Where and What to Hire
Europecar, Hertz and Alamo all operate car rental services out of Bournemouth Airport. In Bournemouth city centre itself, Hertz have an outlet in Christchurch and Alamo and National Car Rental branches along the A338. Thrifty Car Rental has an office near the International Centre while Enterprise is situated close to Winton Recreation Ground in the centre of the city. A whole selection of cars are available for rent from small two-door hatchbacks for single or couple travellers, to larger family estate cars with good boot space to luxury cars and van hire.
Bournemouth is a fairly big biking city so be sure to keep an eye out for cyclists on the roads. There are also many cyclists down by the Promenade, often younger children. Rush hour in Bournemouth coincides with working hours so from 8am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm are usually the busiest times on the roads. However, school and summer holidays can also see an increase in traffic due to visitors and locals heading to the beach and the events taking place on the Promenade.
There are approximately seven large underground or multi-storey car parks available in Bournemouth. With no maximum stay imposed, these are good options when wanting to park for a whole day at the beach. There are a reasonable number of smaller car parks close to the beach however these fill up very quickly. The Car Park at the Bournemouth International Centre has over 650 spaces and reasonable charges of £1.50 for 1 hour up to £12 for 24 hours. There is also on-street parking but this come with time limits, particular by the beaches which limit parking up to only 30 minutes or an hour. There is very little free parking, particularly in the city centre.
Where to Go and What to See
The beauty of having a car is the freedom to explore the surrounding area and there are many exciting things to see outside Bournemouth. Just 5 miles from Bournemouth is Poole. With the second largest natural harbour in the world, it is well worth exploring. The drive only takes 20 minutes. Further afield, although only 40 minutes by car, is beautiful Corfe Castle – one of the UK’s most captivating ruins, from the time of William the Conqueror. Also just 20 minutes and 13 miles from Bournemouth are the breath-taking landscapes of the New Forest National Park. Wild deer and horses, winding lanes, ancient trees and historic villages make this a magical destination for the whole family. For activities the kids will love, Poole offers the chance to paddle in huge open Canadian canoes on Poole Harbour while just 6 miles away in Christchurch there is a thrilling Alpine environment called Snowtrax where young and old can learn to ski, snowboard or simply fly down the slopes in giant rings. Twenty minutes away, in Ringwood there is the famous Go Ape centre where you can swing from, climb up and abseil down trees, scale rope walls and dive off Tarzan-style swings – all in the name of fun! In Lymington, just 15 miles or a 40 minutes drive from Bournemouth are the Lymington Sea Water Baths where pools and sandpits, kayaking, paddle boarding and water zorbing are all available for young and old alike.