Let’s explore the New Forest

New Forest travel guide

One of my personal favourite regions in the UK, I return to the New Forest time and time again to explore more of its hidden corners and reconnect with nature.

I love that you can find a little nook of luxury within this gem of rural England, with unforgettable fine dining and exceptional hospitality. But I find it’s also the place to enjoy a slower pace of life, surrounding by the forest and the iconic New Forest wildlife.

About the author

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Whether you’re looking for wildlife and gorgeous scenery, or action and adventure, the New Forest is the perfect travel destination for families, couples, groups, and solo travellers alike. You’ll never be short of things to see and do, and you’ll be treated to some mouth-watering cuisine along the way.

If you’re all about nature, the New Forest National Park shows you how diverse the land is and showcases the wonderful wildlife in the area. For the motor-mad, Beaulieu is the place to be, with the National Motor Museum displaying 285 vehicles for your viewing. For those who enjoy getting active, the New Forest offers various sports and activities both on and off the land.

Those who prefer to relax and indulge in the finer things in life (I’m with you!) will also find what they’re looking for in the New Forest. Discover a number of award-winning spas, luxury hotels and memorable restaurants in this pretty part of the UK.


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How to get to the New Forest

The New Forest is very accessible from anywhere in the South of England. It also has great connections to the rest of the country, whether by road or rail. International visitors have the choice of several nearby airports.

How to get around the New Forest

There are several ways you can choose to get around the New Forest, depending on what you’re hoping to do and how much time you have!

If you’re able to, I’d really recommend driving as this gives you the freedom to explore at your leisure. You’ll be able to drive to all the attractions you’d like to see, park up, and get going on your adventures easily. 

If travelling by car is off the cards, you could make use of the train stations in the New Forest to get around, or use public transport like buses. While you can walk around specific attractions like the New Forest National Park, the New Forest District spans a large area so this isn’t practical to get from place to place.

Alternatively, you can get around many places by bike, which I think is a great way of soaking up the scenery.

Lymington New Forest
Lymington Town

Best time to visit the New Forest

Any time spent in the New Forest is time well spent, but you’ll have a different experience depending on the time of year you choose to travel in. The unreliable British weather can sometimes catch you out, but you won’t mind all that much when you’re surrounded by the beauty in the New Forest.


Spring is the perfect time to spend time in nature, watching the wildlife become more active and seeing the flowers start to bloom. With milder temperatures that won’t stifle you when you’re out and about, spring is an ideal time to explore the New Forest.


Make the most of the summer sun in England by exploring the New Forest National park and seeing the flora in full bloom. Enjoy England’s coastline in the New Forest by relaxing on the beach and taking a dip in the sea. Although being the UK, no rain is never a guarantee!


Cooler days bring milder conditions for exploring all that the New Forest has to offer. With the leaves beginning to fall, you’ll get to see a different side to the New Forest. Cycle routes framed by red and orange leaves, and cosy pubs beckoning you in.


Winter walks in the New Forest are dreamy if you don’t mind wrapping up to enjoy everything that it has to offer. Treat yourself to a warming hot chocolate and a cake for energy in one of the New Forest’s many pubs and cafes – you’ll have earned it!

New Forest highlights

New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park is an absolute must see for anyone travelling to the New Forest. It gained its National Park status in 2005 to help protect the beautiful landscape so that people can continue to enjoy it for generations to come. With unmatched natural beauty to spare, this place will be a stand-out in your trip to the New Forest. If you look closely enough, you might be lucky enough to spot some of the special species of butterfly that reside in the New Forest National Park.

There’s pretty much every type of nature for you to enjoy in the New Forest National Park. 26 miles of coastline meets farmland, heathland, and stunning ancient trees. The National Park is home to thousands of freely roaming animals, so always stay alert! From cattle and sheep to donkeys and ponies, it’s magical to see these animals going about their lives without a care in the world.

Discover more of my favourite things to do in the New Forest.


The Georgian market port town of Lymington is set on the coast in the New Forest, between Bournemouth and Southampton – and it’s one of my favourite towns in the New Forest. The town is famous for its sailing history, and is proud of this with two large marinas and two sailing clubs.

The cobbled streets of Lymington are filled with pretty cottages, quirky cafés, and friendly locals. Lymington is home to the oldest open sea water baths in the UK, so why not give it a try if you’re feeling brave enough to brace the cold? Personally, I’d stick to trying out the baths in summertime when it’s warmer weather! 

Facing Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, Lymington offers a car ferry service operated by Wightlink. This gives visitors the chance to explore the Isle of Wight as well as the New Forest. There’s some wonderful walks you can do in Lymington, offering beautiful views of the Isle of Wight and also the Needles. Discover hotels in Lymington


Beaulieu is a small village that lies in the eastern part of the New Forest, just outside of the New Forest National Park. While it may be a small village, you won’t be short of fun and exciting things to do in Beaulieu! I’d recommend riding the monorail for a birds eye view of all Beaulieu has to offer.

From the National Motor Museum and a Secret Army Exhibition, to Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House, there’s something for everyone in Beaulieu. See a replica of F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s 1996 Formula One car with Ferrari, in which he achieved three race wins, and a total of eight podiums at the world-famous National Motor Museum.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the Grand Prix, you’ll be able to see the latest exhibitions. This includes Bond in Motion – No Time To Die, featuring costumes, cars, and gadgets from the latest 007 film. Find hotels in Beaulieu.

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Where is the best place to stay in the New Forest?

There are a number of gorgeous towns in the New Forest, all of which would make a wonderful base for exploring the area. Brockenhurst is a popular place to stay in the New Forest, with a number of luxury hotels to choose from. While Lyndhurst, Lyminton and Beaulieu also provide great bases in the New Forest.

Is the New Forest a dog-friendly place?

Yes, the New Forest is the perfect UK destination for you and your furry friend(s). With acres of countryside to explore, you’ll be spoilt for choice with dog walks. Just be wary of areas in which you may need to keep your dog on a lead, due to all the free roaming animals. The New Forest is also home to plenty of dog-friendly pubs, where you can both enjoy a well-deserved drink.

Is the New Forest a good destination for solo travellers?

The New Forest is a wonderful place for solo travellers to explore. Take the opportunity to move at a slower pace, soaking up nature without rushing through an itinerary. It would also make an ideal destination for a digital detox – just you, nature, and perhaps a good book.

How long does it take to get to the New Forest from London?

It takes around two hours to drive from central London to the New Forest. It could take less time, or it could take longer, depending on traffic and where in London you are travelling from. If travelling by train, it takes around 90 minutes from London Waterloo.

How many Michelin star restaurants in the New Forest?

There are currently no Michelin star restaurants in the New Forest. However, there are a number of restaurants recommended by the Michelin guide. Discover my guide to the best restaurants in the New Forest

When is the lavender season in the New Forest?

The lavender season in the UK runs from mid-June to mid-August. The New Forest Lavender Farm tends to open from early July, but I’d advise checking before you visit.

Are there Christmas markets in the New Forest?

There are a handful of Christmas markets in and around the New Forest. Christmas markets within the New Forest include the Family Christmas Fair at Exbury Gardens and Victorian Christmas at Beaulieu. Nearby Christmas Markets also take place at Winchester, Southampton and Portsmouth.

Luxury accommodation picks

From coastal stays to luxurious spas, the New Forest offers a number of exceptional hotels. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back vibe, a foodie’s haven, or a high-end spa, here are the best luxury hotels in the New Forest

Lime Wood Hotel

An elegant 5-star hotel with a sumptuous spa.

The Pig Hotel

Laid-back luxury with a firm focus on food & drink.

Chewton Glen

A country house hotel with an award-winning spa.

Burley Manor

A magical hotel and an idyllic romantic retreat.

New Forest restaurants

There are a number of exceptional restaurants in the New Forest. Characterised by their use of fresh, local ingredients and gorgeous settings, a visit to the New Forest would not be complete without a delicious meal.

The Pig,

World-class cuisine in a laid-back setting.

The Terrace,

A stylish dining room with wonderful flavours.

Hartnett Holder & Co, Lyndhurst

A smart restaurant with an Italian theme.

Elderflower, Lymington

Modern British cuisine with a French twist.

New Forest walks

Walks don’t come more scenic than in the New Forest. Hike through beautiful landscapes and woodlands, spotting the local wildlife and listening to nature. Here are some of the best walks in the New Forest:

Beaulieu Food Trail

Experience fantastic food & drink on a 2.2 mile walk each way.

Denny Wood

Any easy and scenic walk through the New Forest National Park.

Solent Way

A challenging walk along the coastal path between Lymington & Beaulieu.


A moderate seven-mile walk through the north of the New Forest.

New Forest travel inspiration

Planning a trip to the New Forest? Have a read of these New Forest travel articles to help you plan your visit.

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