The most famous and popular of Studland Bay’s beaches has a large car park for exploring everything Knoll Beach has to offer. Knoll Beach car park is open seven days…
With its safe, shallow water and slightly more rugged feel, South Beach is a natural haven away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Quieter than nearby Knoll Beach…
There are several car parks in Swanage and across Purbeck, both long and short stay, ideally situated for beach or town exploring, or getting out into the beautiful Dorset countryside.
You’ll also find various free parking spots both in town and at more rural locations – handy for exploring the Purbeck Hills or the South West Coast Path, as well as in side streets in nearby towns and villages.
Most car parks allow you to use pay-by-phone apps, but some may be cash or card only. And some of the smaller parish car parks may simply ask for a donation.
The main parking app in use in and around Swanage is the JustPark app. All location numbers for the app where relevant are given below. Simply register your payment card and vehicle registration details to use the app.
Parking for the beach
If you want to park right by the sea, there’s beach-front parking along Swanage’s promenade on Shore Road. Alternatively, park at one of these long-stay car parks, which are all a short stroll from sandy beaches and often, handy amenities, such as shops, public toilets and places to eat.
All the car parks in Swanage are great for a day trip to the beach, but there are some key long-stay car parks close to the strand where you can leave your car for several hours or all day for a lazy day at the seaside.
Main Beach car park
This is the largest long-stay car park in Swanage. It’s about a five-minute walk along one road from here to the central stretch of Swanage Beach.
This road (Victoria Avenue) also passes by the town, so you can make a quick detour to the shops to stock up on beach supplies and picnic food.
- Car park reference number for Just Park app: 5951
- Postcode: BH19 1AP
North Beach car park
Park at North Beach for the middle and northern end of Swanage Beach.
It’s a bit further away from the town’s main shopping area and entertainment, but there’s a waterfront bar, public toilets and hotels to pop in to for an afternoon tea, as well as kayak-hire on the strand in the warmer months.
- Reference number for ticket payment: 5954
- Postcode: BH19 1NL
Park right by the shore for an easy stroll along the prom or for a quick swim.
There’s plenty of parking along the length of Shore Road, although it’s worth noting that the section closes to town (from The Mowlem up to Banjo Pier/the junction with Victoria Avenue) is closed to cars during the peak summer season (May – September inclusive) for the benefit of pedestrians using the ice cream shops, entertainment facilities and beach huts here.
You can park on Shore road from £2.50 for an hour. Charges apply 24hours a day, however from 6pm (till 8am) there is a single charge of £4.
Studland Bay has four miles of sandy beaches and is a short bus ride or drive from Swanage. You can also easily access the bay and its beaches if you’re coming from Poole or Bournemouth via the Sandbanks Ferry. The ferry also carries the No. 50 bus, which stops at various points near beaches in Studland and Swanage, where it terminates.
All car parks at Studland are owned by the National Trust, so if you’re a member you can park for free.
Knoll Beach Car Park (Postcode: BH19 3AH) – This is the main beach at Studland and has a large car park. There’s also has a National Trust shop, café, discovery centre and seasonal children’s activities. During the warmer months, Studland Watersports offers kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and loads more water-based activities.
Middle Beach car park (Postcode BH19 3AX) – Park here for one of Studland’s smaller beaches and a coffee or light bite at its café. Park at Middle Beach also for Fore/Adventure’s watersports activities.
South Beach Car Park (BH19 3AU) – This car park is located right next to the village pub, The Bankes Arms, so you can combine a trip to the beach or stroll around the village with a hearty meal afterward. South Beach also has a popular café which serves light meals, snacks, hot drinks and ice cream. There’s also an easy walking route to Old Harry Rocks from here.
Shell Bay Car Park (BH19 3BA) – If you’re staying in Swanage and you want to make a day trip to Sandbanks, you can park here at Shell Bay and take the ferry over to the Sandbanks side as a foot passenger. Or simply park for a walk or sunbathe on the vast sands of Shell Bay and views across Poole Harbour. There’s also a lovely seafood bistro opposite the car park here.
More coastal car parks
To explore more of the Jurassic Coast’s local landmarks and coastline, you can continue your Dorset adventure from one of these popular spots:
Perfect for a paddle or for a picnic on a pretty, white stony shore. The beach here is surrounded by stunning views and coastal walks packed with intriguing Jurassic Coast geology. The cove itself is a five-minute stroll from the car park situated in the village of West Lulworth. There’s loads of facilities on hand – ice cream parlours, gift shops, fish & chip restaurants, as well a visitor centre and toilet complex. Parking can be exceptionally busy here at peak times so check travel updates in advance and arrive early. Postcode: BH20 5RQ
The car park for Durdle Door is situated at Durdle Door Holiday Park – it’s a pleasant downhill walk to the beach here and to the adjacent Man O’ War Bay (note that both are not suitable for swimming or climbing). Alternatively, park at Lulworth Cove for a picturesque but mildly challenging walk up a hill and along the coast path down to Durdle Door. This popular walk has fantastic scenery and will work up an appetite for lunch back in West Lulworth. Postcode: BH20 5PU
Car parking for Lulworth Cove & Durdle door costs £5 for four hours or £10 for the day.
Tyneham for Worbarrow Bay
It’s about a mile’s walk to the pebble and sand shore from the car park at the famous ‘ghost village’.
Facilities here are limited, but there are public toilets near the car park (at Tyneham Farm).
Swimming here is not generally suitable for children or novices as the beach can shelve steeply.
Note that coaches are strictly unable to access the road either to Tyneham or Worbarrow Bay.
Closest postcode: BH20 5QN
Town & shoppers’ car parks
Whether you need to make a quick stop for a food shop, are catching a film at The Mowlem, or want to spend a few hours exploring the town’s shops, restaurants and bars, there’s plenty of town-centre parking options in Swanage.
Note that there is a short one-way system in town, which starts by the roundabout outside the Swanage Railway, and continues down Station Road, onto Institute Road and along High Street and Kings Road East.
Long stay parking
Broad Road – JustPark location 5950
This large long-stay car park is convenient for various pubs and restaurants including La Trattoria and The Ship Inn, as well as for exploring Swanage Pier or a quick scamper on the town’s year-round dog-friendly beach.
- Hourly – Park from £1.50 for an hour to just over £6 for four hours, or £7.20 for six hours. If you’re arriving in the evening it’s just £1 from 6pm for the duration of your parking (until 8am the following day)
- Daily – A daily car parking ticket (£8) is also available and can be used at Main Beach Car Park too
- Three/seven-day tickets – You can pay for a three-day or weekly car parking ticket at Broad Road, which is handy if you’re staying at one of the local B&Bs that may not have dedicated parking, or if you’re staying in a neighbouring Purbeck village, but want the ease of being able to come and go to Swanage as you please. This pay-by-phone only parking ticket is valid in all long-stay Swanage car parks.
Find Broad Road car park by following High Street to then southern end of town. Turn right up the hill by Gee Whites and East Bar onto Seymer Road and the car park at Broad Road will be on your left.
📍Parking postcode: BH19 2BB
Main Beach – location number 5951
Park here for an easy day at the beach – just walk straight up Victoria Avenue and you’ll reach the sea within five minutes.
It’s also a handy place to park for King George’s park and the Friday Market.
- Parking is the same here at Main Beach as for Broad Road (above) and tickets are interchangeable at these two long-stay car parks
- Park by the hour, for the day, for three days or for a whole week
📍 Main Beach location: Just off Victoria Avenue, BH19 1AP
North Beach – parking location 5954
- Park for the day at North Beach from just £1.50
- A day-ticket here is just £6
- The three and seven-day parking tickets can be used in all long-stay car parks but North Beach’s day-ticket is for this car park only
📍 North Beach postcode & location: BH19 1NL (where De Moulham Road joins Bonfield Avenue)
Short stay car parks
Co-Op -JustPark location 5952
Park for up to two hours in peak season at the centrally-located Co Op or by the hour during low season.
This car park is great for a couple of hours’ shopping or bite to eat in town, catching an evening show at The Mowlem or checking out Swanage Station.
- Low season price – 60p per hour; free
- High season – One hour: £1.20 and £2.10 for two hours
- Park for free – From 7pm – 8am throughout the year
If you pay by card or cash you can use your refund voucher to get your car parking payment back in-store, however this doesn’t apply if you use the pay-by-phone app.
📍 Co-Op postcode – BH19 1HP
Recreation Ground – parking reference 5953
Recreation Ground/Mermond Place is a handy short-stay car park for popping to the shops or for a quick play at the park, a game of crazy golf, or meeting friends for a coffee.
📍 Postcode – BH19 1DQ
Pay a minimal charge on Station Road to pop to the pet shop, bank, pharmacy or hardware store, or find free hourly parking on High Street for stopping for a beach stroll before picking up your fish & chips or takeaway.
Parking prices – Station Road
- £1 for 30 minutes
- £1.50 for 1 hour
- Free from 6pm
Full information on all town council-managed car parks in Swanage, including pricing and restrictions can be found on the Swanage Town Council website: www.swanage.gov.uk/CarParkCharges
There are several car parks in Wareham, both long and short stay, which are all handy for supermarket shopping, eating out, nearby walks and boat trips on the river.
- Rempstone Centre (behind Sainsbury’s) – Park for up to two hours at this centrally-located town car park, situated just off Church Street. Postcode: BH20 4NX; JustPark location reference: 7713
- Co-Op – Find this small shopper’s car park by turning off the main North Street onto Cow Lane and left again into St Michael’s Road. There’s a handy back-entrance into the Co-Op store direct from this car park
- Howard’s Lane – There’s a four-hour maximum stay at Howard’s Lane car park – a handy amount of time to grab a bite to each and catch a matinee at The Rex. Postcode for parking: BH20 4NN Location reference: 529817
- St John’s Hill – A small parking area opposite the Horse & Groom pub and close to The Bear Hotel. Postcode: BH20 4LZ Parking reference: 7688
- Wareham Quay – Park on the quay (off South Street) for river-related activities and to visit The Quay Inn, The Old Granary pub or the Italian Kitchen. There’s a max stay of four hours here and is closed on a Saturday for Wareham town market. Parking postcode: BH20 4LP & parking location number: 7698
- Bonnet’s Lane – Park for 30-minutes (50p) to up to 10 hours (£6) or more at this large parking area behind the main shopping streets. It’s close to Boots, The Salt Pig, Wareham Town Museum and general amenities. Postcode: BH20 4NN location number: 7710 (Same reference number for West & Eat)
- Streche Road – Park here for the Wareham Walls walk, town shopping and The Rex cinema. This large car park also accommodates coaches and lorries. Postcode: BH20 4PB Location reference: 7714
- Connegar Lane Located close to Lady St Mary church & cemetery and The Priory Hotel. BH20 4NQ loc: 7711
- Wareham Train Station – Park for the day at a cost of £2 at weekends and £3.10 during the week, and head out to explore a new part of Dorset by train (South Western Railway Line). Discounts are applied for purchasing multiple-day or week-long tickets. Park for Wareham Station using the RingGo app with location number: 77556
Free parking in Wareham – You can park for an hour on the main streets of town free-of-charge. It’s also free-of-charge to park in most car parks after 6pm
Free parking in Swanage
There are some free parking spaces along central roads in Swanage, such as High Street in town, where you can park for free for an hour. Typically this is between Monday to Saturday during the day, with evenings and Sundays having no time limit.
As with most towns you’re likely to find further free on-street parking on some residential streets a short walk away from the main shopping area and beaches.
Useful places to look include Northbrook Road outside Day’s Park and some of the roads in the Durlston area, but be mindful that residents also need to park, so avoid parking outside people’s homes.
Some car parks are also free during evening hours, such as Co-Op Food on King’s Road West, which is free from 7pm – 8am (no camping or sleeping overnight).
Disabled parking in Swanage
You’ll find dedicated disabled parking spaces in all of the main Swanage car parks.
If you’re a blue badge holder, simply display your badge in your windscreen and you can park for free for three hours.
You may also park with your badge displayed in any other parking space if no designated ones are available.
Note that all car parks in Purbeck are free for blue badge holders with the exception of the Purbeck Park car park at Norden.
Both Main Beach and North Beach car parks accommodate campervan and motorhome parking.
Note that if your vehicle takes up two spaces you’ll need to pay double.
All car parks in Swanage do not allow overnight parking, camping or sleeping, but there are a number of excellent caravan sites and tourist parks in the area to stop for the night.
- Main Beach postcode – BH19 1AP
- North Beach postcode – BH19 1NL
You can apply for a residents’ parking permit for the Horsecliffe Lane parking area (behind Chadwick Park and Recreation Ground car park) if you live in Swanage or other Purbeck villages and environs.
Horsecliffe Lane is reserved for residents only, however a residents’ permit also allows you to park for two hours at Main Beach and Recreation Ground car parks.
The maximum number of hours’ stay still applies.
- Seasonal cost – Residents’ parking is free in low season (November – March inclusive), with a small charge during high season
- Price of permit – You simply need to pay a one-off admin fee of £5 to Swanage Town Council, and submit a copy of your council tax bill and vehicle registration document
To apply for a parking permit visit Swanage Town Council’s website: www.swanage.gov.uk/carparking
Parking details for Horsecliffe Lane
- Postcode: BH19 1DQ
- Parking app reference number: 5955
Swanage Railway parking
If you’re coming to Swanage to visit the Railway, there are various options for parking – leave your car at the park-and-ride in Norden and arrive into Swanage in style by steam train, or hop on a bus to take you the rest of the way.
The closest car park in Swanage itself for the railway is the long-stay Main Beach car park on Victoria Avenue. Swanage Railway Station is under a five-minute walk from here.
- Purbeck Park – If you’re coming via Wareham/the A351, simply turn into the large parking area at the Norden roundabout (just before Corfe Castle) and from there you can hop on a heritage steam train into Corfe itself, or continue on to Harman’s Cross and Swanage. You can also pick up the Number 40 bus here, hire a bike, or head out into the countryside along walking trails. Postcode for SatNav: BH20 5DW
- Main Beach car park – find this large car park just off Victoria Avenue – the main road into Swanage town and beach (Postcode: BH19 1AP)
- Harman’s Cross Station – Use the village car park opposite Harman’s Cross village hall. You’ll find this just off the A351 to Swanage, down Haycrafts Lane. Postcode: BH19 3EB
- Corfe Castle Railway Station – Park in one of the village car parks for Corfe Castle Station. The closest is on West Street, postcode: BH20 5HH
Corfe Castle Station itself and Herston Halt have no dedicated parking spaces and can be reached on foot only.
Check train services, timetables and prices on the Swanage Railway website: www.swanagerailway.co.uk
Village car parks for exploring Purbeck
Park for free as a National Trust member in the dedicated Castle View car park at the foot of Corfe Castle or pay for a day’s ticket. If you’re approachigin from Wareham the car park entrance will be on your left just before you reach the castle and village.
There’s also a small section of free parking just to the right of this car park (along the road toward Church Knowle) and a further pay & display car park on West Street (postcode: BH20 5HH). This is located at Holland’s Close, just off West Street. (JustPark location reference: 7715).
If you’re combining your visit with a trip on the Swanage Railway you can park at nearby Norden’s Purbeck Park. The castle is a 10-minute walk from here (note that part of the path is not suitable for wheelchair-users or pushchairs.) Postcode: BH20 5DW.
Free one-hour parking is available in the village square and on West Street itself.
There is a good-sized National Trust car park at Spyway in Langton Matravers. You’ll also find some free on-street parking in the village.
Park at Langton Matravers to visit the village pub, use the children’s playground or head out on the walking trail toward Dancing Ledge.
Spyway car park postcode: BH19 3HG
There’s a large car park in the village of Harman’s Cross, situated between Corfe and Swanage – handy for village hall events, visiting the adventure playground here, or taking a trip on the Swanage Railway.
Harman’s Cross Station itself is also worth a visit to see the restored station buildings and vintage posters, which evoke a bygone time.
Parking here is a £2 donation.
Harman’s Cross car park postcode: BH19 3EB
If you’re exploring the stunning walking trails around Worth Matravers or simply visiting its much-loved Square & Compass pub for a drink or to watch a band, there’s a good-sized, although very popular, car park in the village just up the road from The Square. Just pop a small donation in the box.
There may also be a limited amount of free on-street parking.
Park here also for Winspit – to fuel your walk stop at the kitchen window of Worth Tea Rooms for some delicious homemade cake, hot drinks and light bites.
Worth village car park postcode: BH19 3LE
Park at South Beach car park or Middle Beach car park for Studland village. Both are handy for a stroll around and to visit the Bankes Arms pub or The Pig on the Beach hotel & restaurant, which does itself have a small car park. Both of these eateries have great beer gardens with views to Old Harry Rocks.
There are various other tucked-away treasures to explore here, including a fascinating Norman church and a children’s play area.
There is very limited parking in Kimmeridge village itself, with a small car park for customers of the popular Clavell’s restaurant & café.
You may find some on-street parking, but the bay has a large parking area directly above the short footpath down to the shoreline. There is also a second parking area to the left of this, handy for walking up to Clavell Tower. You’ll also find public toilets here.
Parking for the bay itself is free, however access to the car park is via a toll road. The toll is currently £6 for a car.
Visitors to the Etches Museum can also use the main bay car park via the toll road.
As well as the main car park in West Lulworth for Lulworth Cove, there is a small amount of parking in the neighbouring village of East Lulworth, which is a sweet spot for a small stroll and a visit to Past & Presents gift shop and tearoom or The Weld Arms pub, which also have their own parking spaces.
And if you’re visiting Lulworth Castle here for the day there’s plenty of parking in its grounds.
Walkers’ car parks
The Isle of Purbeck has some of the best walking paths in the country, and there are many places in and around Swanage to start your day’s hike or ramble.
Many of the more popular trails are clearly signposted and way-marked, with dedicated car parks, although some are more off-the-beaten-track.
Here’s just a few starting points for keen walkers to park up and head out along some of the fantastic inland and coastal walking trails in this special part of Dorset.
Durlston Country Park
If you’re visiting Durlston Country Park for the day, there’s a large on-site car park split into two adjacent sections – one close to the coast path and learning centre, and one right by Durlston Castle, the SeventhWave Café and some pretty woodland paths.
You can park here by the hour or all day. There’s also a seasonal shuttle bus from town which is great for visitors staying in Swanage without a car.
Postcode for Durlston: BH19 2JL
Challow Walker’s at Corfe Castle for the Purbeck Ridgeway
If you’re heading up into the Purbeck Hills from Corfe you might be lucky enough to get a free spot at Challow (postcode: BH20 5JF), from where you can head straight onto the ridgeway path. There really is only room for a handful of cars here, however there is also some free parking close by on Sandy Hill Lane.
Alternatively, there are two larger car parks in the village itself, one of which is a National Trust car park, and both have easy access onto the ridgeway or the vast and varied Corfe Common.
If you’re exploring this popular stretch of the Purbeck Hills from Swanage, there’s an area of free lay-by parking at Ulwell close to the holiday park, with a (somewhat steep) path leading directly up to the obelisk on Ballard Down. You can then walk along the ridgeway and take the steam train or bus back to Swanage from Corfe Castle. (Nearest postcode for SatNav: BH19 3DG)
Wareham Forest – Sika Trail
Discover the seven-mile circular Sika Trail on foot or by bike, or for a quicker walk there’s the Woodlark Trail, which starts from the same point.
Look out for sika deer in the trees as you stroll, and cosy up in one of Wareham’s pubs or cafés after your walk for a local ale or coffee and cake.
Wareham Forest postcode: BH20 7PE
Chapman’s Pool & Winspit, from Worth Matravers
Renscombe car park is the most convenient for the somewhat challenging, but breathtaking, walk down to Chapman’s Pool. The closest postcode for this is BH19 3LL, but the car park will be signposted from the village of Worth Matravers.
For Winspit, park at Worth’s main village car park for the pleasant walk down to the intriguing disused quarry.
You can also walk to Chapman’s Pool from the village of Kingston (park in the village or at Houns Tout car park: BH20 5LN)
Park at the National Trust Spyway car park for a moderately challenging walk to Dancing Ledge and its tidal pool.
It’s a flat, relatively even terrain for the most-part – you’ll reach some excellent, sweeping coastal views, before a rather steep descent down to Dancing Ledge itself.
Postcode for parking: BH19 3HG (Turn into Durnford Drove off the main road in Langton Matravers and Spyway car park will be at the end of the road.)
You can also walk to the fascinating Spyway Dinosaur Footprints from here.
Poole Harbour Viewpoint
You can walk into Studland’s heathland toward the agglestone from here.
During the warmer months there’s often an ice cream van at the viewpoint for a welcome refreshment.
Caution is advised on leaving this parking area as the road is hilly and winding immediately before and after the parking area.
Either Houns Tout or Sheep Pens car parks in the village of Kingston are great for getting out onto this stretch of the South West Coast Path, as well as visiting the highest point on the Isle of Purbeck, Swyre Head.
Expect fantastic, panoramic views across the land toward Kimmeridge Bay and beyond. On a clear day you can see across to Portland. You can also walk to Chapman’s Pool from Houns Tout – simply walk back into the village and follow the road by the church toward the track leading into the valley toward the sea.
- Sheep Pens car park for Swyre Head – BH20 5LP
- Houns Tout postcode – BH20 5LN
Isle of Purbeck AONB Viewpoint
Park here for stunning, panoramic views on both sides of the Purbeck Ridgeway.
It’s a short stroll to the quirky Grange Arch folly from the car park, and a good spot to pick up the Lulworth Range Walks when open.
There is often also an excellent pop-up café in an adjacent field during warmer months, (typically from 1 April – end of October). Keep an eye on the café’s website for updates: popuponthehill.com
You’ll find this free-to-park car parking area on Grange Hill (nearest postcode: BH20 5DF)
South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path starts right here in Dorset and goes all the way to Minehead in Somerset, 630 miles away. You can pick the path up at various points, but if you’re keen to try it from the start, Shell Bay is the place to park (free for National Trust members) for the first leg of your walk (postcode: BH19 3BA).
The South West Coast Path in Purbeck consists of varying terrain, with some pleasant, easy stretches and some a little more challenging.
Filling & charging stations
You can fill up your vehicle with fuel, find a nearby EV charger, orate the car for a quick wash at petrol stations within and close by to Swanage:
Car parks – maps
Find out which is the best car park for your visit to Swanage – from short-stay right by the beach for a quick stroll or coffee stop, to long-stay parking to spend the day exploring.
Click on a pin for more information.
Swanage town car parks
Studland car parks
All four beaches in Studland have National Trust car parks (free for members).