Found on the southern edge of the New Forest, Lymington is a pretty Georgian town overlooking the south coast of Hampshire, and one of the largest in the region. Read on to discover all the great things that await you from the doorstep of our Lymington cottages, which are well-placed to explore the town and the New Forest beyond.
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Although it lies on the coast, Lymington is relatively accessible and can be reached in a number of different ways.
The town is just off the A337, which leads to Lymington from the west and the east. From the west, take the A337 via Christchurch, Highcliffe and New Milton. From further east or north, leave the M27 at Junction 2 and follow the A337, which takes you via Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst.
Travel to Lymington by boat
You can have a completely car-free holiday in Lymington if you wish, as the town has two train station. Trains leave Brockenhurst every half-hour, and you can choose to alight either at Lymington Town or Lymington Pier. Brockenhurst station is easily reached as it lies on the main line from London Waterloo to Weymouth.
If you’re coming from the Isle of Wight, you can take the Lymington ferry to arrive by boat. The main service is provided by Wightlink, which offers a service for cars, bikes and foot passengers, departing twice an hour from Yarmouth. Puffin Cruises offer a foot passenger ferry service between April and October, also to Yarmouth.
The earliest signs of people having lived in the area were found at the nearby Buckland Rings, an Iron Age hill fort believed to date back to the 6th century BC. Lymington itself started out life as an Anglo-Saxon village, with the Jutes first arriving from the Isle of Wight and settling here in the sixth century. Over the centuries, the village steadily grow, and in the 13th century the town was given its market charter.
Lymington's historic cobbled streets
From the Middle Ages until the 19th century, Lymington was famous for its salt-making. It began to establish its associations with yachts and ships in the early 19th century, with its thriving shipbuilding industry, and much of the town centre’s features, including its narrow cobbled streets, have been inherited from this era. There are also many tales of the town’s smuggling past – it is believed that the smugglers built tunnels between the town quay and the old inns on the High Street.
Things to do
Lymington is a bustling and lively town with plenty to see and do; much of its activity centres around its waterfront and High Street. Whether you want to try something hands-on or sit back and watch the world go by, there’s something perfect for everyone in Lymington.
Open from April to September, this fully-staffed 110m sea pool is popular with families. Not only is there plenty of space to swim or try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, but there is even an inflatable obstacle course as well as water zorbing, perfect for some wet and wild fun.
Go shopping at the lively market
This marina, home to hundreds of glistening yachts and boats, makes for a great waterside stroll, and showcases just how popular a destination Lymington is for sailing. Lymington Yacht Haven also has its own bar and restaurant, where you can sit back and look back over the water from the terrace.
Currently undergoing refurbishment, St Barbe hopes to offer a premier heritage attraction to the public when it reopens in July. It celebrates the history of Lymington and the surrounding New Forest in its museums, with its exhibits and collections reflecting what the local industry, home life, trade, leisure, farming and more was like over the past few centuries.
The gallery hosts exhibitions by a number of nationally-renowned artists, as well as group exhibitions, while in the Old School Gallery you can buy an original handcrafted item to take home.
Lymington is packed with a variety of shops, from popular High Street shops to independent and local retailers and designer boutiques. The Georgian High Street is lined with antique stores, while on a Saturday the Lymington Market on the high street is lined with stalls, selling fresh local produce alongside a variety of items.
This traditional park offers something for all ages, including a number of leisure facilities such as football pitches, a skate park and a play area. It’s a pretty place to enjoy a stroll in the peace and quiet, past the rhododendrons and rose gardens, while children will love opening up the doors on the trees to look for fairies inside.
Being on the coastal edge of the New Forest, Lymington enjoys the best of both worlds when it comes to walks – you can choose either to walk alongside the water or head inland to explore the woodlands and open heathland of the New Forest.
Walk the Solent Way
These walking tours are held throughout the month by local volunteers and hope to showcase special places in the town people may have missed as well as an insight into the town’s smuggling, salt and sailing history. Each walk has a different theme and covers different aspects of the town’s past; among the themes are Pens and Personalities, Trains, Tolls and Tributes, and Sea, Salt and Smuggling.
Found between Lymington and the nearby coastal village of Keyhaven, this reserve is a unique landscape of salt marshes, mud flats and lagoons, spanning an area of 500 acres. This is a great place to walk for wildlife-watchers especially, as it is home to a variety of birds, including curlews, geese and kingfishers, as well as a number of rare and vulnerable plant species.
Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve salt marshes
Stretching along the south coast for 60 miles from Milford-on Sea to Emsworth, this delightful coastal path also passes through Lymington. In one direction, you can follow it for 9 miles to the pretty coastal town of Milford-on-Sea, via Hurst Spit, a mile-long bank of shingle, and Hurst Castle, an impressive fortress located at the end of the spit. In the other direction, you can cross the Lymington River and follow the path for 10 miles to popular Beaulieu, packed with attractions including the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Gardens and even a monorail. On the way, you’ll also pass through the quaint maritime village of Bucklers Hard before heading up alongside the Beaulieu river.
This 11-mile-long walk leaves Lymington and heads into the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve briefly, before passing farmland and entering the New Forest National Park. The next section looks out over miles of moorland carpeted with gorse and heather, before entering the Roydon Woods Nature Reserve, where you’ll walk under the cover of the treetops. You’ll then pass through the landscaped parkland of Brockenhurst Park, the former site of a country house, before reaching Brockenhurst itself.
Food and drink
Whether you opt for the cobbled high street or the stylish marina, you’ll find an excellent selection of places to eat in Lymington.
Lymington is full of great places to eat
One of the stand-out establishments in Lymington is The Elderflower, serving gourmet cuisine with tasting menus encompassing everything from rabbit with violet sauce to their signature dessert, Close But No Cigar, a combination of coffee ice cream, chocolate and whisky mousse and cigar-smoked chocolate. Housed in a converted chapel, Lanes is another popular choice, serving dishes such as guinea fowl and red mullet.
Bars and pubs
For a real atmospheric experience, try the Fleur de Lys, a cosy pub housed in a thatched building. Cosy up by the warm log fire while enjoying one of the menu’s pub classics or perhaps a Sunday roast. The Kings Head is another popular choice in the heart of the town, with a choice of ales, wines from around the world and homemade food.
Café Aroma is much-loved by locals and visitors alike, being in a prime location on the High Street, and is especially renowned for its breakfasts. Meanwhile, Lounges of Lymington is a traditional tearoom perfect for a bite to eat, serving great coffee as well as a selection of homemade cakes and other snacks. For something a little different, try Maison Cuisine, tucked away in the Angel Courtyard. This delicatessen, where you can purchase a variety of local and homemade produce, also has a small café area and you can also enjoy favourites such as their soup of the day on the outside terrace.
Towns to explore nearby
Lymington is in a prime position near both the South Coast and the New Forest National Park, meaning there are plenty of fantastic places nearby worth a visit.
Hurst Castle at nearby Milford-on-Sea
Milford-on-Sea is one of the last remaining seaside villages in Hampshire, boasting its own stony beach. There’s some stunning views to be enjoyed here from the clifftops overlooking the beach, reaching out to sea as far as the Isle of Wight and the Needles. Nearby lies Hurst Spit, a mile-long shingle bank leading to Hurst Castle, a 16th century artillery fortress.
Owned by the Montagu family for hundreds of years, Beaulieu is a village and estate packed with attractions. Roam along the idyllic 16th century high street or by the riverbank, where you may even see New Forest ponies and donkeys roaming freely. You can also explore Beaulieu by monorail, or tour the grounds on a replica 1912 open-topped bus. Among the other attractions you’ll find here are the National Motor Museum, home to several famous vehicles from TV and film, the 13th century ruins of Beaulieu Abbey and the magnificent Palace House and Gardens.
Find out more about the area in our guide to Beaulieu.
Beaulieu's Palace House
Isle of Wight
From Lymington you can travel directly to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight by ferry, with the journey taking just 40 minutes. Yarmouth is found on the island’s western coast, one of the quieter areas, where you’ll find beautiful unspoilt beaches as well as the Hamstead Heritage Coast and the Isle of Wight AONB. You could even explore the whole island from here, heading further afield to explore popular seaside towns such as Cowes and Shanklin.
Deeper in the New Forest lies Brockenhurst, once declared as Britain’s most beautiful place to live. One of its main attractions is seeing a variety of animals, including ponies, deer, cows and pigs, wandering and grazing freely around the village. Other interesting spots include the Watersplash Ford and Brockenhurst Beach, a secluded swimming spot on the Lymington River. Nearby you’ll also find the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, a stunning road taking you past tall trees, beautiful plants and even a deer sanctuary.
Where to stay in Lymington
If we have inspired you to visit the New Forest and holiday in Lymington, why not have a browse of our Lymington holiday cottages? Idyllically overlooking the water, they are perfectly placed for exploring the dramatic woodland landscape of the region. Whether you are seeking a family-friendly cottage or a dog-friendly holiday let, our range of self-catering accommodation in Lymington offers something for everyone.