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A perfect day in Winchester

Visit leafy Hampshire for history, quirky pubs and rural vibes

By Rosie Akenhead |
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City Mill Winchester

The ever-so-slightly hipster city of Winchester in Hampshire is a fine choice if you want to be surrounded by countryside yet keep those urban comforts. A short drive from the New Forest and the south coast, this pretty city is often voted among the best places to live in the UK. Once the capital of England, the cathedral city has treats for history buffs at every turn. Add cool shops, brilliant pubs, lush rural vistas and trendy bakeries and you'll never want to leave. 

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.

City Mill Winchester

Soak up the vibes

Wander along the River Itchen and within seconds you’ll be in lush countryside. Spy wildlife and ace views during the two-mile loop to the Hospital of St Cross, up St Catherine’s Hill and through the Water Meadows. Breathe in that fresh rural air.

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Josie's Winchester

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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black rat

Splash the cash

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

winchester high street
JJFarq/Shutterstock.com

If you only do one thing

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

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Blackwood Cabin

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 £595 for three nights. 

Rather hang out in Kent?

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