Looking for the prettiest New Forest villages for your summer days out?
There are some wonderful villages in the New Forest, but a handful of them are just that little bit more photogenic than the others. After living 45 minutes from the forest for over 3 years now, I wanted to let you in on the best New Forest towns and villages to visit.
Have you ever been to the New Forest?
It’s one of England’s National Parks and home to the infamous New Forest ponies, who reserve right of way at all times. The Forest is one of the best places to visit in Hampshire and is known for its dramatic autumnal and winter scenes, and perfect spots for spring and summer picnics. Founded by William the Conquerer in 1079ish, nowadays over 15 million people visit the park every year.
The New Forest is made up of these pretty villages and towns, lots of trees, the beautiful seascapes of the south coast and a whole load of wonderful attractions to keep you busy.
7 Prettiest New Forest Villages to Visit
If you’re planning some England road trips this summer, let me show you some of the best villages in the New Forest to include in your New Forest itinerary.
1. Day out in Brockenhurst
For me, it feels like Brockenhurst is the centre of the New Forest. This is where you’ll find the almighty Pig Restaurant, Balmer Lawn Hotel, and some great Brockenhurst walks. It’s also where you’ll find scenes like these, pictured. Ponies, cows and donkeys roam freely in Brockenhurst, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t see at least two of the three on a day out.
Brockenhurst is where the North and South Weirs streams join to flow through the village, making it a haven for wildlife and one of the prettiest villages in the New Forest, in my opinion.
Brockenhurst also has the main train station of the New Forest, providing the halfway point between Southampton and Bournemouth.
Top things to see in Brockenhurst include the site of the old New Zealand hospital by the church, a 1000 year-old yew tree and many signposted walks.
Do NOT leave Brockenhurst without checking out Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, it’s the prettiest road in the New Forest and has some great stop off points for picnics and walks.
Love, love, love it here!
Check out my video on what to do in the New Forest here
2. Village of Beaulieu
Beaulieu literally means ‘Bellus Locus’ in latin, meaning beautiful place – you know it’s going to be one of the prettiest villages in the New Forest for sure.
This medieval abbey village is most famous for its Beaulieu National Motor Museum. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu has financed the curation of an impressive 250+ cars here. Beaulieu is also famous for the Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House on the Estate.
There’s also the Beaulieu River winding through, that I once kayaked down. The banks make for a lovely spot for a picnic.
Beaulieu dates back to the 13th Century, and the pretty streets are perfect for photo shots and fun memories. Expect cute locally run stores, a pottery, tea rooms and antique shops. Look out for the red doors on the cottages, it shows they all belong to the Beaulieu Estate.
The 8,000 acre estate has been in the ownership of the Montagu Family for nearly 500 years.
Visit Beaulieu for the day and you can also go to Bucklers Hard, and Exbury Gardens is here too. You could spend the whole day in Beaulieu and still not do it all.
3. Day in Lymington
Lymington was once a Georgian trading port but is now better known for the awesome watersports and walks you can do here. The Historic Roman Sea Water Baths are popular here, but whether they’re actually Roman is kinda under review.
People head to Lymington for the main street, especially the market on a Saturday morning. After a puruse of the markets, and a brunch at one of the many restaurants, take a walk along the cobbles down to the Quay area. You can take boat trips from here to various spots along the coast, and to the Isle of Wight.
One of the most popular things to do in pretty Lymington, is to walk the Solent Way along to the waterside hamlet of Keyhaven. It’s a pretty much six-mile round trip, but there’s a lovely pub in Keyhaven to break up the journey.
While you’re in Lymington, look out for the gold postbox, painted gold to celebrate Ben Ainslie’s sailing medal to much controversy.
4. Village of Lyndhurst
Gawd Lyndhurst traffic kinda ruins the vibe here, but it’s still a really pretty village in the New Forest. The thriving High Street has butchers, bike rental, a Maserati garage and some lovely looking New Forest pubs too.
You’ll notice Alice in Wonderland references dotted about, with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Rooms et al. Visit the graveyard and you’ll soon see why – Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, the inspiration for the character, is buried there.
You can go to the New Forest Centre here, to learn more about the pretty villages in the New Forest, and make some time to see the churches here too.
Kids will love the Reptile Centre, the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a great spot to watch the deer, and Furzey Gardens has some great events (not this year, sadly).
5. Visit the village of Burley
Expect more ponies and cows wandering the streets of Burley, as they look after their livestock by ‘commoning’ too. This is the tradition of just trusting the animals to look after themselves around the villages, and trusting they’ll be ok with whatever they happen to meet.
Burley is a great place for cycling and is close to the National Park trails network so you can start here and just follow the signs for safe cycling.
There are more lovely, unique shops in the pretty village of Burley, but if you’re looking for something a little different to do on your day out in the New Forest, then book on to a Burley Wagon. See the rest of the New Forest in style with an hour ride around some of the loveliest sights in the locale.
6. Go to Ashurst
As the gateway to the New Forest, Ashurst is a great place to visit if you’re in Southampton, or, want to combine your day out in the New Forest with some city action.
Visit Ashurst and you can expect great walking trails, cute pubs, heathland, wetland, woodland and the beautiful river too.
If you want a bit more activity from your day out in the New Forest, then the Longdown Activity Park is a good shout, especially if you have children who like to bottle feed animals. And the New Forest Wildlife Park is great too.
Ashurst is one of the prettiest villages in the New Forest, and the easiest to access too.
7. Milford on Sea village
I love Milford on Sea. I was genuinely amazed by the beach, the spit and Hurst Castle at the end when I happened to visit one day. Explore Hurst Castle and you’ll be as close to the Isle of Wight as you can get on the mainland, without actually being there.
Stand on the breezy beach in Milford on Sea and you can enjoy stunning views east towards the Shingles, and west towards Hengistbury Head & Christchurch Harbour. Honestly, go on a bright, sunny day and you’ll love it here.
As well as the beach, there’s a lovely village green here. Visit in summer for the Milford on Sea Festival of Music and Arts.
The main street is lovely here for a little look round, but if you want something a tad more adventurous, you could book onto a fishing trip and go and catch some mackerel instead.
Pretty New Forest villages
This isn’t an extensive list of the pretty villages in the New Forest, there are many, many more to explore. Use this list as a starter, and trust me when I say that the New Forest is just one beautiful spot after another. Only last week I finally made it to Puttles Bridge Car Park, one of the prettiest water spots in England, I’m sure.
Have fun exploring and investigating!