Grab yourself a picnic and take your pick of some of our suggested beauty spots listed below for a touch of alfresco dining. We've also included a handy guide to the facilities available at each site.
In the city
Abbey Gardens (pictured, above)
On the site of a nunnaminster founded by King Alfred the Great's queen, Ealhswith. The gardens are a riot of colour in the summer.
Facilities: Lots of benches, no picnic tables. Adjacent to children’s play area. Close to city centre car parks. Public toilets in Gardens.
Location: Bottom of the High Street opposite King Alfred’s statue, SO23 9GH
Winchester Cathedral Close
A picturesque spot set against the backdrop of the Cathedral - a great place to watch the world go by.
Location: The Outer and Inner Close surround the cathedral, SO23 9LS
Facilities: Benches mainly in Inner Close and in adjacent Dean Garnier Gardens. Close to city centre parking. Nearest toilets in Cathedral Visitor Centre.
River Park Leisure Centre
A great green space to let the children let off some steam.
Location: Open space behind the Leisure Centre, SO23 7DD
Facilities: No seats or picnic tables. Children’s play area and skate park. Nearest toilets and parking at Leisure Centre.
St. Catherine’s Hill
Take a short walk from the city centre along the River Itchen, then climb up St Catherine's Hill to be rewarded with views across Winchester and enjoy a picnic overlooking the Water Meadows.
Facilities: Steep climb, no seats or picnic tables. Free car parking at Tunbridge car park on Garnier Road or short walk from St. Catherine’s Park & Ride car park. Nearest toilets at St. Catherine’s P&R amenity building.
St. Giles’ Hill
The short but steep ascent up St Giles Hill is worth it when you see the sweeping vista of the city.
Facilities: Steep climb, seats but no picnic tables. Nearest car park is Chesil Street. Nearest toilets in Abbey Gardens.
Winchester Water Meadows
To enjoy this area pick up a copy of Keats’ Walk from the tourist information centre - a self-guided walk in the poet's footsteps from the city to St Cross, passing through the landscape which inspired the ode 'To Autumn'.
Facilities: Mainly gravel paths with some benches, no picnic tables. Nearest parking and toilets in city centre.
Countryside sites near Winchester
A short walk up from the village of Shawford.
Facilities: Parking at the top and bottom of the hill. A short walk from Shawford railway station. Some seats but no picnic tables. No public toilets.
Follow the River Itchen from the village of Shawford.
Facilities: Close to river and deep water. No seats or picnic tables. Nearest parking at the bottom of Shawford Down. No public toilets.
Old Winchester Hill, West Meon
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve and on the South Downs Way. About 11 miles from Winchester overlooking the Meon Valley with view across to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
Facilities: No seats or picnic tables. Small parking area at side of road. No toilets.
Iron Age Hill Fort and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Stock grazing some of the time.
Location: Near Stockbridge.
Facilities: No picnic tables. Free parking. Toilets open between April and September.
Location: Follow the Stockbridge Road out of Winchester, just before the village of Stockbridge.
Facilities: Car park on south side of road, Downs on the north side. No seats or picnic tables. Nearest toilets in Stockbridge.
Country Parks in the area
More information on the following Hampshire Country Parks can be found on the following websites www.hants.gov.uk/countryside/countryside-service/country-parks.htm
Staunton Country Park
Location: Middle Park Way, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 5HB
Facilities: Open daily, admission charge. Landscaped parkland, gardens, farm, children’s play area, tearoom, toilets. Free parking.
Manor Farm Country Park
Location: Pylands Lane, Bursledon, Near Southampton, SO31 1BH
Facilities: Open daily from 8.30am, closing times vary. Free admission, £2 parking (refunded if paying to visit Farm). Picnic tables, fixed barbecue hearths available to hire (portable and disposable barbecues not permitted), tearoom, toilets. Meet the farm animals at Manor Farm.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Location: Follow the A3 south of Petersfield - Gravel Hill, Horndean, PO8 0QE
Facilities: This is the largest country park in Hampshire. Open daily. Free admission, £2 a day parking. Picnic tables, fixed barbecues available to hire, visitor centre, tearoom, toilets.
Royal Victoria Country Park
Location: Netley Abbey, Southampton, SO31 5GA
Facilities: Overlooks Southampton Water. Open daily, free admission, up to £3 a day parking. Fixed barbecues to hire, visitor centre, tearoom (open April to October), toilets.
Lepe Country Park
Overlooking Southampton Water near Exbury
Location: Lepe Country Park, Lepe, Exbury, Southampton, SO45 1AD
Facilities: Open daily from 7.30am to dusk. Free admission, up to £4.70 a day parking. Picnic tables, fixed barbecues to hire, tearoom (open April to October), toilets.
Farley Mount including Crab Wood
Downland and woodland a few miles west of Winchester
Location: Sarum Road, SO22 5QS
Facilities: Open daily. Free admission, free parking. No picnic tables, no toilets. Barbecues permitted on downland.
New Forest – there are many picnic sites in the New Forest
The Forestry Commission has two bookable barbecue sites at Anderwood and Wilverley. For more information on booking these go to www.forestry.gov.uk
National Trust properties
For more information on National Trust properties visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Location: Near Romsey, Hampshire SO51 0LP
Facilities: Admission charge (free to NT members). Lawned gardens next to the River Test for picnics. Tearoom, toilets.