The Best Things to Do on The South Coast, UK
Our curated guide to the UK's glorious South Coast.
Holidays on the UK’s South Coast never disappoint thanks to the winning combination of beautiful beaches, unspoilt nature and fantastic cultural attractions. Add a country pub to the mix and you’re certainly set for a fantastic time. Thanks to this curated list of things to do on the South Coast, you can stop worrying about planning and get straight down to the business of enjoying yourself. And don't forget to book a Plum Guide home on the South Coast while you're there. You won't regret it.
When it comes to things to do on the South Coast, you simply can’t miss the chance to cross otherworldly Stonehenge off your bucket list. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most famous prehistoric monument in Europe and affords visitors an opportunity to discover how the people who built the monument worked and lived. The making of Stonehenge has always been a mystery and it is estimated that erecting the approximately 100 massive stones took 1500 years.
On a normal tour of the site you can’t get up close and personal with the stones, but book a Stone Circle Experience with English Heritage and you’ll be free to wander amongst them and take as many photos as you like. There are some things money can’t buy, but luckily this isn’t one of them (if it were, there’s always Mastercard). A knowledgeable host will be on hand throughout the tour to answer any questions.
For a decidedly more modern structure to marvel at, head to the Royal Pavilion in quaint and cute Brighton. This ornate seaside palace was once the residence of the Prince Regent (George IV) and later - between 1815-1823 - was transformed by John Nash into what is inarguably one of the most exotic structures in Great Britain. Style-wise it’s a mix of Indian architecture and Chinese inspired interiors, with an overall sense of Regency grandeur.
Don’t miss checking out Queen Victoria’s apartments while you’re there, which having been newly refurbished will almost have you wishing you were crashing in them instead of your luxurious Plum Guide Brighton abode - key word being almost. Victoria may have had that fancy wallpaper but we both know your standards of hygiene are way higher. Check out our list for more things to do in Brighton.
Dartmouth Steam Railway
A unique option when it comes to things to do on the South Coast is to travel back in time on the steam train trip that dreams are made of. The line is six miles (10.8 km) long and the train starts chugging from its own personal platform at Paignton. From there you’ll take in the splendor of the English Riviera Geopark coast line before making stops at picturesque Goodrington and Churston stations. Next it’s on through the tree-filled slopes of Long Wood along the Dart Estuary and then to Greenway Halt (home to the estate of the late Dame Agatha Christie - don’t worry though, that murder was on the Orient Express only). The last stop is Kingswear.
Along the way be prepared to see an impressive array of wildlife including dolphins, seals, herons and buzzards. Should you wish to keep the good times rolling, included in the price of your ticket is a quick ferry ride across the river to historic Dartmouth, where you’ll find the Britannia Royal Naval College, Tudor fort Bayards Cove and Dartmouth Castle, which by the way is the first castle in England to use guns as its main defense.
Ventnor Botanic Garden
Located on the charming Isle of Wight where this incredible Plum Guide home is waiting for your arrival, the Ventnor Botanic Garden was founded in 1970 by Sir Harold Hillier and later donated to the local council. Its bountiful collection of flora includes worldwide temperate and subtropical trees as well as shrubs organised by region. In case you thought your indoor plant game was goals, let us remind you that this garden houses 6000 species of rare and exotic plants and trees across 22 acres.
The gardens here are beautifully kept without being overly manicured. For those of you who have finally been able to explain to your children that there are no such thing as fairies, be forewarned that a walk in these magical grounds might well convince them you were lying.
Try some new water sports
If you’re travelling with children in tow, why not give them a thrill with a morning or afternoon spent at Action Watersports in Kent? They’ll be more than willing to visit that boring historic monument after a few hours spent water-skiing, wakeboarding or jet skiing to their heart’s content (and your heart’s terror).
The centre’s purpose-built freshwater lake is just 15 minutes from the M20 and the perfect spot to learn the basics or practise more advanced skills. Facilities include a slalom course, jump ramp and ringo rides are available too. We know you’ll want to join in on the fun, so just a warning to remember you’re not in your teens or twenties anymore. Go too hard and you’ll feel it tomorrow.
Walk the Jurassic Coast
Enjoy breathtaking coastal views ideal for next year’s Christmas card, as well as woodland trails, spectacular flora and fauna and of course the chalk formations rising from the sea known as Old Harry’s Rocks. Don’t miss the Lulworth Cove where you can swim or kayak, as well as explore on foot. For those who want to try wild swimming, the 1km beginners swim through Durdle Door to Man o War Bay and back is a great way to escape the crowds and really dive into nature. Explore the rest of Dorset with our list of things to do.