The New Forest is a great destination if you're looking for a car-free holiday. With plenty of local transport, walks and trails close to most of our New Forest cottages, exploration will be easy!
The wide open spaces of heathland are bewitching and have inspired artists and writers for centuries. The rare habitats blend with ancient woodlands and heaths before merging with the great Salisbury Plains to the north. It is big sky country here and there’s plenty of places to go for some peace and quiet.
New Forest buses
There is a regular and comprehensive public bus service around the New Forest National Park. It’s not like getting an inner city bus either as you get to enjoy the amazing views, especially if you’re lucky enough to hail a double decker.
Bluestar largely operates in Southampton, however Route 6 is a route that runs from the city and passes through Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst before its final destination of Lymington, making it a great way to explore the New Forest's larger settlements.
Morebus meanwhile is based around Bournemouth, to the opposite side of the New Forest, offering a route from the town to Christchurch, New Milton and Lymington, while another travels to Ringwood.
New Forest bus tours
Going a step further, there’s a tour bus that offers no less than three different circuits within the National Park during the summer months. What’s more, it’s an open-top affair. See the New Forest ponies, chocolate box villages and quintessential English countryside landscapes. Hop on and hop off wherever you like and catch the next bus or even change direction by swapping the route, all on the same ticket. Learn the history of the New Forest from the on-board commentary. Take the tour: a worthwhile, all-weather addition to any New Forest trip.
- The Red Route: Lyndhurst - Burley - Ringwood - Fordingbridge - New Forest Wildlife Park - Ashurst
- The Green Route: Lyndhurst - Brockenhurst - Lymington - Beaulieu - Exbury - Southampton Ferry
- The Blue Circular: Burley - Brockenhurst - New Milton - Barton-on-Sea - Milton-on-Sea - Keyhaven - Lymington
New Forest trains
There are good rail connections from the Lymington, Brockenhurst, and Sway train stations to major transport hubs like Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and London. The lines run through some eye catching country even before reaching the National Park, so put away your gadgets and enjoy the views.
Travelling by train within the National Park, there are routes which run between Brockenhurst and Lymington, and also from Ashurst to Christchurch as part of the longer route between London and Weymouth. These routes are all operated by South Western Railway.
New Forest taxis
Taxi firms are based in all of the main towns in and around the New Forest National Park. It always pays to plan in advance if you need a cab after dark to get you back to your holiday home. Here's a small selection of the main operators:
Cycling in the New Forest
There are a few major roads that cut across the New Forest but there are still plenty of lanes and back roads to explore, making it a great place to navigate on two wheels. You’re never more than a few miles from civilisation in any direction, yet you do truly feel like you have left suburbia behind. Along the way, there will be plenty of towns, villages and pubs to discover.
Cycle routes are found the length and breadth of the National Park – read our guide to cycling in the New Forest where you'll find the best New Forest cycle trails and plenty of other tips.
Walking in the New Forest
The New Forest has walks in every direction. The trails take in all the many types of landscapes and whilst some may take you through the woods, others maybe across the endless heathlands and marshes. Take a look at our list of suggested New Forest walks which pass through villages and take in a few good pubs and eateries en route.
Walking is one of the most pleasurable pastimes there is, and it's one of life's joys to stroll along a bridleway or green lane in the New Forest National Park. Be sure to pack a picnic if your trail doesn't wind past a pub, and plenty of water.
New Forest carriages
One of the more quirky ways to travel around the New Forest, or at least a small area of it, is by horse and carriage. You'll feel as if you've taken a trip back in time, especially as you travel through pretty historic villages such as Burley. Burley Wagon Rides offer 20, 30 or 60-minute rides in and around beautiful Burley.