Summer in Hampshire

Plan your Summer in Hampshire

Summer

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Rolling countryside, incredible coastline, amazing attractions, and fabulous food and drink – discover summertime in Hampshire and fall back in love with the great British holiday. 

For some summer inspiration, we’re sharing our insider’s guide to the top places to visit in the county whether you’re here for a holiday or a fun day out.

Discover summer in the county at Hampshire's:

  • National Parks
  • Beaches
  • Accommodation
  • City adventures
  • Instagramable towns and villages
  • Places to visit
  • Activities
  • Walking and hiking
  • Amazing attractions
  • Shopping
  • Food and drink
  • Summer events
  • Travel information


Summer in Hampshire’s National Parks

The New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park

Abundant in ancient woodland, heathland and river valleys and bordered on its southern side by protected coastline, the New Forest National Park is a magical place to visit.

Follow the forest trails and see how many of the iconic New Forest ponies you can spot. There are plenty of self-catering and camping options available, giving you more time to explore a wealth of fantastic beauty spots and attractions. 

Discover things to do in the New Forest

South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park
 

Located in east Hampshire, the stunning landscape of the South Downs stretches from Winchester and Petersfield in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex.

Its rolling chalk hills provide an excellent opportunity to venture on great walks or cycle rides, rewarding you with wonderful panoramic views.

Queen Elizabeth Country Park, located within the South Downs, is home to the highest point of the national park at Butser Hill with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside – a perfect place for a summer picnic.

Discover things to do in the South Downs


Hampshire's Beaches

Milford on Sea Beach

Milford on Sea beach

Hampshire’s beaches are some of the county’s best kept secrets.  Lesser known than many other beach resorts, they benefit from being a little quieter but just as attractive. There are four main stretches of coastline, with a selection of beaches perfect for getting some vitamin sea: the New Forest, Lee-on-the-Solent, Southsea and Hayling Island

Discover all of Hampshire’s Beaches


Summer Short Breaks and Accommodation in Hampshire

Glamping in Hampshire

Cedar Valley Glamping near East Meon in the South Downs National Park

If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, Hampshire will have you covered. From camping in the New Forest at picturesque sites such as Green Hill Farm, with its own lakes and woodland to glamping it up at Cedar Valley in East Meon in the South Downs where you can choose to stay in a Safari tent, Mongolian Yurt or Betty the Bedford horse lorry.

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Southampton Harbour Hotel

Southampton Harbour Hotel
 

If you’re looking for some luxury , Hampshire has some of the most splendid hotels in the country including Lime Wood Hotel and the Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa in the New Forest and the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire and Heckfield Place in the north of the county.  

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Undercastle Cottage in The New Forest National Park

Undercastle Cottage in The New Forest National Park
 

If you’re looking for a home away from home, there are plenty of welcoming self-catering options from cute country cottages to larger properties for the whole family to stay, such as Walnut Tree Cottage in Tiptoe, New Forest.

Top tip: Hampshire's three cities offer a huge choice of accommodation and all are in a great location to access our open spaces. Southampton is the perfect location to access the New Forest National Park, Portsmouth offers direct routes into the South Downs National Park and Winchester is in close proximity to both the Test Valley and South Downs National Park. 

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Summer City Adventures

Winchester Cathedral in the city of Winchester

Winchester Cathedral in the city of Winchester


Winchester: This medieval cathedral city used to be the former capital of England and still retains its past charm. The city is the gastronomic capital of Hampshire with an abundance of delicious cafés and restaurants, including the Michelin starred Black Rat, Rick Stein and The Ivy Winchester Brasserie to name but few. The city is home to many historic attractions, including King Arthur’s Round Table at The Great Hall and Winchester Cathedral.

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West Quay Shopping Centre in the city of Southampton

West Quay Shopping Centre in the city of Southampton
 

Southampton: This city is a shopper’s paradise with the Westquay shopping centre hosting many big brands including John Lewis and Ikea. You’ll find an array of food and drink opportunities with cool cafés and restaurants offering menus from all over the world. Head to the waterfront setting at Ocean Village where you’ll find popular restaurants, bars and cinemas next to the marina. Explore the refurbished timber-framed Tudor House and Gardens in the Old Town and don't miss SeaCity Museum which houses a permanent exhibition of Southampton's Titanic story.

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The water font and Spinnaker Tower in the city of Portsmouth

The waterfront and Spinnaker Tower in the city of Portsmouth
 

Portsmouth: This maritime city is action-packed and combines an irresistible mix of heritage, culture, shopping, and entertainment. It is home to top attractions such as the iconic Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays, a premium retail and leisure destination. A must see is Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where you can walk aboard historic ships like Horatio Nelson’s HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the breath-taking Mary Rose. Don't miss the chance to explore the boutique shops and artisan cafes of Southsea or soak up the sun on the city’s Solent coastline beach.

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Instagramable Towns and Villages

The Town of Stockbridge in the Test Valley

The market town of Stockbridge in the Test Valley


Scattered throughout the county are beautiful towns and villages worthy filling your Instagram feed. Some of our favourites include Stockbridge in the Test Valley where you will find great pubs and independent boutique shops nestled alongside the River Test. Just off the High Street (South Side) is Stockbridge Common Marsh a great location for a walk and to take in a stunning stretch of the river and its wildlife.  

Lymington is famous for sailing due to its location on the Lymington River and proximity to the New Forest coastline. Start on the High Street taking in Georgian architecture and follow the road down picturesque Quay Hill where Victorian buildings line the cobbled streets. Don’t forget to pick up an ice cream along the way and eat it down by the quay. 

Alresford is a quaint town just east of Winchester, with many Georgian buildings in an array of colours. It has been named as one of the UK’s favourite market towns by Country Life magazine. Watercress has been farmed in the town for over a hundred years and there is even a heritage steam railway named after this ‘superfood’. The Mid-Hants 'Watercress Line' Railway service runs between Alresford and Alton.

Jane Austen's House in Chawton

Jane Austen's House in the village of Chawton


Chawton in east Hampshire is where Jane Austen famously lived and wrote six of her most well-known novels. When you enter the village, you cannot miss Jane Austen’s House with its beautiful gardens. There is a great photo spot outside the house where a heritage road sign highlights the Jane Austen connections in the village. Chawton House, the impressive Elizabethan home of Jane's brother, is only a few minutes’ walk away where you'll also find the quaint St Nicholas Church and a statue of Jane Austen. Chawton House’s cafe offers a great selection of teas and cakes perfect for a refreshment stop.


Other Places to Visit in Hampshire

Gosport Marina

Gosport Marina
 

Gosport: The waterfront town of Gosport sits on the edge of Portsmouth harbour and is steeped in fascinating history and heritage. It is home to several amazing museums including the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, the Hovercraft Museum and Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower. The town offers beautiful south facing beaches that look out over the Solent and is ideal for watersports such as kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.

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River Test in the Test Valley

The River Test at Longstock in the Test Valley
 

Test Valley: The scenic Test Valley sits within west Hampshire and is famous for the River Test that meanders through its ancient woodlands, tranquil water meadows and rolling chalk hills. You’ll find pretty thatched cottages and welcoming pubs in the Test Valley's picturesque villages. There are attractions for all ages, such as the Hawk Conservancy Trust, National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey and Whitchurch Silk Mill.

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Cyclist at Ashford Hangers in East Hampshire

Cyclist at Ashford Hangers in East Hampshire
 

East Hampshire: East Hampshire offers spectacular South Downs hills, chalk streams and the water meadows of the Meon Valley.  It also home to Jane Austen’s House museum at Chawton and Gilbert White's House and the Oates Collection in nearby Selborne. Throughout this part of Hampshire you'll find unspoilt villages, nature reserves and heritage sites.

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Hayling Island Beach

Hayling Island Beach
 

Hayling Island: The coastal town of Hayling Island combines all the attractions of a traditional seaside holiday with excellent sporting and leisure facilities. The island's miles of unspoilt coastline and countryside also offer a haven of peace and tranquillity, where visitors can walk, cycle or relax. Windsurfing was invented on Hayling Island and there are many opportunities to have a go at the sport as well as other watersports.

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Summer Activities in Hampshire

Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Stokes Bay in Gosport

Stand up paddle boarding with Stoked Watersports at Stokes Bay, Gosport


If you want to get active this summer, head to the New Forest where you can walk or cycle along the hundreds of miles of tracks. If you fancy taking to the water, why not canoe down the Beaulieu River with New Forest Activities or try stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) in Stokes Bay with Stoked Watersport or head to Hurst Castle with New Forest Paddle Sport Company. Discover the best places to go stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding in Hampshire here. 

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Summer Walking and Hiking


Walking in Hampshire

Walking in the South Downs National Park
 

Whether you are looking for a hike or a short walk in the countryside, we have a huge collection of walks that explore the whole of the county. There are family favourites such as the Bolderwood Deer Spotting Walk or The Meon Valley Trail, or long-distance walks such as the Test Way running from Eling in Southampton to Inkpen Beacon in the north of the county. Or perhaps pick a section of the iconic Solent Way which skirts the Hampshire coastline from Milford on Sea to Emsworth.

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Amazing Attractions in Hampshire


From animal encounters to historical excursions, and outdoor adventures to theme park thrills, Hampshire has a whole host of family attractions waiting to be discovered this summer.

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park
 

Paultons Park has so many amazing rides and the acclaimed Peppa Pig World. Dont forget to visit the brand new world at Paultons Park - Tornado Springs! ​​​Visit Tornado Springs a storm-ravaged, Midwest desert resort town, and step back to the American heyday of the 1950’s. Covering over four acres and featuring 8 exciting rides and attractions along with a new American roadside Diner and authentic garage-themed shop, Tornado Springs is a highway stopover like no other!

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Vintage bus at Beaulieu National Motor Museum

Beaulieu National Motor Museum in the New Forest
 

Beaulieu, home to the National Motor Museum has over 280 vehicles in its world famous collection, and runs nostalgic and exciting 'simply' car exhibitions throughout the summer months.

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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in the Test Valley

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in the Test Valley
 

Make the most of the outdoors this summer at one of Hampshire’s many stately homes and gardens. Unearth Exbury Gardens in the New Forest, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Mottisfont in the Test Valley. In the north of the county there’s The Vyne and West Green House Garden, whilst in east Hampshire there is Hinton Ampner.

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Discover More Things to Do in Hampshire
 

Summer Shopping

Shopping at Gunwharf Quays in the city of Portsmouth

Gunwharf Quays in the city of Portsmouth
 

If you're looking for shopping this summer, look no further than Hampshire. Our superb shopping facilities in Southampton, Portsmouth, Winchester and Basingstoke are among the best in the country and offer a winning combination of both high street brand name stores and smaller independent retailers.

In the city of Southampton you'll find the South Coast's Ikea and Westquay Shopping Centre which is home to over 80 stores including big brand names such as Lego, Zara, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. Westquay also has over 50 cafes, bars and restaurants with cuisine from all over the world from American and Italian to Thai and Mexican, so there’s something to tantalise all taste buds.

In Portsmouth you'll find Gunwharf Quays outlet shopping centre located on the historic waterfront, where you can shop at over 90 famous brands including Coach, North Face, The White Company, Hugo Boss and Nike.  You can grab a bite to eat in one of over 30 restaurants, bars and cafes and watch the boats go by as you take in the stunning marina location.

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Hampshire's Food and Drink


Pete Spade Pub in the Test Valley

The Peat Spade Inn in the Test Valley
 

Hampshire is a county well known for its great selection of local produce, fine dining restaurants, friendly cafes and cosy pubs. 

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Harbar on 6th at Southampton Harbour Hotel

Harbar on 6th at Southampton Harbour Hotel
 

Why not enjoy Hampshire's delicious food and drink in some of the best places to eat outdoors, whilst soaking up the sunshine. We have put together a guide to some of the top places in Hampshire you can sit outdoors, relax, and enjoy a bite to eat or a cooling drink. From great pub gardens, fine dining at country house hotels, gin and tonics by the sea to vibrant city centre outdoor café culture, Hampshire is a foodies dream. 

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Summer Events in Hampshire 

Winchester Hat Fair

From fun festivals to sporting spectacles, there is so much to see and do here in Hampshire in the summer with vibrant events taking place almost every day across the county. 

Summer Holiday Events in Hampshire

View our 'What's On' page to see more!

Getting to Hampshire this Summer

Hampshire is very accessible, below are sample average journey times by car:

Travel times by car to Hampshire


Getting Around Hampshire

Hampshire has an excellent road network linking our villages, towns, cities, attractions and places to stay.

Map of Hampshire showing key roads, towns and cities


Below is an example of journey times by car betweet our cities and towns. 

Table showing travel times in the county


We encourage all visitors to check ahead of travelling to see if there are any restrictions or special procedures in place. It could be that an attraction is only offering pre-booked tickets, a hotel may have a new check-in process or a restaurant is only taking card payments. Processes may differ between businesses. We also urge visitors to “Respect, Protect and Enjoy” when visiting Hampshire.