There’s no question, a trip to England’s New Forest just isn’t complete without visiting some of its wonderful pubs!
From historic spots to flower-adorned gardens, dog-friendly to family-friendly, there’s a huge range of pubs within this national park that really are a classic part of the experience here.
Which means visiting at least one of them – to either sit by the fire all snuggled up in winter or stretched out in a sunny garden in the summer – really can’t be missed in this part of Hampshire and from a Sunday roast to a non-alcoholic beer or even afternoon tea, there’s plenty of reasons to enjoy them even if you don’t want to drink alcohol.
So here’s my list of the 15 best….
- The 10 Best New Forest Walks
- Ultimate Guide to New Forest Camping
- 21 Best Things to Do in the New Forest
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#1 The Oak Inn, Lyndhurst
Perfect for walkers and dog-owners, the Oak Inn in Lyndhurst is a wonderful, atmospheric pub set in a historic building.
A cosy wooden interior is complemented by a lovely courtyard, complete with picnic benches, that make this New Forest pub great for Sunday lunch or a weekday dinner.
#2 The Rising Sun, New Milton
Set in a beautiful countryside area with a cosy feel, the Rising Sun in New Milton is the perfect spot, especially in the summer thanks to its large garden and decking area.
In the winter, a roaring fire completes the feel of this great local, which is ideal for kids too with its playground and children’s food menu.
Serving food every day from noon, the Rising Sun is a great spot for traditional grub and some great ales.
#3 The Rockingham Arms, West Wellow
Dating back to 1840, this historic New Forest pub is definitely one of the area’s best thanks to its cosy fireplace and deep leather sofas.
Set in the village of West Wellow, this place is full of character with a beautiful garden that leads onto a National Heritage common.
Great home-cooked traditional food, good wine, lots of ales and top coffee, make this a super place to stop no matter whether you’re hungry or thirsty.
Oh and they’re dog-friendly too!
#4 Waterloo Arms, Lyndhurst
A 17th century, thatched roof pub, this New Forest gem certainly ticks the heritage box!
Open fireplaces, a piano and a cosy wooden interior seal the deal in this independently-run spot that caters for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters too.
Indoor and outdoor seating (and some lovely flower boxes) makes this place something of a New Forest pub icon.
#5 Fleur De Lys, Lymington
Also an icon, the Fleur de Lys with its memorable name and gorgeous façade is definitely another of the top New Forest watering holes.
This award-winning and historic pub is situated near Lymington in the coastal region of the New Forest in a village called Pilley.
This is actually thought to be the oldest pub in the area, which means it’s a bucket list tick with a great food and drink menu to boot.
#6 The Royal Oak Hilltop, Beaulieu
Beaulieu is one of my favourite villages in the New Forest, and the Royal Oak Hilltop pub is the perfect place to unwind there after a day’s cycling, walking or road tripping.
Another historic gem, dating from 1848, this pub is a country classic with roading fires and comfy seating,
A beer garden, great Sunday roasts, delicious beers, fresh homemade food and a “dog and muddy boot friendly” approach make it a top spot.
#7 The Pilgrim Inn, Marchwood
If you’re looking for a great place to stay, eat and drink, then the Pilgrim Inn in the New Forest’s Marchwood is a superb choice.
A fresh menu, which uses many locally-sourced ingredients, is always on offer here, with an outstanding array of cask ales to boot!
#8 The Swan, Lyndhurst
A classic New Forest pub, The Swan in Lyndhurst is a traditional country boozer that is family & dog friendly.
A large beer garden, play area and restaurant, where food is served daily, are complemented by a great bar selection and a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks.
The Sunday roasts here deserve a special mention!
#9 The White Hart, Cadnam
On my most recent trip to the New Forest, I was staying in an Airbnb in Cadnam and really loved wandering down the road to this large and friendly pub.
With a huge garden, as well as cosy inside seating, the food here is absolutely delicious and they had some great vegetarian options too.
#10 The Chequers Inn, Lymington
And in at number 10 of this list of the best New Forest pubs, it’s The Chequers Inn in Lymington.
Dating back to the 16th century, this is the perfect spot for walkers (dogs also welcome), as the pub sits along the ancient maritime pathway on the edge of the historic Lymington Salt Marsh and Nature Reserve.
A lovely, hidden and quiet spot, this place shouldn’t missed as part of a good ramble itinerary in the New Forest!
#11 The Foresters Arms, Frogam
A really beautifully decorated pub in the New Forest, the Foresters Arms is Frogam is a classic gastropub, whose recent renovation has made the best of its lovely internal and garden spaces.
Serving real ales and wonderful food, with a seasonal and local twist, this is a top-rated pub is famous for its donkey friends who can often be seen standing by the gate!
#12 The New Forest, Ashurst
With a large outdoor space and some great views, this much-loved New Forest pub is another top one for walkers thanks to its country location and dog-friendly feels.
The children’s playground and large tables make it ideal for families and friends looking to get together and enjoy some delicious food and excellent wines.
#13 The Fisherman’s Rest, Lymington
The opportunity to sit by the warm crackling fire in the winter or the sunny beer garden in the summer, make The Fisherman’s Rest a top New Forest pub that is full of welcoming, local vibes.
Friendly staff serve award-winning food in a place that is popular with locals, visitors, families and four-legged friends alike.
The red brick and pinewood interior only add to the great and relaxed atmosphere.
#14 The Fox and Hounds, Lyndhurst
A chic and rustic feel where country meets quality, the Fox and Hounds in Lyndhurst is a popular favourite on the New Forest pub trail.
Situated in one of the area’s main towns, regular summer theatrical performances make this a great stop for food, drink and entertainment, especially in the summer
A historic former coaching inn, the internal décor is lovely and the beautiful flower boxes outside make sitting on the sunny terrace here a very inviting prospect!
#15 Red Shoot Inn & Brewery, Ringwood
And last but not least on this list of the 15 best New Forest pubs, we come to the Red Shoot in Ringwood.
Up in the northeast of the New Forest, this place has a great community feel, and its spacious inside and outside seating make it a great place for get-togethers.
There’s a gluten-free and children’s menu here too with some delicious local beers on tap produced by the onsite brewery – yum!
How to Get To and Around the New Forest
Driving to the New Forest from across the UK is easy and straightforward with lots of good connections.
If you’re looking to hire a car in the UK, Thrifty Car Hire offer some very competitive rates.
Otherwise, if you’d prefer to use public transport, trains are the best way to get here with over 9 different stations in towns scattered around the New Forest.
Regular connections arrive from London, Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth.
As always, I use Trainline to book my UK coach and rail travel as they compare a huge range of transport options, as well as use split-fare features, to get you the best deal on tickets.
Their handy app also allows you to track your journey, as well as save all your tickets in one handy place – winning!
Where to Stay in the New Forest?
Accommodation in the New Forest isn’t the cheapest, so for those of you on a tight budget, camping really is the best option.
Discover more in my ultimate guide to camping in the New Forest, which includes a list of the top 7 campsites in the area.
For those who want something a bit comfier however, the Highfield Bed & Breakfast in Lymington gets rave reviews thanks to its great location, facilities and service.
Otherwise, these Brockenhurst Apartments are excellent for those who prefer self-catering accommodation with a full kitchen in the heart of the New Forest.
For something a bit more quirky, this brilliantly rated Shepherd’s Hut near Ringwood is the glamping option to go for!
How Long to Visit the New Forest For?
The answer to this question is really up to you.
If you’re staying or based somewhere like Lyndhurst or Lymington, then you can easily day trip to many of the other great spots in the forest on this list.
Otherwise, if you can manage a weekend, then camping in more remote parts is another great option.
When to Visit?
There’s no question in my mind, the best time to visit the New Forest is during the summer season, when the UK’s good weather allows you to get the nicest experience from your time there, especially if you want to enjoy some hiking or cycling,
The only problem with the summer and the weekend is that the New Forest at its busiest then too, so do be warned!
If you have the option to visit on a weekday, or outside of school holidays, then I’d advise this, as parking and finding some more deserted trails will be a lot easier at these times!
I’d always recommend booking a table at a New Forest pub, especially during the weekend or for dinner at most times of the year.
New Forest Packing Essentials
And now here’s my list of the top 5 packing essentials you shouldn’t head to the beautiful New Forest without…
#1 A Good Camera
No doubt you’re going to be snapping like crazy in this gorgeous region and need to ensure you have a good camera to do the place justice.
I love my Sony A6000 and GoPro, which are both light, compact and great for travel.
#2 Decent Walking Shoes
There’s no point coming this far and not being able to enjoy a walk or cycle through the forest trails!
Get prepared therefore and ensure you have a decent pair of walking shoes – these cross trainers from New Balance are ideal (and totally stylish) for the job.
#3 Light Waterproof Jacket
Whatever the time of year, you have to remember this is England after all, a country in which the heavens can open at any point!
Don’t get caught out therefore and ensure you have a good lightweight and waterproof jacket with you.
This North Face one is perfect.
#4 Compact Hiking Day Pack
I never go on any UK trip without a sturdy backpack to ensure I’ve got everything I need and that the weight is equally distributed across my back and shoulders.
This is especially true when I’m heading out to hike or cycle in nature, and this super featherweight Kompressor from Marmot is my go-to, because it folds down to nothing and is water-resistant.
#5 Portable Charger
And finally, I would never head off anywhere without my trusty Anker Portable Charger, which keeps my phone and camera batteries full all day, every day!
This means no matter how many top things I’m enjoying down in the New Forest, I can take all the snaps and use all the maps I need!
Where to Go After?
If you’re still keen for more southern English splendour after the New Forest (and, quite frankly, why wouldn’t you be?!), then you have some more great options on the doorstep.
First up, the nearby cities of Winchester, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton are all worth a visit.
Otherwise, if it’s coastal vibes you’re after, then the beautiful county of Dorset with its great beaches and clifftop walking is just a couple of hours away.
Or, slightly further away, Somerset with its countryside feels, or the seaside glory of Devon, are just a few hours drive from the New Forest.
And who could forget, the Isle of Wight too?!
You can actually catch the ferry to this beautiful spot from Lymington (with your car) in just 30 minutes.
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So there you have it, my list of the 15 best pubs in the New Forest.
Which is your favourite?
Tell me all in the comments box below…