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The medieval city of Winchester is on the edge of the South Downs. With an historic cathedral and ancient streets, Winchester is a popular choice for history tourists. It is also well placed to explore southern England - get a hire car in Winchester and discover the coastal city of Bournemouth, which is a 45-minute drive away, the beautiful New Forest 20 minutes down the road and London, which is an hour up the M3.
Southampton Airport is 11 miles from Winchester, a drive of about 16 minutes. The city is situated on the M3 motorway and is a short distance from the M27.
If you want to hire a rental car in Winchester try Avis, Budget, Hertz and Easirent. There is also a wide choice of brands available to pick up at Southampton Airport.
Winchester and the surrounding county of Hampshire is Jane Austen territory. The quaint towns and villages and gentle rolling hills formed the backdrop to many of her novels. Visit Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, 16 miles from Winchester, where the author spent the last eight years of her life. Then go to Winchester Cathedral to see where she is buried.
The university city of Southampton is 12 miles south on the M3, a drive of 20 minutes. Try the Westquay shopping centre for high street brands, or Bedford Place for independent shops and cafes. The SeaCity museum explores the city’s maritime history, and Southampton City Art Gallery has artworks spanning eight centuries. You could also head to Southampton’s port for ferries to and from the Isle of Wight, an island just off England’s south coast with popular sandy beaches.
Bristol is an hour and a half from Winchester by car, just under 90 miles. This is a busy university city with a large youth population and a lively pub scene. There are a wide variety of restaurants and cafes and the waterfront area has galleries, cafes and boats including the historic SS Great Britain, which has its own visitor centre there. While in Winchester you could also take the opportunity to visit London, a 70-mile drive of one hour and 40 minutes, or take a direct train to Waterloo. Wander the Southbank to see some of the capital’s iconic views and pop into the bar at the Royal Festival Hall for a fancy cocktail.
Winchester is a compact city with a number of car parks. The M3 and M27 are close by and easy to navigate with good signposts. If you are travelling with children be aware that child car seats must be used until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years old.
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