A historic town dating back centuries, Christchurch is littered with old buildings, castles, nature reserves and gorgeous parks.
Start your historical tour at the Gothic-style castle three miles from Christchurch. The 17th-century castle is so impressive we’ve given Highcliffe Castle our undivided attention.
Back towards the town centre, Christchurch Castle and Norman House is an impressive ruin that dates back to the 12th century. Free to wander and explore, the Castle and Norman House overlook the River Avon, and with stonework dating back to 1160, remain one of the few examples of domestic Norman architecture in the UK.
The longest parish church in the country, it’s fair to say that the Christchurch Priory Church more than makes its mark in the town. With some of the structure dating back to the 11th century, and its religious history going back 1,300 years, it’s a stunning church that’s still in use today, with regular concerts, organ recitals and a popular Sunday service.
A lovingly restored Anglo-Saxon watermill located on the Quay that dates back to 1100, Place Mill is a fascinating step back in history that’s well worth a quick tour, not least as it’s now a popular gallery showcasing work and exhibits from local artists.
A gorgeous clifftop nature reserve, Steamer Point is home to a range of natural habitats including woodland and ponds and a wide range of plants and animals. There’s a great interactive display for kids throughout the reserve allowing them to learn and play at the same time, and the views across the English Channel are truly stellar on a clear day. And, located halfway between Christchurch and Highcliffe Castle, it’s easy to get to from either our Christchurch East hotel or our Highcliffe hotel.
The large patch of land to the north of the harbour, Stanpit Recreation Ground is a large, open expanse of land and marshland that makes a great spot for dog walking, games and picnics. There’s a large car park nearby and the park also hosts several festivals and gatherings through the year including a regular circus. Further south towards the harbour you’ll find Stanpit Marsh, 130 acres of relatively quiet marshland that boasts a diverse range of plant and animal life including ringed plover and sanderling birds.
On the northern edge of the town centre, Watermans Park is a small green space best known for its impressive skatepark. Free to use, the metal ramp park is home to several quarter pipes, flat banks, a fun box and mini ramp and is popular with local skaters both big and small.
For the real jewel in the south’s crown, head to our dedicated page on the New Forest National Park to find out more about the relatively untouched woodland home to quaint villages, museums and Peppa Pig World.