48 hours in Hampshire - what to do on a weekend in Hampshire
Hampshire is the largest county in the South East of England and has wild coastlines, historic cities, and two National Parks (which cover 45% of the county). Whether you are looking for something relaxing, or adventurous, you’ll be able to find it here. There are great transport links to London and the rest of the country via the many train stations or the M3 which runs through the centre.
There are lots of attractions for families; but here is a weekend itinerary for couples or friends who have great taste in food and drink.
Friday afternoon in Hampshire
You’ll start your itinerary in the small village of Laverstoke which is home to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery. Grab a light lunch in the newly reopened Mill Café and enjoy the sights and sounds of the river Test. The main reason you’re here though is for a self-guided tour around the distillery. There’s a lot to see here – the beautiful greenhouses, smelling room, and the distilleries themselves. Your ticket includes a cocktail at the bar – I recommend The Laverstoke! Maybe pick up a souvenir bottle in the gift shop to enjoy over the weekend.
You’ll continue your journey through Hampshire by heading down to Winchester, the former capital of England. Spend the afternoon exploring the cobbled streets and independent shops. If you’re into history, then visit King Arthur’s Round Table in the Great Hall and the spectacular 11th century Cathedral which is home to Jane Austen’s tomb.
Book a table at Incognito for one of their theatrical cocktails. They come served in the most curious props such as a hot air balloon, or a bathtub complete with an edible rubber duck. It’s a cosy venue, with a superbly quirky atmosphere (listen to David Attenborough narrating the Big Cat Diaries in the toilets!)
Friday evening in Hampshire
Drive through the New Forest (look out for the local wild ponies) down to New Milton, where you’ll check in to Chewton Glen for the weekend. All of the rooms are stunning, but for a special stay, check out the Treehouse suites. Relax in your very own hot tub or use the spa facilities.
When you’re ready for dinner, head down to the Dining Room for some top-quality food and wine. If you’d like something less formal, then the Kitchen is the other in-house restaurant. It’s tempting to skip straight to the dessert menu provided by celebrity chef James Martin.
Saturday morning in Hampshire
Eat a big breakfast as there is a busy day planned! Firstly, I’d recommend a visit to Beaulieu because there is such a variety of things to do there (you can spend all day there if you want to). Even if you’re not a huge car fan, there’s plenty to see at the National Motor Museum which is also home to the World of Top Gear. If history is more your thing, then try the medieval Beaulieu Abbey, or discover the Montagu family home at the Palace House.
Alternatively, take a trip to the nearby Georgian town of Lymington. I’ve been visiting there for years on a Saturday morning because of the big market which spans the length of the high street. Grab a coffee at one of the many small coffee shops and enjoy it at the harbour whilst watching the boats.
Saturday lunchtime in Hampshire
Rosie Lea’s award-winning tearoom is a short drive away in Brockenhurst. I’d choose one of the afternoon tea options personally, but everything on the menu looks tasty. Brockenhurst itself is a lovely village in the heart of the New Forest and makes a great base for the afternoon activities.
Saturday afternoon in Hampshire
The New Forest is a huge National Park, and there are hundreds of trails you could explore on foot or by bicycle. The Tall Trees trail starts in Blackwater and is only 1.5 miles long, so a good way to ease yourself in. You won’t be able to miss the giant sequoias and you’ll have to be quiet to spot the native roe deer.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, then a great way to see the forest is from a horse! Brockenhurst riding stables offer 1 or 2-hour rides for people of all ages, and they cater to all riding abilities so don’t worry if it’s your first time.
Saturday evening in Hampshire
After all that exercise, you’ll be ready for some dinner. One of the UK’s most prestigious female chefs Angela Hartnett has teamed up with Lime Wood’s head chef Luke Holder to bring you Hartnett Holder & Co. Inspired by Italian cuisine; the menu here is perfect for foodies and the wine list is extraordinary too. The hotel has its own Smoke House so expect to see something deliciously smoky on the menu.
Sunday morning in Hampshire
After a busy weekend, why not take some time to enjoy the spa before you check out? The soon-to-be refurbished facilities include the indoor pool, steam room, and hydrotherapy pool. Or indulge in a relaxing treatment – massage or body scrub maybe.
If you’re after somewhere for a Sunday Lunch before you head home, then it must be the Pig at Brockenhurst. They pride themselves on their 25-mile menu, so you know the food is all local to the New Forest.