Crossing Wiltshire, Dorset and a large area of Hampshire, the New Forest boasts a picturesque coastline, a spectacular national park and of course, abundant wildlife. When you holiday in the New Forest, you’ll find endless things to do, from hopping on a deer safari to trekking its unique ancient woodlands. Whether you’re dining in charming country pubs or visiting hamlets that take you back centuries, you’ll instantly see why New Forest holidays are so popular.
When to visit
You can enjoy a trip to the New Forest at any time of year, thanks to its abundant beauty spots worth visiting throughout the seasons. June to August are the warmest months when the moors are carpeted in heather and temperatures at this time can reach average highs of 22 degrees (great for hitting the beach). Spring and Autumn are great months to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. In November, the New Forest can receive heavy snowfall and December is an ideal time to ski.
How to get there
The New Forest is easy to get to, especially if you’re travelling from London and the southeast, reaching the New Forest via the M27. From Dorset, you can reach the New Forest via the A31 and from the north, take the A338 from Salisbury to Ringwood or the A36 to Totten in the east. Bournemouth and Southampton Airport are the closest international airports and car hire options are available across the region.
The New Forest has eight train stations and it’s less than 1.5 hours from London Waterloo station. The National Express coach stops at Lyndhurst, Lymington and Ringwood and there are plenty of bus routes within the New Forest once you’re here. Check Bluestar, Morebus and Yellow Buses for more info.
Why visit the New Forest?
Bournemouth and Southampton are both within easy reach of the New Forest, while Barton-on-Sea and Milford-on-Sea are well worth visiting for their lovely beaches and views across the Solent and out to the Isle of Wight.
The New Forest National Park is a 220-square-mile expanse that nature enthusiasts just love. It may be one of the UK’s smallest national parks, but it’s a habitat for all sorts of wildlife, from ponies and goshawks to ancient oak trees and fallow deer.
The New Forest was once claimed as a hunting ground for William the Conqueror and you can discover its intriguing past at places like Beaulieu Abbey, Buckler’s Hard and Hurst Castle.
You may not realise, but the New Forest has all sorts of literary links. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who penned Sherlock Holmes, is buried in the village of Minstead while Alice Pleasance Liddell – the little girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland – lived in the village of Lyndhurst.
This woodland garden is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the New Forest thanks to the famed Rothschild collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas that appear in Springtime. There are thousands of botanical species to explore and the steam railway is a great family attraction.
A sand and shingle bay seeped in D-Day history, Lepe Beach is a lovely spot to take a dip when it’s hot. It’s located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is great for coastal walks.
The Pig, Brockenhurst
Aside from The Pig’s gorgeous walled kitchen garden and fantastic greenhouse restaurant, check out the characterful Potting Shed and Shepherd’s Hut where you can enjoy indulgent spa treatments in ancient woodland surroundings. It’s the ultimate in country chic.
Places to visit in the New Forest
The New Forest National Park
One of the best places to visit in the New Forest is, of course, its marvellous national park. You can cycle or ramble freely through this ancient woodland’s various tracks and its ancient oak trees are among the oldest in Western Europe. In summer, the park is carpeted in purple heather and come spring, it is scattered with bright yellow gorse. Look out for wild deer and native ponies too.
Beaulieu is a pretty village located on the southeastern edge of the New Forest National Park and it’s worth spending a day here to explore its beautiful Abbey and Palace House, National Motor Museum and picturesque gardens. Read our blog on the top things to do in the New Forest to discover more activities you can enjoy here.
Coast and Castles
While you’re exploring the New Forest’s charming seaside towns such as Keyhaven and Milford-on-Sea, don’t miss a visit to the magnificent Hurst Castle, an artillery fortress built by Henry VIII. Its location, surrounded by water on a shingle peninsula, makes it incredibly scenic.
Ready to go on a countryside getaway to the New Forest, armed with our handy guide? Well, you might want to check out our list of things to do in the New Forest.