Olivia Thurlow explores the popular town of Poole, Dorset

Famed for being situated on Europe’s largest harbour, the picturesque seaside town of Poole boasts bucketloads of history, character and charm. Much has been said about the popular tourist attractions and spectacular beaches it has to offer, so here we are with insider access: a selection of Poole’s best bits through the eyes of a local.

Kingland Crescent is Poole’s boutique shopping district with ten independent retailers seeking to reimagine the traditional sense of the high street. Enjoy a coffee and watch through the workshop window as surfboards are fixed and brought back to life at HUX.

Amble down to the lively quay via the quaint backstreets of the postcard perfect Old Town and its Georgian architecture. Riptide Espresso & Records is the warmly welcomed modern anomaly – this sociable cafe space will serve you up excellent coffee and food to the sound of a fresh soundtrack; records are available to browse and purchase too.

For evening fine dining, The Guildhall Tavern is popular among seafood lovers, serving classic French cuisine and locally sourced seafood dishes in a simple, nautical themed dining room. Make sure to book!

Opposite the harbour, Poole park covers an area of 110 acres. You can book out tennis courts, join over 700 runners at Parkrun on Saturday mornings, or catch the Poole Radio Yacht Club race their model yachts, a tradition that goes back to 1890 when the park was first created. Watching them really is quite meditative.

Riptide Espresso
Drgnfly Bournemouth

Tucked away in a small marina just off Sandbanks road, South Deep is often described as the ‘hidden gem’ of Poole Harbour. Sink some pints from their ‘Sipping Container’ alfresco bar or tuck into some fresh food amongst a buzzing waterside atmosphere.

Evening Hill viewpoint is the ideal place for some BYO sundowners, a picnic or to tuck into some fish and chips from TJ’s down the road. You’ll be treated to some glorious sunsets across the bay over Brownsea Island and further afield to the Purbeck Hills.

Within the Parkstone area of Poole, Ashley Cross is a leafy suburb with a lively village feel. A great array of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars dot its green: tuck into African cuisine at Zim or Pan Asian at Drgnfly, a good coffee and breakfast bagel at the snug Dancing Goat, craft beers at The Butchers Dog Bar and bottleshop, or find the secret gin bar at the eclectic Bermuda Triangle. Homeware fans, do make sure you pop into WN Interiors, a beautiful studio and store influenced by nature and modern lifestyle needs – you’ll feel serene as soon as you step in. Coast . Surf + Moto on Salterns road is an effortlessly cool cafe x retail hybrid, one to visit for those with a penchant for outdoor adventure and beach lifestyle.

For guilt-free pampering, look no further than the Lush spa, next door to the birthplace and first ever store of the vegan cosmetics brand.

Lighthouse is the UK’s largest regional art centre. With an impressive programme spanning independent film, live music and theatre, there’s plenty that’ll peak interest.

Lead image by Joe Logan. Riptide Espresso & Records, DrgnFly Poole.