Eating out

Recommended places to eat in Swanage – please check their sites or call for latest opening hours

Java Tilly Mead, Commercial Road, Swanage BH19 1DF  

A popular vegetarian and vegan café with fresh roasted coffee and delicious homemade quiches, toasties, scones, soup and cakes. Find it in the collection of independent shops behind Institute Road and Station Road. Dogs welcome. Open for breakfast and lunch.

Love Cake 42 High Street, Swanage BH19 2NX, 01929 475664 

This café serves lovely breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas and is open for dinner some evenings, especially in summer. It has tables for two to six upstairs, but downstairs there is a larger room for groups (booking advisable). Dogs welcome. 

SeventhWave at Durlston Castle, 01929 421111 text 07429 616045 

This café is a 20-minute uphill walk from The Mount through woodland with wonderful sea views. Nice spot for a delicious lunch or tea and cake after a walk around the dramatic cliffs of Durlston. You can also park at the castle. Can accommodate large groups (booking advisable). Dogs welcome. 

The Roof Terrace, 1 High Street, Swanage, 

Open from March to October, this friendly alfresco seafood restaurant sits above Gee Whites restaurant right on the seafront. Booking is not available and rain may stop play, but it's a brilliant location on a warm evening for cocktails, mussels and wine. Gee Whites below is also good – a casual outdoor restaurant serving generous breakfasts in the morning and decent pizza and seafood from lunch into the evening. 

The Salt Pig Too 7a Station Road, Swanage, BH19 1AB, 01929 423616

A farmer-owned restaurant which uses local produce and has a butcher's shop and fishmonger at the front. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus tasty quiche and pie and mash takeaways. Good for Sunday roasts. 

The Black Swan, 159 High Street, Swanage BH19 2NE, 01929 423846 Opens 5.30pm. 

This chef-owned pub can accommodate larger groups (booking advisable) and offers good food with seasonal specials. Lovely garden. Good for Sunday roasts.

The 1859 Pier Cafe and Bistro, Marine Villas, Pier Approach, BH19 2AW, 01929 500387  

Great spot to sit and watch all the comings and goings in the bay. Open everyday for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sandwiches, cakes, burgers and daily specials. They can accommodate large groups (booking advisable). Dogs welcome. Lots of outdoor seating. Good for Sunday roasts.

Chococo Chocolate House, 21C Commercial Road, Swanage, BH19 1DF, 01929 408288 

Enjoy a hot chocolate, coffee from Dorset-based Beanpress coffee roasters, Dorset Tea, their delicious Chococo Gelato, cakes, soup, freshly made toasties (including vegan cheese toasties) or savoury scones all handmade in their bakery opposite. Funky cafe with some outdoor seating, tucked away in the lanes behind Station Road. 

The Fish Plaice 14 The Square, Swanage BH19 2LJ, 01929 423668 

Our favourite fish and chip takeaway. Eat on the quay or on the Downs overlooking the bay which gets the last of the day's sun. We recommend phoning ahead for large orders.

Pier Head on the seafront near Swanage Pier

Fish restaurant serving all the usual seafood classics plus one or two veggie options. A sunny spot for lunch by the sea. 

Beach cafés

In summer it's also worth strolling along the front to the two beach cafes near Burlington Chine, Down the Beach and The Cabin

Further afield

Worth Matravers

The Square & Compass Worth Matravers BH19 3LF, 01929 439229 

The Square is a justly famous pub with lots of character, great views and coastal walks nearby. It even boasts its own fossil museum. Lovely selection of local and guest real ales and even more ciders. Food-wise it's a simple choice between pasties, pies, soup and salad but all are delicious and available all day. If you're walking, the Priest's Way takes you directly there from Swanage, or you can take the more strenuous SW coast path from Durlston then head inland from Seacombe or Winspit. Parking for the village is just a couple of hundred yards up the hill from the pub and costs £2. 

Studland

The Pig on the Beach Manor Road, Studland BH19 3AU, 01929 450288 

Interesting menu sourcing local meat and fish, plus an extensive vegetarian menu from the kitchen garden, served in a charming conservatory dining room overlooking Studland Bay. Work up an appetitive with a walk over Ballard Down via Old Harry and catch the open-top 50 bus back to Swanage. (Currently open for lunch and dinner. Book well in advance. You will have better luck securing a table for lunch rather than dinner and, anyway, the views in the daylight are wonderful. There is also a wood oven outside for pizza, no booking required, eating outside on tables or the lawn. Seating for pizza is first come first served. Great if you're with younger children.

Corfe Castle

The Greyhound Inn, The Square, Corfe Castle, 01929 480205

Comfortable pub with cost seating indoors and a garden backing on to the castle, with a varied and interesting menu, including veggie options. Good for Sunday roasts. 

The Bankes Arms and Fox Inn nearby are also well worth checking out. The Fox has a sunny beer garden overlooking the castle, while the Bankes Arms is nearer to the steam railway. 

Wareham

The Salt Pig 6 North Street, Wareham BH20 4AF, 01929 550673 

Deli and café packed with local produce situated by the crossroads in this ancient market town. Take a walk along the Saxon walls (grass banks) or along the rivers, or take a boat trip from the Quay. The number 40 bus passes through the town. 

The Italian Kitchen, The Priory and The Old Granary are decent options for dinner. 

Sandbanks

Rick Stein Sandbanks, 10-14 Banks Road, Poole, BH13 7QP, 01202 283000 

Seafood and harbour-side location. If the weather is good, leave your car in the National Trust car park by the chain ferry and head over to Sandbanks as a foot passenger, or go all the way from Swanage by bus – the 50 takes you over the ferry to the door, almost.