In the heart of Hampshire, you will find the fascinating city of Winchester. With more than 2000 years of history, connections to Arthurian legend, stunning countryside and museums aplenty, it won’t matter whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover - the best things to do in Winchester often combine both!
1. Walk the Jane Austen trail
One of England’s most beloved authors, Jane Austen was born and raised in Hampshire and lived in Winchester for the latter part of her life. Known for her love of the countryside and walking, there are now many Jane Austen themed walks and tours. Choose a self-guided tour and follow in Jane’s footsteps by taking a route from Chawton to Farringdon, with interesting points along the way, like the Jane Austen House Museum and Chawton House Library. Or, if you plan your visit to coincide with the first Saturday of the month, you can take a guided tour, complete with coffee and cake.
Jane Austen Tour
Website: Jane Austen Tour
Jane Austen Walks and Tours
Website: Jane Austen Walks and Tours
2. Wonder at Winchester Cathedral
No visit to Winchester would be complete without visiting this magnificent medieval building. One of the largest gothic cathedrals in Europe, there are some very special things to see here, like the Winchester Illuminated Bible and the 12th-century paintings. There are also some spectacular stained glass windows and medieval carvings. Guided tours run every hour, from 10 am to 3 pm and if you are visiting with children, they will find a free children’s trail to explore. In the wintertime, you can go skating on the ice rink that is set up on the cathedral grounds and during December there is a magical Christmas Market.
Address: The Close, Winchester SO23 9LS
Website: Winchester Cathedral
3. Follow King Alfred’s footsteps on a walking tour of the city
Take a self-guided tour and follow in the steps of “The Great One”, King Alfred. The walk is made up of three loops and you can choose to do any or all of them, depending on how robust your legs are feeling! The loops wander through the heart of the ancient city, starting from the statue of Alfred on the Broadway and following streets he set out upon when he was developing the city. You can see the walls he repaired to keep out the marauding Danes, as well as other points of historical interest, before arriving at his grave in the Hyde Abby Gardens. The Winchester tourist information centre has free brochures with all the information you will need to make the most of this cultural meander.
Self-guided tour of King Alfred's Winchester.
4. See the Winchester City Mill in action
Over 1000 years old, the Winchester City Mill is the oldest working water mill in the world! Visit this extraordinarily well-preserved piece of history and learn all about England’s only surviving urban corn mill, complete with interactive activities and baking demonstrations. If you are really lucky, you might spot one of the otters that often come to visit! Children are more than welcome and they will find activities designed especially for little fingers! The mill does not have toilet facilities for the public, so keep that in mind if you are visiting with little ones.
Winchester City Mill
Address: Bridge Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9BH
Website: Winchester City Mill
5. Make friends with the animals at Marwell Zoo
An unforgettable day out for adults and children alike, this 140 acre ( 56.6 hectares) zoo is a must visit for animal lovers. A huge range of exotic and endangered animals call this zoo home and it’s known for its immersive experiences, with some exhibits like the ‘Lemur Loop Walkthrough’ letting you get up close to the animals. The new 'Wild Explorers’ exhibit will immerse you in a grass plains environment, allowing you to see a white rhino, zebras and oryx, all roaming together. Marwell Zoo also has a breeding programme and there are zoo babies being born all the time- so keep an eye out for the zoo’s newest residents on your visit. Make it a day of walking or spare your legs with a more relaxed approach and take the free road train around the park. Either way, this is sure to be a day to remember.
Address: Colden Common, Winchester SO21 1JH
Website: Marwell Zoo
6. Visit the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
If you are visiting Winchester with children, then this place should definitely be on your list of things to do. The Science Centre has 100 hands-on, interactive, and educational displays for children of all ages. Unleash your inner mad scientist in the invention studio, take a wander through a giant intestine to learn about what goes on in our bodies when we eat or learn to space-walk. When you are done with all the experiments, move on to the planetarium section for some serious star gazing. There are live shows and film presentations several times a day to bring the wonder of our universe up close for you and your little ones.
Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium.
Address: Telegraph Way, Winchester SO21 1HZ, UK
7. Hike up St Catherine’s Hill
A short but steep hike up this ancient hill will reward you with a beautiful view over Winchester and the Itchen Valley. Once an Iron Age hill fort, you can still see the ramparts cut into the side of the hill. Keep an eye out for the buried ruins of the Norman Chapel that gives this hill its name and when you reach the top of the hill, you will find one of England’s two surviving historic turf mizmazes to solve.This beautiful nature reserve has an abundance of native wildflowers and colourful butterflies, as well. And, if you aren’t rushed for time, the area makes for a stunning picnic spot.
St Catherine’s Hill
Address: Garnier Road, Winchester SO23 9PA.
Website: St Catherine’s Hill
8. The Royal Green Jackets Museum
One of the finest military museums in the country, this is a must visit. Housed in a building that was originally barracks for the rifle depot, this museum tells the 250-year history of the Royal Green Jackets. You will see an amazing collection of uniforms, medals, weapons, paintings and other military artefacts here, but the highlight of your visit will be the 25 square meter (269 square foot) model of the battle of Waterloo. With lights and sounds incorporated to enhance this unique display, you will be amazed at the level of detail achieved as you learn about the events of June 18th, 1815.
Royal Green Jacket’s Museum
Address: Peninsula Barracks Romsey Road Winchester, Hants S023 8TS
Website: Royal Green Jacket’s Museum
9. Museum of the King’s Royal Hussars
One of the five military museums you can visit in Winchester, this tiny but wonderful museum celebrates 300 years of the King’s Royal Hussars and their proceeding regiments. From life sized models of horses to a genuine tank used in World War II, you can follow the chronological history of the regiment through displays of uniforms, weapons, equipment, paintings, dioramas and unique photographs. If you are visiting with children, they will especially enjoy the story of the ‘man in the cupboard’, as well as dressing up in the uniforms! A very affordable attraction, admission is only 2 GBP (2.6 USD) and children are free.
Museum of the King’s Royal Hussars
Address: Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Rd, Winchester SO23 8TS, UK
Website: Museum of the King’s Royal Hussars
10. Learn about the Knights of the Round Table in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle
The Great Hall is all that is left of Winchester Castle but don’t let that disappoint you. Winchester has been identified as the site of Camelot and the Great Hall holds the round table of Arthurian legend. With stories of the 25 knights lining the hall walls and period clothing to try on, you can completely immerse yourself in the fascinating history of this ancient building. Outside, you will find an immaculately recreated medieval garden, where you can surround yourself with the scents and sounds of a time gone by. There are also children’s trails with tales of heroes, villains and ghosts. You also mustn’t forget to explore the secret passage of the underground Sally Port!
The Great Hall
Address: Castle Avenue | The Castle, Winchester SO23 8UJ, England
Website: The Great Hall
Get swept away by Winchester's charm
Winchester has such a diverse range of things to do and whether you are a history buff or a nature enthusiast, you will always find something to capture your imagination in this fascinating city.
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