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18 of the best things to do in Winchester

Visit Hampshire’s historic heart for history, antiques and a chance to get close to nature: these are the best things to do in Winchester

Written by
Rosie Akenhead
&
Joe Minihane
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Once the capital of England, historic Winchester is just an hour by train from London and a short drive from the New Forest and the south coast. Its quiet backstreets and the easy access to the bucolic meadows and woodland surrounding the city's famous school make it a great option for those weary of the relentless buzz of the city. Explore the cathedral, eat in some of southern England's best restaurants and sip a pint in one of the myriad boozers. Throw in trendy bakeries and hip boutiques and there's a strong chance you'll want to make your stay permanent. Here are the best things to do in Winchester right now.

Best things to do in Winchester

First up

First up

Take a tour of the enormous gothic cathedral. It has a fascinating story to tell – a diver spent five years in the mud underneath it fixing the foundations. Its history stretches back to AD 642, so the building has bags of surprises, old and new, including an Antony Gormley statue in the crypt.

Then make a beeline for The Great Hall, which displays the round table of Arthurian legend. It's actually a recreation commissioned by Henry VIII, but is still hugely impressive.

Soak up the vibes

Soak up the vibes

Wander along the River Itchen and within seconds you’ll be in lush countryside. Look out for wildlife including yelolow wagtails along the riverbanks. The views on the two-mile loop to the Hospital of St Cross, up St Catherine’s Hill and through the Water Meadows are as Arcadian as they come. Breathe in that fresh rural air and feel yourself relax into your trip.

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Stop for brunch

Stop for brunch

After your wholesome walk head to Josie’s for spectacular pancakes or a great veggie breakfast. If the queue is too long and your hunger too great, try Piecaramba! for hearty pies and vintage comics. Still peckish? Buy a giant doughnut from Hoxton Bakehouse.

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Splash the cash

Splash the cash

Book a table at The Black Rat, Winchester’s Michelin-guide listed restaurant. It has a relaxed vibe and a daring, meaty menu which changes daily. After something a bit less pricey? Feast on pizza at Pi on Stockbridge Road.

If you only do one thing
JJFarq/Shutterstock.com

If you only do one thing

Explore Winchester’s winding side streets and the amazing
independent shops that fill them. Visit Sass & Edge, The Consortium and lastly P&G Wells, a lovely bookshop where it is rumoured author Jane Austen (who died in Winchester) had an account.

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Wake up here...

If the view from your bedroom window is a bus stop or a bin
store, your urban mind might very well be blown by the vistas from the cabins deep in Hampshire’s Blackwood Forest. The woodland near Winchester is home to 60 lodges, each with a huge picture window, framing nothing but towering beech trees. At the centre sits the Forest Retreat, a small shop, café and bar. Last orders are before 8.30pm so don’t expect any wild nightlife. Instead, settle into the hot tub on your terrace. Listen to the calming rustle of leaves and keep an eye out for a different kind of night-time wildlife. Katie Walker

From £395 for night. 

Rather hang out in Kent?

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