Nestled on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park in Hampshire, Winchester is a captivating cathedral city brimming with historic delights, exciting things to see and do, and a famed centre packed with a wide variety of fantastic independent shops and places to eat. Easily accessible from London and just a stone’s throw away from the south coast, this is a place you’ll want to explore again and again. Here are some of the top things to do in Winchester.
1. Explore the cathedral and Great Hall
Think of Winchester and you’re likely to instantly imagine the city’s renowned gothic cathedral, which is one of the largest in Europe and cuts an impressive sight with its magnificent architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. Winchester Cathedral dates back all the way to AD 642 and certainly has some interesting stories to tell, being the resting place of famed novelist Jane Austen and numerous members of Saxon royalty. Wander around this historic marvel and uncover its many secrets - either on your own or by taking a guided tour, which are available several times each day and offer the perfect way to learn all about the cathedral and its history (booking required).
When you've finished exploring the Cathedral, head to the other end of the high street and check out the famous Great Hall, home to King Arthur’s Round Table and the only remaining part of Winchester Castle. Well worth a visit!
2. Wander around the independent shops
No visit to Winchester would be complete without an afternoon wandering around Winchester’s historic centre and intriguing side streets, which are filled with a huge variety of amazing independent shops and businesses. It’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Winchester and is sure to leave you spoilt for choice!
Be sure to check out P&G Wells, a traditional bookshop where Jane Austen’s family once held an account, or head to Bell Fine Art, offering two floors filled with original contemporary and period paintings by artists from the UK and around the world.
Meanwhile, Bellacrafts in Kings Walk is the place to buy all your craft materials and runs a wide variety of fun crafting workshops for both adults and children. Winchester Visitor Information Centre provides a wealth of information on places to visit, events and accommodation, along with an impressive selection of locally made gifts, art and jewellery.
3. Explore the museums, galleries and attractions
Whether you’re a local or just visiting on a holiday or day out, Winchester is home to an array of attractions to keep you entertained.
The Winchester City Museum is conveniently located in the heart of Winchester and is a fascinating exhibit where you can explore England’s ancient capital past and present. Also worth a visit is the Westgate Museum, where you can take in the remaining part of the medieval gates into the city.
Head outside of Winchester itself and check out the Royal Armouries Museum Fort Nelson to discover the history of artillery and how it influenced battles in the 15th through to the 20th century. Another must-visit is Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, offering the opportunity to take in where she lived and wrote her famous novels.
4. Take a walking tour
One of the best ways to explore Winchester is on foot, so why not become property acquainted with the city by taking a guided walking tour with an official guide?
Leaving from the Visitor Information Centre at 11am and lasting approximately 90 minutes, you can see first hand everything England’s first capital has to offer and learn all about its famous sights and history.
If you’d prefer to explore on your own, take a self-guided walk through the city’s streets. A very popular route takes you through the east of Winchester and up to St Giles Hill, where you can take in some spellbinding views of the city and enjoy a picnic on a summer’s evening.
5. Walk the Winchester Water Meadows
Starting just off the high street, this scenic walk follows the picturesque River Itchen and takes in some of the area's most famous sights and beauty spots - from Wolvesey Castle to parts of the South Downs Way.
You'll also be following in the footsteps of world renowned poet John Keats, who stayed here during the summer and autumn of 1819.
6. Visit the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
Travel a short distance outside the centre of the city and you'll find the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, which really does make for an unforgettable day out!
Inside, you can explore an array of interactive exhibitions, activities, shows and live demos that bring science alive and make learning fun for the whole family. Don't forget the spectacular 360 degree planetarium for a truly out-of-this-world experience!
7. Wine and dine
When you’ve finally finished exploring and checking out all the things to do in Winchester, head to one of the city’s amazing restaurants, bars and cafes.
Whether you’re looking for afternoon tea with a slice of mouthwatering cake, a family meal or a spot of fine dining, Winchester offers an impressive array of venues where you can soak up the atmosphere or just sit and watch the world go by.
You can discover all that Winchester has to offer right here on ShopAppy, including local shops and businesses, places to eat and things to do.