Get to grips with nature in one of England's most stunning National Parks...
Around 1,000 years ago King William fancied a patch of woodland for a deer hunt: he created the New Forest. Over the centuries that followed the area has been hunted on and trees have been chopped down to build ships and then to replenish wood stocks during the World Wars. Despite this, the New Forest still enjoys royal protection, and it became a National Park in 2005. That's why this pristine dot on the map of southern England has so much to offer to visitors in the way of unspoiled rural adventures and refreshing walks.
This great patch of woodland, heathland and grassland - more than 200 square miles of it - is located mostly in the county of Hampshire, just nudging into Wiltshire and approaching the eastern border of Dorset. It enjoys a coast on the Solent, with views across to the Isle of Wight, and is serviced by towns, villages, and the cities of Southampton to the east, Bournemouth to the west, and Salisbury to the north.
Book hotels in New Forest National Park and have the best of natural England on your doorstep...
There's a great variety of accommodation in the New Forest that caters for all tastes and budgets. Whether you are visiting for a short break or spending your summer holidays in the area as a family, you are guaranteed to find something that meets all of your requirements. There are camp sites, self-catering cottages, cosy guesthouses, welcoming B&Bs, and plenty of hotels, from budget hotels to luxury hotels set in glorious green surroundings. If you're travelling with the family pet, check in advance as many hotels in the New Forest are dog friendly.
The bigger towns of Lymington, Brockenhurst, and Lyndhurst have much in the way of local amenities, such as shops and restaurants, though you'll find wonderful country lodgings all around the New Forest.
Spa breaks and golfing trips are also popular in the New Forest.
Whether you want to get active or simply stroll slowly though the woodland, the New Forest is a wonderful place to be...
Breaks in the New Forest can be as busy or as quiet as you like. There's a fine selection of things to do and see, and plenty of opportunities to simply relax and drink in the gorgeous scenery.
Top five attractions
Walking trails criss-cross the New Forest and offer different views of the park and its native wildlife, including the famous New Forest Ponies. The Solent Way Walk, which runs along the coastline, is a very popular route.
Take to horse back to see the New Forest; it's a magical way to see the park. There are a number of stables around the area offering rides.
There's a day out for everyone at Beaulieu, with an abbey, gardens, the Palace House, the National Motor Museum and Top Gear and James Bond exhibitions attracting visitors.
Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
You can see deer throughout the New Forest, though if spotting the majestic beasts is proving tricky, visit this sanctuary where a herd of fallow deer frequently appear.
New Forest Wildlife Park
Children love to look at the range of animals at this attraction near Ashurst, from otters and ferrets to lynx and bison.
As the seasons change, the New Forest and surrounding areas offer a varied line-up of events...
Daily and weekly events take place in the New Forest, with many highlighting everyday life in the park. There are also many annual highlights that are worth visiting for.
New Forest and Hampshire County Show; July: A long-running agricultural show, this event showcases the rural traditions of the area and the lives - both human and animal - of those that live in it. It's a great family day out.
Fireworks at Beaulieu; October/November: A one-evening only extravaganza of fireworks and fun takes place around Bonfire Night at Beaulieu. You can see the grounds and attractions during the day and then stay on for the magnificent night-time display.
Christmas Fair; December: Get your gloved hands on locally-made gifts and stocking fillers during this annual festive fair.