JOIN our family travel Facebook community run by travel experts – helping you to navigate Covid & holidaysJOIN NOW

Castles, Parks and Beaches – Free Things to do in Hampshire

By Sarah Frost – 28th April 2021
free things to do in hampshire

Some fantastic free things to do in Hampshire


Days out can get expensive, so if you’re looking to save some money then I’ve compiled some of my favourite free things to do in Hampshire. Whether you are local and looking for somewhere different, or you’re going to visit on a staycation, I’ve got you covered.


Hampshire has such a great variety of places to visit, from the coast to the city. These are all places you could visit as a family, as a couple or just explore on your own.


Castles and forts


Bishop’s Waltham Palace Ruins

Winchester Road, Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire, SO32 1DH


In the Middle Ages, this was one of the finest residences of the Bishops of Winchester. Now; the 12th and 14th Century ruins are an English Heritage site that is free to enter. There is a small museum there, which is usually open 12-4pm on weekends but closed until further notice.

The ruins provide a pretty backdrop for a picnic, and children will enjoy playing hide and seek in the stone walls. There aren’t any public toilets on-site; however, there are some in Bishop’s Waltham by the car park which is a short walk away.

If you didn’t want to take a picnic, then I’d recommend lunch at Josie’s with delicious choices like biscoff pancakes and buttermilk chicken burgers.


Fort Nelson

Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham, PO17 6AN


Fort Nelson is a military museum that is home to the national collection of artillery. Museum entry is free, though pre-booking is essential and can be done here. 

They often have events for children, such as the Dragon Hunt and Explorer Trails running until 16th May. It is just the outdoor areas open until restrictions ease on indoor opening, however, the cafe is open for takeaway and there are picnic tables.

Once the indoor areas are open, you’ll be able to walk the secret underground tunnels and learn how artillery has shaped world history over the last 500 years.


Odiham Castle

RG29 1HQ


This castle ruin played a key role in the signing of the Magna Carta, and is only accessible from the towpath of Basingstoke Canal. The towpath is accessible, and it’s around a mile and a half away from the nearest car park. It won’t take you long to look around, so I’d suggest walking back along the canal afterwards towards Odiham for a picnic. 


Porchester Castle

Church Road, Portchester, Hampshire, PO16 9QW


I haven’t actually visited this one before, but this English Heritage site is on my list for this summer. It was originally built in the 3rd Century which is incredible and is one of the country’s best-preserved Saxon forts.

It’s free to enter the grounds and look around, and you could take a picnic to keep costs down as well. If you wanted to visit the Keep, there is an entry fee for non-members, and this reopens with the next phase of the government roadmap.


Keep reading for more free things to do in Hampshire…

Explore Hampshire’s coastline


One of my favourite free things to do in Hampshire is to visit the beach. Southsea is a fantastic traditional English beach, with plenty of places for fish and chips and 2 miles of promenade to walk.

Children will love the funfair and amusements at Clarence Pier. There are a couple of parks and play areas, and the boating lake too. Southsea Castle is free to visit and is one of the many South Coast forts built by Henry VIII.


A new find for me is Milford on Sea. It’s very close to the Isle of Wight, so benefits from excellent views of The Needles on a clear day. You could spend time on one of two beaches, paddleboarding or walking to Hurst Castle. For more ideas go to https://visitmilfordonsea.co.uk/


Other beaches worth visiting are Hayling Island and Lepe Country Park.


Fresh air and picnics at a country park


You’re never far away from some green space in Hampshire and there are plenty of country parks to choose from.


Itchen Valley Country Park

Allington Lane, West End, Southampton SO30 3HQ


This award-winning park is set in 440 acres of water meadows around the River Itchen. There are 2 large play areas that are connected by the Forest Trail. There’s also a Play Trail and both of these trails are pram-accessible.


River Hamble Country Park 


At Barnfield, there is a play area, with lots of play structures, toilets and a cafe. You can walk around the ancient woodlands and see the spring bluebells and autumn colours depending on the time of year.

There’s also Manor Farm here where you can meet a host of animals, though a small entry fee applies to this section.


There are other museums and attractions on my list of free things to do in Hampshire, which are currently closed until further notice. I’ll be sure to update this article once they have reopened.


For my ‘Top 5 Value for Money’ days out in Hampshire, see my article here  




Sarah xx

Share it on your own social media channels or with friends


Become a Girl About Travel Club member and benefit from our travel concierge service, itineraries, rewards, offers, discounts, resources, retreats and more!

Featured Articles & Sponsored Posts