Beaulieu isn’t just a village and that’s why we love it. Make sure you put it top of your list for your next visit to the New Forest. The Beaulieu Estate offers something for the whole family, from the idyllic 16th-century village high street where the donkeys and New Forest ponies roam freely, to the brilliant dining opportunities and scenic walks along the riverbank.
Beaulieu also hosts the National Motor Museum and wonderful events are held on the grounds all year round. It’s so much more than just a motor museum and there’s lots to explore! Here’s our guide to making the most of your holiday in Beaulieu.
👉 Things to do
👉 Where to eat
👉 What's on
👉 Where to stay
Things to do in Beaulieu
Beaulieu, meaning 'beautiful place' in French, is an idyllic ancient honey stone village standing at the tidal limit of the Beaulieu River and remains largely unspoilt. Dating back to the 13th century, the village was built around the Abbey founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks on land given by King John. The dissolution of the monasteries was instigated by Henry VIII in the 1530s and Beaulieu was passed into the ownership of the present Montagu family ancestors.
Fear not, this tiny sleepy village of outstanding natural beauty has a modern-day allure too; charming boutique shops and galleries adorn the little cobbled high street. We especially recommend a browse of Norris Gifts & Furnishings for chic homeware and the Beaulieu Chocolate Studio for delicious treats.
Stunning historical properties are perched along the tranquil riverside, part of the 9,000-acre Beaulieu Estate. Walk a little further along the riverbank out of view of the village and you will encounter scenery that echoes Wind in the Willows. We highly recommend the scenic Beaulieu To Bucklers Hard walk.
The 18th-century shipbuilding village of Bucklers Hard, on the banks of the Beaulieu River, remains beautifully preserved and open to the public, where warships for Nelson’s Navy were built, three of which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. Discover more about the village's history at the Maritime Museum.
Beaulieu National Motor Museum
If you are visiting Beaulieu, you can’t miss the National Motor Museum, where you can see over 280 stunning vehicles on display, from family cars of the 30s and 40s and classic cars of the 70s and 80s through to rare motoring oddities. Included in the day ticket is also access to the Beaulieu Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and the stunning gardens, so there really is something for everyone. The good news is that if you can’t get to see everything in one day – you can return within 6 days for free with a 'return for free' pass.
Special displays include For Britain & For The Hell Of It, featuring Beaulieu’s iconic land speed record cars accompanied by a moving audio-visual presentation telling the story of British land speed record achievements, and The Motorcycle Story, taking you on a journey through motorcycling history.
The children will love Jack Tucker’s Garage recreating the sights, sounds and smells of a typical country garage from the 1930s, while ‘Wheels’, a space-age pod ride, is a fascinating voyage through 100 years of motoring.
Our personal favourites are the on-screen cars including the unforgettable Del Boy’s Reliant Regal as featured in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses and Mr Bean’s lime green Mini. Also on display is the flying Ford Anglia, used during the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto Van.
World of Top Gear at Beaulieu Motor Museum
Dads will love the World of Top Gear exhibition, featuring actual vehicles created by presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for some of their most ambitious challenges on the TV show over the years, and experience the Top Gear ‘Enormodrome’ which aims to recreate the feel of the Top Gear studio.
Getting around the grounds
The Monorail is really good way of seeing the park from a birds-eye view. There’s also a replica 1912 open-topped London Bus to tour the grounds. Budding drivers can get in the driving seat on Dipstick’s Driving Circuit, whilst younger visitors can burn some energy on the Mini Motor PlayTrail with its Veteran Bus climbing frame, swings and Little Tykes ride-on-cars.
Beaulieu Palace House
The Palace House is simply beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Home of the Montagu family since 1538, the magnificent rooms, costumed guides, and tales from the butler, cook and housemaids give a fascinating insight into the workings of a Victorian household, showing their life ‘Upstairs and Downstairs’.
Among the rooms you can explore in their original settings are the newly-restored Victorian kitchen and Lord Montagu's library. Palace House is also home to the first dedicated Soviet Russian art gallery in the UK, Art Russe.
We love walking around the 13th-century ruins of Beaulieu Abbey, where you get to really take in the historical aspect of the estate. There’s a film presentation and an exhibition of the daily life of its Cistercian Monk founders, leading into the picturesque serenity of the Cloisters and Herb Garden. Upstairs in the Abbey’s Domus, impressive wall hangings depict scenes from the history of the Abbey. Interestingly one of our holiday cottages, The Saddlery, is built from the stone of Beaulieu Abbey.
The Beaulieu grounds offer some beautiful gardens to enjoy including the fragrant Victorian Flower Garden, the informal Wilderness Garden, dating back to the 1770s, and the Ornamental Kitchen Garden laid out on the site of the original 1872 Palace House kitchen garden. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the idyllic pathways beside Beaulieu River and Monks’ Mill Pond, and even add their own padlock to the Love-Lock Tree.
Opening times and ticket prices
Opening times: Open every day except Christmas Day, from 10am-6pm between 27th May and 24th Sept, and from 10am-5pm between 25th Sept and 26th May.
Prices: Adults £24.75, children (5-17) £12.50, senior citizens and students £23.75, family tickets (for 2 adults and up to 3 children or 1 adult and up to 4 children) £64. A generous discount is offered on all advance attraction admission tickets purchased online.
How to get there
Travelling to Beaulieu is easy by road, approx. 2 hours from London (M3, M27 West and A326). The nearest train station is Brockenhurst. For sat nav the postcode to follow is SO42 7ZN.
Where to eat in Beaulieu
Whether you’re looking for a hearty lunch to refuel after a long walk in the New Forest, or a restaurant that’s fit for a special occasion, it’s easy to find tasty tucker in Beaulieu.
Just outside Beaulieu in East Boldre, this popular pub makes a great midway pitstop on a circular walk. Welcoming well-behaved dogs and kids, it also offers an excellent food menu as well as a pub garden for summer supping. If you’re visiting Beaulieu in August, make sure you go to the pub’s famous beer festival.
Read our guide to the best walks in the New Forest
Once frequented by Rod Stewart, Pallets Tea & Coffee House is the first place in Beaulieu to offer speciality coffee, making it a must-visit for any caffeine lovers on a trip to the New Forest. Its name comes from the interior design of the café, where everything is made from pallet wood!
Best for the family: Old Bakehouse Tearooms
This former bakehouse is a great place to visit for pleasing the little ones in your party – with a traditional menu including cakes, hot chocolates, jacket potatoes and sandwiches, it’s easy to find something they’ll enjoy.
Situated in Fairweather’s Garden Centre, this café is a great spot for lunch after a wander round Beaulieu High Street. Catering for gluten-free and vegan diets and little ones too, the café uses homegrown produce where possible – it’s worth visiting for the legendary Sunday roasts alone.
Best for something a little fancy: The Terrace
This 3-AA Rosette restaurant in The Montagu Arms Hotel is a little pricier but it’s the best place to visit for a special occasion or a touch of luxury. Its menu features ingredients from the restaurant’s organic kitchen garden as well as local producers from The New Forest, Hampshire and Dorset, so it offers a truly authentic taste of the area.
Fancy picking up some local produce on your visit? Here's our guide to the best New Forest food producers.
You can also find even more great places to eat in our guide to the best New Forest restaurants.
What's on in Beaulieu
There’s a whole host of brilliant events hosted throughout the year at Beaulieu, from autojumbles to motoring meets and a fireworks spectacular. Here are some of our favourites or view the events calendar for more details.
Held on the first weekend in August, this annual spectacular sees hundreds of supercars descend on the National Motor Museum. Suitable for the whole family, you can see the world’s most desirable motors up close.
This twice-annual autojumble is a huge outdoor sale of motoring items, comprising of over 2,000 stands selling vintage and classic motoring gear. A ticket also includes entry to the Beaulieu attraction.
Another event the whole family will love, Beaulieu’s annual Fireworks Spectacular is one of the largest fireworks displays in the south and is set to a top-secret soundtrack. As well as the main event, there is also live entertainment and fairground rides to enjoy.
Get in the Christmas spirit with this feelgood event, where over a hundred VWs drive from Beaulieu to Southampton General Hospital to deliver toys to poorly children. The charity run is open to all classic and custom VWs, with prizes given to the most festive participants, and is certainly a sight to behold!
Where to stay in Beaulieu
Whether you plan to stay close by to all of Beaulieu's attractions or perhaps a little further out with views of the river, we have a great selection of Beaulieu cottages for you to choose from.
Enjoy a couples’ retreat at this enchanting waterside property, which was formerly a yachtsman’s cabin. The decking area is the perfect place to watch the wildlife while enjoying a drink together while inside, the property has high-spec accommodation for an indulgent break.
Kids and adults alike will love a getaway to this treehouse-style lodge in a quiet woodland location on the shores of the Beaulieu River. The stylish cabin is incredibly child-friendly, with stairgates, a travel cot and a highchair available, but it’s equally as suitable for a group of friends.
Read our guide to New Forest activities for the whole family.
Best for a touch of luxury: The Saddlery
This 17th-century cottage combines character features with boutique hotel-style interior design. On Beaulieu High Street, you can watch the famous donkeys and horses go past your window and explore the many cafes and restaurants on your doorstep.
If you’re planning a get-together, this quirky and spacious former brickworks is the perfect base for a large group holiday. On the riverfront, you can spend your days exploring the Beaulieu Estate and your evenings relaxing in the expansive grounds.
Still haven’t found something to spark your imagination? Browse our full collection of cottages in Beaulieu.
We hope you've found some inspiration for a getaway to Beaulieu. If you want to explore further, here's our guide to making the most out of your New Forest holiday.