Are you planning on visiting The New Forest, England? My New Forest Travel guide has got you covered with all the best things to do in The New Forest.
Combine ponies with thatched cottages and country pubs and you’ve got the New Forest. It’s filled with cute villages, walks and unique history dating back thousands of years. It also has an incredibly beautiful landscape with over 7000 animals grazing the open forest. And that makes it one of the best places to visit in the UK for a staycation. I’ve been travelling to the New Forest for over 20 years. And I’ve compiled( in my humble opinion) the best New Forest travel guide to help you plan the perfect trip. From things to do in the New Forest, New Forest Walks and New Forest Villages – this post has everything you need to plan the perfect weekend getaway.
Here are the best things to do in The New Forest
The Best Things To Do In The New Forest
How much time should I spend there?
There is plenty to do in the New Forest, UK with enough to easily occupy you for longer stays.
Especially if you enjoy hikes or bike rides. I personally think a long weekend is the perfect amount of time to experience the highlights.
New Forest Accomodation
Hoburne Holiday Parks
We’ve always stayed in a Hoburne holiday park. Now, this option isn’t for everyone. But it certainly has it’s benefits.
One benefit is that they have plenty of facilities readily available. On most sites, you will find golf courses, tennis courts, outdoor and indoor pools, a café/restaurant, shop and evening entertainment.
They have several sites dotted around Dorset and Hampshire. They are often in practical locations. And that makes it easy for you to travel around the New Forest.
It can be a really good option for families. But, it’s also quite pricey– 4 nights for 2 guests in August will cost you between £493 – £600.
Visit Hoburne Holiday Parks here
If you are on a budget, Airbnb is probably the best and most practical option. There are plenty of adorable places you can stay in the New Forest.
You can find a range of Airbnb options in quaint villages dotted throughout the New Forest. You can enjoy a homely experience. But at a more affordable price.
Money to spend? There are some gorgeous luxury hotels in the New Forest.
The Most insta famous is probably Chewton Glen. A spa hotel set in 130 acres of countryside. It’s a mere seven-minute drive from Highcliffe.
You walk or cycle to many attractions from the hotel. And it even has treehouses you can stay in. They look seriously luxurious!
How To Get There
I would recommend taking a car to The New Forest. The majority of The New Forest is made up of countryside and small villages.
Consequently, there are many places that will be difficult to get to via public transport.
It is possible to get there via public transport. I would suggest staying in Brockenhurst and taking a train there. You can rent a bike while you’re there. It’s an extremely cycle-friendly area with plenty of cycle routes available.
The Best Things to Do In the New Forest
Hurst Castle is an old artillery fort established by Henry VIII on the Hurst Spit. You can either walk or catch a ferry.
We decided to walk along Hurst Spit from Keyhaven which took us about 40 minutes. On the walk, you are treated to the stunning views of the famous Jurassic Coastline.
I would suggest walking one way and getting the ferry the other. It features a really quiet pebble beach on the spit which is perfect for a paddle or quick swim. Especially if you are looking to avoid the busier beaches such as Bournemouth.
You can also walk around the castle which features exhibitions on World War II, Henry VIII and Charles I
An adult Ticket costs £5.50, Child entry is £3.50. Children under 5 go free.
Otter Owl and Wildlife Park
The Otter, Owl and Wildlife park is such a hoot (I’m so sorry!)
You can see Otters and Owls up close. And you can also learn how they care cared for. They also have a butterfly house, deer and even lynx.
This is a great family day out and kids will absolutely love it.
I’m a bit obsessed with Highcliffe Castle! But it’s such a charming, historic building! The castle itself has a very romantic vibe to me. And it’s really unique compared to other castles I’ve seen.
The grounds themselves are also really picturesque. And there is also a nature reserve nearby. Perfect for a relaxing stroll.
In the summer, the Highcliffe Castle Kitchen Tea Rooms are lovely. You can sit outside and are treated to views of the castle. They also do lovely cakes and hot drinks! There is also a beach nearby. It’s one of the quieter beaches if you are looking for alternatives to Bournemouth.
Moor Valley Park
Moor Valley is a country park filled with cycle routes. And complete with a narrow-gauge steam railway.
It also now has a go ape which I am yet to try.
There is also golf, fishing, a restaurant and plenty of picnic locations.
The forest is gorgeous and filled with tall trees.
They have walking and cycle routes for all abilities with the quickest only taking approximately 17 minutes.
Upton Country Park
I can’t recommend enough country parks and pretty buildings.
Upton park Country House is a Georgian mansion house located in stunning formal gardens and acres of parklands.
They have a lovely art gallery you can browse around as well as pretty walled gardens and fantastic tearooms.
New Forest Villages
Brockenhurst is a small, picturesque village nestled in the heart of the New Forest.
It’s perfect for walks or cycle routes. And it is also full of tearooms and lovely pubs. It was even voted the most beautiful place to live in the UK.
Brockenhurst is a superb base if you want to do some walks around the New Forest. Beautiful forest surrounds the idyllic village.
There is an excellent cycle shop you can rent bikes from in the village. They even have their own map phone app.
We opted for a walk around Ober Corner. It’s a short drive from the village itself. The forest here is insanely stunning and full of New Forest ponies roaming around.
Burley is one of my personal favourite villages to visit in The New Forest. It’s not technically part of the National park. But it is still surrounded by acres of the New Forest. And ponies wander freely around the village.
Witchcraft plays a big role in the history of Burley. Along with dragons and smuggling. How cool is that?
Burley is known for Witchcraft. And there are shops selling a variety of Witchcraft items.
You can also find other cute, quirky shops in the village perfect for browsing. If you’re a fan of fudge – please check out the Burley Fudge shop!
Christchurch is one of the bigger towns in The New Forest area.
In the summer, Christchurch harbour always has lots on for visitors. The priory church in the centre of the town is magnificent and well worth visiting.
The small town dates back to the Saxon era. And it still retains the same street layout.
There is also an old Norman castle ruins and the Place Mill you can visit.
Seaside towns don’t get much better than Lymington.
It’s a georgian sailing town with cute cobbled streets and seaside pubs.
In the middle is St Barbe Museum and Gallery – perfect if you want to read up on the history of The New Forest. If you’re looking for New Forest walks – the Lymington Marshes is also lovely.
Beaulieu is a perfect family day out. It’s an picturesque little village with cute shops and a garden centre. The village itself is adorable to wander around
There is also The National Motor Museum. The Motor museum houses famous cars, a monorail and interactive play areas.
History fans can also visit The Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.
New Forest Walks
Barton on Sea
The New Forest is also famous for the stunning Jurassic Coast. Barton on Sea is perfect for coastal walks.
It’s a quiet suburban area with a beautiful clifftop walk. There are magnificent with views over to the isle of wight. It’s often pretty quiet.
There is also a really charming coastal café selling delicious New Forest Ice Cream.
Disused Railway Route
The disused railway route is a stunning walking route near to Burley.
Near to Burley, is the disused railway route. You can either walk or cycle this route. It starts at the Holmsley tea rooms and ends in Burley. A village full of pub and cafés.
I am personally a big fan of any walk ending at a pub!
Blackwater Tall Trees Trail
The Tall Trees Trail is one of the most popular New Forest Walks. And for good reason!
The trail is seriously beautiful. But it’s also fairly flat so it’s quite an easy walk. It’s about 1.5 miles so it’s also pretty short.
The walk is absolutely stunning – tall majestic trees and dappled sunlight. If you’re wanting a beautiful forest walk then this is the route for you.
Jane Austen Trail
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, then you need to do this walk.
Jane Austen lived and worked in The New Forest. This walk takes you from the market town Alton where she often visited to her lovely house in Chawton.
It’s 1.5 miles so again it’s fairly short. It’s also well sign-posted so it’s pretty easy to follow. If you’re a big Jane Austen fan you can seek out many of the places she wrote about on the walk.
The Cider Pantry, Burley
I couldn’t resist mentioning Burley again!
If you enjoy cider then you should definitely check out The Cider Pantry in Burley.
They make traditional cider here using apples from the New Forest
. When visiting you can try real cider straight from the barrel.
They also have a really lovely café on site – The Cider Pantry. I’ve been there a few times and really enjoy a coffee & slice of cake here.
Old Station Tea Rooms, Holmsley
One of my favourite things to do in the New Forest is to visit a Tea Room. You can find the Old Station Tea Rooms at the start of many walking routes nearby
.But in particular the disused railway route. It’s set in an old railway station. And is very quintessentially British. I highly recommend a cream tea there.
But they also have a great menu also offering lunches.
Rosie Lea, Brockenhurst
The Rosie Lea Tea Bakery and Tea Room in Brockenhurst is so good that they’ve actually won awards!
They are keen on using local ingredients.
You can expect some freshly brewed, locally roasted coffee and delicious cakes. Seriously delicious cakes!
New Forest Pubs
The Huntsman, Brockenhurst
We visited The Huntsman in Brockenhurst for a Sunday lunch.
They were very busy. But the service was still excellent. The waitress was very attentive and friendly.
They have a really good menu with lots of classic pub dishes. The decor inside is modern. But also warm and cosy.
They have a gorgeous garden which would be perfect for enjoying an evening drink on a summer evening.
The New Forest Inn, Lyndhurst
I had to include The New Forest Inn when talking about pubs in the New Forest.
It’s also a traditional 18th-century country pub. Full of flowers and warm wood interiors.
The pub is set in the heart of the New Forest. So you might find ponies and donkeys wandering past while you’re there.
The Mayflower, Lymington
The Mayflower is a stunning pub in Lymington. They serve an excellent variety of local ale and some tasty, freshly made dishes. It also overlooks the river and you can enjoy gorgeous views while you dine there. They’re dog friendly and offer fantastic service as well as a lovely outdoor area.
There are still so many things I could recommend to you in the New Forest! I hope this was useful. If you have any of your own recommendations or can think of anything I’ve missed definitely let me know!
Those were my suggestions for the best things to do in the New Forest…
The cute, sleepy villages make a perfect relaxing weekend. If you visit, I hope you have a really lovely trip.
What do you think of my picks for things to do in The New Forest? What are your favourite things to do in the New Forest?
This post was all about the best things to do in The New Forest
Other posts you might like
This post with some epic travel series on Netflix
Some suggestions for activities in Portsmouth
Download this post as a handy checklist
*** All images are mine, please ask for permission to use!***