The New Forest, a wonderful corner of woodlands and moorland in Hampshire in Southern England shouldn’t really be called ‘new’ – it has been a wild space since medieval times, when it was a royal hunting ground. Now the park is an open-air playground connected by walking routes, cycling paths and horse-riding trails, and dotted with campsites where you can pitch a tent among the trees for a proper escape.
As well as great outdoor activities, New Forest camping trips are also great for wildlife fans. This is, after all, a National Park, home to plentiful birdlife, no fewer than five species of deer, and of course the famous free roaming ponies. If it happens to rain on your New Forest camping holiday, you can escape to visit stately homes, pretty villages, the National Motor Museum, or just a traditional country pub.
Our pick of the very best New Forest campsites are all relaxed and family-friendly, often with amazing walks right out of the door. Plenty of our these campsites allow dogs or permit campfires, and some are very near the coast, so you can combine the best of the New Forest with a visit to Hampshire’s finest beaches.
Not sure if traditional camping is your bag? We’ve included two beautiful New Forest glamping sites too, where you can bed down under the stars, but with a few more little luxuries on tap. Happy camping.
BEST FOR: Campfires
Chapelfield is here for a good time, not a long time. This lovely pop-up campsite in the New Forest opens for just a month each summer in a site hidden in the heart of the National Park, and provides a family-friendly, peaceful base from which to ramble, cycle or horse ride in the New Forest. A river and a pub are also both short walks away.
There’s no electricity at Chapelfield, so it’s mostly tents rather than big campervans taking up the 80 grass pitches. There’s a little shop selling essentials, and if you fancy a spot of marshmallow roasting and storytelling round the campfire, you’re in luck. Also, unlike some areas of the New Forest, fires are allowed here, so stock up on firewood.
FIND OUT MORE: chapelfieldcamping.co.uk
BEST FOR: Families
Like your camping holidays simple and relaxed? You’ll love the chilled-out vibe at family favourite Teddy’s, where kids and grownups alike can run free in the woods. You can pitch your canvas home wherever you like on this sprawling, popular farm site (there’s space for around 60 pitches), and you’re welcome to say hello to the resident flock of sheep (or even buy some of the farm’s lamb for a slap-up evening barbeque).
There are lovely walking routes through the New Forest National Park right on your doorstep, plus the beaches and coastal footpaths around the town of Lymington are only a short drive away. Dogs are welcome, and campfires are permitted.
Opening times vary throughout the summer.
FIND OUT MORE: teddysfarm.co.uk
Hollands Wood Campsite
BEST FOR: Amenities
Hollands Wood is one of the most famous New Forest campsites, having welcomed campers for generations. This huge site has room for a whopping 600 pitches, but these are spread through 22 hectares of oak woodland, meaning each tent or campervan gets its own grassy glade surrounded by trees. This gives a feeling of privacy and space despite the numbers (although you may find you share your chosen campsite with the New Forest ponies, who are allowed to roam free on the site).
There are great camping amenities on offer at Hollands Wood, including hot showers, a helpful reception and an on-site shop. If you’re a keen hiker, bring your walking boots – there are miles of forest trails to explore in the surrounding area, and the campsite has recommended walking routes you can pick up instructions for.
Open April to September.
FIND OUT MORE: campingintheforest.co.uk
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BEST FOR: Plenty of space
If you don’t like rubbing shoulders with your neighbours when you're camping, this is the New Forest campsite for you. As charming and quaint as its name suggests, this prettiest of forest campsites is no-frills — you're in the midst of the sights and sounds of nature, with 60 grass pitches spread across a very generous 15 acres of grassy fields.
If you can tear yourself away from the peace of the farm, go and explore Hurst Castle nearby, head further into the New Forest to roam the woods on foot or by bike or walk the short distance to the town of Milford-on-Sea and the nearby coast. One of our favourite campsites in the New Forest.
Open during August.
FIND OUT MORE: muddycreekfarm.co.uk
BEST FOR: Relaxing
‘Turn off the email alerts and uncork the wine’ suggest the owners of Harry’s Field on their website. Sound tempting? It looks pretty tempting too, when you get there. In fact, it’s easy to live the good life at this gorgeous, friendly New Forest campsite, where you can meet wild donkeys, play pooh sticks in the river or ramble miles and miles of forest track on trails through ancient trees that start right from your tent. Bring your own or rent one of the site's gorgeous bell glamping tents for a little added luxury.
The award-winning pub the Forester’s Arms is literally under a minute’s walk away, making this a great choice for more grown-up summer camping trips to the New Forest, and a great site to visit in the quieter months of May and June.
Open May to August.
FIND OUT MORE: newforestcampsite.com
BEST FOR: Winter
Hate the idea of big, busy campsites, or not too keen to go camping in a traditional canvas tent? Fernwood Glamping is here to make you fall in love with holidays in the wild. At this New Forest glamping site there are just two places to sleep – a gypsy caravan and a shepherd’s hut, both sleeping four and both with wood-burning stoves to keep you cosy and warm all night long.
There’s also a little summerhouse on site where you can charge your phone or make a morning cup of tea. You can spot deer and foxes in the surrounding fields, go hiking or biking in the woods or browse the weekly market held in the nearby town of Ringwood. Fernwood is open year-round, making it one of the best New Forest campsites for a winter escape—both for glampers and campers alike.
FIND OUT MORE: fernwood-ringwood.co.uk
BEST FOR: Hiking
Smack-bang in the heart of the New Forest, this large campsite near the village of Ashurst is the perfect base for exploring the sprawling New Forest National Park, with plenty of space for free-ranging kids to run amok.
You can head into the New Forest National Park on trails that run straight out into Ashurst Wood or onto Matley Heath, or pop into pretty Ashurst – its shops are a five-minute walk away. There are 280 pitches of various sizes and degrees of seclusion on offer at Ashurst, which is open from April through to September.
Open May to September.
FIND OUT MORE: campingintheforest.co.uk
Lepe Beach Campsite
BEST FOR: Coastal camping
Think 'campsites in the New Forest’ and you may not picture the coast, but you can have the best of both worlds at Lepe Beach, a traditional tent-only campsite where 100 pitches look out over the Solent and across to the Isle of Wight.
The big highlight at Lepe? The beach is only a scant 150 yards away, and the New Forest National Park is also within easy reach. Add to that some great facilities, open campfires and pre-pitched and furnished tents to hire if you don’t have your own camping kit, and you’ve got a real winner.
Open May to August.
FIND OUT MORE: campsites.co.uk
BEST FOR: Glamping
‘Nature without the rough’ is the motto at Sopley Lake Yurt Camp, one of the most luxurious campsites in the New Forest. Six gorgeous yurts sit on the edge of Sopley Lake, just three miles from the edge of the New Forest National Park, welcoming visitors all year round.
At Sopley Farm you can pick your own fruit and veg in the summer months, or head to the beach at Highcliffe Castle, only a 15-minute drive away. The yurts really are something special – made in Mongolia, they come complete with proper beds and flushing loos, hot showers, barbeques, even wood burners and hammocks. Twitchers can sit on the wooden verandas and watch for the wild birds that visit the lake.
FIND OUT MORE: forestyurts.com
BEST FOR: Campervans and caravans
Exploring the New Forest in your rolling home? Setthorns makes for a great place to stay, with grass and hard standing pitches to choose from and an electric hook up available for each pitch.
Some of the campervan pitches are so secluded you'll feel as if you're alone in the forest, and your dog is also welcome. If you're planning lots of walks in the surrounding New Forest National Park, Wilverley Inclosure and Whitefield Moor are both short strolls away, and Setley Ridge Farm Shop is a great place to stock up on everything you need for a barbecue.
FIND OUT MORE: campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
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