The HMS Victory is best known for her role as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Situated in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the HMS Victory is open to the public to discover what life was like on board the warship. Make your way around different parts of the ship and see it through Nelson’s eyes. Check out one of the original guns that was used in battle, or head to the lower gun deck to see the conditions in which men would live and fight in. You can also see the galley, where daily meals would be prepared for over 800 men. On the poop deck, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Portsmouth, including historic buildings that would’ve been around in Nelson’s time.
Fans of the drama series Downton Abbey will recognise Highclere Castle as the main filming location. This Jacobethan country house was built in the 19th century and is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. It’s worth taking a guided tour to see the inside of the castle and marvel at the grand rooms. In the lavish State Rooms you’ll find the Saloon, the State Dining Room, the Library, the Music Room, the Drawing Room and the Smoking Room. You can also visit some of the beautiful bedrooms upstairs, or head downstairs to the staff dining rooms and kitchens. Don’t miss the Egyptian Exhibition full of antiquities and artefacts collected by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway
This 200 acre woodland garden is a magnificent collection of woodland and formal and wildflower gardens. The gardens border the Beaulieu River and the myriad of pathways provide tons of tranquil walks. Spring is a particularly beautiful time to visit, and some of the best spots to see are the Camellia Walk, Daffodil Meadow, Sundial Garden and Azalea Bowl. At the Top Pond, you can feed giant koi carp and golden orfe fish. Keep little ones happy at the adventure play area complete with a sky walk trail, bucket swings and play hut. Take a ride on the miniature railway that runs for 1.5 miles through the Summer Lane Garden, Rock Garden and Dragonfly Pond.
Milestones Museum is Hampshire’s living history museum. Home to over 20,000 objects local to Hampshire, the museum explores the county’s social, industrial and transport history. Roam around the maze of Victorian and 1930s streets and discover how people used to live. You’ll see shops, factories and houses based on original buildings in the area. Check out the unique collection of vintage vehicles including a Victorian tram and a 19th century fire engine. Have some fun in the Penny Arcade and play on the authentic arcade machines using old pennies. In the Collections Corner, pore over the household goods like vacuum cleaners and hairdryers and see how much they’ve changed over the years. For some refreshments, you can pop into the 1940s Abraham’s Sweet Shop or the Edwardian pub The Baverstock Arms.
South Downs National Park
The South Downs National Park covers an area of 1,627 square kms. It includes the chalk hills of the South Downs, as well as green rolling pastures, wide open spaces, ancient woodlands, river valleys and dramatic coastline. If you like walking, the area boasts more routes than in any other National Park in the UK. There are also cycling routes for every kind of cyclist, whether it’s a relaxing ride on a leafy lane or a challenging mountain biking trail. The South Downs Way is probably one of the most famous trails, consisting of 160 kms accessible on foot or by bike. It’s also a fantastic place for horse riding, with 1,200 kms of bridleways ranging from a gentle trot to a climb on the top of the Downs. The park has a newly added GeoTour treasure hunt, with 30 secret geocaches hidden across the National Park.
If you’re looking for unique May bank holiday events in Hampshire, look no further than The Needles. They’re an iconic row of three stacks of chalk rising out of the sea off the Isle of Wight. There are tons of attractions to enjoy here, including the most famous chairlift ride to the beach and the sand cliffs. Visit Alum Bay Glass to learn about the art of glass blowing and see glassware being made. Check out the popular IW Sweet Manufactory to see sweets being made, or design your own coloured sand souvenir at the visitor centre. Children will love the traditional Victorian games, tea cup rides and games kiosks.
Also in Hampshire
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3LJ
Go Ape, Southampton
Itchen Valley, Itchen Valley Country Park, Allington Lane, Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 3HQ
Forest Holidays- Blackwood Forest
Larkwhistle Farm Road, Micheldever, Winchester, Hampshire, LL55 4UU