5 Best Things To Do In Winchester
Located in the county of Hampshire, Winchester is a vibrant heritage destination steeped in a wealth of history. The former seat of King Alfred the Great, just an hour south-west of London, you will find Winchester has the perfect mix of city life & idyllic countryside surroundings. We've put together some of the best places to visit & also some fun attractions & activities to enjoy with the whole family.
1. Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in all of Europe. Originally founded in 642, the site has been demolished & rebuilt numerous times over the last 1000 years. Essential restoration work has taken place since the turn of the 20th century, & today, it is very much an inspiring landmark in Winchester. With it's 12th-century wall paintings, medieval carvings & the illuminated Winchester Bible, a visit to Winchester Cathedral will see you leave with a newfound knowledge of crucial happenings across the course of the UK’s rich history.
If you’re taking the children, there is a children’s trail which offers a fun & informative insight to the Cathedral where they can learn more about some of the characters associated with its past & present. You’ll certainly want to be a part of the tour lead by Cathedral Guides to make the most of your trip, and these operate Monday – Saturday starting every hour from 10am – 3pm, included in admission charge.
2. Wolvesey Castle
Also known as the ‘Old Bishop’s Palace’, Wolvesey Castle is another archaic dwelling found in the heart of Winchester. After (or before) your visit to the Cathedral, head to Wolvesey Castle which is just a stone’s throw away. During the Middle Ages, this played home to rich & powerful men - the Bishops of Winchester, who were the relations & advisers of kings.
The last great spectacle these now ruins, saw, was the wedding breakfast held by Queen Mary & Philip II of Spain in 1554 in the East Hall which was transformed with silk & gold hangings for the grand event.
Depending on when you visit take a pair of wellies or good walking shoes as parts of the site are uneven & can become muddy but if you’re visiting on a pleasant day, why not pack a picnic & enjoy lunch on the historic grounds. The Grade I listed building, along with the Cathedral, also make for grand school trips.
3. Keats Walk
The English Romantic poet, John Keats once stayed in Winchester during the late summer & early autumn of 1819 & it was here, during this time he penned his Ode To Autumn inspired by his daily walks in which he explored the natural beauty of Winchester.
Keats once said, upon reflecting on his time there it as “An exceeding pleasant town, enriched with a beautiful Cathedral & surrounded by fresh-looking country”.
Now, you can follow in the footsteps of Keats’ as you journey through the city which begins at the Tourist Information Centre. You will come across King Alfred’s statue, the 14th Century Deanery, Winchester College, the water meadows & St Catherine’s Hill, just to name a few. You can download this MAP which gives you a detailed written description to help identify all the locations as well a map to trace your steps.
4. Winchester City Mill
This is potentially one of the oldest working watermills in the UK with a history of over 1000 years. Situated on the River Itchen, it is right in the middle of the enchanting city centre & the water wheel can be seen working every single day. There are lots of hands-on activities & audio-visual displays about milling, as well as regular flour milling & baking demonstrations. You can also learn more about the rich wildlife in the area too, including the resident otters!
Winchester City Mill is a great, informative place for everyone to enjoy. It is also the official gateway to the South Downs National Park & provides a wide selection of information for those wishing to explore the walks & attractions found within the South Downs.
5. Westgate Museum
The Westgate Museum is the last of the main medieval gates into the city that remains to this day. Once a debtors’ prison for 150 years, you can see the walls eerily covered in prisoners’ graffiti! You will find a vast, unique collection of weights & measures as well as a Tudor ceiling from Winchester College. Go on up to the Westgate roof and take in the spectacular views of the city! There’s also the opportunity for your little ones to try on a suit of armour or even give authentic brass rubbing a go.
Grab Your Winchester Goods
Love Your Location brings to you some of the UK’s finest travel artists. We offer contemporary art prints featuring 10,000 plus towns, cities, landmarks from a selection of special artists. Explore the following:
We are more than just prints & supply a range of essentials such as mugs, tote bags, tea towels & more, all of which make great gifts.
Top Things To Do In Winchester With The Kids
1. Marwell Zoo
Embrace your inner wild side at Marwell Zoo & journey around the 140-acres to meet an incredible range of both exotic, & endangered species including Snow Leopards, Hippos, Rhinos, Meerkats & so much more! There are daily talks & activities so do check the ‘What’s On’ section before your visit so you can plan your day! You’ll certainly work up an appetite with all that exploring but thankfully there are plenty of restaurants & kiosks around to keep you full or if you’d prefer to bring a picnic and enjoy lunch in one of the idyllic spots around the zoo, that’d be lovely too. What’s a day out without a souvenir to remember it by… Stop in at the Gift Shop to find the perfect memento before you go.
2. Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
Perfect for the whole family, all-weather day out! There are over 100 exhibits to explore, each one covering a different aspect of science & technology. The Winchester Science Centre also has the UK’s largest capacity planetarium offering a state-of-the-art digital experience with images projected around a 360-degree domed screen.
Discover what goes on in the gut at Colon Café & learn about good & bad bacteria, as well as how what you put in your body affects what comes out! Unleash your inner thinker in The Invention Studio or have a fun family challenge in the Science of Sports Zoe… There is so much to see and do here you won’t know where to begin! A new café, The Hub, is now open at the Space Centre so why not stop in for some delicious hot or cold treats or if you’d prefer to bring your own, there are tables provided for picnicking both indoors & outside.
3. Paultons Park Attractions
Not far from the heart of Winchester - Home to Peppa Pig World, Paultons Family Theme Park has over 70 attractions & has been voted as the number 1 UK theme park for families by Mumsnet. For those little Peppa Pig lovers, there are 7 fun theme park rides to choose from as well as meet & greets with both Peppa & George! This really is a park to be enjoyed by the whole family, there’s something for everyone whether you’re seeking your inner adrenaline junkie on The Flight of the Pterosaur or wanting to have a splash around in the Water Kingdom, get up close & personal at Alive! Dinosaur Encounter or head out on the Discovery Trail, there is just so much to do. There are Events & Shows held year round so check HERE for anything up & coming.
4. The Adventure Barn
Sometimes, when the weather’s not great there is still an adventure to be had! This is a brilliant indoor playground where the little ones can play safely & securely whatever the weather, purpose-built for toddlers through to 10-year-olds. The soft play, indoor zone pans three levels. including a tube slide, aerial runway, cargo net obstacles & tumble rollers. In the adventure zone which is outdoors, they will love the trampolines, climbing frame & slide.
For parents, there is a wonderful on-site Bistro which serves a range of hot & cold beverages, food, & as it’s situated within the Adventure Barn, the restaurant benefits from large windows so you can relax whilst watching over the little ones.
5. The Winchester Treasure Trail
If you struggle to get the kids involved in learning more about the surroundings, this self-guided Treasure Trail will be perfect for you! Suggested for anyone aged 6 or above, the Trail should take around 2 hours to complete & it will take you along a 1.6 mile circuit route. As you start the journey you will need to solve sneaky clues set on existing buildings, features & monuments to discover the location of the buried treasure. The Trail starts at the Guildhall, so do take the time to try & get all the correct answers as these are entered into a monthly £100 prize draw so you never know!
More From Love Your Location...
Use our site search to find exactly what you are looking for. Whether it is a gift for a friend with serious wanderlust or you are looking to kit out your seaside cafe, we have you covered.