One of Britain’s oldest cities, Winchester has a history dating back over 2,000 years. Beginning as a simple hill fort, the city was developed and expanded throughout the Roman period and was known as Venta Belgarum. Under King Alfred’s rule the city became the capital of Wessex and then the capital of England which it remained until the Normal invasion.
Winchester today is an attractive and peaceful city, oozing with history and character. Much smaller than most cities in the UK, this is a place you can walk at your own pace without the fear of someone stepping on your heels.
By air: The closest airport to Winchester in Southampton, the airport serves destinations around the UK and some from Europe. The closest major international airports are London Heathrow and London Gatwick.
By rail: Trains run to Winchester direct from London Waterloo, other direct stops include Southampton, Weymouth and Poole. The fast train from London takes just under an hour and costs £26 for an off peak return.
By road: Winchester is serviced by the M3, one of Britain’s major motorways in the south of England connecting London to Southampton. the city is also just over an hours drive from Oxford on the A34.
THINGS TO SEE
Winchester Cathedral: One of the most popular sites in Winchester, the cathedral is one of the largest in Europe and was founded in 642 AD. The cathedral is popular with literacy lovers as Jane Austen died in the city and is buried in the north aisle. The cathedral was also used for filming for the Da Vinci Code, portraying the Vatican in Rome.
Opening times: Open every day of the year Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:00pm, Sun 12:30pm-3:00pm
Price: Adult £8, Concession £6, Under 16’s free
Wolvesey Castle: The main residence of the medieval Bishops of Winchester throughout the middle ages, Wolvesay Castle is now ruined but the left over buildings still reflect upon the grandeur structure it once was.
Opening times: Apr-Oct 10:00am-5:00pm, Nov-Mar closed.
The Great Hall: One of the finest surviving aisled halls from the 13th Century, the Great Hall contains the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, King Arthur’s Round Table, and is all that now remains of Winchester Castle.
Opening times: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm
Price: Adults £3, Concessions £2.50, Children £2
Winchester City Mill: The mill dates back over a thousand years and is still a working corn mill in the heart of the city. With hands-on activities and audio-visual displays about milling and the rich wildlife in the area, as well as regular flour milling and baking demonstrations, the City Mill is a lively and informative place for all ages. The City Mill is also the official gateway to the South Downs National Park.
Opening times: Summer every day 10am-5pm, Winter everyday 10am-4pm
Prices: Adult £4.40, Child £2.20
WHERE TO EAT
Forte Kitchen: Enjoy relaxed dining in an attractive setting, with lots for choice on the menu no one will struggle to find something they like. Be warned, this place is constantly packed (for good reason) and they don’t take bookings so there might be a bit of a wait for a table, so arrive before you get too hungry! Serving up home cooked rustic British food, the chefs display dishes you will definitely want to Instagram.
Manow Thai: One of the greatest parts of living in England is the great food that comes with diversity. Manow Thai is a family run Thai restaurant that offers a casual restaurant environment as well as a takeaway service. A foodies delight, there is also an excellent selection of wines and gin on the menu!
The Old Vine: Located in one of Winchester’s prettiest restaurants and looking out onto the beautiful cathedral, the Old Vine is relaxed and friendly, bursting in charm and character. In the winter sit yourself next to the roaring fire whilst loading up on delicious pub comfort food, in summer enjoy the beautiful garden and patio area, and perhaps opt for something a little lighter. All food is locally sourced and seasonally balanced.
Rick Stein: The first Rick Stein restaurant to open outside of Cornwall yet still offers a nod to Britain’s seaside hertiage. The restaurant is a haven for seafood lovers, offering an a la carte lunch menu and set dinner menu. The price will definitely set you back a bit but if you appreciate good fish, you will be happy to pay.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Lainston House Hotel
This 5* country house is located in some of Hampshire’s finest countryside and is just a 15 minute drive to the centre of Winchester. Switch on your sat navs because whilst it is totally worth the journey, it isn’t the easiest place to find.
Pray for some sunshine because the hotel boasts beautiful extensive gardens, even with its own vegetable plot to grow ingredients that are sent straight to the restaurant’s kitchens and cookery school. If you like food then this is the ultimate break away for you. Offering cooking lessons at the exclusive SEASON cookery school, Lainston House also offers traditional afternoon tea and an award winning restaurant.
With a range of bedrooms and suites, you will feel spoilt regardless of which room you stay in. All guest rooms are luxurious and comfortable with the finest furnishings and the ultimate service.
Price: Starting from £144 per night