From buzzing historic towns to quiet idyllic villages, the New Forest is home to lots of wonderful locations. Find out more about our picture perfect towns and villages below...
Ringwood – Best for… Upmarket shopping. Way out on the Forest’s Western edge, Ringwood is a historic market town that’s also brilliant for a bit of retail therapy. Firstly there’s its weekly Wednesday market. Then there’s a High Street packed with great coffee shops, independents and some excellent charity and thrift stores. Then there’s The Furlong Centre – a pleasant, open-air mini mall which is also home to some top shops, including Hobbs, Joules, Sweaty Betty and Phase Eight.
Don’t forget – to head out on the Castleman Trailway, an old railway line which is now the perfect walking path. You’ll see lots of beautiful sights along the way – from birds of prey to ponies bathing in the river.
Fordingbridge – Best for… History lovers. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, this northern Forest town is bursting with ancient places to visit and fascinating facts to find out! The town museum is the perfect day out for little ones and anyone who is hoping to learn more about the area. Then rock up to Rockbourne Roman Villa for some ancient history and another fine little museum – they are celebrating the site’s 80th anniversary this year. Continue your journey through time to the Elizabethan Breamore House and its Country Museum. A footpath from Breamore House leads you to the Breamore Mizmaze, a labyrinth where all paths eventually lead to a little mound in the centre. You can’t go in the maze but can walk round its perimeter.
Don’t forget – to relax by the river or to enjoy some of the amazing food on offer in this part of the Forest, including the fine local fayre of Hockey’s Farm Shop and Fordingbridge Farm Shop, too.
Image - Fordingbridge
New Milton and Barton on Sea – Best for…Vintage and independent shops. The vintage stores may attract you to New Milton for a well-deserved rummage but don’t stop there. This little town has a wealth of independent stores and cafes, as well as Bradbeers, a fabulous, family-run department store with service to match. If you’re feeling flush, book a 5*Afternoon Tea at Chewton Glen Hotel – you won’t regret it!
Don’t forget – to travel the short distance to Barton on Sea, the pretty seaside village where you can enjoy hunting for fossils at the water’s edge. Shark’s teeth and gastropods have been found here but don’t attempt to climb onto the cliffs as slippages and rock falls are frequent.
Milford on Sea – Best for… A trad seaside experience. Insta-worthy beach huts? Tick. Pretty beach? Tick. Fish and chips and other yummy seaside food? Tick and tick again. Park up near the village green for wonderful cafes and lovely local pubs. The village also has plenty of other pretty stores, too.
Don’t forget – to take a hike along Hurst Spit to the lighthouses and castle, or along the shores of the Keyhaven Marshes.
Image - Milford on Sea / Credit : Visit Milford on Sea
Lyndhurst – Best for… Finding out more about the fabulous New Forest. First stop should be the New Forest Heritage Centre, which will help you learn more about our unique traditions, including why the ponies roam! You can visit the grave of the original Alice in Wonderland as well as glimpse the historic Verderers Court (when it’s open.).
Don’t forget – to check out all the independent stores and eating places in the town we call our ‘capital’.
Beaulieu – Best for… Donkey-spotting. Tiny, pretty Beaulieu is everything the New Forest should be. Maybe that’s why so many of our roaming donkeys can be found there, nibbling the verges and, on occasion, trying to amble into the foyer at The Montagu Arms Hotel. They are not allowed to eat any human food but you are, so book a lunch or Afternoon Tea there to complete your day in the area.
Don’t forget – to visit the National Motor Museum. From James Bond cars to Donald Campbell’s iconic Bluebird, there’s something for everyone in this place, which has got more than enough wonderful experiences for a whole day out.
Image - Beaulieu
Brockenhurst – Best for… Bikes and beautiful hotels. Repeatedly described as the best place to live in Britain, it’s time to find out why. The ideal way to explore this part of the New Forest is by hiring a bike – Cyclexperience near the station has loads of ‘em. Then use them to cycle through woodlands and across our heaths on the dozens of waymarked tracks.
Don’t forget – to try the delicious local cuisine. Brock, as it’s known, is also popular for eating out – try The Pig, Forest Park, Balmer Lawn or the restaurants at Carey’s Manor.
Burley – Best for… Lovers of Halloween and the spooky! This beautiful Forest village has become synonymous with all things witchcraft. Certainly it’s still possible to see the former home of White Witch Sibyl Leek, who lived in the store which is now A Coven of Witches. You can buy plenty of witch-themed items in the village as well as lots of yummy fudge from Burley Fudge Shop.
Don’t forget – to call in to New Forest Cider for some excellent local tipple.
Image - Burley / Credit : New Forest Cycling
Hythe – Best for… Ship spotting. Look up one of the websites which tell you about the movements of the Three Queens and other great liners. Then settle down by the waterside in this seaside town to watch them come and go. Hythe also has a weekly market and is a great hopping-off point for visiting the New Forest’s tranquil eastern side.
Don’t forget – to take the world’s longest electric train to the end of Hythe Pier and catch the ferry to Southampton. You can either stay in the city or enjoy the ride home again – plus view any big ships that are sailing around.
Lymington – Best for… Shopping, eating and sailing. This town is one of the UK’s premier sailing spots and it shows: waterside restaurants and bars abound; there are plenty of coastal-themed stores and one of the best street markets in the south.
Don’t forget – to visit the re-opened sea-water swimming baths and hunt down the golden post box in the High Street, which commemorates Sir Ben Ainslie’s historic 2012 Olympic Sailing win.
Image - Lymington Quay
Head to our website for more information about our wonderful Towns and Villages and use our brilliant interactive aerial maps and 360 panoramas of each location.