Located on the southern coast of England, Hampshire, also known as Southamptonshire, is the perfect blend of city, coast and country. Once part of the kingdom of Wessex, this splendid region with close proximity to the popular Isle of Wight is blessed by the natural beauty of two National Parks.
The nearby ancient cathedral city of Winchester was home to Kings Alfred, Knut, and William the Conqueror when they were the rulers of England. And yes, there are many amazing castles to visit here like the famous Winchester Cathedral.
Of course, it’s literally impossible to resist a visit to the magnificent gothic, green, and historic area that was once home to two of England’s finest and most beloved writers, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
Hampshire is the perfect place for a holiday getaway, and we’ve got recommendations from what to do in the area to the perfect holiday cottage in Hampshire.
Things to Do in Hampshire
Hampshire is home to the New Forest National Park, stretching across 140,000 acres of ancient woodland and unspoiled grassland. It’s one of the most beautiful national parks in the UK and home to the famous New Forest ponies, with dozens of walking and cycling trails to explore. The South Downs National Park located in the heart of the county is the newest of the parklands. With its rolling green pastures, ancient woodlands and river valleys, it’s the ideal place for walkers and hikers, spanning 70 miles from the eastern side of Hampshire to Sussex.
Tour Winchester Castle, Winchester Cathedral and learn about the legend of King Arthur on this walking tour.
The River Itchen is one of the premier chalk streams in the world for fly fishing, while nearby River Test is ideal for salmon and trout fishing.
Hampshire is a county filled with hidden gems like charming thatched cottages cosy pubs, historic structures, fascinating museums, and bustling markets.
Villages to Visit in Hampshire
Marlborough – This ancient market town lies on the old main route between London and Bath, and boasts one of the widest high streets in Britain. Its central market place still hosts a regular market and numerous annual events, including a jazz festival and the Marlborough Mop Fair.
Andover – First noted as the site of an ancient royal hunting lodge, the town is now focused on its military heritage. The MOD is the largest employer, and the Museum of Army Flying is located nearby at Middle Wallop.
Winchester – An historic cathedral city and once the ancient capital of England until after the Norman Conquest, Winchester still conforms to the Saxon Street plan of King Alfred the Great. Its old Roman and mediaeval city walls are still visible, together with six city gates.
Portsmouth – Mainly located on Portsea Island, Portsmouth is unique in the UK as the only island city. Still a significant, though much reduced, naval port, Portsmouth is also home to Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s historic flagship, the HMS Victory. With this all-in-one pass, you’ll be able to visit the Victory, Queen Victoria’s HMS Warrior, the First World War’s HMS M.33, Henry VIII’s Tudor warship the Mary Rose and the Cold War submarine, HMS Alliance – a great value!
More recently, the local skyline has been enhanced by the addition of the sweeping steel arcs of the Spinnaker Tower, the tallest accessible structure in the UK outside London, situated amidst the newly-developed leisure facilities at Gunwharf Quays.
Lyndhurst – This village within the New Forest is a popular destination for visitors offering a lovely selection of shops, galleries, restaurants, pubs and hotels. The local parish church of St. Michael and All Angels has a fine collection of Pre-Raphaelite-stained glass by artists including Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.
Southampton – The largest city in the county and one of the busiest commercial ports in Europe was once the point of arrival in England for the Black Death in 1348, and the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620.
In addition to the Mayflower, the Titanic set sail from here. A fascinating walking tour examines Southampton’s connection to both famed ships.
Petersfield – Seventeen miles north of Portsmouth, the market town of Petersfield lies at one end of the 64-mile Serpent Trail long-distance footpath. Near to the town, the Queen Elizabeth Country Park which incorporates the highest point of the South Downs Way at Butser Hill also offers visitors a wide variety of beautiful woodland and downland.
Romsey – This small market town is dominated by a large Norman abbey. Nearby you’ll find the Broadlands, the elegant Palladian mansion once the country home of the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
Fareham – A lovely town situated at the north-west tip of Portsmouth harbour and between the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, Fareham has a fine collection of Georgian buildings and retail properties, as well as numerous leisure facilities around the Market Quay.
Where to Stay in Hampshire
Looking for holiday homes to rent in Hampshire? We’ve got you covered! From Hampshire cottage rentals to large houses to rent, we’re highlighting some of the highest-rated properties in Hampshire.
Coach House at Mildmay House (Twyford, Winchester)
Beautifully converted 17th Century, Grade II coach house/stables. Self-catering coach house is part of Mildmay House. Easy access to Twyford and Winchester.
WinterBerry Barn (Braishfield)
Cozy country getaway within 15 minutes from Winchester. Oak finish throughout with raw natural beams giving it a warm country feel.
Hang Your Hat (Winchester)
Enjoy the private courtyard at this adorable cottage in Winchester. There's also a steam room, underfloor heating, fine linens and robes and a fireplace. Organic free range eggs are complimentary with your stay.
City Centre Cottage (Winchester)
This renovated period cottage is situated on one of Winchester's quaint old streets. Tons of character and an easy stroll to historic sites, restaurants, markets and more.
Riverside Cottage (Shawford, Winchester)
Situated in the quaint village of Shawford, this recently refurbished cottage has stunning river views. Lovely conservatory or garden to enjoy your tea. Close to the Shawford Mainline Train Station.
Train Conversion (Horsebridge/Stockbridge)
Stay in this unique train conversion with an enclosed garden. Fully renovated carriage with touches of historic charm. Open plan living space with two bedrooms with en-suite shower rooms.
Brockhurst Cottage (Over Wallop)
Brockhurst Cottage is a Grade 2 Listed thatched cottage that retains many original features from the mid-17th Century. Enjoy the large fireplaces, wood burning stove and Rayburn Range cooker. Situated within the rural village of Over Wallop, it forms part of “The Wallops” including Middle and Nether Wallop.
Acorn Cottage (Bank)
Acorn Cottage dates back to 1760 and is located in the beautiful hamlet of Bank. It retains its historic charm while integrating modern appliances. Set on an acre of garden on the open Forest. Both a garden and fenced off small pond to enjoy.
Acorn Cottage (Bank)
The Crest Droxford is a stylishly furnished, family-friendly detached house tucked away in the South Coast countryside. Located on the edge of Droxford Village, there's easy access to pubs and bike/walking trails. Beautiful lawned garden with a playhouse and swing for children.