New Forest and Isle of Wight two centre holiday Ideas!
Do you need some more inspiration on how to spend your time in The New Forest and The Isle of Wight?
Suggested itineraries below for great value days out in the New Forest first, then the Isle of Wight... there’s a great range of things to do on sunny days, rainy days, family fun days and more!
New Forest 1 Day Itinerary suggestions:
Brockenhurst – Keyhaven – Lymington
Start the day at Hurst Castle. Explore the wonderful sites in and around the castle and discover the castle’s use as a former prison before heading along Hurst Spit to chill out at the seaside.
(A quick tip to make your day even better: purchase a Go New Forest Card – which you can use at Hurst Castle to receive a great discount!)
Or, if you're more of an active person or want to try something new, you could book on to The New Forest Paddle Sport Company's 'Castle Experience' which includes a fun-filled two hours of instructor-led stand up paddle boarding or kayaking, entry to Hurst Castle and lunch or afternoon tea at the Castle Cafe.
Grab some lunch at Ray's Italian Kitchen or The Royal Oak at Downton, to fuel you up for an afternoon of shopping in Lymington High Street, where you can pick up new additions for the home or your wardrobe from the town’s many independent shops. Make sure you visit St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery while you're in Lymington too.
Head to Bolton’s Bench at Lyndhurst for a peaceful morning wander through the Forest and some spectacular views across the landscape.
Make your way back to the car and guess where is next… the amazing Paulton’s Park, home of Peppa Pig World, a firm family favourite! You’re guaranteed to have a fantastic day, whisking around on the rides, meeting Peppa Pig & Friends, and make sure you try out the cool 4D cinema too!
After your day of fun and laughter you will definitely be in need of a big, delicious, hearty meal and a refreshing drink… stop off at The Mortimer Arms – which is fantastically located just at the exit of Paultons Park, on your left-hand side.
Lepe – Exbury – Beaulieu/Brockenhurst
Wake up, wrap up warm and get some fresh air on a beach walk at Lepe Country Park before making your way up the road to Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway. The world-famous rhododendrons and azaleas, the wonderful riverside walk, the steam railway and much more are on offer here, you can even bring your pet dog along too! Grab a quick snack and drink at on-site Mr Eddy’s Tea Rooms during your visit, or stop off at The Royal Oak at Hilltop on your way to the next stop!
Book an afternoon activity at New Forest Activities, the ‘Paddle to the Pub’ is always a great one, but they have loads of activities to choose from, for all ages and abilities. Or, if you’re feeling slightly tired after a morning of walking, why don’t you try Cyclexperience’s E-Bike Hire in Brockenhurst!
Fuel up after a day of walking, exploring and taking part in a fun-filled activity. You have a great choice of dinner locations from here… if you choose to go to New Forest Activies in Beaulieu then you could either head to Master Builders Hotel (this is where you will end up on your Paddle to the Pub), stroll to Montagu Arms Hotel, or if you're in Brockenhurst enjoy your dinner at Enzee Ristorante & Pizzeria, Balmer Lawn or New Park Manor in Brockenhurst. Any choice you make will be delicious!
Burley – Fordingbridge
Fancy a bike ride? Hire a bike from Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley and go out and explore the New Forest on two wheels.
When you’re ready for a tasty lunch, head to The Cider Pantry at New Forest Cider, serving delicious sandwiches, soup, cakes and more.
Now for a some more outdoor adventures and fun you will want to make your way to New Forest Water Park for loads of fun, splashing and laughter as you negotiate your way around the inflatable obstacle course or try your hand at wakeboarding. If you fancy something a bit more sedate then why not hire a kayak and take a paddle around one of the lakes?
If watersports aren't your thing but you fancy an active day in the New Forest, book a session with Insight Activities, where you can enjoy archery, crossbows and even axe-throwing!
We are sure that by this time you will need to sit down and chill out. Good news – Sandy Balls is just up the road, with their new restaurant 'Aubrey's Forest Kitchen' it is the perfect place to enjoy a drink, some food and relax! Or head to Hockey's Farm Shop and Cafe for a cuppa and a slice of cake or a delicious sandwich.
Lyndhurst – Emery Down
Fill yourselves up with a delicious breakfast from one of the many cafes or tearooms that can be found in Lyndhurst.
Once you’re finished work it off and shop ‘til you drop at all the local, independent, wonderful shops along Lyndhurst’s High Street. There is a shop that everyone will enjoy selling everything from hats, scarfs and welly boots to thousands of sweets and goodies. Plus remember to take a browse at the fantastic super cars at the bottom of the High Street!
Now for some more entertainment, and a bit of learning head just around the corner to the New Forest Heritage Centre, where there is all sorts of fun to be had in their amazing indoor, interactive museum.
From here you can either walk, cycle (hire a bike from The Woods Cyclery) or drive to Millyford Bridge in Emery Down for a wonderful walk amongst the tall trees of the New Forest.
Then make your way back down the road towards Lyndhurst and enjoy a yummy, warming meal at the New Forest Inn, or go that little bit further for some delicious local food & a refreshing drink at The Waterloo Arms (it's worth it!).
Gardens galore - Minstead and Exbury
If you love to visit gardens then be sure to embark on this one-day itinerary. Start your day off at the informal Furzey Gardens, a ten-acre woodland garden near to the village of Minstead. Grab a warming drink or a spot of cake in The Galley Gift and Coffee Shop and see how many of the little fairy doors you can find around the gardens! Or if you're a little hungrier then head to The Trusty Servant Inn for some delicious lunch.
Next stop is Exbury Gardens! Spring is a fantastic time to come with the vibrant colours of the rhododendrons and azaleas but the rest of the year won’t disappoint either! Be sure to hop aboard the miniature steam train too for a chance to rest your feed and take in the views.
Located in Beaulieu, just down the road from Exbury, is also Fairweather's Garden Centre! Have a wander around their gorgeous flowers on display and you can even buy some flowers for yourself while you're there from their extensive choice!
Eling – Landford
The best way to start the morning off is with a coffee! So, make your way to the newly refurbished café at Eling Tide Mill to start your day. When you’re finished you can go and buy your tickets and have a look around Eling Tide Mill! Go and find out how it all works and see the Mill in action, enjoy their new interactive exhibition and visit their gift shop before you head off.
Once you’re finished with all of the fun at Eling Tide Mill, jump into the car and drive just up the road to West Wellow, where the amazing Rockingham Arms is located. Grab a bite to eat for lunch before you wander around the forest behind this gorgeous pub, called Canada Common.
New Milton has loads of fun to offer for everyone. Why don’t you book in for a lovely morning horse ride across the forest with Burley Villa School of Riding? You will explore the New Forest in a way you never have done before while experiencing what may become a new hobby!
You’ll definitely be hungry after that ride so head just down the road to The Rising Sun for some delicious traditional pub food.
Now, you have 2 options for the afternoon! If you’re a petrol head and love your bikes then Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum is for you!
New Forest 2 day itinerary suggestions:
Lyndhurst - Burley - Ringwood
Morning - start your day off at the New Forest Heritage Centre in the heart of Lyndhurst, the ‘capital’ of the New Forest where you’ll learn lots about the traditions and cultures of our landscape. Follow this up with a wander to one of the nearby coffees shops or cafes for a spot of morning tea.
If you want a real tour around the forest then book in for a 1 hour tour with New Forest Platinum Tours, where your guide will show you around the beautiful New Forest and tell you all sorts of interesting facts and information along the way. You can book your tour from Lyndhurst and they can then drop you right back in the same time, or somewhere else if you prefer!
Another way of really seeing the forest is on a Guided Walk. Professional guides can take you on a peaceful, yet knowledgable, walk through our woodlands and heathlands in the forest. You can get up close and personal with nature and I'm sure you'll see some of our famous New Forest Ponies on your walk too.
Or you can head to New Forest Reptile Centre and see how many of the UK’s native reptile species you can find. For lunch, why not take a picnic and head up to Bolderwood passing through the Ornamental Drive along the way?
After a quick pit stop, take one of the Bolderwood walking routes where if you time it right, you may be in with the chance of seeing one of the Rangers feeding the deer.
In the afternoon or early evening make your way to Burley. This village holds a mysterious past, with talks of white witches and ghosts. Be sure to pop into the Burley Fudge Shop to try out their flavour of the month. Yummy!
There are several places you can rest up for the night in or nearby to Burley including The Burley Inn.
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at your accommodation before hiring a bike from Forest Leisure Cycling (found in the village centre). Cycle along some of the disused railway line and make a visit to the Old Station Tea Rooms for a spot of cake or lunch.
In the afternoon, make a trip to the historic market town of Ringwood with its many shops, gardens and pubs. Make sure you visit The Furlong Shopping Centre in Ringwood, where you can browse through and pick up the latest styles from amazing shops such as Oasis, Joules, FatFace, Phase Eight and more. If you have the time before heading off then we’d highly recommend a tour of Ringwood Brewery before buying some souvenirs in the brewery shop.
Soak up some of our seaside - Milford on Sea - Lymington - Hythe
Start your morning with a bracing walk along the Hurst Spit from Milford on Sea towards Hurst Castle. Not only will you get fantastic views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight but you will also overlook some of the amazing wildlife that is found in Keyhaven Harbour.
At Hurst Castle, step back in time and discover the history dating from the Tudor period right through to World War 2. Don’t fancy the full walk back? Then why not buy a ticket for the Hurst ferry and take the short and scenic journey to Keyhaven where you can also stop for a bite to eat.
In the afternoon, travel further east to the maritime town of Lymington. Spend the afternoon browsing the town’s many independent stores and boutiques along the High Street or embark on a section of the Solent Way coastal path as it passes the salt marshes.
In the evening, there are several restaurant choices in and around the town including Walhampton Arms. Overnight at one of Lymington’s hotels or B&Bs, there are over twenty different places you can choose to stay in.
First up for the day is an explore of historic Buckler’s Hard. This maritime village is steeped in history, learn about it on a visit to the maritime museum before booking onto one of the river cruises that takes you along the Beaulieu River.
Soak up the views across the river over some lunch at The Master Builder’s House Hotel in the village - an ideal place to refresh!
Alternatively you could explore the beautiful New Forest roads by hiring a jaw dropping car from New Forest Classic Car Hire, including an Austin Healey 3000 MK III or Jaguar E-Type Series 1!
In the afternoon head over to Hythe and take a walk on some more of the Solent Way, explore some of the town’s shops and check out the historic Hythe Pier. From here you can also take the Hythe Ferry across to Southampton where you can often spot some of the iconic cruise ships in dock.
Ideal for families - Paulton’s - Beaulieu
Take a full day of it at Paulton’s Park, home of Peppa Pig World. Loose yourselves in all the fun of the rollercoasters, meet some of the park’s resident animals and of course, take a trip to see Peppa and her family. Visitors of all ages will have great fun joining in with the activities.
In the evening, you’ll probably all be pretty tired out from all that fun so we’d recommend staying nearby at The Mortimer Arms, who also offer evening meals too.
Beaulieu is another fantastic family attraction. Take an explore of the large motoring exhibitions and see classic cars through to iconic cars from the movies and history. Children can let off steam at the mini motor play area or take part in one of the family fun trails. Throughout the school holidays look out for a wide array of events and activities to join in with.
Have a spot at lunch at Beaulieu before making the short trip to New Forest Activities, just down the road. Here you can try out kayaking, the high ropes course, archery or Battlefield live, all fun-filled ways to end your final day in the New Forest.
Or, if you dont fancy taking part in anything too active, head just up the road to Longdown Activity Farm, where you can see and handle loads of farm animals from baby chicks to piglets. If you have time you can also make your way just next door to New Forest Wildlife Park, where you can find even more animals, including otters, wallabies, lynx & loads more!
Isle of Wight itineraries:
Sandown - Shanklin (South East Wight)
Getting to the seaside is essential on your first day, so head over to the South East Wight which is the most touristy part of the Island. You can either park in Shanklin and walk along the esplanade to Sandown (it's a couple of miles so not even worth attempting with teenagers) or just park at Yaverland.
Sandham Grounds by Yaverland car park has a great playground, with something for all ages including a skate park and basketball court (all free).
Yaverland beach is quieter than Sandown and Shanklin which have more facilities, such as amusements on the pier. All three beaches are family friendly with clean water for swimming, toilets and parking (not free in the summer unless you're willing to walk a fair distance).
If you want to splash out then you can hire pedalos and kayaks in Shanklin from as little as £5. Personally I prefer Shanklin to Sandown due to the former's attractive imposing cliffs but they are similarly busy with an English seaside feel. If the playground and seaside don't provide enough entertainment then Dinosaur Isle in Sandown is cheap at about £5.
Parkhurst - Cowes - Gurnard (North Wight)
The Isle of Wight is one of the few places in England with red squirrels, which are cute and shy compared to their aggressive grey cousins. Parkhurst Forest is a good place to look for them, as it has a specially designed 'hide' for visitors. The nearest postcode to the hide is PO30 5UL. If you've managed to balance bikes on the back of the car you can take them for a ride around the Forest.
In the afternoon, I would recommend a trip to the famous sailing town of Cowes, which is about 15 minutes from Parkhurst Forest in the car. It is crammed full of men with turned up collars during Cowes Week in early August normally but is still nice for a potter about during the rest of the year. We enjoy the walk along the esplanade to or from Gurnard, which can be managed with a pushchair.
There's a cafe on Gurnard seafront for an ice cream - or if you're as frugal as me you will start at Gurnard and end up in Cowes where you can buy a multipack of ice creams at a supermarket!
Cowes and Gurnard are less good for swimming as the beaches are quite small but some people do still take a dip at low tide (try not to swim into a cruise ship).
Other free things to do in that part of the Isle of Wight include Cowes Maritime Museum, working monastery Quarr Abbey and St Mildred's Church in Whippingham which has links to Queen Victoria. There is also a floating bridge which links Cowes and East Cowes, which costs a few pennies (£1.50 return at the time of writing, 2020).
Alum Bay - Hanover Point (West Wight)
I'm in two minds as to whether I should recommend Alum Bay and the Needles for a cheap day out, as there are plenty of opportunities to spend money. However, it is possible to see one of the Isle of Wight's more popular attractions by just paying to park. Everything else is on a pay-as-you-go basis (chairlift, small funfair etc.)
If you would rather something a bit quieter then you can get a terrific view of the Needles by walking around Headon Warren or the Needles Old Battery (free to National Trust Members) or New Battery (free.)
In the afternoon, head over to the South West Wight along the stunning coastal road where you'll find Hanover Point (sometimes called Shippards Chine), Brook Chine or Compton Bay. Unlike Sandown, these are backed by natural eroding cliffs and have little in the way of facilities so take your own food with you or find a supermarket. Hanover Point has toilets and an ice cream van most of the year but that's about it. Instead, they offer gorgeous views, waves for bodyboarding or surfing and tranquillity during the early evening. As the sun sets at low tide after a hot day you'll find it impossible not to take a thousand arty photos, and you'll wonder why you ever went to the Costa del Grot.
If you wait until dark, you'll find that it's a terrific area for stargazing with minimal light pollution, apart from an occasional car on the Military Road which runs along the coast.
Alternative free things to do in the West Wight include a wander around the tiny town of Yarmouth with its pier and ferries or watching the crashing waves at Freshwater Bay at high tide. There are also pretty beaches at Totland and Colwell.
Bembridge - Sea View - Ryde (East Wight)
The East Wight is the order of the day, firstly to visit the Lifeboat station in Bembridge where there are often free tours.
Bembridge is a pretty town, which is also home to the country's oldest working phonebox?
In the afternoon, you have a choice of attractive beaches. Appley at Ryde is popular because of its (paid) parking, the Dell Cafe is great (towards Seaview), restaurant facilities and massive sandy beach. There is also a nearby park at Puckpool and a playground on the esplanade.
Personally I favour Priory Bay at Seaview (round the corner from Seagrove Bay) or St Helens. The former is harder to access and is often too shallow for a proper swim but it has gorgeous golden sands. St Helens is a bit better for parking (there's a free car park for National Trust members) and it has a nice busy atmosphere on a sunny day. You can also spend some time crabbing in the rock pools at St Helens or around Bembridge at low tide.
Other cheap options in that part of the Isle of Wight include the cinema in Ryde, which may be rather small and quaint, but is also very good value. At the time of writing it is £4 per person (2020).
Ventnor - Bonchurch (South Wight)
The south of the Isle of Wight has lots to offer but it's a bit of a drive if you are staying around Ryde or Cowes so it is worth cramming a few bits in.
Start at Bonchurch and make your way towards Shore Road. It's not a free car park, so you could park further away and walk. We then like to head down to the walk along the seawall which is wheelchair and pushchair friendly and leads into Ventnor (although it starts with a very steep downhill). There's a scale model of the solar system along the walk which kept one of my children occupied.
Ventnor itself has a nice beach with clean water for swimming and a free paddling pool shaped like the Isle of Wight. There's a lovely beach front esplanade with plenty of places to eat including Lady Scarlett's authentic WW2 theme, the Spyglass Inn and public toilets.
After you've made the most of the beach, you might like Ventnor Park which is a pretty and free public space which has regular performances from the bandstand.
Finally, if you've got time you could visit Old St Boniface Church which has sections dating back to the 11th century and is open most days for free visits.
Central - South Wight
On your final day, I would head to the South Wight again to explore pretty Steephill Cove, with access from Ventnor Botanical Gardens. It is a little trickier to access than some beaches but it has the feel of a mini Cornish fishing cove with a tightly packed beach overlooked by attractive cottages. There isn't a huge amount of beach but it is tranquil spot and fairly good for a swim. If you time it right you will see cricketers trying not to hit the ball in the sea at the nearby cricket ground.
If you want a walk, the coastal path from Steephill Cove to Ventnor has good views and lots of steps.
On the way back, stop off at either the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, Godshill Model Village, Carisbrooke Priory or Carisbrooke Castle. The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is free, although they do offer adoptions and rely on donations. Carisbrooke Priory is a former nunnery, still run by Christians and offering an open door on certain days for people wanting to explore the attractive gardens, cloisters and chapel (for free).
Carisbrooke Castle is a paid for English Heritage attraction, but it is free to walk around the (dry) moat which offers nice views and still gives you a good idea of its scale. I would guess it is about 3/4 of a mile round the edge of the Castle (it's a bit too bumpy for pushchairs and standard wheelchairs, unless you have pneumatic tyres).
Godshill is mostly featured on souvenir boxes of fudge, with its twee thatched cottages. It has many great Cafes, gourmet pubs and chocolate shops!
Prices from £199.00
This stunning barn conversion sleeps 2 (plus an infant) has private use of a hot tub and indoor pool with steam room. The enclosed dog friendly garden has valley views and the paddocks have direct access to AONB South Coast foot and cycle paths to local gourmet pubs!
- Private Hot Tub
- Private use of indoor pool
- Dog friendly enclosed garden
- Discounted ferry crossing
- No booking fee!
Prices from £280.00
Character Farm Cottage (sleeps 4) with secluded dog friendly garden and private use of indoor pool with steam room. Stunning valley views with direct access to South Coast AONB foot and cycle paths to local gourmet pubs from the paddocks.
- Enclosed dog friendly garden
- Private use of an indoor pool
- Direct access to foot paths
- Discounted ferry crossing
- No booking fee!
Prices from £175.00
Large traditional Shepherd's Hut sleeping 2 adults with attached ensuite "boudoir" bathroom, including private use of the indoor pool!
- Private use of indoor pool
- Direct access to footpaths
- Discounted ferry crossing
- No booking fee!
- South East facing garden with valley views!