New Forest Travel Guide
A guide to some of the coolest things to do and see in New Forest, England
Located in the south of England (and only 90 minutes from London by train), the New Forest is a cosy and comfortable escape. It’s perfect for those looking for a taste of the outdoors with a range of activities from cycling to trekking to even yachting! But the real attraction in the New Forest region is the national park—home to iconic local ponies who roam the streets as well as the forest. It’s a culinary destination, too, with local foods available in many of the restaurants and dining establishments. The New Forest is a great weekend destination for something a little different from the English cities you might already be familiar with. Start here with my basic New Forest travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest New Forest travel blogs.
When to Visit
Because the New Forest is such a great destination for outdoors activities, it’s best to visit in the warmer months. While the trails are open year-round, it’s most comfortable in the spring and autumn when it’s neither too hot nor too cold.
Top Things To Do
Brockenhurst – Located on a direct train line from London, Brockenhurst is right at the center of the New Forest national park. The town is a great place to be based for a weekend trip because there are so many trails and paths that either start or pass through Brockenhurst. Rent a bike at Cycle Experience (it’s in the parking lot at the train station) and use one of their maps or guided routes to explore the region. Looking for a way to relax in Brockehurst after a long day of adventure activities? Visit the luxurious SenSpa at Careys Manor, and don’t miss the fine cuisine available at the on-site restaurant or one of the Brockehurst local pubs.
Lyndhurst – The next town north from Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst is home to the New Forest Centre—a small museum with interactive exhibits. The center provides a great learning experience about the natural history of the New Forest, with lots of maps and other tourist information available to plan a trip.
Burley – A small town on the western edge of the New Forest (literally just two cross streets), Burley is famous for its history as a one-time haven for witches, specifically Sybil Leek—a self-described white witch. The town was also a popular town for smugglers and it’s that unique history which has made it fun for tourists. Stop into the Coven of Witches shop for more about Burley’s history with witchcraft. On the outskirts of Burley, the Burley Manor sits in an impressive building which has operated as a hotel for nearly 100 years. The on-site restaurant serves contemporary Mediterranean dishes on a patio with a panoramic view over the New Forest.
Beaulieu & Buckler’s Hard – At the eastern edge of the New Forest, the Beaulieu river flows into the sea and there is a popular nature path and trail that follows the river. In Beaulieu, you’ll find one of the region’s largest tourist attractions—the National Motor Museum. The museum features hundreds of vehicles throughout history, including some of the earliest cars ever made in the U.K.. The expansive property also includes special exhibitions and a number of family-friendly activities, plus an interesting historical exhibition on how the property was used as a secret base during WWII. From Beaulieu, it’s a beautiful riverside hike to Buckler’s Hard where you can learn about the nautical history of the region in the Maritime Museum.
For more travel tips in the New Forest, visit the official tourism website.
New Forest Tours
Looking for unique U.K. day trips?
Consider booking a private driving service to arrange your trips. The friendly Chirton Grange
boutique company offers tailored tours, airport transfers, and more driving services across London and the U.K.
LGBT – Gay New Forest Travel Guide
The New Forest is not an especially gay hotspot, however the region seemed very LGBTQ-friendly. The closest LGBTQ-exclusive venues are all located in Southampton—a university town on the eastern edge of the New Forest national park. There is some gay life in the New Forest, however, but if you’re looking to meet people, it’s all most likely to happen on the gay apps. LGBT-friendly hotels such as the Thatched Cottage Hotel in Brockenhurst are a good place to be based.
More gay travel resources here.
New Forest Hotel Deals
Sometimes using Booking.com, HotelsCombined.com, or Agoda.com can be useful for finding last-minute deals.
Walking distance to the Brockenhurst train station and located in a historic property (over 400 years old!), the small boutique hotel offers modern and historic rooms—all with a loving attention to detail and care. A large, spacious outdoor garden and a gin bar on the property make it a great place to stay. Visit their website for more photos or check rates here.
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