30 Unusual Visitor Attractions in Hampshire

The historic county of Hampshire, renowned for its captivating coastlines, enchanting woodlands and rich cultural heritage, is a treasure trove of intriguing experiences waiting to be discovered.

If you’re seeking unusual things to do in Hampshire, this post is for you! You’ll find a wealth of unique attractions, from quirky medieval thoroughfares to reptile centres

So buckle up, as we embark on this exhilarating journey to uncover the lesser-known delights of Hampshire, each one promising a remarkable experience that goes beyond the typical tourist trail.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield

Nestled within the tranquility of Ampfield, these gardens are a verdant oasis that pays tribute to Sir Harold Hillier’s lifelong devotion to horticulture.

Spanning a grand expanse of 180 acres, the gardens showcase over 42,000 plant species from across the globe, making it a haven for botany enthusiasts.

Visitors can wander through the enchanting pathways to discover unique outdoor sections, such as the Gurkha Garden with its Himalayan inspiration and the four-acre Winter Garden.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield, Jermyns Ln, Romsey SO51 0QA


The Watercress Line, New Alresford

The Watercress Line, New Alresford

Photo © Capitanalex / CC BY-SA 3.0

Known officially as the Mid-Hants Railway, the Watercress Line is an intriguing piece of Hampshire’s history, showcasing the significant role railways played in the area’s agricultural development.

This preserved steam railway earned its colloquial name by transporting fresh watercress from local farms to the markets in London.

A journey on the Watercress Line takes you back in time, chugging along the 10-mile track that stretches across some of Hampshire’s most picturesque countryside.

With its lovingly restored steam and diesel engines, historic stations, and special events throughout the year, the Watercress Line is one of the most unique tourist sites in Hampshire.

The Watercress Line, The Railway Station, Station Road, New Alresford SO24 9JG


Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collection, Selborne

Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collection, Selborne

Selborne – Gilbert White’s House (and museum) © Rob Farrow / CC BY-SA 2.0

This charming 18th-century house, located in the idyllic village of Selborne, was once the home of the pioneering naturalist Gilbert White.

Today, it serves as a fascinating museum showcasing his contributions to the natural world. The house is thoughtfully preserved, featuring exhibits that paint a picture of White’s life, work and his profound influence on the study of natural history.

Adjacent to this, the Oates Collection commemorates the lives of explorers Frank and Lawrence Oates, whose remarkable stories are woven in to the history of British exploration.

Whether it’s retracing White’s nature walks in the beautifully maintained garden or learning about the heroic exploits of the Oates family, a visit to this place is a captivating journey through time.

Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collection, The Wakes, High Street, Selborne, Alton GU34 3JH


Jane Austen’s House, Chawton

Jane Austen's House, Chawton

Located in the charming hamlet of Chawton, this unique Hampshire visitor attraction holds significant literary value.

The distinguished writer Jane Austen, known for her acclaimed novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, called this place home and crafted her memorable stories here.

Currently functioning as a museum, the house allows visitors a unique window into Austen’s everyday experiences and serves as a tribute to her life and literary contributions.

The rooms are filled with precious artefacts, including her writing desk, personal letters and family pieces.

The picturesque garden, lovingly maintained as it would have been in Austen’s time, offers a serene spot for contemplation.

Jane Austen’s House, Winchester Rd, Chawton, Alton GU34 1SD


Winchester’s Medieval Streets

Winchester's Medieval Streets

The ancient city of Winchester is a treasure trove of history, with its medieval streets  and alleys providing a living testament to its past. Walking these streets is akin to stepping back in time, revealing layers of history at every turn.

From the bustling High Street with its array of shops and eateries to the magnificent Winchester Cathedral, Winchester is one of the most charming and quirky places in Winchester.

The city’s rich history, beautiful architecture, and medieval charm offer an immersive experience that brings history alive in a most captivating way.


The Museum of Army Flying, Stockbridge

D-Day Re-enactment

An essential visit for aviation enthusiasts, the Museum of Army Flying in Stockbridge is a unique and interactive exhibition dedicated to the history of British Army aviation.

From the early days of military ballooning to modern day unmanned aerial vehicles, the museum provides an extensive look into over a century of flight in the army.

Visitors can explore an array of exhibits including historic aircraft, medals, uniforms and equipment used by aviators.

This museum delivers a comprehensive comprehension of military aeronautics and celebrates the courageous individuals who have contributed to this field.

Army Flying Museum, Kentsboro, Stockbridge SO20 8FB


Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport

Cannon

If you’re looking for eccentric visitor attractions in Hampshire, then the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower may just be the ticket, offering an enthralling showcase of naval warfare and explosive technologies.

Set on the Royal Navy’s old ordnance depot, the Explosion Museum traces the evolution of naval weaponry, spanning from the time of the Battle of Trafalgar to the present day.

Visitors can explore a expansive collection of exhibits, including cannons, torpedoes and mines. Interactive displays and insightful narratives also bring this history to life, making for a truly explosive experience!

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious, the Explosion Museum provides a captivating journey through centuries of naval firepower.

Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Priddys Hard, Gosport PO12 4LE


Beaulieu National Motor Museum, New Forest

Bluebird

Set in the beautiful New Forest, the Beaulieu National Motor Museum is a must-visit for visitors looking for non-traditional Hampshire attractions.

The museum houses more than 250 vehicles, from the earliest motor carriages to modern supercars, providing an engaging journey through the history of motoring.

Exhibits include legendary vehicles like the Bluebird, which broke world speed records, and TV favourites from shows like Top Gear.

Aside from the vehicular exhibits, Beaulieu also features a replica of the 1930s country house garage, a motor sports gallery, and even a monorail for an overhead view of the grounds. It’s a fascinating trip down memory lane for those who love all things automotive.

Beaulieu National Motor Museum, John Montagu Building, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst SO42 7ZN


Alice Holt Forest, Farnham

Alice Holt Forest, Farnham

Another one of those hidden gems in Hampshire, Alice Holt Forest offers a beautiful blend of lush greenery, wildlife, and recreational activities.

This enchanting woodland, managed by Forestry England, is not just a haven for nature lovers, but also a playground for adventure seekers.

From leisurely walks and cycle paths that wind through the canopy of trees, to exciting play areas for children, there’s something for everyone.

The forest is dotted with intriguing wooden sculptures, creating a unique artistic landscape – ideal for peaceful picnic, a wildlife spotting stroll or an adrenaline-fuelled fun in the treetop adventure course.


Ringwood Brewery, Ringwood

Brewery

Steeped in history and brimming with character, Ringwood Brewery is a highlight for those seeking quirky places in Hampshire to visit.

Located in the market town of Ringwood on the edge of the New Forest, this brewery invites visitors for an engaging tour, exploring the process of beer-making from start to finish.

The passionate guides weave stories of the brewery’s history while showcasing the traditional equipment and ingredients that go into each brew.

And the end of the tour, visitors can sample the brewery’s distinctive ales. An off-beat Hampshire attraction that’s ideal for visitors with an appreciation for traditional brewing methods and fine ales.

Ringwood Brewery, 138 Christchurch Rd, Ringwood BH24 3AP


Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway, Exbury

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway, Exbury

Tucked away in the New Forest, Exbury Gardens is a stunning 200-acre site, famed for its magnificent collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees.

A family project of the Rothschilds, the gardens were the vision of Lionel de Rothschild and continue to be developed by subsequent generations.

Adding to the allure is the charming 1.25-mile steam railway, designed and built in the style of early 20th-century narrow-gauge railways.

A ride on the steam train offers panoramic views of the gardens, including areas not usually seen on foot.

With its fusion of botanical beauty and vintage charm, a visit to Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway offers a uniquely tranquil and nostalgic experience that’s one of the best novelty spots in Hampshire.

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway, Exbury, Southampton SO45 1AF


Solent Sky Museum, Southampton

The Museum of Army Flying, Stockbridge

The Solent Sky Museum in Southampton offers an intriguing look at the history of aviation in the Solent area, a region with a rich heritage in aircraft manufacture.

The museum houses an impressive collection of over 20 airframes, from iconic Spitfires and vintage biplanes to the mammoth Sandringham flying boat.

Each display provides informative insights into the design, construction and operation of these historical aircraft. Interactive exhibits and engaging stories about the people who designed, built, and flew these planes bring the history of aviation to life.

Whether you’re an aviation aficionado or a history enthusiast, the Solent Sky Museum provides an engaging and educational journey for holiday-makers seeking unusual things to do in Hampshire.

Solent Sky Museum, Albert Rd S, Southampton SO14 3FR


Mottisfont Abbey, Romsey

Mottisfont Gardens

Mottisfont Abbey in Romsey is a delightful country estate steeped in history and natural beauty. Originally an Augustinian priory dating back to the 13th century, it was later converted into a private residence and now operates under the National Trust.

The house itself is a blend of architectural styles, revealing layers of its past, but the crowning glory lies in its magnificent gardens.

The estate is particularly famed for its rose gardens, home to a nationally important collection of old-fashioned roses that bloom spectacularly in early summer.

Mottisfont Abbey is a serene and picturesque retreat away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Mottisfont Abbey, Mottisfont Ln, Mottisfont, Romsey SO51 0LP


Sea City Museum, Southampton

Those looking for unusual things to do in Hampshire, should direct their attention to this engaging little museum.

Set in Southampton, it delves into the city’s complex and fascinating relationship with the sea.

Perhaps most notably, the museum provides an immersive account of the Titanic disaster, emphasizing the local impact and personal stories of the city’s residents who were on board.

Beyond the Titanic, Sea City also offers exhibits exploring Southampton’s role as a gateway to the world, from the age of steam to the present day.

Interactive displays, historical artefacts and personal narratives combine to create a vivid and moving account of the city’s maritime history.

For history enthusiasts, maritime buffs, or anyone interested in visiting unique tourist sites in Hampshire, a visit to Sea City Museum is an enlightening and captivating experience.

Sea City Museum, Havelock Rd, Southampton SO14 7FY


Marwell Zoo, Winchester

Marwell Zoo, Winchester

Spanning some 140 acres, Marwell Zoo is dedicated to preserving a broad range of animal species, including several that are at risk of extinction.

Home to more than 1,200 animals ranging from giraffes and tigers to penguins and meerkats, the zoo offers a rare chance to experience the marvels of the animal kingdom up close.

Marwell Zoo takes pride in its commitment to conservation and its contribution to breeding initiatives for threatened species.

Coupled with comprehensive educational programs, interactive wildlife exhibits and a staunch commitment to the well-being of its residents, a visit to Marwell Zoo promises an enjoyable and enlightening experience for visitors of all ages.

Marwell Zoo, Thompson’s Ln, Colden Common, Winchester SO21 1JH


Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth

Anchoring the maritime heritage of Hampshire, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard presents an unforgettable journey through Britain’s naval past.

This site is home to several renowned ships with significant historical pedigree.

These include the legendary HMS Victory, commanded by Admiral Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar, and the HMS Warrior – a symbol of Queen Victoria’s formidable naval force.

Visitors can also witness the preserved remains of the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII’s beloved warship.

The dockyard offers an immersive experience, complete with exhibitions that tell poignant stories of British naval history, making it a must-visit location for history buffs and sea enthusiasts alike.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3LJ


Staunton Country Park, Havant

Staunton Country Park, Havant

A serene sanctuary located in Havant, Staunton Country Park unfolds over 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland and forest.

It offers a splendid escape into nature’s embrace, with delightful walking trails that meander around the ornamental lake and through the enchanting woodland.

There’s also a farm where guests have the opportunity to get acquainted with a variety of domestic animals.

The site includes picnic areas and playgrounds as well, making it a perfect getaway for families and nature enthusiasts in search of a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Staunton Country Park, Middle Park Way, Havant PO9 5HB


The Vyne, Basingstoke

The Vyne, Basingstoke

This enchanting 16th century country house formerly served as a rural retreat for royal and high-ranking figures.

Guests can marvel at the house’s distinctive fusion of Tudor design and classical architecture, explore the detailed oak craftsmanship in the Tudor chapel, or journey back to a bygone era within the magnificent, Palladian-inspired staircase hall.

The house is surrounded by extensive grounds that include beautiful gardens, serene woodlands and a tranquil wetlands area. With its captivating mix of history, architecture, and natural beauty, The Vyne provides a memorable escape from the everyday.

The Vyne, Vyne Rd, Sherborne St John, Basingstoke RG24 9HL


Fleet Pond Nature Reserve

Fleet Pond Nature Reserve

Recognized as the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire, this serene haven teems with life, offering a safe habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

From waterfowl to rare plant species, the reserve showcases biodiversity at its finest. Providing an ideal setting for leisurely walks, bird-watching, or a quiet moment of reflection, the reserve is a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or a city dweller seeking respite in the countryside, Fleet Pond Nature Reserve offers a refreshing journey into the heart of Hampshire’s natural splendor.

Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, 23a Wellington Ave, Fleet GU51 3AY


The Diving Museum, Gosport

Diving Suit

Dive into a world of underwater exploration at the Diving Museum in Gosport. This unique institution stands as the UK’s sole museum dedicated to the history of diving, providing an in-depth look into the evolution of this adventurous activity.

The museum houses an extensive collection of diving equipment from different eras, showcasing the technological advancements that have shaped the sport and profession.

From atmospheric diving suits to early diving helmets and underwater cameras, each exhibit tells a part of the diving story.

Visitors can learn about the daring exploits of early divers and the important role of diving in naval warfare and scientific research.

The Diving Museum offers an intriguing, immersive experience for anyone interested in the world beneath the waves as well as visitors in search of unexpected visitor attractions in Hampshire.

The Diving Museum, No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay Rd, Gosport PO12 2QU


The New Forest Reptile Centre, New Forest

Adder

Situated amidst the captivating landscapes of the New Forest National Park, The New Forest Reptile Centre offers an intriguing insight into the world of Britain’s native reptiles.

This specialized conservation hub is unique in featuring all the country’s indigenous reptiles – from grass snakes and adders to common and sand lizards – in a single location.

Each species is housed in carefully managed habitats that emulate their natural environment, providing a haven for these captivating creatures.

The New Forest Reptile Centre, A35 Bournemouth Rd, Lyndhurst SO43 7GR


The Grange Opera, Northington

The Grange Mansion

The Grange, Northington © Stephen Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0

Housed in the historically significant Grange at Northington, The Grange Opera serves as a pinnacle of the cultural scene in Hampshire.

Each summer, the festival breathes new life into this Greek revival style mansion, resonating with spectacular operatic performances that captivate audiences.

The stage hosts a repertoire that ranges from well-loved classics to innovative new productions, performed by both established and emerging talents.

The architectural majesty of The Grange contribute add magic to the experience, crafting an atmosphere as splendid as the performances it hosts.

The Grange Opera Festival serves as a tribute to music, cultural history and the arts, offering a distinctive and rewarding journey for both seasoned opera enthusiasts and those new to the genre.

If you’re looking for non-traditional Hampshire attractions, this is it!

The Grange, Northington, Alresford SO24 9TG


The Curtis Museum, Alton

Pottery

The Curtis Museum houses a treasure trove of exhibits that showcase local history and culture. The museum unfolds the intriguing story of Alton, tracing its roots from Roman times, through the Saxon era and into the present day.

Its diverse collection of artefacts, from prehistoric tools to Roman pottery, Victorian toys to twentieth-century domestic appliances, provides an intricate tapestry of the town’s evolution.

Temporary exhibitions add to the museum’s allure, shedding light on specific themes or periods. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, history buff or casual explorer, The Curtis Museum offers an enriching journey through Alton’s eventful past.

The Curtis Museum, High St, Alton GU34 1BA


Winchester City Mill

Watermill

Situated in the heart of historic Winchester, the City Mill is a testament to the town’s rich industrial past.

With roots stretching back to at least Saxon times, this working watermill has been fully restored by the National Trust, allowing visitors to witness the traditional milling process in action.

Flour produced from the mill’s grindstones is available for purchase, providing a tangible link to Winchester’s history.

Interactive displays and exhibitions provide an immersive look at the mill’s storied past and the life of the miller.

The sight of water rushing under the mill and the sound of the grinding stones at work make a visit to Winchester City Mill a truly sensory experience, offering a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.

Winchester City Mill, Bridge St, Winchester SO23 0EJ


Hawley Lake Sail Training Centre

Windsurfing

The Hawley Lake Sail Training Centre is an aquatic playground for water sports enthusiasts.

This centre provides sailing experiences and instruction for all skill levels, from novices to seasoned sailors. Under the guidance of certified instructors, visitors can learn the basics of sailing, enhance their skills, or even take part in advanced courses.

Aside from sailing, the centre also offers windsurfing and power-boating, adding to the range of water-based activities available.

Set on the tranquil Hawley Lake, this training centre serves as an exciting and educational destination for those seeking an aquatic adventure.

Hawley Lake Sail Training Centre, Blackwater, Camberley GU17 9LP


Bishop’s Waltham Palace

Bishop's Waltham Palace

Bishop’s Waltham Palace © Michael Coppins / CC BY-SA 2.0

This former medieval residence of the Bishops and senior clergy of Winchester was once a grand structure, hosting royal visitors like King Henry V.

Today, visitors can explore the substantial remains of the palace and visualize its past splendour. The site includes the ruins of the grand hall, residential quarters and a charming chapel.

The grounds also feature a beautiful tranquil pond and an array of local wildlife. Infused with historical significance, a visit to Bishop’s Waltham Palace offers a glimpse into the past and a peaceful retreat within its timeless surroundings.

Bishop’s Waltham Palace, 3 Station Rd, Bishop’s Waltham, Southampton SO32 1DH


Fordingbridge Museum, New Forest

Located in the picturesque market town of Fordingbridge on the edge of the New Forest, this local museum delves deep into the town’s history.

Displays highlight the town’s agricultural heritage, its famous connection with artist Augustus John, the story of the local WWII spy and the Fordingbridge’s significant role as a crossing point of the River Avon.

The museum’s engaging and educational approach makes it a rewarding visit for history enthusiasts of all ages. The Fordingbridge Museum beautifully encapsulates the essence of this small town and the evolution of its community through exhibits including a Victorian kitchen, carpentry equipment and a Victorian doll’s house.

Fordingbridge Museum, Kings Yard, Salisbury St, Fordingbridge SP6 1AB


Hinton Ampner House and Garden, Alresford

Hinton Ampner House and Garden, Alresford

Hinton Ampner House is epitomises the tranquillity and elegance of the regency period. This graceful country house unveils a collection of antique furniture, art and decor, meticulously curated by the last owner, Ralph Dutton.

A stroll through the house reveals rooms filled with Georgian elegance and Edwardian comfort, each one a testament to Dutton’s refined taste.

Outside, the well-manicured gardens offer a beautiful mix of formal and informal landscaping, complete with stunning views over the South Downs.

With its beautiful blend of architecture, history, and horticulture, Hinton Ampner House and Garden provide a delightful escape to a bygone era of elegance and tranquillity.

Hinton Ampner House and Garden, Hinton Ampner, Alresford SO24 0LA


Andover Museum of the Iron Age

Iron Age Hut

Embark on a historical journey at the Andover Museum of the Iron Age, where past epochs are revived in a captivating and interactive manner.

This off-beat Hampshire museum explores the UK’s Iron Age, sharing insights into the lifestyle, ideologies and  advancements of the inhabitants of this intriguing historical period.

Intriguing artifacts, informative displays, and reconstructed scenes provide a rich understanding of this often overlooked era.

Moreover, the museum also sheds light on the Roman influences on Britain, highlighting the shift from the Iron Age to the era of Roman dominance.

By presenting antiquity in an accessible and enjoyable format, the Andover Museum of the Iron Age extends a valuable experience to history enthusiasts, educational groups and families.

Andover Museum of the Iron Age, 6 Church Cl, Andover SP10 1DP


Farley Mount Country Park

Hampshire

Talk about hidden gems in Hampshire! Farley Mount Country Park is a favourite among locals and visitors alike for its tranquil beauty and panoramic views.

An assortment of footpaths meander through colourful meadows dotted with wildflowers, thick forestry and open spaces of chalk grassland, each setting a sanctuary for a rich variety of plant and animal life.

The park’s highest point is marked by a pyramid-like monument presenting a captivating panorama of the surrounding countryside.

Ideal for picnics, horse riding, or simply soaking in the beauty of nature, Farley Mount Country Park provides a delightful escape from the daily rush, where the charm of the Hampshire countryside can be fully appreciated.

Farley Mount Country Park, Sparsholt, Winchester SO21 2NQ


For more unusual things to do in Hampshire, visit the official tourism site!

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.