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Top Winchester Attractions - From Grand Buildings to Quiet Corners

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Visitors to Winchester are often surprised by how much there is to see and do in such a compact city with only 50,000 residents. The stand-out attraction is the cathedral, but there are numerous other significant buildings and institutions, such as Winchester College, with fascinating histories. The old city centre is another big draw, with its mix of shopping, dining, and period architecture.

Winchester Cathedral


Exploring Winchester Cathedral is like diving head first into more than 1,000 years of English history. Built next to the foundations of a 7th-century church, the cathedral itself dates back to 1093, although only fragments of that original structure survive. The building that stands today was assembled bit by bit between the 12th and 15th centuries, and many of its interior features - like the expertly carved choir stalls - are from that time. There are 3 popular guided tours on offer, as well as daily evensong and several Sunday services.


  • Winchester Cathedral, 9 The Close, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9LS; Tel: +44 1962 857200; Website: Winchester Cathedral

Winchester College


Britain's oldest steadily running public school is one of just a handful in the country that offer guided tours. Founded in the 14th century by then-Bishop of Winchester, the school is still regarded as one of the top learning centres in the nation. Significant historical buildings include the 14th-century Gothic chapel and a large 17th-century hall used for exams to this day. The architecture is impressive, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the tour is observing how the school balances centuries of tradition with the demands of modern-day learning.


  • Winchester College, College Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9NA; Tel: +44 1962 621100; Website: Winchester College


The city centre


You'll probably become quite familiar with the city centre during your visit: Most of the accommodation and dining options are here, and almost all the big tourist spots are within walking distance. But the centre of Winchester is an attraction in itself, featuring historical curiosities like The Pentice - a row of 15th-century buildings with upper levels that hang over the street - and an intricate monument called Butter Cross, which was built in the 15th century with funds raised from a tax on butter. In The Square, a pedestrianized area, you'll find welcoming venues like The Eclipse Inn pub.


  • The Eclipse Inn, 25 The Square, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9EX; Tel: +44 1962 865676; Website: The Eclipse Inn


Kingsgate Village


This quiet corner of central Winchester, close to Winchester College, is home to one of the 2 surviving fortified gates in the city. Kingsgate is believed to be where the Romans erected a city gate almost 2000 years ago. Atop the structure is a tranquil, diminutive church, St. Swithun-upon-Kingsgate. Nearby, The Wykeham Arms is a cozy spot with local ales. There are also several bookshops, including P&G Wells, which has been trading for over 250 years.


  • The Wykeham Arms, 75 Kingsgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9PE; Tel: +44 1962 853834; Website: The Wykeham Arms

  • P&G Wells, 11 College Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9LZ; Tel: +44 1962 852016; Website: P&G Wells


The outskirts


If you have a car (or even a bicycle), it's well worth venturing away from central Winchester into the surrounding villages and countryside. Mid-Hants Railway, affectionately known as the 'Watercress Line,' is a 10-mile track from the steam-train era. The preserved station in Alresford is home to several vintage trains. Twyford Waterworks, a preserved Edwardian pumping station, holds regular open days - more frequently during the summer - with restored machinery in operation.


  • Mid-Hants Railway, The Railway Station, Station Road, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9JG; Tel: +44 1962 733810; Website: Mid-Hants Railway

  • Twyford Waterworks, Hazeley Road, Twyford, Hampshire SO21 1QA; Tel: +44 1962 714716; Website: Twyford Waterworks