This 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, cycling and horse-riding trails, and dotted with peaceful campsites where you can pitch a tent among the trees for a proper escape.
The New Forest National Park is perfect if you like getting active on camping adventures – miles of cycling tracks and woodland trails far from busy roads mean you can go on a new car-free adventure each day. Wildlife fans will also love spotting the National Park’s plentiful birdlife or making friends with the inquisitive wild donkeys and ponies who call the forest home. And if it does happen to rain on your New Forest camping trip, you can escape your tent to visit stately homes, pretty villages, the National Motor Museum or just a traditional country pub.
Our pick of the very best New Forest National Park campsites are all relaxed and family-friendly, often with amazing walks right out of the door. Plenty of our ten best campsites allow dogs or permit campfires, and some are very near the coast, so you can combine the best of the National Park 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 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 opens for just a month each summer in a site hidden in the heart of the New Forest, and makes a family-friendly, peaceful base from which to ramble, cycle or horse ride in the National Park – 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 - 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 beaches and coastal footpaths around the local 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
Welcome to a place loved by generations of campers. This huge campsite has room for a whopping 600 pitches, but as they are spread through 22 hectares of oak woodland, each tent or campervan gets its own grassy glade surrounded by trees, giving feeling of privacy and space (although you may find you share your chosen campsite with the new forest ponies, who are allowed to roam 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 rails to explore in the surrounding forest, 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 pretty campsite is all about no-frills camping 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 into the New Forest National Park 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. Tempting, don’t you reckon? It’s easy to live the good life at this gorgeous, friendly 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 tents for a little added luxury.
Have a well-earned pint in the sunshine at award-winning pub the Forester’s Arms, literally under a minute’s walk away. A great choice for more grown-up summer camping trips to the New Forest National Park, 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. Spot deer and foxes in the surrounding fields, go hiking or biking in the woods or shop in the weekly market held in the nearby town of Ringwood. Fernwood is open year-round, making it the perfect winter escape to the New Forest for glampers and campers alike.
FIND OUT MORE: fernwood-ringwood.co.uk
BEST FOR: Hiking
Smack-bang in the heart of the New Forest National Park woods (and you can expect the local ponies coming to visit), this large campsite near the village of Ashurst is the perfect base for exploring the sprawling forest, with plenty of space on-site for free-ranging kids to run amok.
Head into the National Park on trails that run straight out of the campsite into Ashurst Wood or onto Matley Heath, or pop into pretty Ashurst – its shops are a five-minute walk away. 280 pitches in varied sizes and degrees of seclusion are on offer at Ashurst. Open April through to September.
Open May to September.
FIND OUT MORE: campingintheforest.co.uk
Lepe Beach Campsite
BEST FOR: Coastal camping
Think ‘New Forest’ and you may not picture a coastal campsite, 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 of a campsite.
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, where six gorgeous yurts sit on the edge of Sopley Lake, just three miles from the edge of the New Forest National Park.
Explore Sopley Farm, where 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. Wildlife fans 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 electric hookups available.
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 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 everyhing you need for a barbecue.
FIND OUT MORE: campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
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