15 Best Things To Do In The New Forest, England

15 Best Things To Do In The New Forest, England

By will

When it comes to exploring the wonders of nature and immersing yourself in the rich history of England, there is no better place to visit than the New Forest. Located in Hampshire, this enchanting region offers a plethora of activities and attractions that are sure to captivate any traveler.

From strolling through ancient woodlands to spotting wildlife in the sprawling national park, there is something for everyone in this picturesque destination.

As soon as you step foot in the New Forest, you will be surrounded by a sense of tranquility and natural beauty. The woodlands are truly a sight to behold, with towering trees and lush greenery that seem to stretch on forever. Whether you choose to explore on foot, by bike, or even on horseback, you will find yourself mesmerized by the peacefulness of the forest.

As you wander through the winding paths, keep an eye out for the ancient trees that have stood the test of time, their twisted branches creating a mystical atmosphere. And don’t forget to listen for the gentle rustling of leaves and the songs of birds, as the forest is alive with the sounds of nature.

Explore the Enchanting Woodlands

The New Forest Wildlife Park and The Woodland Bake House cafe
Photo by J W Parker

You’ll be spellbound as you venture through the enchanting woodlands of the New Forest. The moment you step foot into this mystical realm, you’ll be greeted by a symphony of rustling leaves and the sweet scent of pine.

The ancient trees stand tall and proud, their branches reaching out like welcoming arms, beckoning you to explore their secrets.

As you walk along the winding paths, shafts of sunlight filter through the dense canopy, creating a magical dance of light and shadow.

The air is alive with the chirping of birds and the occasional scurry of woodland creatures, reminding you that you are a guest in their home.

The New Forest woodlands are a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With over 140 square miles of ancient woodland to explore, there is always something new to discover.

Keep an eye out for the famous New Forest ponies, grazing peacefully among the trees. These gentle creatures have roamed these woods for centuries and are a symbol of the area’s rich history and heritage.

Take a moment to pause and listen to the silence, broken only by the whispers of the wind and the distant rustling of leaves.

The serenity of these woodlands will transport you to a world far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, leaving you feeling refreshed and reconnected with nature.

Discover Historical Sites and Landmarks

Beaulieu Abbey Church
Photo by David Dixon

Explore the charm of the New Forest by visiting its captivating historical sites and landmarks. One of the most iconic landmarks in the area is the Beaulieu Abbey, a medieval monastery that dates back to the 13th century.

As you walk through the ruins of this magnificent abbey, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at the history that took place within its walls. The abbey is surrounded by beautiful gardens and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a truly magical place that transports you back in time.

Another must-visit historical site in the New Forest is Buckler’s Hard, a picturesque village that was once a bustling shipbuilding center during the 18th century. As you wander through the village streets, you can imagine what life was like for the shipbuilders who worked here.

The Maritime Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the village’s maritime history, showcasing models of ships and artifacts from the shipbuilding era. Don’t forget to take a stroll along the Beaulieu River, where you can spot the remains of old shipbuilding slipways and enjoy the tranquility of the water.

Exploring the historical sites and landmarks of the New Forest is like taking a step back in time. From the majestic ruins of Beaulieu Abbey to the charming village of Buckler’s Hard, each site tells a unique story and offers a glimpse into the rich history of the area.

So, grab your walking shoes and embark on a journey through time in this enchanting part of England.

Go Wildlife Spotting in the New Forest National Park

Animal pound New Forest National Park
Photo by Clive Perrin

Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the New Forest National Park and witness the abundant wildlife that calls this enchanting area home.

As you venture through the park, you’ll be captivated by the diverse range of species that thrive in this unique habitat. From majestic deer gracefully grazing in open meadows to elusive reptiles basking in the sun, there is always something fascinating to discover.

One of the highlights of wildlife spotting in the New Forest is the opportunity to see the iconic ponies that roam freely throughout the park. These gentle creatures, with their flowing manes and curious eyes, are a true symbol of the area’s natural beauty.

You may also come across herds of wild boar, their distinctive snouts rooting through the undergrowth in search of food. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive red squirrels, known for their vibrant russet coats, as they scamper through the trees. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a shy badger or a soaring buzzard overhead.

The New Forest is also a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. With its diverse range of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and heathlands, it attracts a wide variety of bird species.

From the melodious songs of the skylarks to the graceful flight of the marsh harriers, you’ll be treated to a symphony of sounds and sights. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and keep an eye out for the vibrant kingfishers darting along the streams or the majestic ospreys fishing in the lakes.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, the New Forest offers an unforgettable experience for all wildlife enthusiasts.

Enjoy Cycling Adventures on Scenic Paths

Get ready to pedal your way through breathtaking landscapes and discover the thrill of cycling adventures on the scenic paths of the New Forest National Park. As a passionate cyclist, I can confidently say that the New Forest offers some of the best cycling experiences in England.

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The park is home to an extensive network of well-maintained cycle paths that cater to all levels of expertise, making it the perfect destination for both seasoned cyclists and beginners looking to embark on an exciting outdoor adventure.

One of the highlights of cycling in the New Forest is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty that surrounds you. Picture yourself pedaling through ancient woodlands, passing by picturesque villages, and catching glimpses of wild ponies grazing peacefully in the meadows.

The park’s diverse landscapes, including heathland, forest, and coastline, provide a varied and ever-changing backdrop for your cycling journey. Whether you prefer leisurely rides or more challenging routes, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your preferences, all while being surrounded by the tranquility and serenity of nature.

In addition to the scenic beauty, the New Forest also offers a range of amenities and services to enhance your cycling experience. There are numerous bike hire shops where you can rent top-quality bicycles, ensuring that you have the perfect set of wheels for your adventure. You’ll also find plenty of cafes, pubs, and rest areas along the way, allowing you to take a break, refuel, and soak in the charming atmosphere of the surrounding countryside.

So, grab your helmet, hop on a bike, and get ready to explore the wonders of the New Forest National Park on two wheels – an experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the natural wonders of this enchanting region.

Take a Relaxing Walk along Coastal Trails

Take a leisurely stroll along the coastal trails and let the calming sound of the waves wash away your worries. The New Forest boasts beautiful coastal paths that offer a serene and picturesque setting for a relaxing walk.

As you walk along these trails, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding natural beauty. The gentle breeze will caress your skin, and the salty scent of the sea will invigorate your senses.

The coastal trails in the New Forest are perfect for those looking to unwind and reconnect with nature. The paths are well-maintained, making it easy for visitors of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy a leisurely walk.

You can take your time, stop to admire the stunning vistas, or sit on one of the benches along the way to simply soak in the tranquility. Whether you choose to walk alone or with a companion, these coastal trails provide the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and find solace in the beauty of nature.

So put on your walking shoes, breathe in the fresh sea air, and embark on a peaceful journey along the coastal trails of the New Forest.

Visit the Charming Villages and Towns

Explore the delightful villages and towns, where you’ll discover quaint cottages, charming shops, and friendly locals.

One of the most picturesque villages in the New Forest is Beaulieu. As you stroll through its narrow streets, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by centuries-old buildings and thatched-roof cottages. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous Beaulieu Abbey, a medieval masterpiece that showcases the region’s rich history.

As you wander around the village, you’ll also find a variety of independent shops and galleries, perfect for picking up unique souvenirs or gifts.

Another must-visit town in the New Forest is Lymington. This coastal town is known for its bustling harbor and vibrant atmosphere. Take a leisurely walk along the quay and watch the boats come and go, or sample some of the delicious seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants.

Lymington is also home to a range of boutique shops, where you can browse for antiques, clothing, or locally made crafts. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even catch a ferry from Lymington to the beautiful Isle of Wight, just a short journey across the Solent.

With its charming villages and towns, the New Forest offers a delightful escape into a world of idyllic beauty and friendly communities.

Experience Horse Riding in the New Forest

Saddle up and embark on an unforgettable adventure as you gallop through the breathtaking landscapes of the New Forest, immersing yourself in the timeless tradition of horse riding.

The New Forest offers an idyllic setting for horse riding enthusiasts, with miles of scenic trails and open moorland waiting to be explored. As you ride through the forest, you’ll be surrounded by ancient woodlands, picturesque villages, and abundant wildlife, creating a truly magical experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a novice, there are options for everyone in the New Forest. Local riding schools and stables offer a range of guided tours and lessons, catering to all skill levels. You can choose to explore the forest at your own pace, or join a group ride led by experienced guides who will share their knowledge about the history and wildlife of the area. Riding a horse allows you to connect with nature in a unique way, as you feel the rhythm of the horse’s hooves beneath you and breathe in the fresh forest air.

As you ride through the New Forest, you’ll have the opportunity to spot the famous New Forest ponies, who roam freely throughout the area. These gentle creatures are a symbol of the forest and have been a part of its landscape for centuries. You may also come across deer, wild boar, and a variety of bird species as you explore the trails. The New Forest is a haven for wildlife, and horse riding allows you to get up close and personal with nature.

So, if you’re looking for a thrilling and immersive experience in the New Forest, horse riding is a must-try activity. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to try something new, riding through this enchanting landscape will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

So saddle up and get ready to discover the beauty and tranquility of the New Forest on horseback.

Have a Picnic in Picturesque Settings

After a thrilling experience horse riding through the beautiful landscapes of the New Forest, I couldn’t help but crave some relaxation and a chance to soak up the picturesque settings around me.

And what better way to do that than by having a delightful picnic amidst the enchanting surroundings? The New Forest offers endless opportunities to find the perfect spot to spread out a blanket, unpack a delicious spread, and indulge in a leisurely feast.

Imagine finding yourself nestled under the shade of ancient trees, with the soft rustling of leaves and the gentle chirping of birds as your soundtrack. The New Forest is filled with idyllic spots that make for the perfect picnic setting.

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Whether you choose to sit by a tranquil river, overlooking a serene lake, or in a clearing surrounded by wildflowers, each spot offers its own unique charm. As you settle in, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you – the lush greenery, the vibrant flora, and perhaps even the occasional sighting of ponies grazing nearby.

This is a moment of tranquility, a chance to connect with nature and savor the simple pleasures of life.

As you indulge in your picnic feast, you’ll find that the New Forest has a way of enhancing even the simplest of meals. The fresh air, the peaceful ambiance, and the stunning views all come together to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Whether you pack a gourmet spread with artisanal cheeses, crusty bread, and a bottle of wine, or simply opt for a classic ham sandwich and some crisps, the setting will elevate your meal to new heights. As you take your last bite and soak in the serenity around you, you’ll realize that having a picnic in the New Forest is not just about satisfying your hunger, but about nourishing your soul.

Try Watersports on Stunning Lakes and Rivers

Immerse yourself in the thrill of watersports as you glide across the sparkling lakes and meander through the winding rivers.

The New Forest in England offers a fantastic array of opportunities for water lovers to enjoy a variety of activities. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the most popular watersports in the New Forest is kayaking. Grab a paddle and navigate your way through the tranquil waters, taking in the stunning scenery as you go. Feel the refreshing spray of water on your face as you conquer the gentle rapids and explore hidden coves.

For those seeking a bit more adrenaline, why not try paddleboarding? Stand atop your board and paddle your way across the glistening lakes, feeling a sense of freedom and tranquility as you glide along.

The New Forest is also a fantastic spot for sailing and windsurfing, with its wide open spaces and reliable winds. Feel the wind in your hair as you harness its power to speed across the water, or learn the art of sailing and navigate your way through the picturesque rivers.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, the New Forest offers the perfect playground for watersports enthusiasts.

So, if you’re looking for an exhilarating and refreshing experience, head to the New Forest and try your hand at watersports. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature as you glide across the sparkling lakes and meander through the winding rivers. With a variety of activities available, from kayaking to paddleboarding, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So grab your gear, embrace the adventure, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Attend Festivals and Events in the Area

Get ready to dive into a vibrant world of music, art, and culture as you attend the exciting festivals and events happening in the area. The New Forest is not only known for its breathtaking natural beauty, but also for its lively and diverse calendar of events.

Whether you’re a music lover, an art enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys immersing themselves in the local culture, there is something for everyone in this enchanting region.

One of the most anticipated events in the New Forest is the New Forest Folk Festival, a celebration of traditional and contemporary folk music. Imagine yourself sitting under the open sky, surrounded by lush greenery, as talented musicians fill the air with soulful melodies. This festival not only showcases local talent but also attracts renowned artists from all over the country. From foot-stomping jigs to heartfelt ballads, the New Forest Folk Festival is an experience that will leave you feeling uplifted and connected to the rich musical heritage of the area.

In addition to the music festivals, the New Forest also hosts a variety of art and cultural events throughout the year. The New Forest Arts Festival is a must-visit for art lovers, featuring exhibitions, workshops, and performances that showcase the creativity and talent of local artists. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and intricate details of paintings, sculptures, and installations that capture the essence of the New Forest. From traditional landscapes to contemporary masterpieces, the New Forest Arts Festival offers a unique opportunity to appreciate and support the local arts community.

So, pack your bags and get ready to be swept away by the magic of the festivals and events in the New Forest.

Visit Museums and Cultural Attractions

Discovering the rich history and vibrant cultural scene in the New Forest is a truly captivating experience. There are numerous museums and cultural attractions that offer a glimpse into the area’s past and present.

One of the must-visit places is the New Forest Heritage Centre, where you can dive deep into the history and heritage of the region. From interactive displays to informative exhibits, this museum provides a comprehensive overview of the New Forest’s natural and cultural heritage. You can learn about the unique wildlife, ancient landscapes, and the people who have shaped the area over the centuries. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop, which offers a wide range of locally made crafts and souvenirs.

Another cultural gem in the New Forest is the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, located in the charming town of Lymington. This museum showcases the art, history, and culture of the New Forest and its surrounding areas. The diverse collection includes paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts that tell the stories of the region’s past. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that feature contemporary art and local artists, adding a dynamic touch to the experience.

After exploring the galleries, take a stroll along the nearby quay and enjoy the picturesque views of the Lymington River.

Visiting museums and cultural attractions in the New Forest is a great way to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of the region’s history and culture. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in learning more about the area, these museums offer a fascinating journey that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for this beautiful part of England.

Indulge in Local Cuisine and Traditional Pubs

After exploring the fascinating museums and cultural attractions in the New Forest, it’s time to satisfy your taste buds and immerse yourself in the local cuisine. The New Forest isn’t only known for its natural beauty, but also for its delicious food and traditional pubs. As a food lover, I can’t wait to indulge in the flavors and experience the warm hospitality of the area.

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One of the highlights of the New Forest’s culinary scene is the abundance of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From succulent seafood caught off the coast to tender meats from nearby farms, the region is a haven for food enthusiasts. Whether you prefer fine dining or a more casual experience, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Traditional English pubs are scattered throughout the area, offering a cozy atmosphere and a chance to sample classic dishes like fish and chips or a hearty Sunday roast. These charming establishments also often feature locally brewed ales and ciders, providing the perfect accompaniment to your meal.

In addition to traditional fare, the New Forest is also home to a vibrant food and drink scene that celebrates local producers and artisans. Farmers’ markets and food festivals are held regularly, showcasing the best of the region’s culinary delights. From artisanal cheeses and freshly baked bread to homemade jams and chutneys, there’s something for every taste. Exploring these markets and events not only allows you to taste the incredible flavors of the New Forest, but also gives you the opportunity to meet the passionate people behind the food.

So, whether you’re looking to savor traditional pub grub or discover the innovative creations of local producers, indulging in the local cuisine and traditional pubs of the New Forest is a must. With its rich culinary heritage and thriving food scene, this picturesque region offers a truly delicious experience for food lovers like myself.

Go Camping and Caravanning in Nature

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature by going camping or caravanning in the breathtaking landscapes of the New Forest. There’s no better way to truly experience the wonders of this enchanting place than by spending a night under the stars.

The New Forest offers a variety of campsites and caravan parks, each providing a unique experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Pitch your tent in one of the many designated camping areas and wake up to the sound of birds chirping and the gentle rustling of leaves in the wind.

As you step outside, you’ll be greeted by the fresh scent of pine trees and the sight of majestic deer roaming freely in the distance. The New Forest is a haven for wildlife, and camping here allows you to be a part of it all.

If you prefer a more comfortable camping experience, you can choose to stay in a caravan. Set up your home on wheels amidst the stunning landscapes and enjoy the convenience of having all the amenities you need at your fingertips. Wake up to panoramic views of lush green meadows, tranquil lakes, and ancient woodlands.

Spend your days exploring the many walking and cycling trails, or simply relax and soak in the serenity of your surroundings.

Camping and caravanning in the New Forest is an experience like no other. It allows you to truly connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So pack your camping gear or hitch up your caravan and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of England’s most beautiful destinations.

Explore the New Forest by Car or Motorcycle

Embark on an exhilarating journey through the stunning landscapes of the New Forest as you hop on your car or motorcycle.

The New Forest offers a myriad of picturesque routes that are perfect for exploring on wheels. As you traverse the winding roads, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of ancient woodlands, open heathlands, and charming villages dotted along the way.

Feel the wind on your face as you zip through the forest, immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Driving or riding through the New Forest allows you to discover hidden gems that may not be easily accessible on foot. You can stop at various viewpoints to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes or take a leisurely drive to explore the quaint towns and villages that are nestled within the forest.

The freedom of exploring by car or motorcycle allows you to set your own pace and choose your own adventure. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for an adrenaline rush or a nature enthusiast seeking solace in the wilderness, exploring the New Forest on wheels is an experience that will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

So, rev up your engine and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting New Forest.

Shop for Local Products and Souvenirs

Indulge in the authentic charm of the New Forest by browsing through a delightful selection of local products and souvenirs. As you wander through the quaint villages and bustling markets, you’ll be captivated by the unique offerings that showcase the area’s rich heritage.

From handmade crafts to locally sourced food and drink, there’s something for everyone to treasure.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the New Forest’s markets, where you can find a plethora of local goodies. The aromas of freshly baked bread, aromatic cheeses, and freshly picked fruits fill the air, enticing you to sample the delicious treats on offer. Don’t miss the chance to try the famous New Forest honey, produced by the bees that thrive in the area’s abundant wildflowers. It’s a true taste of the region’s natural beauty.

In addition to food, you’ll also discover a variety of unique crafts and souvenirs that make for perfect mementos of your time in the New Forest. Admire the intricate woodwork of hand-carved sculptures, or peruse the colorful array of artwork created by local artists. From delicate ceramics to handwoven textiles, there’s a treasure to suit every taste.

Whether you’re looking for a special gift or a keepsake for yourself, shopping for local products and souvenirs in the New Forest is a delightful experience that allows you to take a piece of this enchanting place home with you.


In conclusion, my time in the New Forest has been nothing short of extraordinary.

From exploring the enchanting woodlands to discovering historical sites and landmarks, every moment has been filled with wonder and awe.

Wildlife spotting in the New Forest National Park was a highlight, as I was able to witness the beauty of nature up close and personal.

The cycling adventures on scenic paths were exhilarating, and the relaxing walks along coastal trails provided a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Indulging in the local cuisine and traditional pubs was a treat for the taste buds, and camping and caravanning in nature allowed me to truly immerse myself in the peaceful surroundings.

Exploring the New Forest by car or motorcycle was a thrilling experience, as I felt the wind in my hair and the freedom of the open road.

Lastly, shopping for local products and souvenirs was the perfect way to bring a piece of the New Forest home with me.

Overall, the New Forest is a destination that offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, this enchanting locale will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure unlike any other in the New Forest, England.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.