Places to stay in
Hampshire is the largest county in South East England and the third
largest shire county in the United Kingdom despite losing more land
than any other English county during the Local Government Act 1972
At its greatest size in 1889, Hampshire was the fifth largest
county in England. It now has an overall area of 3,700 square kilometres
(1,400 sq mi), and measures approximately 86 kilometres (53 mi)
east–west and 76 kilometres (47 mi) north–south.
Hampshire's tourist attractions include many seaside resorts, the
motor museum at Beaulieu, with national parks in both New Forest
and the South Downs (covering some 45% of the county). Hampshire
has a long maritime history and two of England's largest ports,
Portsmouth and Southampton, lie on its coast.
Hampshire's county town is Winchester, a historic city that was
once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex and of England
until the Norman conquest of England. Hampshire lies outside the
green belt area of restricted development around London, but has
good railway and motorway links to the capital, and in common with
the rest of the south-east has seen the growth of dormitory towns
since the 1960s. The county also includes several market towns:
Alton, Andover, Bishop's Waltham, Lymington, New Milton, Petersfield,
Ringwood, Romsey and Whitchurch.