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9 not-to-be-missed outdoor activities in Hampshire

England boasts a wealth of culture, from historic buildings to gastronomic delights. But don't hesitate to enhance your stay with outdoor activities that combine thrills and heritage discoveries. Discover 9 not-to-be-missed outdoor activities in Hampshire.
Published on June 26, 2024

1. Adventure at Calshot Activities Centre

Close to Southampton on the banks of the Solent, Calshot Activities Centre is one of England's largest adventure centers. It offers water and land-based activities, both outdoor and indoor. Its beaches provide easy access to water sports: windsurfing, kite surfing, sailing or motor boating, canoeing, paddle sports...

The center also boasts a hangar with over 1,200 square meters of climbing walls, rope lines, suspension bridges and an indoor velodrome.

2. Ski in Hampshire at Alpine Snowsports

Enjoy winter sports activities at Alpine Snowsports in Aldershot. With three slopes, including a 110-meter slope, the center is the perfect place to start or improve your skills. From snowboarding to snowflex skiing, it's the ideal place for a gentle introduction.

Doughnut runs, or inflatable buoys, are the perfect activity for families, groups of friends or corporate outings. Thanks to the slope lighting, the center stays open late into the evening. You can take to the slopes and enjoy the thrills and spills as night falls.

3. Take a walk in Titchfield Haven coastal nature reserve

This wetland nature reserve extends over several kilometers. It's an ideal place for observing flora and fauna: dragonflies, water voles, wading birds and nocturnal wildlife have all found refuge here, to the delight of ornithologists and other nature enthusiasts.

Stroll the network of trails and walks with binoculars available for hire at the ticket office, and stop at the observation hideaways to watch the animals pass by.

4. Visit Lepe beach in memory of D-Day

In the Lepe National Park, D-Day Beach offers exceptional views of the Isle of Wight. Its pine-lined cliffs and wildflower meadows contrast with the concrete infrastructures that bear witness to the preparations for the Normandy landings.

Lepe beach was reinforced with concrete hardening mats to serve as a boarding area for soldiers and vehicles hidden in the New Forest camps. If you take the Lepe Loop walk, you'll be able to catch a glimpse of these remnants of wartime activity.

The pebble beach is also a haven for kitesurfers and windsurfers, and an ideal vantage point for watching the comings and goings of cruise ships.

5. Cycling in New Forest National Park

Beyond Lepe Beach, New Forest National Park is a popular destination for cyclists. The site was once the royal hunting ground of William the Conqueror. The New Forest is made up of unspoilt areas of moorland, river valleys and vast tracts of woodland.

With 160 kilometers of marked trails, you're bound to find a route that suits you, so you can spend your day immersed in this corner of Hampshire.

6. Hampshire water activities

Stand-up paddling (SUP) is one of the most popular water sports of recent years. Paddleboarding is practiced on canals and rivers, as well as on Hampshire's bays and beaches. Portsmouth's Langstone Harbour is ideal for beginners, as are the Basingstoke Canal and the River Hamble, which hosts an annual regatta.

Weather conditions in Hampshire are particularly favourable for kitesurfing on lagoon-fringed beaches such as Calshot Beach or Hill Head Beach.

For wakeboarding and water skiing in the Solent, head for Stokes Bay or Osbourne Bay.

7. Raft the Woodmill weirs

On the outskirts of Southampton on the River Itchen, the Woodmill center is a vast 17-hectare site offering a multitude of outdoor activities.

In addition to paddle sports, bushcraft, fishing, orienteering, climbing and archery, you can also take part in tunnel and bridge-building sessions.

But if you're a thrill-seeker, don't miss rafting the Woodmill weirs on the Itchen River.

8. Visit the Staunton Country Park maze

Hampshire County boasts a plethora of national parks and nature reserves. Staunton Country Park was once part of an estate owned by Sir George Staunton. In honor of the man who is said to have introduced Earl Grey tea to England in the late 18th century, events are held every year to celebrate this popular English beverage.

The site also features a children's farm and the largest Victorian greenhouse on the South Coast, with flowers and tropical plants from around the world. The garden is teeming with biodiversity and is a delight for bees and butterflies.

Try not to get lost in the maze of Staunton National Park.

9. Ride the miniature steam train through Exbury Gardens

Famous Hampshire gardens also include Exbury Gardens, with its azaleas, rhododendrons and Rothschild camellias.

Apart from the scents and vibrant colors in spring, Exbury Gardens offers tree-lined walking trails, breathtaking views of the River Beaulieu and a steam railway attraction. Climb aboard a miniature steam train from the replica of Victorian Exbury Central Station.