no alt text

Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 07 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

As cycling destinations go, this stunning ancient forest is just about perfect. There are more than 100 miles of off-road cycle routes for all ages and abilities, from family-friendly flat trails across open moorland, to challenging routes for mountain bike enthusiasts.

The New Forest has a variety of habitats to explore – traditional English villages with cutesy country pubs for eating and sleeping, and an abundance of wildlife to spot. Cycling is the best way to see it all and to understand country life here. Trails criss-cross the whole area, so you can start anywhere; pick up a bike and off you go.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

If you’re coming by train, direct trains from London Waterloo to the New Forest take about two hours.

The excellent New Forest cycling website has lists of cycling routes and downloadable route maps. There are bike hire outlets all over the Forest, so choose your route first, then find bike hire nearby.

The central town of Brockenhurst is the main cycling gateway – there’s a convenient bike hire shop at the train station that can also provide advice on the many routes from the village, but you can get off at any of the villages on the route and start exploring.

Another good option is Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley. They offer bike hire and maps for nine cycle trails that start from the shop front door. You’ll need a car to get there though.

When to do it

It gets crowded in school holidays (July and August) and the roads get clogged, so plan routes away from the main hubs of Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst if possible. Spring is lovely, with forest floors carpeted with bluebells and yellow daffodils; Autumn (September-October) sees a riot of colour, as the deciduous trees start to shed their leaves.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Daisybank Cottage

Brockenhurst, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A chic, boutique B&B in an elegant Arts & Crafts house, right in the convenient heart of the New Forest.

Official star rating:

Master Builder’s Hotel

Beaulieu, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Stay in a slice of Britain’s seafaring history at this magical hotel, in an idyllic setting by the Beaulieu River.

Official star rating:

Montagu Arms Hotel

Beaulieu, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A traditional manor house hotel with a wonderful garden, in the picturesque village of Beaulieu.

Official star rating:

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa

Christchurch Road, New Milton, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

One of Britain’s best-loved country house hotels, set amid 130 acres of idyllic English countryside, with a world-class spa and unique tree-house suites.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New Forest

Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A magical, highly accessible region of ancient woodland, open heathland and postcard-perfect traditional English villages.

Website >
Overview >