Few places in the country can boast two rivers, two castles, an 11th century Priory Church, a mill of Saxon origin, a medieval bridge and the site of a civil war siege in 1645, so it's no wonder that people have been visiting Christchurch for hundreds of years!
Christchurch's spectacular location on the shores of its own natural harbour makes it the perfect place to relax and enjoy stunning views across the four miles of coastline, as well as taking part in a range of water activities.
There is so much to see and do, you'll need at least a whole day (or weekend) to soak up the atmosphere of this quaint and historic town. Here are some suggestions for spending 24 hours in Christchurch.
Explore the Priory Quarter
In the morning, be sure to explore the historic Priory Quarter right in the heart of the town centre. If you happen to be visiting on a Monday, you will find the popular Christchurch Market on the High Street.
As part of your morning’s itinerary, enjoy the serene atmosphere of the medieval monastic Priory Church with its excellent architecture ranging from Norman through to Rennaisance. Explore the Lady Chapel, learn about the ‘Miraculous Beam’ or for added insight go on a guided tour. If you’re feeling brave, then climb the spiral steps (all 176 of them!) to the top of the tower for amazing views of the town and harbour.
From the Priory, walk the Covent Walk along the Mill Steam to Christchurch Castle situated in the centre of town. This castle ruin was constructed in the late 11th century inside a Saxon fort. Take a peek at the Norman House chimney, once part of the luxurious Constable’s House - it is the oldest in Britain!
Visit the Quay
Christchurch Quay is the perfect place to stop for lunch. In the summer months the bandstand entertains visitors whilst you soak up the riverside setting. On the quay you will also find Place Mill which is a carefully restored watermill of Anglo-Saxon origin and mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
Hot summer days are ideal for discovering the fantastic Splashpark on the Quay – an excellent water play park for children with its interactive features including water sprays and all free of charge.
Follow in the footsteps of Mr. Selfridge
In the afternoon, pay a visit to Highcliffe Castle - once owned by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The castle is a magnificent Grade 1 Listed 1830s mansion built by Lord Stuart de Rothesay. The cliff-top grounds, with wonderful views of the Dorset coastline and the Isle of Wight, provide access to the beach (one of six in Christchurch) and to the Christchurch Coastal Path. The Castle became derelict in the late 1960s following two fires and although it no longer has its rich interiors, the Castle now houses a Heritage Centre containing stateroom galleries, which provide the backdrop to an exciting programme of events and exhibitions.
From the Castle you can walk the two and a half mile coastal path passing through Steamer Point Nature Reserve to Mudeford Quay where Christchurch Quay is just a vintage boat ride away. Picturesque Mudeford Quay with its lobster pots and fishing boats in the centre of the local fishing industry as well as water-based activities - you can learn to sail, windsurf, kayak and stand-up-paddleboard from here. The Quay is also very popular for crab-fishing which is great fun for the children and families.
Not just daytime entertainment
Round off your day with a film or show at the Regent Centre - housed within a 1930's Art Deco building in the centre of town. Showing a mixture of blockbuster movies, theatre and concerts, all ages will be entertained.
And don’t forget the fabulous range of restaurants, pubs and bistros that Christchurch has to offer. Whether you are looking for traditional English roasts or flavours of the world, you won’t be disappointed with your choice.
If you'd like to stay overnight and explore more of Christchurch the next day, take a look at our accommodation options in Christchurch.