Things to Do in Hampshire: The Home of Jane Austen
National parks, pretty villages and one sweet coastline. We give you the best things to do in Hampshire
They don’t shout about Hampshire, do they? It doesn’t often come up in conversation or in those shiny Bucket List articles in the Sunday paper. This will only work in your favour: Hampshire isn't exactly off the beaten path, but off the Sunday-Times-Best path, which means you’re more likely to find a quiet spot and have a peaceful time. And lucky for you, we’ve curated a mega list of things to do in Hampshire, from the UK’s newest national park to the prettiest of Georgian villages. Get there before the Guardian readers do. What's more, we here at Plum Guide have picked out an abundance of fabulous places to call your own in Hampshire, all vetted by our fastidious home critics to ensure unwavering quality. You're welcome.
Visit Winchester Cathedral
One of our favourite places to visit in Hampshire, the mighty Winchester Cathedral has held court for over 900 years, and is heralded as Europe’s longest church of worship. As in, physically the longest. What an accolade. The cathedral is dripping in history, as you would expect. Explore the crypt, climb the tower and take a tour to learn about all the famous faces that showed up here in yesteryear. The Birth of a Nation exhibition is a whopping three level display of ancient artefacts. Peruse (do not touch, we repeat: do not touch) the 12th-century Winchester Bible, and marvel at the 17th-century Morley Library. Quiz question: which blockbusters have been filmed here? We’re not going to tell you - go and find out for yourself.
Walk the New Forest
Interested in lowering your blood pressure, reducing stress and alleviating anxiety? Aren’t we all. Turn your phone off and head to the New Forest for a big old walk. One of England's largest areas of unspoilt land, this spot is full of the good stuff. William the Conqueror proclaimed it a Royal Forest in the Doomsday Book - can’t say that about your local park can you? The Wilverley Inclosure trail is a sweet 3.5 miler that ends, as all good walks should do, at a teahouse made famous for its homage to the cream tea. Don't mind if we do.
Ramble the South Downs National Park
Who doesn't love a National Park? Don your best waterproofs and buy some really expensive sticks and you’ll look right at home. The South Downs National Park is jaw-droppingly beautiful - try to keep your mouth closed as you take in the rolling landscapes and pretty villages though. It takes nine days to walk the South Downs Way, but there is a shorter route so you don't use up all of your annual leave in one go. The Seven Sisters and Friston Forest Circular Walk is long enough to feel proud of yourself afterwards. Don’t forget your expensive sticks.
Windsurf at Hayling Island
A rollicking British seaside holiday, Hayling Island is the birthplace of windsurfing, so there’s no better place to lose your dignity in your attempts to master the sport. Alongside being a great place for water sports, the unspoilt coastline makes for a cracking walk. Walk the Hayling Billy Trail for beautiful sea views and big gulps of fresh air. Like any self-respecting seaside holiday destination, there’s plenty for the kids to do too, from amusement parks to beaches.
The historic town of Lymington has a lot to offer the discerning traveller looking for things to do in Hampshire. The colourful coastal town is perched on the banks of the Lymington River. Spend time yacht spotting at one of the three marinas; catch your dinner on a fishing trip experience, or simply enjoy the views of the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. Foodies will be happy here, restaurants and cafes are ten-a-penny, and the bounty of the local countryside is plentiful. Grab yourself some fresh strawberries and wander the Georgian high street. The Saturday market is a must.
Make like Jane Austen
A list of things to do in Hampshire wouldn't be complete without this corker. If you have sense and sensibility, are easily affected by persuasion, and feel no prejudice (only pride), then this is the holiday destination for you. (Forgive us, please).
If your name is Emma… The home of Jane Austen is a dream for fans of the literary great: view first editions of her novels, handwritten letters, and the table she penned Northanger Abbey on. Her furniture and jewellery are displayed in the house, giving incredible insight into the last years of Jane. After you’re done perusing, the gift shop will undoubtedly have the incredible fridge magnet you've always needed.