things to do in hampshire

Last Updated on: 3rd February 2024, 06:26 am

Welcome to Hampshire, a vibrant county in England that offers a wide range of activities for all to enjoy. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or looking for something fun to do in Hampshire for adults, you’ll never be short on options. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and charming towns, Hampshire has something for everyone.

Explore the top attractions in Hampshire, including historic landmarks like King Arthur’s Round Table and Nelson’s flagship. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Winchester and Southampton, where you can discover the connections to renowned author Jane Austen. Military enthusiasts can visit the impressive museums in Winchester and Portsmouth, while outdoor enthusiasts can embark on hiking, biking, and watersports adventures in the two National Parks and along the picturesque coastline.

For families, Hampshire offers a myriad of opportunities to create lasting memories. From animal attractions and theme parks to interactive museums, there’s no shortage of entertainment for kids of all ages.

So whether you’re seeking a relaxing holiday, an action-packed weekend, or a day out with your loved ones, Hampshire has it all. Plan your visit today and experience the endless things to do in Hampshire, a beautiful county.

Explore Hampshire’s Rich History

Hampshire is steeped in history, offering a wealth of attractions for history buffs to explore. Begin your journey in Winchester, the former capital of England, where you can visit the magnificent Winchester Cathedral and see King Arthur’s Round Table in The Great Hall. Immerse yourself in the fascinating exhibits at the state-of-the-art SeaCity Museum in Southampton, which tells the captivating story of the Titanic.

Head to North Hampshire where you can discover the UK’s only working silk mill at the Hartley Witney Silk Mill. Take a step back in time at Milestones, a living history museum in Basingstoke that recreates the Victorian era. Highclere Castle, the iconic filming location for Downton Abbey, is also a must-visit for fans of the popular TV series.

“Hampshire is a treasure trove of historical attractions, offering visitors the chance to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the county.”

Discover Jane Austen’s Hampshire

Hampshire was home to the famous British author Jane Austen, and visitors can explore her connections to the county. Take a tour of Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, where she lived and wrote some of her most famous novels. You can also see her final resting place at Winchester Cathedral. Explore the charming village of Petersfield, where Austen spent time visiting family and friends. Hampshire is a must-visit destination for fans of this literary icon.

Key Attractions:

  • Jane Austen’s House in Chawton
  • Winchester Cathedral
  • Petersfield Village
Attraction Location Description
Jane Austen’s House Chawton, Hampshire Explore the house where Jane Austen lived and wrote, and learn about her life and works.
Winchester Cathedral Winchester, Hampshire Visit the final resting place of Jane Austen and admire the stunning architecture of this historic cathedral.
Petersfield Village Petersfield, Hampshire Discover the charming village where Jane Austen spent time visiting family and friends, and explore its picturesque streets and local attractions.

“Austen’s novels continue to captivate readers with their wit, social commentary, and timeless stories of love and society.” – Jane Austen Society

things to do in petersfield hampshire

Immerse yourself in the world of Jane Austen in Hampshire and experience the places that inspired her beloved novels. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the rich literary heritage of this enchanting county.

Visit Hampshire’s Military Museums

Hampshire is a county steeped in military history and boasts several museums dedicated to preserving and showcasing this rich heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the country’s military past, these museums offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of soldiers and the significant events that shaped the nation.

Winchester’s Military Museums

In Winchester, you’ll find an impressive collection of military museums that provide unique insights into different periods of British military history. Explore these five superb museums:

  1. The Royal Hampshire Regimental Museum: Discover the history of the regiment through displays of uniforms, weapons, and personal stories.
  2. The Gurkha Museum: Learn about the brave Gurkha soldiers and their extraordinary contributions to the British Army.
  3. The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum: Delve into the history of one of the country’s most renowned infantry regiments.
  4. The Army Medical Services Museum: Explore the journey of military medicine, from battlefield care to advanced medical treatments.
  5. The Hampshire Regiment Museum: Uncover the story of the local regiment and its role in various conflicts over the years.

Each museum offers a unique perspective on the military’s past and provides a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Located in Portsmouth, the world-renowned Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts. Here, you can step aboard iconic ships like HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship, and the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s sunken warship. Immerse yourself in the lives of sailors and explore the vast maritime history of the United Kingdom.

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

For those intrigued by the hidden world beneath the waves, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport is a captivating destination. Discover the history and technology behind submarines and explore submarines themselves, including the HMS Alliance, a Cold War-era submarine that offers a fascinating insight into life underwater.

These military museums in Hampshire provide an immersive and educational experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the sacrifices made and the bravery displayed by the men and women who served their country.

Summary of Hampshire’s Military Museums

Museum Location Main Focus
Royal Hampshire Regimental Museum Winchester History of the regiment
The Gurkha Museum Winchester Gurkha soldiers in the British Army
Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum Winchester History of the infantry regiment
Army Medical Services Museum Winchester Military medicine throughout history
Hampshire Regiment Museum Winchester Role of the local regiment in conflicts
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Portsmouth Maritime history and iconic ships
Royal Navy Submarine Museum Gosport History and technology of submarines

As you explore these museums, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the military’s impact on Hampshire and its significance in shaping the nation’s history.

Explore Stately Homes and Gardens

Hampshire is home to a number of stunning stately homes and gardens that offer visitors a glimpse into the county’s past. Whether you’re a nature lover or an enthusiast of architectural history, there are plenty of places to discover in Hampshire. Some must-visit attractions include:

  1. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens: This botanical garden spans over 180 acres and showcases a diverse collection of trees and plants. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts, offering picturesque landscapes and tranquil walking trails.
  2. Mottisfont: Famous for its beautiful rose gardens, Mottisfont is a historic priory that features stunning displays of roses in bloom during the summer months. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the fragrance and beauty of the flowers.
  3. The Vyne: Step back in time and explore this Tudor mansion, nestled in the Hampshire countryside. Discover its rich history, including its connections to Henry VIII, and wander through the charming gardens and grounds.
  4. Tudor House and Garden: Located in Southampton, this historic house provides insight into the county’s architectural past. Explore the restored Tudor house and its beautifully landscaped gardens, showcasing traditional Tudor-style planting.
  5. Gilbert White’s House & Garden and The Oates Collection: Immerse yourself in natural history at Gilbert White’s House & Garden and The Oates Collection. Learn about the lives and expeditions of explorers such as Captain Lawrence Oates while exploring the carefully curated gardens.
  6. Exbury Gardens and Beaulieu’s Palace House: Set in the stunning New Forest, Exbury Gardens offers an array of colorful rhododendrons and azaleas. Don’t miss a visit to Beaulieu’s Palace House, a charming historic house surrounded by beautiful gardens.

These stately homes and gardens provide a blend of history, nature, and architectural beauty. They offer visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in Hampshire’s rich heritage and natural landscapes.

“The gardens at Mottisfont are a sight to behold, especially during the summer when the roses are in full bloom. It’s a truly magical place.” – Visitor Review

Stately Homes and Gardens

Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Hampshire

Hampshire’s countryside and coastal areas provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure or a leisurely stroll in nature, Hampshire has something for everyone.

For those who love walking and cycling, the South Downs National Park and the New Forest National Park offer a plethora of picturesque trails to explore. Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and breathe in the fresh country air as you traverse these beautiful areas. The South Downs Way, Test Way, and Solent Way are popular long-distance trails that offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

If you prefer a more relaxed outdoor activity, the Test Valley is the ideal destination for leisurely strolls. This charming area is known for its clear chalk streams and traditional thatched cottages, creating a tranquil atmosphere that is perfect for unwinding and reconnecting with nature.

Hampshire’s coastline is a paradise for walkers and nature enthusiasts. With its beautiful beaches and scenic coastal paths, there is no shortage of stunning vistas to discover. Hayling Island, in particular, offers great beaches and fantastic opportunities for water sports. Whether you enjoy sailing, windsurfing, or simply taking a relaxing walk by the sea, Hampshire’s coastline has it all.

If you’re seeking even more outdoor adventures, look no further than the Calshot Activities Centre. Situated on the coast, this center is a hub for a wide range of thrilling activities, including sailing, windsurfing, and other beach sports. Get your heart racing and create unforgettable memories as you try your hand at these exciting outdoor pursuits.

With its natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities, Hampshire is the perfect destination to embrace the great outdoors and have fun.

Have Family Days Out and Visit Animal Attractions

Hampshire is a fantastic destination for family-friendly days out, with a range of attractions to suit all ages. Whether you’re looking to spend quality time together or entertain the little ones, Hampshire has plenty to offer. Here are some of the top things to do in Hampshire for adults and families:

  1. Marwell Zoo: Get up close and personal with over 170 species of animals at Marwell Zoo. From majestic lions to playful penguins, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
  2. Paultons Park: Kids can immerse themselves in the world of Peppa Pig at Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World. With themed rides and attractions, it’s a favorite among young children.
  3. Beaulieu National Motor Museum: Located in the New Forest National Park, Beaulieu National Motor Museum is a paradise for car enthusiasts. Explore the impressive collection of vintage cars and learn about the history of motoring.
  4. Buckler’s Hard: Step back in time at Buckler’s Hard, a historic shipbuilding village on the Beaulieu River. Discover the fascinating maritime heritage and explore the interactive exhibits.
  5. Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard: Visit Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard and explore the interactive museums and historic ships. Step aboard HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, and learn about the city’s naval history.

From animal encounters to historical adventures, Hampshire’s family attractions offer memorable experiences for all. Spend quality time together and create lasting memories in this beautiful county.


“We had a fantastic day at Marwell Zoo. The kids were thrilled to see their favorite animals up close, and there was something new and exciting around every corner.” – Sarah, Hampshire

“Paultons Park is a must-visit for any Peppa Pig fan. The rides and attractions are perfectly suited for young children, and the whole family had a great time.” – Mark, Southampton

Attraction Location Highlights Website
Marwell Zoo Winchester Over 170 species of animals Visit Website
Paultons Park Romsey Peppa Pig World, family-friendly rides Visit Website
Beaulieu National Motor Museum New Forest Vintage car collection, history of motoring Visit Website
Buckler’s Hard New Forest Historic shipbuilding village, interactive exhibits Visit Website
Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard Portsmouth Interactive museums, historic ships Visit Website

Explore Interactive and Specialty Museums

Hampshire is home to a range of interactive and specialty museums that offer visitors an immersive experience. Whether you’re interested in science, history, or the arts, Hampshire has something for everyone. Take a journey of discovery at these fascinating museums:

Located in Winchester City, the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is a great choice for families looking to explore the wonders of science. The museum features interactive exhibits that educate and entertain visitors of all ages. Don’t miss the planetarium show, where you can journey through space and learn about the mysteries of the universe.

2. Milestones Museum

Step back in time at Basingstoke’s Milestones Museum. This living history museum takes you on a journey through the streets and shops of the past. Experience what life was like in Hampshire during the Victorian era and World War II. With its period costumes, authentic settings, and hands-on activities, Milestones Museum offers a truly immersive experience.

3. Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum

Pay homage to one of England’s greatest authors at the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth. Explore the house where Charles Dickens was born and gain insight into his life and works. Marvel at the collection of manuscripts, personal items, and memorabilia that bring the famous author’s world to life.

4. Brickworks Museum

Discover the history of brickmaking at the Brickworks Museum in Bursledon. Learn about the industry’s impact on Hampshire and explore the preserved kilns and machinery. The museum also hosts special events and workshops, providing a hands-on experience for visitors.

5. Hampshire Cultural Trust Museums and Galleries

The Hampshire Cultural Trust manages a variety of museums and galleries across the county, showcasing the region’s arts and heritage. From contemporary art to local history, there’s something to suit every interest. Be sure to check out their website for information on current exhibitions and events.

Immerse yourself in the history, science, and culture of Hampshire by visiting these interactive and specialty museums. Each offers a unique experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the county’s diverse heritage.

Discover Walking and Cycling Routes in Hampshire

Hampshire offers a wide range of walking and cycling routes for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of options to explore in this beautiful county. From long-distance trails to scenic country parks, Hampshire has something for everyone.

Long-Distance Trails

If you’re up for a challenge and want to soak in the breathtaking countryside views, consider these popular long-distance trails:

  • The South Downs Way: This iconic trail stretches over 100 miles across Hampshire’s picturesque South Downs National Park. Experience stunning landscapes, rolling hills, and charming villages along the way.
  • The Test Way: Following the course of the River Test, this 49-mile trail offers tranquil walks through Hampshire’s countryside, passing picturesque villages, historic churches, and nature reserves.
  • The Solent Way: Explore Hampshire’s stunning coastline on this 60-mile trail that stretches from Milford-on-Sea to Emsworth. Enjoy panoramic views of the Solent, bustling harbors, and nature reserves.

Country Parks

Hampshire’s country parks provide beautiful settings for leisurely walks, picnics, and outdoor activities. Some notable parks include:

“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” – Hanna Rion

Country Park Description
Lepe Country Park Located on the Solent coast, Lepe Country Park offers stunning views of the Isle of Wight, expansive meadows, and a pebble beach. Explore nature trails and enjoy a family-friendly picnic.
Staunton Country Park Set within historic landscaped grounds, Staunton Country Park boasts beautiful gardens, a lake, and woodland trails. Discover ornamental temples, an ornamental farm, and a play area for children.

Cycling Routes

Cycling enthusiasts can enjoy the diverse landscapes of Hampshire on designated cycling routes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, there’s a route for you:

  1. South Downs National Park: Explore the rolling hills, picturesque villages, and breathtaking views of the South Downs on various cycling routes catering to all abilities.
  2. New Forest National Park: Discover the ancient woodlands, open heathland, and idyllic villages of the New Forest on designated cycle trails.

Get Outdoors and Explore Hampshire’s Beauty

With its abundance of walking and cycling routes, Hampshire beckons outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in its natural beauty. Whether you prefer a peaceful stroll, an exhilarating bike ride, or a challenging long-distance hike, Hampshire’s diverse landscapes and scenic trails are waiting to be discovered.

Take Train Rides and Boat Tours in Hampshire

Experience the unique charm of Hampshire with its delightful train rides and scenic boat tours. Immerse yourself in the nostalgia of a bygone era as you hop aboard the historic Watercress Line at Alresford. This heritage railway offers a memorable steam train journey through picturesque countryside, perfect for those seeking a touch of old-world charm.

If you’re looking to explore the stunning grounds of Exbury Gardens, why not hop on their narrow gauge railway tour? As you meander through the enchanting gardens, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of the surroundings.

For those eager to discover Hampshire’s coastline from a different perspective, boat tours are an excellent choice. Step onboard the SS Shieldhall, a historic vessel in Southampton, and embark on a fascinating tour with a rich maritime heritage. Alternatively, join an organized boat tour from Buckler’s Hard or Lymington for a chance to witness the county’s natural beauty up close.

boat tour in Hampshire

These unique train rides and boat tours are not just ordinary activities; they offer an extraordinary way to explore Hampshire’s hidden gems and picturesque landscapes.

Shop in Hampshire’s Towns and Cities

Hampshire offers a variety of shopping experiences for visitors. Whether you’re in search of a retail therapy fix or looking for unique finds, the towns and cities of Hampshire have something to offer. From modern shopping centers to charming markets, there’s plenty to explore.

Major Shopping Centers

If you’re looking for a wide selection of shops and amenities, head to these major shopping centers in Hampshire:

Shopping Center Location
West Quay Shopping Centre Southampton
Gunwharf Quays Portsmouth
Festival Place Basingstoke

Charming Market Towns

For a more unique shopping experience, explore the quaint market towns of Hampshire. These towns are known for their independent shops, boutiques, and local produce:

  • Romsey
  • Alresford
  • Stockbridge
  • Lymington
  • Petersfield

Historic Winchester

Winchester, with its medieval city charm, is not only a historic destination but also a great place for shopping. Explore the city’s shops nestled within its historic buildings, offering a blend of modern and traditional retail experiences.

Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends, unique souvenirs, or local specialties, Hampshire’s towns and cities have you covered. Enjoy a leisurely day of shopping while exploring the diverse offerings of this beautiful county.


Hampshire is a diverse and vibrant county that offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring historic attractions, enjoying outdoor adventures, indulging in some retail therapy, or having unforgettable family days out, Hampshire has it all.

Immerse yourself in Hampshire’s rich heritage by visiting historic sites like Winchester Cathedral and King Arthur’s Round Table. Explore the connections to Jane Austen and experience the charm of her Hampshire home. Discover the fascinating military museums in Winchester and Portsmouth, and get a glimpse into the county’s architectural history with visits to stately homes and gardens.

Outdoor enthusiasts can revel in Hampshire’s stunning landscapes, with two National Parks and a beautiful coastline. Hike or cycle through the South Downs National Park or the New Forest National Park, and enjoy the picturesque Test Valley. Take part in exhilarating water sports along the Hampshire coast or try your hand at beach sporting activities at Calshot Activities Centre.

No family trip to Hampshire would be complete without a visit to the animal attractions, theme parks, and interactive museums that cater to all ages. Enjoy a day at Marwell Zoo, Paultons Park with Peppa Pig World, or the Hampshire countryside teeming with wildlife. Engage in interactive and specialty museums that offer immersive experiences, including the Winchester Science Centre and the historic Milestones Museum.

Make sure to explore Hampshire’s market towns and cities for unique shopping experiences, whether it’s retail therapy in Southampton, Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, or discovering independent boutiques in Romsey, Alresford, or Petersfield. Hampshire truly offers a diverse and inclusive range of activities and experiences that will make your visit unforgettable.

Plan your trip to Hampshire today and indulge in the endless things to do in this beautiful county. From its rich heritage and stunning landscapes to its friendly communities, Hampshire is a must-visit destination that promises something for everyone.


What are some things to do in Hampshire, England?

Hampshire offers a wealth of activities for visitors of all ages. From historic attractions to natural beauty spots, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this charming county.

What are some unusual things to do in Hampshire?

Hampshire is home to a number of unique and unusual attractions. You can visit King Arthur’s Round Table and explore the connections to Jane Austen. You can also take a train ride on the historic Watercress Line or enjoy a boat tour along Hampshire’s coastline.

What indoor activities can I do in Hampshire?

Hampshire has a range of indoor activities for all interests. You can visit museums dedicated to Hampshire’s rich history and military heritage. There are also interactive and specialty museums that offer an immersive experience for visitors.

What are some free things to do in Hampshire?

There are plenty of free attractions and activities to enjoy in Hampshire. You can explore the stately homes and gardens, go for walks in the country parks, or visit the markets in the charming towns. Hampshire offers something for every budget.

What are some top things to do in Hampshire?

Hampshire has a wide range of top attractions to discover. From exploring historic sites like Winchester Cathedral and HMS Victory, to enjoying outdoor activities in the national parks and along the coastline. There is no shortage of top things to do in Hampshire.

What are some fun things to do in Hampshire for adults?

Hampshire has a variety of activities that are perfect for adults. You can visit the country parks and enjoy outdoor adventures, explore the historic military museums, or indulge in some retail therapy at the shopping centers and boutiques.

What can I do in Hampshire today?

There are plenty of things to do in Hampshire today. You can visit the historic attractions, explore the gardens and stately homes, go for a walk in the countryside, or enjoy some family-friendly activities.