The under-the-radar Hampshire city of Winchester offers the best of both worlds. It’s a friendly place to stay with a choice selection of restaurants and entertainment, but you will also have all the wonders of the South Downs close to hand. There is great food to sample and spectacular countryside to see but if you only have one day, these are all the things you shouldn’t miss.
Touted as the most important meal of the day, if you’re looking for the best start to the day you’d better head over to the Corner House. Here you can enjoy the novelty of eating breakfast by candlelight. The food is delicious and locally sourced. There is a good variety of hearty breakfasts to choose from, all of which can be washed down with a fantastic selection of teas, coffees and soft drinks.
Now you’re fuelled up, it’s onto the rest of Winchester. While you’re all feeling awake and alive, we say head down to Winchester’s best-loved zoo! Owned and run by the registered charity Marwell Wildlife, Marwell Zoo is highly rated as a super family day out in Winchester. Home to rhinos and monkeys, penguins and giraffes (plus many, many more), this place is particularly great on a sunny day. Watch the demonstrations and observe the displays, take your photos, and spend a couple of hours observing a whole range of protected species.
Time to go back in time. Winchester Cathedral is a place where you can enjoy the majesty of Norman as well as Anglo- Saxon architecture and take part in their very own guided tour. And with the remains of several English kings inside the grounds, it’s a real place of historic interest. At the cathedral, you’ll find the burial site of Jane Austen, who was taken to Winchester for treatment before she died there. It is a literary mecca for Austen fans across the globe.
For lunch, we say Forte Kitchen is the place to be. A spacious and modern eatery, Forte Kitchen has an extensive and varied lunch menu, including main meals, sandwiches and afternoon teas. Sandwiches are available on a whole range of different breads and lunch is served daily from 12 pm -3.30 pm, so don’t miss out.
To take a break from Winchester’s historical offerings and head to the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. The science centre is an educational marvel and a real interactive experience for the kids. There are live shows in the Planetarium cinema and over 100 scientific exhibitions to behold, as well as new and exciting showcases all the time. There are even events especially for under 5’s so even if you have little ones with you there should be something to keep them interested.
Explore the Land
When planning a trip to Winchester we have to advise you to check out some of the best castle ruins in Britain. The ruins of Wolvesey Castle are a great place to spend an hour exploring, ducking under arches, and photographing the extraordinary stone work. Read about the rooms that once were and use your imagination to envision what once was. Make sure you stroll back along the River Itchen, where populations of southern damselfly, crayfish, otter and salmon can be seen. It’s considered the finest of English chalk streams and attracts fly-fishers from all over the country.
After all that, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were hungry again. For some highly regarded seafood, we suggest that you head to Rick Stein. This is the first of his restaurants to open outside of Cornwall. Indulge in fresh seafood, simply and beautifully cooked; it’s a perfectly relaxing way to end your day in Winchester. However, if you are planning to keep the day going with a trip to the theatre, or other entertainment, there is an early dinner option that should have you ready in plenty of time.