Hampshire, a county in the southeast of England, has a beautiful combination of coastline and inland attractions. Explore the South Downs Way and Test Valley or step back in time to one of the market towns. Spend time with the kids at Peppa Pig World or visit the world of Jane Austen – you won’t be disappointed.
In West Hampshire, the River Test carves its way towards the sea. Test Valley and the landscape is varied with chalk hills and woodlands. Visit the village of Romsey to see the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Perhaps head to the Mottisfont National Trust to enjoy the rose gardens. There are plentiful opportunities for fresh air and outdoor activities along the 44 mile Test Way. Explore some of the villages or go cycling, hiking or horseback riding through forests and hillsides.
Anyone who has watched Downton Abbey will be no stranger to Highclere Castle. It is the home of the cast of characters in the show. Visit the 5,000-hectare gardens or purchase a guided tour. Through the Castle are 250 plus rooms on display. The castle was rebuilt in around 1842, although the first evidence of the estate was around the year 749. Not only fans of the period drama will enjoy as you relive the history of the Castle.
Hampshire has a variety of National Trust properties that have been preserved. They are now open for visitors to explore including The Vyne, just outside the city of Basingstoke. See the 16th century Tudor Mansion and the surrounding garden and woodland with its network of paths. Visit the house with its collections of Murano glass and tapestries. There are wall hangings of silk and paintings too. Visit the formal and walled gardens, as well as exploring the trails through the natural woodland.
Jane Austen’s home
Embrace your inner romantic and visit the village of Chawton, near Alton, to see the home of Jane Austen. Jane Austen, found much of her inspiration for her novels in this part of the world. Visitors will be transported back to 1816, and visit the location where she wrote all her novels, including Pride & Prejudice. Walk in the garden where Austen spent her time, and look around the house. It is now a museum, which holds some of her letters as well as her writing table.
Hayling Island day trip
For anyone who loves the coastline, Hampshire has many attractions and towns that are worth exploring. Take a trip to Hayling Island, which is easily accessible from the mainland by a bridge. Drive across to the island’s unspoilt beaches and countryside. For active visitors, there are windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing opportunities available. If you are more interested in the history of the area you could take the World War II Heritage Trail and learn about the role that Hayland played in clandestine operations during the war.
Peppa Pig World
If you are travelling through Hampshire with younger family members be sure to stop in at Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park. It is in a theme park located near the village of Ower in The New Forest. Once you have bought a ticket for the theme park, entry to Peppa Pig World is free. There are 9 different rides to choose from. Kids can even meet Peppa and George – the stars of the animated children’s show.
National Motor Museum Beaulieu
Another gem in Hampshire is the National Motor Museum in the village of Beaulieu. Whether you are a car enthusiast or not, this museum is a great place to spend some time. With around 280 cars in the collection, visitors can walk through the history of motoring in Britain. Explore the evolution of the car from the start right up until the present day. There is also a motorcycle display in the museum as well as F1 cars. There are more technical exhibits showing the working of the car and how it has developed through the years.
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway
Those of you who love the open air and nature will not be disappointed in Hampshire with the selection of gardens. Each garden has something that sets it apart from the others and with Exbury Gardens it is the miniature steam railway that runs through the gardens. Take a ride on the train from the replica Victorian station of Exbury Central to see the Summer Lane Garden and circle around Dragonfly Pond. Over 100 years old, Exbury Gardens is famous for its collection of azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. Take some time to explore this paradise that stretches over around 200 acres.
Explore the market towns – Lyminton and Stockbridge
Hampshire has a good selection of market towns. They are worth exploring if you are looking for a slightly different shopping experience. Head down to Lymington, just outside the New Forest on the coast between Bournemouth in Dorset and Southampton. This Georgian town has flower adorned streets and Georgian architecture. On the High Street, you can find independent shops and boutiques. There is a local produce market every Saturday in the centre. For more independent shops and tearooms, visit Stockbridge. This picturesque town is Nestled in the Test Valley near Winchester. It is on an old drover’s road, which used to be used for driving herds of sheep and cattle from Wales to markets in Hampshire.
While visiting Hampshire you should pop into one of the prettiest towns in the county, Winchester. It has a fantastic medieval old town that visitors love. It’s filled with quaint cafes, pubs and artisan shops. You can also visit the Winchester City Mill – a working corn mill from the 1800s. There is also the famous Winchester Cathedral that many come to see year-round. It holds ancient artefacts including a Norman Crypt and the 17th Century Morley Library. If you are into ancient lore the Great Hall of Winchester Castle holds a round table believed to be linked to the legendary King Arthur.
To find out about more, go to visit-hampshire.co.uk and discover unique, special events as well as the latest news. If you need to hire a car during your trip, SIXT rent a car has convenient locations in Southampton.