When thinking about quintessential English towns, Winchester is precisely the type of village that comes to mind for many. Located just an hour away from London by train in Hampshire, the former capital of England is teeming with things to do. Its stunning Cathedral, serene river, and historical streets will sweep you off your feet, while legendary tales of King Arthur and the timeless Jane Austen will captivate your mind. From astounding architecture to wonderful walking trails, Winchester ticks all the boxes of a quaint English town.
Read on to find out about the best things to do in Winchester to make your stay a memorable one.
|Admission:||£6.50 per adult|
|Address:||9 The Cl, Winchester SO23 9LS|
As far as Cathedrals go, there is no doubt that Winchester Cathedral is one of the most architecturally magnificent Cathedrals in the UK. Designated as a world heritage site in 1950, the imposing gothic Cathedral is visually mesmerising. Its stained-glass windows, stone vaults, and long nave are remarkable and worth the clicks of a million cameras. However, it is not merely the architecture that makes this Cathedral so unique. The history of the Cathedral goes all the way back to 642 AD, enriching the place with a plethora of stories to uncover. As one of the best things to do in Winchester, don't miss out on this centrepiece of the town.
Located inside Winchester Cathedral is one of the greatest symbols of medieval mythology. The Great Hall, dubbed “one of the finest surviving aisled halls of the 13th century”, is home to King Arthur’s Round Table. Once part of Winchester Cathedral itself, the Great Hall contains Purbeck marble columns and glorious Gothic pointed archways. The most iconic part of the hall is the Round Table, synonymous with the legends of King Arthur and his Knights. As you stroll around the Great Hall you can unearth the startling history behind it, including the influence it had on kings throughout the centuries.
To escape the bustle of the Cathedral and the High Street, take a wander along the serene River Itchen. At approximately 28 miles long, flowing from mid-Hampshire to Southampton, there’s an abundance of wildlife, rustling trees, and green scenery to soak in. The river is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the excellent level of habitats that liven the area. There’s Water Voles, Otters, White-Clawed Crayfish, Kingfishers, Butterflies, Dragonflies and more that you can spot whilst meandering along this tranquil river. For the most beautiful views (and to capture a slice of the quiet life) walk along the two-mile loop through the Hospital of St Cross, St Catherine’s Hill, and the Water Meadows.
Just next to Winchester Cathedral lies one of the greatest medieval buildings in England — Wolvesey Castle. Also known as the "Old Bishop's Palace” for when Winchester was the main centre of Royalty besides London, Wolvesey Castle contains ruins of historical importance. It was one of many grand houses and castles owned by the bishops of Winchester, which covered Hampshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight. The remains of Wolvesey Castle are extensive and will transport you back through the centuries. As you wander around the stoney leftovers of past Royal grandeur, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of its history with the help of a variety of information boards.
|Address:||College St, Winchester SO23 9NB|
|Hours:||10am-6pm 7 days a week|
Winchester and Hampshire played a vital role in the world-renowned author Jane Austen’s life. It was here where she died and in a village just outside Winchester where she wrote some of her greatest novels. Jane Austen House is a museum in Chawton, a 25-minute ride from Winchester, where you can visit and explore the house in which some of Jane Austen’s most famous novels were written. As the most important Jane Austen site, the house was listed as a Grade I building in 1963. You can discover the story of Jane Austen in this house and learn about her writings.
In Winchester, you can see the house where Jane Austen died, however, it is not accessible to members of the public. Buried in Winchester Cathedral, you can visit Jane Austen’s grave.
|Admission:||£10 per adult, concessions |
and family tickets available
|Address:||Winchester Rd, Chawton, |
Alton GU34 1SD
|Hours:||10am-5pm on weekends|
|Website:||Jane Austen House|
Situated in the centre of Winchester is a restored water mill flooded with history. The Winchester City Mill dates back to the Saxon times (and possibly beyond!) and has been fully restored by the National Trust, making it most likely the oldest working watermill in the UK. From the outside, the mill is located in a beautiful red-bricked building with the River Itchen flowing through it — a picturesque sight and worthy of a visit for this sole reason. On the inside, you can uncover the lengthy history of the mill as well as catch the mill itself in action. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can learn about flour milling with the aid of a team of volunteers who provide demonstrations. What’s more, the Winchester City Mill is surrounded by some incredible wildlife thanks to the River Itchen. Catch a glimpse of a kingfisher, a grey wagtail, or even an otter from the on-site observation camera.
|Address:||Bridge St, Winchester SO23 9BH|
|Website:||Winchester City Mill|
Situated just outside Winchester is the hand-on, interactive Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. Take an exciting journey through science, technology, engineering, and maths. As the leading science and discovery centre in the South of England, there’s a whole range of things to do here and interactive exhibits to enjoy. There’s a giant 10 metre-long guitar, Explorer: Space, which contains 20 modular exhibits that take you on a journey through the solar system, a mesmerising planetarium with a 360-degree screen, and heaps more! Throughout the day are some sensational live science demos that use fire, ice, and explosions to educate visitors on some of the wonders of science.
|Admission:||£12 for general admission|
|Address:||Telegraph Way, Winchester |
|Hours:||9:20am-5pm on weekends|
|Website:||Winchester Science Centre|
If you want to see the highlights of Winchester why not book a walking tour with Walsh Tours. You can follow in the footsteps of King Arthur, Alfred the Great, and Jane Austen, among other historical figures as well as see some of the most stunning sights in Winchester too, including Winchester Castle, the tranquil River Itchen, and much more!