Calm, collegiate Winchester is a mellow must-see. The past still echoes strongly around the flint-flecked walls of this ancient cathedral city. It was the capital of Saxon kings and a power base of bishops, and its statues and sights evoke two of England's mightiest myth-makers: Alfred the Great and King Arthur (he of the round table).
Southampton is a useful transport hub. Southampton International Airport sits between Winchester, Portsmouth and Bournemouth and connects with more than 30 UK and European destinations, including Amsterdam, Glasgow, Paris and Dublin. Trains run direct from the airport to Bournemouth (£13, 30 minutes, three per hour) via Brockenhurst in the New Forest (£9, 25 minutes).