The ancient cathedral city of Winchester was once England’s capital and sits on the edge of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire. Many regard it as England’s jewel city, perfect for cultural or shopping weekend breaks especially at Christmas when the Christmas Market inspired by traditional German Christmas markets runs daily alongside the Cathedral. Winchester is ideal for a family holiday with a variety of family attractions nearby including Marwell Wildlife Park. Cycling and walking are also popular in and around the city centre. It’s easy to hire bikes and set off from King Alfred’s statue direct onto the National Cycle Route. Winchester is the starting point for both the South Downs Way and the National Byway.
In the centre are a wealth of tightly packed historic buildings, museums and galleries all within easy walking distance of each other. For an overview, head up to the city viewpoint of St Giles Hill for a breathtaking cityscape view of Winchester’s original Saxon street plan, its magnificent 900 year old cathedral with the tombs of early English kings and Jane Austen, and its mix of Georgian and Victorian architecture. From the hill you’ll also see the bronze statue of Winchester’s most famous royal visitor, the Saxon King Alfred the Great who made Winchester his capital.
Tourist Information & Tours
Winchester’s tourist information centre is award-winning and is located on the ground floor of the Guildhall at the lower end of the High Street on Broadway, close to the Cathedral. With so much to see and do in the city centre, a Winchester city walking tour is the perfect introduction. These are available for a great value price at the Tourist Information Centre and last from 1 to 1 1/2 hours. A ‘City Highlights’ tour focuses on the centre of Winchester, and many other special themed historical, literary and seasonal tours are available.
Winchester is an accessible city ideal for a short break or holiday. It lies within an hour of London by rail. Trains depart regularly to the city from London Waterloo. Fast, direct rail routes also run from Southampton, Portsmouth, Birmingham and the North of England. Cruise and ferry links are also within an easy drive. Southampton Cruise Terminals are around a 20 minute drive away and Portsmouth ferry services just a 40 minute drive from the city. The nearest airport is Southampton International, only a 15 minute car journey from Winchester. National Express coaches to Winchester are available from London, Heathrow and from Oxford. By road, Winchester is easily reached just off the M3 motorway, Junctions 9, 10 and 11.
Where to Stay
Winchester’s many annual visitors are well served by a variety of quality accommodation in the city centre and in the surrounding South Downs countryside. In the centre you’ll find a selection of charming B&B guest houses, many of which are stunning period properties rated 4 or 5 Star and with Gold Awards. Luxurious, uniquely styled hotels also cluster in the Cathedral city’s centre, perfect for business, leisure and romantic breaks. Many Winchester hotels include exceptional conference, wedding and spa leisure facilities. A wide choice of serviced and self-catering options also surround the ancient capital from old coaching inns with rooms to a large number of beautiful holiday cottages.