101 Things to do in Bournemouth – Observation Wheel

I’ve Lived in Bournemouth for six years, but today I’m going to do something that I’ve not done before as I considered it too touristy – a ride on the Observation Wheel.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
Observation Wheel

Getting There

The wheel is well placed for observing Bournemouth; on Pier Approach with the sea (and pier, of course) on one side and the gardens on the other.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
Observation Wheel

Opening Times

Bournemouth Observation Wheel operates daily from 10 am until 10 pm.


A ride costs £8. A notice states that one ride consists of two rotations and lasts approximately 8-10 minutes.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
Ready to board

I haven’t been on a Ferris wheel in 20 years. The last time was in a fairground in Lahore, Pakistan and it did not go well. It was really hot and the fair was almost deserted, but my girls really wanted to go on it, so we did. Once the ride set off, the operator promptly fell asleep. So we went round. And round. And round. Every time we reached the bottom, we shouted and waved at the operator, but he wouldn’t wake. It was both hilarious and terrifying in equal measures.

Back to the present, and it’s bang on 10 am when I arrive, so I am the first (and only) passenger. I pay my £8 and attempt to board. First point to note; the capsule is quite high off the ground and there is no hand rail, plus it rotates as you attempt to climb in. This causes me to miss my step and hit my leg on the side, which hurts. I give up on mounting with any semblance of dignity and just crawl in on my hands and knees.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
My capsule

Second point to note is that it’s not really an activity for one person; the capsule is octagonal, designed to seat six, with three seats either side of the doors. If there is just one person with no one to counter balance, you end up dangling at an awkward angle.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
Here we go

Final point to note; the capsule rotates so that the heaviest part is at the bottom, so when I attempt to slide across to a different seat to get a better view of a particular landmark, it rotates and I end back where I started, but in a different seat.

in a different seat.
At the top

Apart from the bruise on my leg, and the dangling backwards, I quite enjoy my little ride and get a lovely bird’s eye view of the bay, pier, town and gardens. Not, however, as great a photo op as I’d hoped, because the pod is fully enclosed and its octagonal design means that there are a lot of window frames to try to avoid.

Bournemouth Pier from the Observation Wheel
View of the Pier from the Wheel

In addition, I can’t help thinking that £8 for 8 minutes is £1 a minute, which is a lot of money to pootle round in two small circles. Especially as nobody else boards during my ride, so two rotations takes rather less than 8 minutes. The operator obviously concurs, because he sends the wheel round a third time. Now I love to get my money’s worth, but an extra spin causes flashbacks to Lahore, and a part of me starts to panic that I’m never going to get off!

Bournemouth from the Observation Wheel
View of Bournemouth from the Wheel

But it’s just one extra rotation, and a couple of minutes later, I’m back at the bottom wondering if there’s any possibility of alighting with dignity. Apparently not!

Bournemouth from the Observation Wheel
Pavilion and Upside down House from the Wheel

I quite enjoyed my 8 minute ride and bird’s eye view of Bournemouth, but I can think of better ways to spend £8, so from now on I’ll leave it to the tourists…

The council contract to operate the wheel renews every three years. The current wheel has brightly coloured capsules. At night, it is illuminated, which looks particularly cool in winter as part of the Christmas festivities.

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
Observation Wheel at Christmas

The previous wheel was all white. The contract is due to renew in 2024, so who knows what the wheel will look like next year?

Bournemouth Observation Wheel
White Observation Wheel

Observation Wheel for Children

The wheel is suitable for all the family (as long as they are able to climb/be lifted into the capsule). A children’s ride costs £5 or you can purchase a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for £22.


3 responses to “101 Things to do in Bournemouth – Observation Wheel”

  1. […] at the head of the Pier has several attractions; there are restaurants, Tourist Information, an Observation Wheel, mini golf and […]


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