Things to do in the New Forest

The New Forest is a favourite destination to visit in the UK. It is a beautiful region of forest and heathland in southern England.

Things to do in the New Forest

The New Forest is a favourite destination to visit in the UK. It is a beautiful region of forest and heathland in southern England. Home to native species and lots of English heritage. 

The New Forest also has lots of exciting activities for a fun-filled day with all the family, and cute village cottages if you’re planning a stay-cation.

The New Forest is widely known to nature lovers for its beautiful nature, spectacular views and wildlife. For its free-ranging ponies, cattle, and pigs that you can often see walking the roadside. Everyone also loves that it is only a short trip from London and not far from beautiful beaches.

However, the New Forest has much more to discover than its animal life. There are so many outdoor activities!

The New Forest is a region with natural surroundings that is begging to be explored.

Here are our favourite things to do in the New Forest.

New Forest National Park

The first thing on this list is the New Forest National Park itself. The national park is home to many species of flora and fauna, including red squirrels, rabbits, butterflies, dragonflies, woodpeckers, bats and even otters. There are also plenty of birds such as great crested grebes, mallards, moorhens, coots, herons, swans, geese, and waders.

You’ll also see lots of wild deer, owls, and wild ponies! It’s virtually impossible to travel through the woodland without coming across a herd of stunning ponies lazing by the side of the road. You might see pigs, cows, and sheep.

Because of commoner’s rights, which allow locals to let their animals go, they all currently roam freely. But don’t worry, they’re all incredibly well cared for.

There are lots of walks you can take within the park, which will give you an insight into the natural world. You’ll find yourself surrounded by trees, fields and meadows with horses grazing around every corner.

You can walk through ancient woodland, along rivers or up hills. If you’re feeling fit enough, there are some steep climbs too.

Highcliffe Castle

A Diplomat who was influenced by French architecture constructed Highcliffe Castle in the 1830s.

Before the 1950s, when it was converted into a children’s home, the castle was occupied for about a century. It was nearly entirely abandoned following a severe fire in the 1970s.

Thankfully, the choice was made to restore it and make it accessible to the public in the 1990s.

One of the finest sights to view in the New Forest, Highcliffe Castle truly is a magnificent tourist attraction.

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

The Fallow Deer population in this park is what makes it so well-known.

A park ranger feeds the deer between April and September, providing you with a fantastic opportunity to see them from the viewing platform.

The best part is that there is no admission fee, making it one of the top free activities in the New Forest.

The Beaulieu River Trail

A nice stroll along the Beaulieu River Trail lets you enjoy the scenery of the river and the surrounding area. It’s a nice, easy walk that just takes a few hours to complete.

Most of the trail’s length, which begins at the Beaulieu visitor centre, is spent along the river. Along with some excellent forest areas, there are some fantastic views of the river and its banks.

Keep a watch out for wildlife, such as kingfishers and herons. The Riverside historic dockyard Bucklers Hard is also within walking distance of the path.

Exbury Gardens

Since it was designated a Royal Forest in the 12th century, the New Forest does have a rather regal feel to it. This is something you’ll undoubtedly experience in the expansive Exbury Gardens.

The gardens are one of the many properties held by the incredibly wealthy Rothschild family, and they are situated just east of the town of Beaulieu.

Fortunately for us commoners, they remain accessible to the public.

The gardens are stunning and cover more than 200 acres in total. No matter the season, it is stunning, but in the spring, the azaleas, camellias, and other flowers are in full bloom.

You can explore the best parts of the garden by following one of the many established paths.

Hengistbury Head

Though technically outside the New Forest, it’s a simple (and fantastic) destination to include on your schedule.

Near Bournemouth, there is a headland called Hengistbury Head that protrudes into the sea.

With so many different animals present and a magnificent beach, it is kind of a playground for wildlife lovers.

New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park

Since most British wildlife can be shy, visiting a wildlife park will give you the best opportunity of seeing them.

The New Forest Wildlife Park is excellent not only because of its gorgeous creatures but also because of its dedication to conservation.

They do an excellent job caring for injured and rescued otters as well as lovely local owls.

Even while owls and otters are among the most well-known inhabitants, there are even more!

Other native creatures like deer, ferrets, water voles, and hedgehogs remain in the wildlife park.

We can’t promise you’ll see every animal at the wildlife park, but we can almost guarantee you’ll see a lot of absolutely stunning British species.

Hurst Castle

Highcliffe Castle may be a beautiful building, but Hurst Castle’s setting is incomparable.

Hurst Split, a wide causeway that sprouts from the coast just a short distance from the edge of the New Forest, is where Hurst Castle is situated.

As a result, it has some spectacular sea views.

Additionally, its past is really fascinating. Henry VIII constructed it in the 16th century.

It was primarily a defensive structure and was involved in numerous conflicts. Notably, King Charles, I was detained there during the English Civil War in the 1600s.

Anyone interested in English or military history, or who simply enjoys admiring cool castles, will have a lovely time visiting Hurst Castle. The castle is still in a quite fine condition too!

Burley Village

Burley has not changed with its charming thatched homes, horses and cattle running freely throughout the charming village, and old-world charm.

A cider farm, souvenir shops, an art gallery, and tea houses for the perfect cream tea are all here. Burley has all the characteristics of a classic New Forest village. Traditional butchers, local shops, and cosy inns can all be found here.

Burbush and Woods Corner are two other pleasant walks close to the village. The Burbush walk follows a circular route south of the settlement that is 4 1/2 miles long. Depending on how enthusiastic you feel, the Woods Corner path might be a short or long walk. You can take a loop back to Burley on this stroll or go as far as Bolderwood or Knightwood Oak.


What are the Top Family-Friendly Things to Do in the New Forest?

The New Forest offers something for everyone. Whether you want to go horse riding, enjoy some wildlife spotting, or take part in activities like clay pigeon shooting, there is plenty to keep kids entertained. It has everything from farms to theme parks, so whatever type of day trip you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.

What are the Top Dog-Friendly Things to Do in the New Forest?

There’s no need to leave your dog at home when you come into the New Forest. You can take him along on some fabulous activities that won’t break the bank. Whether it’s paddling, cycling, walking or just exploring the stunning scenery, there’s plenty to keep your canine companion happy.

What are the Top Free Things to Do in the New Forest?

You can walk the Sway Trail, visit the Vistors Centre, and take your bike on the cycle paths. You can also visit the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary.