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Hampshire Weekend Breaks – the Winchester Edition

By Sarah Frost – 10th February 2021
Photo of Winchester Guild hall in the sunshine
Winchester's Guild Hall

Hampshire Weekend Breaks

UK staycations are becoming more and more popular. We are seeing the benefits of exploring our own country, avoiding airport parking and long flight times.

Over the coming months, I’ll bring you a series of inspiration for Hampshire weekend breaks, which could easily be extended to longer stays. I’ll do my best to provide family-friendly options as well as ideas for couples breaks or friends.

Winchester is the first in the series.


Why choose Winchester?

If you search for ‘Hampshire weekend breaks’ you’ll find a huge choice of places to visit. So why choose Winchester? 

For a start, it’s easy to get to because it’s such a central location. Situated on a main South Western trainline, you can be here from Central London in just over an hour. There are also road links via the M3 which make it very accessible.

Then there’s the history. Winchester was once the capital city of England and has a rich history which can be seen in the beautiful architecture. There are ideas of where to see the historical highlights below.

Winchester has fantastic foodie spots, cosy pubs, riverside walks and plenty of activities to entertain all ages. Worth considering for your next UK staycation!

Winchester cathedral hampshire weekend breaks
Winchester Cathedral

Things to do in Winchester – Hampshire weekend breaks

Winchester is a busy hub with plenty of things to do. You won’t be able to miss Winchester Cathedral, as the spires dominate the skyline. It’s one of Europe’s grandest medieval cathedrals and one of the most popular things to do is find where Jane Austen is buried there. In Winter the cathedral also becomes the focal point of the Christmas market.

You don’t need to be a history fan to appreciate The Great Hall. It contains the iconic Round Table of Arthurian legend and is all that is left of Winchester Castle. You can try on costumes and have a photo opportunity with your head on the block, and explore the 13th-century aisled hall.

I love Winchester for the markets. The Christmas one is extremely popular and an annual tradition, but throughout the year you’ll see market stalls lining the High Street. The Farmer’s market arrives every other Sunday and is the best way to try some of Hampshire’s best local produce. Pre-Covid there was also an Antique’s market, and an Art and Design market which will hopefully make a return.

a zebra at Marwell zoo
Zebras grazing at Marwell Zoo

More family-friendly activities

Winchester is also one of the most family-friendly Hampshire weekend breaks. Just three miles down the road is Marwell Zoo, one of the South’s top attractions. There are hundreds of animals from tigers and rhinos, to penguins and giraffes.

If your children are into all things space and science, then head to Winchester Science Centre which is home to the UK’s largest standalone planetarium. There are plenty of hands-on, interactive exhibits to play with. 

In the city centre you’ll find Winchester City Mill, a working watermill which is looked after by the National Trust. You can learn how to mill flour here, and then buy some to take home and bake with. They also run family-friendly activities in the school holidays. 

The working watermill at Winchester city mill
Winchester City Mill, National Trust

Where to eat and drink – Hampshire weekend breaks

There is a huge variety of independent food and drink venues in Winchester, alongside the usual chains. You could spend the entirety of your weekend just on a self-guided food tour.

Popular Instagram spots include The Winchester Orangery, enormous stacks of pancakes at Josie’s and the weekend hot chocolate extravaganzas from Flat White’s. 

For drinks, you can’t go wrong with a theatrical cocktail from Incognitos, once you find the entrance that is. Or indulge in a cocktail at the Ivy, admiring the decor. If craft beer is more your thing, you’ll appreciate the selection at OVerdraft Craft Beer and Tacos.

Head to The Black Bottle where you can pop some money on a card and use it in the wine machines to taste samples before you commit to a full glass.

If you want great flavour, without a big bill then try Mi Cocina, a super authentic Mexican restaurant created by a Mexican couple. One of the places on my list to try is Piecaramba, with a mouth-watering pie menu and comic book shop. Or there’s Lucky Lychee, influenced by Penang street food and growing in popularity every day.

If your tastes are more Michelin than McDonald’s then don’t worry, you are catered for too! The Black Rat has a Michelin star,  heated huts outside and a strong gin menu. Chesil Rectory features in the Michelin Guide as well and is the most beautiful 15th Century wattle and daub house serving lots of local produce. Finally, there’s Kyoto Kitchen serving authentic Japanese food like tempura and sashimi.

Sarah pouring wine at The Black Bottle in Winchester
Wine vending machines at The Black Bottle, Winchester

Where to stay in Winchester – Hampshire weekend breaks

There are plenty of places to stay in Winchester, it just depends on what type of accommodation you’re looking for.

Those with families may be interested in staying just outside the city at the Marwell Hotel. You’ll be on the doorstep of Marwell Zoo and it’s very well catered for children.

If you want something more central then there’s the Winchester Royal Hotel, a 16th century hidden gem in the middle of the city. Or former dancehall, now 16a with its cosy shared library and lounge areas.

If you don’t mind staying a little further afield, in exchange for countryside views and a little more quiet then there are a number of self-catering options. There’s award-winning Wallops Wood cottages which have the desirable hot tub and swimming pool, and Two Hoots glamping with eco-friendly camping pods on a secluded adults-only site.

If you enjoyed this guide to one of my favourite locations for Hampshire weekend breaks then you may also enjoy my 48 hours in Hampshire itinerary, or my top 5 value for money days out.


Sarah x


Don’t forget to come and follow me on Instagram for more regular hints and tips for your staycation in the lovely Hampshire



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