With no less than two National Parks, a vast and peaceful countryside, an important stretch of coast and cosmopolitan cities, Hampshire is a county of contrasts.
The New Forest National Park sprawls northwards from The Solent; an epic expanse of tranquil woodland, romantic heathland and bubbling river valleys. Synonymous with the wild ponies that roam freely throughout, it also harbours deer, cattle and woodland wildlife. The New Forest is easily accessible, with trails for walking, cycling and horse riding, and there’s a delightful selection of charming villages, including Beaulieu and Lyndhurst.
Working up an appetite with outdoor activities, you’ll be pleased to find no end of fantastic eateries, from local pubs and cafés to fine-dining establishments. The New Forest Marque is the emblem to look out for, signifying that produce has been grown, reared, caught, brewed, produced or processed within the New Forest.
Hampshire’s appeal does not end at the New Forest, however. There’s also the South Downs National Park which encompasses the Seven Sisters white cliffs, undulating farmland, ancient woodland and low-lying heathland, as well as more pretty villages and even some vineyards!
Traditional, picture-postcard villages can also be found in the Test Valley, where the chalk streams make it a top spot for fishing.
The county’s cities are equally enthralling: coastal Portsmouth has shops, museums and restaurants aplenty, while historic Winchester enchants with its iconic cathedral, elegant architecture and riverside walks. Southampton, too, is bursting with attractions including the Sea City Museum, Tudor House and Gardens and fantastic WestQuay shopping centre.
The Solent boasts some wonderful spots for a day at the beach such as Southsea and Hayling Island and on the water, you can enjoy water sports including sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
When it comes to attractions, Hampshire also delivers, with top picks being Jane Austen’s House at Chawton, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.
A welcoming and relaxing base for your group holiday is a must, so take a look at our large holiday cottages in Hampshire and the New Forest to find your perfect home-from-home.