The South

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The South - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Avebury Stone Circles

    Surrounding part of Avebury village, the Avebury Stone Circles, the largest in the world, are one of England's most evocative prehistoric monuments—not as famous as Stonehenge, but all the more powerful for their lack of commercial exploitation. The stones were erected between 2850 and 2200 BC, about the same time as the better-known monument. As with Stonehenge, the purpose of this stone circle has never been ascertained, although it most likely was used for similar ritual purposes. Unlike Stonehenge, however, there are no certain astronomical alignments at Avebury, at least none that have survived. The main site consists of a wide, circular ditch and bank, about 1,400 feet across and more than half a mile around. Entrances break the perimeter at roughly the four points of the compass, and inside stand the remains of three stone circles. The largest one originally had 98 stones, although only 27 remain. Many stones on the site were destroyed centuries ago, especially in the 14th century when they were buried for unclear reasons, possibly religious fanaticism. Others were later pillaged in the 18th century to build the thatched cottages you see flanking the fields. You can walk around the circles, a World Heritage Site, at any time; early morning and early evening are recommended. As with Stonehenge, the summer solstice tends to draw the crowds.

    Avebury, Wiltshire, SN8 1RF, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 2. Chawton House Library

    Located in an Elizabethan country house on a 275-acre estate (part of the South Downs National Park), this library specializes in works by English women writers from 1600 to 1830, including authors such as Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Frances Burney. It also houses the Knight Collection, the private library of the family who owned the house for over 400 years. Jane Austen’s brother, Edward, inherited the property and added the walled kitchen garden, shrubberies, and parkland. You can see the dining room table where Austen joined her family for meals and the library collection that contains a manuscript written in her own hand.

    Chawton, Hampshire, GU34 1SJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Library and gardens £10; gardens only £6, House closed Jan. and Nov., Mon. and Tues. in early Dec., and some Sat. in June and July (check website); gardens closed Jan.
  • 3. Chesil Beach

    The unique geological curiosity known as Chesil Beach (official slogan: "18 miles and 180 billion pebbles") is in fact not a beach but a tombolo, a thin strip of sand and shingle that joins two bits of land together. Part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Chesil, 18 miles long, is remarkable for its pebbles that decrease in size from east to west. It's also known as the setting for Ian McEwan's novel and its 2018 film adaptation, On Chesil Beach. You can access the eastern section leading to the Isle of Portland (a peninsula) and the western section beyond Abbotsbury year-round. However, access to the central section is restricted, with its environmentally sensitive eastern side that faces the Fleet Lagoon (a large saline lake) entirely off-limits and its western side closed from April to August to protect nesting birds (though you can visit the lagoon in a purpose-built boat, the Fleet Explorer, that runs daily tours.) The entire rugged beach is better suited to walking and fossil hunting than sunbathing and swimming since powerful undertows make the water dangerous (plus it's cold). There are walking and cycle trails along the rugged coastline. Amenities: parking (at five access points, £6–£ 10 per day); toilets (at five access points). Best for: walking; windsurfing.

    Portland Beach Rd., Portland, Dorset, DT4 9XE, England
  • 4. Highclere Castle

    Set in 1,000 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown, this is the historic home of the actual earls of Carnarvon—as opposed to the imaginary earls of Grantham that are portrayed living within it in the television drama Downton Abbey. Victorian Gothic rather than actual Gothic, this huge country house was designed by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the similar Houses of Parliament. Commissioned by the third earl in 1838 to transform a simpler Georgian mansion, Barry used golden Bath stone to create this fantasy castle bristling with turrets. Like its fictional counterpart, it served as a hospital during World War I. Highlights of the State Rooms include van Dyck's equestrian portrait of Charles I in the Dining Room and the imposing library (Lord Grantham's retreat). There's also an exhibit of Egyptian antiquities collected by the fifth earl, known for his pivotal role in the 1920s excavation of ancient Egyptian tombs, notably Tutankhamun's. Find pleasant views of the house and countryside by walking the gardens and grounds. You can only visit the estate through guided tours of the house, exhibition, and grounds. Morning and afternoon tours are offered on weekdays in July through early September; otherwise, tours (plus picnic or afternoon tea and entertainment) are available during intermittent themed weekends throughout the year. Be sure to book all tours in advance. Two lodges on the estate are available for two or three-night stays from February through December. The house is 25 miles north of Winchester and 5 miles south of Newbury. There's train service from London and Winchester to Newbury, and taxis can take you the 5 miles to Highclere.

    Highclere Park, Newbury, West Berkshire, RG20 9RN, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £27.50 castle, exhibition, and gardens; £20.50 castle and gardens, Closed weekends July–Sept. and Sept.–July except for select dates
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  • 5. Jane Austen's House Museum

    This unassuming redbrick house is where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life, writing Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park, and revising Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice. Now a museum, the house retains a modest but genteel atmosphere suitable for the home of a clergyman's widow and her unmarried daughters. The drawing room contains a piano similar to the one Jane would play every morning before retiring to a small writing table in the family dining parlor—leaving her sister, Cassandra, to do the household chores ("I find composition impossible with my head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb," Jane wrote). In the early 19th century, the road near the house was a bustling thoroughfare, and although Jane was famous for working through interruptions, she retained one protection against the outside world—the famous creaking door, its hinges deliberately un-oiled to better warn her when someone was entering her workspace. The museum is often closed for special events, so call ahead.

    Winchester Rd., Chawton, Hampshire, GU34 1SD, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £12, Closed Mon. and Tues. in Oct. and Mon.–Wed. in mid-Nov.–mid-Dec.
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  • 6. Longleat House

    The family seat of the Marquesses of Bath, Longleat House is one of southern England's most famous stately homes, and possibly the most ambitiously, even eccentrically, commercialized, as evidenced by the presence of a drive-through safari park (open since 1966) with giraffes, zebras, gorillas, monkeys, rhinos, and lions. A two-hour, first-come, first-served Safari Bus tour of the park is provided twice daily (£8). The house, considered to be one of the finest remaining examples of High Elizabethan, was largely completed in 1580 for more than £8,000, an astronomical sum at the time. It contains outstanding tapestries, paintings, porcelain, furniture, and one of the largest private collections of books in England (more than 40,000 volumes housed in seven libraries). Notable period features include Victorian kitchens, painted ceilings, and an Elizabethan great hall with massive wooden beams and a minstrels' gallery. You can wander at will or take one of the specialized one-hour guided tours (such as the "Rooftop" tour or the "Scandalous History" tour) for an extra fee. In addition to 900 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown, plus formal and pleasure gardens and the safari park, the property has a miniature steam railway, a koala family, an extensive (and fairly fiendish) hedge maze, a "jungle cruise" past a colony of lowland gorillas, and an "adventure castle," all of which makes it extremely popular, particularly in summer and during school vacations. Be sure to book your tickets online before you visit. You can stay at one of seven cottages on site (from £375).

    Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £36.95, Closed early Jan.–mid-Feb., Mon.–Thurs. in Mar., and Mon.–Wed. in Nov.
  • 7. Mary Rose

    An on-site museum houses the Mary Rose, the former flagship of Henry VIII's navy and the world's only 16th-century warship on display. Built in this same dockyard more than 500 years ago, the ship sank in the harbor in 1545 and remained there until raised in 1982. In an accompanying exhibition, you can see artifacts retrieved from the seabed ranging from the ship's large guns to personal possessions like surgeon's tools, tankards, bowls, nit combs, and games.

    Main Rd., Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 3PY, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £24 (includes admission to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard); £34 with two other Dockyard attractions; guided tour £15
  • 8. New Forest

    This national park, still largely owned by the Crown, consists of 150 square miles of woodland, heaths, grassland, bogs, and the remains of coppices and timber plantations established in the 17th to 19th century. Residents have had grazing rights since the 12th century, and you can still encounter free-roaming cattle, and, most famously, the hardy New Forest ponies. An extensive network of trails makes it a wonderful place for biking, walking, and horseback riding.

    Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 9. Osborne House

    This palazzo-style Italianate house, much of it designed by Prince Albert in collaboration with Thomas Cubitt, was the royal family's private retreat and Queen Victoria's favorite residence. The house reveals Albert's interest in engineering through clever innovations like an early form of central heating, as well as Victoria's determination to give her children a normal but disciplined upbringing. After Albert's death in 1861, the queen retreated to Osborne to mourn her loss in relative seclusion, and the antiques-filled rooms have scarcely been altered since she died here in 1901. The house and extensive grounds (also designed by Albert)—which can be quite crowded during July and August—were used as a location for the 2019 television series Victoria. From June to September, a minibus can take you to Victoria's private beach, now open to the public, where you can see her personal bathing machine. Another minibus goes to the Swiss Cottage, a replica Alpine chalet built as a playhouse for Victoria and Albert's nine children; there are also two playgrounds for young children on-site. Book ahead for guided tours of the house and gardens. Buses 4 (from Ryde) and 5 (from Cowes and Newport) stop outside.

    York Ave., Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JX, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £19, Closed weekdays Jan.–mid.-Feb. and Mon. and Tues. Nov.–Dec. and mid-Feb.–Mar.; Swiss Cottage closed Nov.–Mar.
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  • 10. Salisbury Cathedral

    Salisbury is dominated by the towering cathedral, a soaring hymn in stone. It is unique among cathedrals in that it was conceived and built as a whole in the amazingly short span of 38 years (1220–58). The spire, added in 1320, is the tallest in England and a miraculous feat of medieval engineering—even though the point, 404 feet above the ground, is 2½ feet off vertical. The excellent model of the cathedral in the north nave aisle, directly in front of you as you enter, shows the building about 20 years into construction, and makes clear the ambition of Salisbury's medieval builders. For all their sophistication, the height and immense weight of the great spire have always posed structural problems. In the late 17th century, Sir Christopher Wren was summoned from London to strengthen the spire, and in the mid-19th century Sir George Gilbert Scott, the leading Victorian Gothicist who designed the Houses of Parliament, undertook a major program of restoration. He also initiated a clearing out of the interior and removed some less-than-sympathetic 18th-century alterations, returning a more authentically Gothic feel. The spartan interior is enlivened by the remarkable lancet windows and sculpted tombs of crusaders and other medieval notables. Next to the cathedral model in the north aisle is a medieval clock—probably the oldest working mechanism in Europe, if not the world—made in 1386. The cloisters are the largest in England, and the octagonal Chapter House contains a marvelous 13th-century frieze showing scenes from the Old Testament. Here you can also see one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the charter of rights the English barons forced King John to accept in 1215; it was sent here for safekeeping in the 13th century. There are bookable tours of the Tower, the Library (which dates from 1445 and has more than 10,000 books, some 800 years old), and the Stonemasonry Works. Join a free one-hour tour of the cathedral, which leaves two or more times a day. For a peaceful break, the café in the cloister serves freshly baked cakes and pastries, plus hot lunches.

    Cathedral Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2EJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Cathedral and Chapter House £9; tower tour £16; stonemasonry works tour £17; library tour £20
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  • 11. SeaCity Museum

    This museum tells the story of the city's residents—from the earliest settlers through the Romans and Saxons to the present—via artifacts from maritime, local history, archaeology, and archive collections as well as through audiovisual installations. Ships, notably the great clippers, feature prominently, especially in the main exhibition devoted to the impact on the city of the sinking of the Titanic, which departed from here in 1912. An interactive model of the ill-fated ship and a wealth of footage and photos provide insight into the lives of the crew, many of whom were recruited locally.

    Havelock Rd., Southampton, S014 7FY, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £9.50
  • 12. Sherborne Castle

    After building this castle in 1594, Sir Walter Raleigh made it his home for 10 years before it passed into the custodianship of the Digby family. The castle's interiors cover a variety of periods, including Tudor, Jacobean, and Georgian. The Victorian Gothic rooms are notable for their splendid plaster ceiling moldings. After admiring the extensive collections of Meissen and Asian porcelain, stroll around the lake and 45 acres of landscaped grounds (a designated English Heritage Grade I site), the work of Capability Brown. The house is less than a mile southeast of town.

    New Rd., Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5NR, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Castle and gardens £13.50; gardens only £9, Closed Nov.–early Apr. and Mon. and Fri. except bank holidays
  • 13. Stonehenge

    Mysterious and ancient, Stonehenge has baffled archaeologists, not to mention the general public, for centuries. One of England's most visited monuments (attracting more than a million visitors a year) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the circle of giant stones standing starkly against the wide sweep of Salisbury Plain still has the capacity to fascinate and move those who view it. Unattractive visitor facilities have been removed to better establish the stones in their original context of grass fields, other nearby monuments, and their original processional approach, the Avenue. Although general visitors can no longer enter the stone circle itself (except by special arrangement; call for further information), you can roam free over the surrounding landscape with its Neolithic earthworks, some of which predate the stones. To best experience the awe and mystery of Stonehenge, visit the circle in the early morning or in the evening, when the crowds have dispersed. Stonehenge was begun as early as 3000 BC with the construction of a circular earthwork enclosure. The nearby Cursus, long rectangular earthwork banks, were also created around this time. The stone circle itself was completed in stages, beginning around 2500 BC with the inner circle of bluestones, and continued to be changed and in use until around 1600 BC. The early inner circle was later surrounded by an outer circle of 30 sarsen stones, huge sandstone blocks weighing up to 25 tons, which are believed to have originated from the Marlborough Downs. Within these two circles was a horseshoe-shape group of sarsen trilithons (two large vertical stones supporting a third stone laid horizontally across it) and within that another horseshoe-shape grouping of bluestones. The sarsens used in the trilithons averaged 45 tons. Many of the huge stones were brought here from great distances before the invention of the wheel, and it's not certain what ancient form of transportation was used to move them. Every time a reconstruction of the journey has been attempted, it has failed. The labor involved in quarrying, transporting, and carving these stones is astonishing, all the more so when you realize that it was accomplished about the same time as the construction of Egypt's major pyramids. Stonehenge (the name derives from the Saxon term for "hanging stones") has been excavated several times over the centuries, but the primary reason for its erection remains unknown. It's fairly certain that it was a religious site, and that worship here involved the cycles of the sun; the alignment of the stones on the axis of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset makes this clear. Viewed from the center of the stone circle, the sun rises adjacent to the Heel Stone at midsummer and sets between the stones of the tallest trilithon at midwinter. The Druids certainly had nothing to do with the construction: the monument had already been in existence for nearly 2,000 years by the time they appeared. Some historians have maintained that Stonehenge was a kind of Neolithic computer, with a sophisticated astronomical purpose—an observatory of sorts—though evidence from excavations in the early 20th century shows that it had once been used as a burial ground. Another possibility is that this Neolithic village was home to those who performed the religious rites at Stonehenge, where people gathered from far and wide to feast and worship. Without direct access to the stones, it is not possible to closely examine their prehistoric carvings, some of which show axes and daggers, so bring a pair of binoculars to help make out the details on the monoliths. To fully engage your imagination or to get that magical photo, it's worth exploring all aspects of the site, both near and far. An informative visitor center is located 1½ miles away (access to the stone circle is via a frequent shuttle), with parking, audio guide rental, a café, loads of branded merchandise, and an exhibition of prehistoric objects found at the site. There's also a dramatic display using time-lapse photography that puts you (virtually) in the center of the circle as the seasons change. Next to the visitor center are some re-created Neolithic huts that show how the people who built and used Stonehenge might have lived. Visits are by 30-minute timed admission slots only.

    Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £21.80, Last admission 2 hrs before closing
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  • 14. Stourhead

    Close to the village of Stourton lies one of Wiltshire's most breathtaking sights—Stourhead, a Palladian mansion whose gardens are the most celebrated example of the English 18th-century taste for "natural" landscaping. Both house and grounds have few parallels for beauty anywhere in Europe. Stourhead was built between 1721 and 1725 by wealthy banker Henry Hoare, popularly known as "Good Henry" (he died the same year as the mansion's completion), with his descendants adding the portico and wings (a fire gutted the building in 1902 shortly after restoration, but it was able to be largely reconstructed unaltered). Henry's grandson added a wing for the elegant Regency library and a picture gallery built to house his collections of paintings and books. There are also significant collections of Chippendale furniture and Chinese and French porcelain collected by the early Hoares on their Grand Tours, comprising some 8,000 objects in total. Still, Stourhead's greatest masterpiece is its gardens, designed by Henry Hoare II and open to visitors since the 1740s. Influenced by the neoclassical dream landscapes of 17th-century painters Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, Henry "the Magnificent" used hills, water (notably the central lake), and a remarkable collection of trees and shrubs—interspersed with classically inspired temples, grottoes, follies, and bridges—to create the effect of a three-dimensional oil painting. Discover the changing vistas on a walk around the artificial lake (1½ miles; walk counterclockwise for the best views). The best times to visit are early summer when the massive banks of rhododendrons are in full bloom or mid-October for autumn color, but the gardens are beautiful at any time of year. You can get a fine view of the surrounding area from King Alfred's Tower, a 1772 folly (a structure built for picturesque effect).

    Stourton, Wiltshire, BA12 6QF, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £18; parking £4, House closed Jan.–mid-Mar.
  • 15. The Great Hall

    A short walk west of the cathedral, this outstanding example of early English Gothic architecture, and one of Britain's finest surviving 13th-century halls, is all that remains of the city's original Norman castle built by William the Conqueror (later razed by Oliver Cromwell). It's also the site of numerous historically significant events: the English Parliament is thought to have had one of its first meetings here in 1246, Sir Walter Raleigh was tried for conspiracy against King James I in 1603, and Dame Alice Lisle was sentenced to death by the brutal Judge Jeffreys for sheltering fugitives after Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. Hanging on the west wall is the hall's greatest artifact, a huge oak table, which, legend has it, was King Arthur's original Round Table. In fact, it was probably created around 1290 at the beginning of the reign of Edward I for a tournament. It is not clear when the green and white stripes that divide the table into 24 places, each with the name of a knight of the mythical Round Table, were added, but it is certain that the Tudor Rose in the center surmounted by a portrait of King Arthur was commissioned by Henry VIII. Take time to wander through the garden—a re-creation of a medieval shady retreat, named for two queens: Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile. Tours are available daily at 11 am and 3 pm.

    Castle Ave., Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8UJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £4, May be closed for events—check website
  • 16. Ventnor Botanic Garden

    Laid out over 22 acres, these gardens contain more than 3,500 species of trees, plants, and shrubs. Thanks to a unique microclimate, subtropical flora from the Mediterranean, Antipodes, and South Africa flourish outdoors. The impressive greenhouse includes banana trees and a waterfall; a visitor center, with a gift shop that sells plants and seeds, puts the gardens into context. Admission includes a guided tour. You can also stay overnight on the grounds, either in a three-bedroom cottage, in one of two luxury cabins, or in a teepee (July and August only). All include admission and after-hours access to the gardens.

    Undercliff Dr., Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 1UL, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £9.50
  • 17. West Kennet Long Barrow

    One of the largest Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain, West Kennet Long Barrow was built around 3650 BC. You can explore all around the site and also enter the tomb, which was used for more than 1,000 years (though only 50 people were buried here) before the main passage was blocked and the entrance closed, around 2000 BC. More than 300 feet long, it has an elevated position with a great view of Silbury Hill and the surrounding countryside. It's about 1 mile east of Avebury.

    Avebury, Wiltshire, SN8 1QF, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 18. Wilton House

    This is considered to be one of the loveliest stately homes in England and, along with its grounds, a fine example of the English Palladian style. The seat of the earls of Pembroke since Tudor times, the south wing of the current building was rebuilt in the early 17th century by Isaac de Caus, with input from Inigo Jones, Ben Jonson's stage designer and the architect of London's Banqueting House. It was completed by James Webb, again with input from Jones, Webb's uncle-by-marriage, after the recently finished south wing was ravaged by fire in 1647. Most noteworthy are the seven state rooms in the south wing, among them the Single Cube Room (built as a perfect 30-foot cube) and, one of the most extravagantly beautiful rooms in the history of interior decoration, the aptly named Double Cube Room. The name refers to its proportions (60 feet long by 30 feet wide and 30 feet high), evidence of Jones's classically inspired belief that beauty in architecture derives from harmony and balance. The room's headliner is the spectacular van Dyck portrait of the Pembroke family. Elsewhere at Wilton House, the art collection includes several other Old Master paintings, including works by Rembrandt and members of the Brueghel family. Another exhibition is devoted to Cecil Beaton's photo portraits of 20th-century notables and the current Lord Pembroke's collection of classic cars. Also of note are the 22 acres of lovely grounds, which have sweeping lawns dotted with towering oaks; the gardens; and the Palladian bridge crossing the small River Nadder, designed by the ninth earl after the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Some public rooms may be closed on some open days—check website for more information.

    Off A36, Wilton, Wiltshire, SP2 0BJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £18; grounds only £7.50, Closed Fri., Sat., and mid Sept.–Apr.
  • 19. Winchester Cathedral

    The imposing Norman exterior of the city's greatest monument, begun in 1079 and consecrated in 1093, makes the Gothic lightness within even more breathtaking. It's one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, and throughout it you will find outstanding examples of every major architectural style from the 11th to 16th century: the transepts and crypt are 11th-century Romanesque; the great nave, the longest in Europe, is 14th- and 15th-century Perpendicular Gothic; and the presbytery (behind the choir, holding the high altar) is 14th-century Decorated Gothic. Other notable features include the richly carved 14th-century choir stalls, the ornate 15th-century stone screen behind the high altar, and the largest surviving spread of 13th-century floor tiles in England. Little of the original stained glass has survived, except in the large window over the entrance. When Cromwell's troops ransacked the cathedral in the 17th century, locals hid away bits of stained glass they found on the ground so that it could later be replaced. Free tours are run year-round, Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm. The Library's Winchester Bible, one of the finest remaining 12th-century illuminated manuscripts, is on display in an exhibition space in the South Transept. The patron saint of the cathedral is St. Swithun (died AD 862), an Anglo-Saxon bishop who is also buried here. He had requested an outdoor burial plot, but his body was transferred to the newly restored church in 971, accompanied by, legend has it, 40 days of rain. Since then, folklore says that rain on St. Swithun's Day (July 15) means 40 more days of wet weather. Among the other well-known people buried here are William the Conqueror's son, William II ("Rufus"), mysteriously murdered in the New Forest in 1100, and Jane Austen, whose grave lies in the north aisle of the nave. The tombstone makes no mention of Austen's literary status, though a brass plaque in the wall, dating from 80 years after her death, celebrates her achievements, and modern panels provide an overview of her life and work. You can also explore the tower—with far-reaching views in fair weather—and other recesses of the building on a tour (£10, available July through September on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). Special services or ceremonies may mean the cathedral, the crypt, and the Treasury are closed to visits, so call ahead. Outside the cathedral, explore the Close, the area to the south of the cathedral with neat lawns, the Deanery, Dome Alley, and Cheyney Court.

    The Close, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9LS, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £10; tower tour £10
  • 20. Abbotsbury Swannery

    Just outside Abbotsbury is one of the world's few remaining undisturbed brackish lagoons, a wildlife haven and the only place in the world where you can walk through a colony of nesting mute swans. Originally tended by Benedictine monks as a source of meat in winter, the swans have remained for centuries, drawn by the lagoon's soft, moist eelgrass—a favorite food—and fresh water. Now some 600 swans build nests yearly in reeds provided by the swannery. Cygnets hatch between mid-May and late June. You can try hand-feeding the birds at noon and 4 pm daily. You can also try finding your way out of the county's largest willow maze (swan-shaped, naturally).

    New Barn Rd., Abbotsbury, Dorset, DT3 4JG, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £12; £18 includes subtropical gardens, Closed Nov.–mid-Mar.

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