The New Forest packs a huge number of things to see and do into a relatively small area. On the New Forest Tour you’ll find everything from horseriding and wildlife-spotting to steam railways, galleries and military history. The Tour’s flexible ticket means you can hop on and off anywhere you like, on all three routes across the National Park.
What to see
Part of the pleasure of a visit to the New Forest is to simply to let the wild heaths and lush woodlands unfurl around you, and to watch ponies and deer grazing and birds overhead – and the open-top New Forest Tour offers a unique way to take it all in.
Immerse yourself in the stories of the Forest at the New Forest Heritage Centre (free entry), with its museum and gallery, in Lyndhurst (on the green and red routes); the many attractions of the Beaulieu Estate (on the green route) – including the grand Palace House, the atmospheric Abbey and the famous National Motor Museum (20% off); further down the same route are Exbury Gardens’ 200 acres of wonderful woodland and flowers, as well as a narrow gauge steam railway.
To the southwest is Hurst Castle, a former military defence which now offers a museum and dramatic views across to the Isle of Wight, accessible from the blue route, which also takes you to the spectacular beaches of Barton-on-Sea and Milford-on-Sea.
If you’re riding the Red Route, why not hop off at the historic town of Ringwood which gained its market charter from Henry III back in 1226 – and the market is still there every Wednesday. There’s a mix of shops and cafes, as well as riverside walks along the Avon. Also new on the Red Route is a chance to get up close to the likes of wolves, lynx and giant otters at the New Forest Wildlife Park (20% off).
Need some more inspiration on where to stay, eat, drink and shop? Check out the Go New Forest website for lots of great information, including virtual events!
What to do
You can hop off the New Forest Tour for a walk or a picnic anywhere you like (as long as it’s safe for the driver to stop) – just ring the bell. A walk of any length is a great way to really get a feel for the Forest and its animals. You can pick up maps at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst (green and red routes) and at local information points and visitor attractions across the National Park. Or try one of the walking routes in the New Forest Tour onboard guide book.
What could be more classic New Forest than a pony ride? There are several recommended stables for all abilities in the New Forest, including at Burley (red and blue routes), Ringwood (red route), and Brockenhurst (green and blue routes).
With its network of car-free gravel tracks, the New Forest is also heaven for cyclists – you could bring your own on the train, as there is space for bikes on the New Forest Tour, and simply hop off at a trail-end. Or you can hire a bike from Cyclexperience and Country Lanes in Brockenhurst (blue and green routes), Woods Cyclery (green and red routes) in Lyndhurst, or Forest Leisure Cycle Hire in Burley (blue and red routes). If you’re into cycling in a big way take a look at the New Forest Cycling events calendar here.