Hampshire is one of the many bustling counties in England worthy of a visit. It is located in the southeast region along the coast of the English Channel, and is only a short train ride away from London. What you can expect from a trip down to Hampshire are energetic coastal towns, gorgeous national parks, and a rich history to learn from.

The best time to explore Hampshire is in the spring, which runs from March to June. Temperatures are perfect for enjoying walks through several heritage sites and must-try outdoor activities. That said, it’s never too early to do some planning for future trips. Hampshire has many things to offer its visitors and these are some that should definitely go on your bucket list:

Learn about naval history in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a port city and the UK’s only island city, dating back to the Roman occupation of Britain. It became a point of attack for the Viking invasion, until it eventually served as an important maritime center during Tudor times. The history of Portsmouth is undeniably layered and interesting, and a visit to this city is like taking a walk through different time periods.

Enjoy afternoon tea in Southampton

Southampton is known for many things: its football club (which plays in the Premier League), the many resorts and spas in the city, and the port where the ill-fated Titanic sailed from. It also happens to be the unofficial ‘tea-guzzling capital’ of the UK, as 21% of the residents drink six cups of tea a day, according to Gala Bingo’s Happy Hub. There are many lovely places to enjoy a cup of tea — or six cups if you want to feel like a local — in Southampton, like The Grand Harbour Hotel. Sipping tea while exchanging stories is the perfect relaxing activity, after getting your fill of massages and facials, of course.

Explore the National Parks

If you’re a big fan of national parks, you’re in luck because Hampshire has two: South Downs National Park and New Forest National Park. Hampshire’s share of South Downs is filled with rolling hills, winding footpaths, and even bridleways for horseback riders. Meanwhile, New Forest is perfect for cyclists looking to enjoy leisurely or serious rides. But make sure to give way to ponies and other forest animals who roam the park freely.

Take a heritage walk along Winchester

Winchester is, perhaps, filled with the most interesting historic buildings in Hampshire. Take a full day to explore the Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall, and the Military Quarter. These are just a few of the heritage sites that tell the story of Hampshire’s deep-rooted history.

Get inspired by Jane Austen’s Chawton Residence

Literary fans will be pleased to know that Jane Austen was born and raised in Hampshire. According to The Telegraph, the last years of the novelist’s life were spent in a cottage in Chawton, which still stands today. It is also open to visitors who want a more intimate look into the life of the author of great works such as Pride and PrejudiceMansfield Park, and Emma. Who knows? Maybe exploring her hometown will inspire you to write a novel of your own.

Windsurf in Hayling Island

No trip to Hampshire is complete without taking a dip in its cool blue waters. Hayling Island is the perfect place to do just that, and you can take your adventure up a notch by trying windsurfing. This is actually where the water sport originated! Try it out and experience Hampshire on a whole new level.