With its stunning mix of ancient woodlands, heathland, rivers and valley mires, the New Forest National Park is a very popular holiday destination for people who love camping and the outdoors. This scenic park is home to a variety of wildlife and is famous for the animals that wander freely and graze the land, including the iconic new forest ponies, cattle, donkeys and, at certain times of the year, pigs. The park also boasts pretty villages and an unspoilt coastline. What more could you ask for?
- Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
- Buckler's Hard
The real star here is the landscape which can be enjoyed in all manner of ways. A good way to explore is by taking advantage of the New Forest Tour open-top tour bus - the views from the top deck are spectacular.
Hatchet Pond, Balmer Lawn, and Bolton's bench are all popular picnic sites. The impressive Knightwood Oak is the largest and most famous oak tree in the park. Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a wonderful place where you can spot fallow deer and spend the day enjoying the landscape.
The village of Beaulieu is home to one of the UK's most popular attractions and makes for a really great day out. Admission to Beaulieu allows you to visit the famous National Motor Museum, the beautiful Palace House and Gardens, Beaulieu Abbey and the World of Top Gear.
As the administrative capital of the Park, Lyndhurst contains the New Forest Centre and Musuem. Also located here is the Church of St Michael and All Angels, where Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, is buried.
The New Forest is best enjoyed by getting out of the car and getting active. There are a huge number of walking routes in the park that will suit walkers of all levels of ability and fitness. Cycling is a very popular way of exploring the forest - there are over 160km of well-marked cycle routes in the park and it is easy to hire a bike in any of the towns.
Horse riders enjoy open access to the majority of the park and there are a number of riding stables based here.
The region has a good selection of golf clubs and courses. Although they vary in length and difficulty, each course benefits from the idyllic New Forest setting.
With all the fun happening inland, it is easy to forget that the New Forest has a coastline to be enjoyed. Lepe County Park has a great beach, a welcoming seaside café and stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
There are numerous restaurants, pubs and tea rooms in the New Forest featuring dishes using fresh local produce. Several ‘Taste Trails' allow you to sample the delicious cuisine while exploring the beautiful environment. The area is home to several vineyards and breweries. New Forest Cider produces traditional cider the old fashioned way.
Family days out
Animal loving children will enjoy the New Forest Wildlife Park, New Forest Deer Safari, and New Forest Reptile Centre, all located within the national park. Also worth a visit is the nearby Marwell Zoo and Liberty's Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre.
For families with older kids and teens, the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum and Beaulieu National Motor Museum each house an incredible collection of vehicles guaranteed to excite fans of racing, Top Gear and James Bond.
Getting There and Getting Around
Located in southwest Hampshire, the New Forest is very easy to get to by car or public transport. From London the drive takes a little over 2 hours.
Travel within the New Forest is easy as the region is served by an excellent public bus network. There are a number of train stations both within the National Park and surrounding areas. This region also has easy access to the Isle of Wight via several ferry routes.
For more ideas, please visit our things to do in the New Forest pages.