage and the Jurassic Coast

Journey time: Approx 35 minutes

Take the A350 and A35 toward Dorchester, turning left onto the A351 toward Sandford at the Baker’s Arms roundabout. (Traffic in Sandford can be busy in the summer at certain times of the day, but it usually clears as you reach Wareham).

At the Saxon roundabout, either follow the A351 bypass around Wareham, or take the short drive through the market town, and then through Stoborough village. Both ways will lead you to the Furzebrook roundabout. Continue on the A351 through the villages of Corfe Castle and Harman’s Cross until you reach Swanage.

Find the best place to park in Swanage for your visit.

Google Map showing driving route from Poole to Swanage

Poole to Swanage driving route (Google Maps)

Via Sandbanks Ferry

The Sandbanks Ferry pulling in to Shell Bay side

Chain ferry crossing from Sandbanks to the Studland peninsula

Journey time: Approximately 50 minutes

Follow Parkstone Road until it meets Sandbanks Road. You will see signs for ‘Swanage via Chain Ferry‘.

Crossing time is four minutes.

Once on the other side, simply follow Ferry Road down into Studland, then take the B3351 towards Swanage. This will take you onto Ulwell road and into the centre of Swanage.

Be aware that in peak seasons there may be a short queue to board the ferry.

By bus

Purbeck Breezer no 40 bus in Langton Matravers

The No. 40 goes through Langton Matravers

Journey time: 1 hour 15 min

The No. 40 Purbeck Breezer bus goes directly from Poole Bus Station to Swanage Bus Station.

It also stops at various places en route, such as Corfe Castle and Wareham, making visiting nearby areas to Swanage by bus a quick and easy journey.

Look out for the incredible views as you pass the road between Kingston and Langton Matravers – on a clear day you’ll get fantastic views across farmland of Corfe Castle and the Purbeck Hills.

Buses run hourly and cost £6.50 for adults (£8.80 return) or £4 (£5 return) for children.

Check timings on the MoreBus website: www.morebus.co.uk/plan-your-journey 

Partial route by train

Wareham Station sign and bus stop walking route sign

The London Waterloo to Weymouth train stops at Wareham

There is currently no direct train route from Poole to Swanage, however the South Western Railway London Waterloo – Weymouth service stops at Wareham.

From here, you can pick up the Number 40 bus the rest of the way into Swanage.

Alternatively, catch a taxi from the station.

Journey time from Poole to Wareham via train: 13 minutes

 

By bike

Bikes secured to racks at Studland's Knoll Beach

Bike racks at Knoll Beach

You can usually take your bike on the train to Wareham from Poole or Bournemouth (check space availability and regulations with South Western Railway), and cycle on from Wareham to Swanage. However, if you’re a keen cyclist, a great route to take is via the Sandbanks Ferry.

For only £1 each way, you can take your bike across Poole Harbour to the Studland Peninsula, enjoying spectacular scenery as you head toward the Purbeck Hills.

There are a few places to stop en route for snacks, drinks or a meal. Knoll Beach café in Studland is a good half-way point – there are racks to secure your bike to while you grab a pasty, soup or coffee to re-fuel and take in the views across the sea toward Old Harry Rocks. Swanage lies just over the headland. There are a couple of steep hills to navigate, but it’ll be worth it when you get there.

By cruise ship

City Cruises Poole ship docked at Swanage Pier

Picture credit: Michael Day Bath)

A rather special and unique way to visit Poole from Swanage is via the day return cruise, which departs from Swanage Pier and docks at Poole Quay for a three-hour exploration of the town.

You can also sail from Poole to Swanage, for another unique way to visit the Victorian seaside town, with a choice of either two-and-a-half or five hours to explore Swanage.

The hour-long crossing is an experience itself, passing landmarks such as Old Harry Rocks and Brownsea Island, with a tour guide pointing out all the must-know Jurassic Coast facts along the way.

The cruise ship even has a licensed bar, so you can sail in style with a glass in your hand.

You can also bring your dog or bicycle on board for a nominal cost of £2.

Sailing timings

Vessels docked along Poole Quay

Boats at Poole Quay (Picture credit: Dlanor Smada)

The Swanage to Poole day-tripper cruise is a seasonal operation, and weather and sea-state dependent.

The operational season is from 1 April – 31 October, running cruises seven days a week.

Poole to Swanage

Choose from two departure times for your convenience:

  • Departure at either 10.30am or 1pm
  • Return at 2.30pm or 4.45pm
Both new and old piers in Swanage, with sailing boats in the bay

Swanage Pier

Swanage to Poole

  • Departure time – 11.45am
  • Return time – 3.45pm

Prices

There is a range of ticket prices available for individual or group journeys.

  • Adult – £17.50
  • Child (ages five -16) -£12.00
  • Family ticket option one – £29.50 (one adult and up to three children)
  • Family ticket option two – £47.00 (two adults and three children)

Children aged four and under travel free.

There is a £2 charge to bring a bicycle or dog on board.

Find out more on the City Cruise website: www.citycruises.com/poole/swanage-to-poole-return/ 

About Poole – visit for the day from Swanage

Boats moored at Poole Quay with view toward Brownsea Island

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

Poole is the nearest large town to Swanage, with all the usual high-street shops, restaurants and entertainment in its Dolphin Shopping Centre and at the Tower Park Leisure complex with its multi-screen cinema, bowling alley and waterpark, providing locals and tourists from Swanage with easy access to these amenities.

There is also the pretty Poole Park, Poole Quay, Harbour and Old Town, where Poole Museum is situated.

Poole Park has a crazy golf course, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as a lake on which to try out a pedalo or dingy. There’s a lakeside café and ice cream parlour, too.

Useful contact numbers and websites for visiting Poole for the day

Check out your shopping options and plan ahead by coordinating your day-trip from Swanage with bus or train times by checking some of Poole’s information websites.

  • The Dolphin Centre – Check what stores are open on the shopping centre’s website: ℹ️ www.dolphinshoppingcentre.co.uk
  • Tower Park leisure complex – Check the latest movie times, book a bowling lane or grab some food at Tower Park: ℹ️ towerparkentertainment.co.uk
  • Poole Museum – Explore the local maritime history of Poole ℹ️ www.poolemuseum.org.uk 📞 01202 128888
  • The Project Climbing Centre – Check out the bouldering centre at The Project, situated above the bus station, next to Poole Library. Parkour sessions are also held here ℹ️ www.theprojectclimbingcentre.co.uk 📞 01202 660153