Thanks to its organised growth, Basingstoke is well planned, with countless opportunities for shopping, entertainment, sports and leisure all within easy reach. The centre is dominated by the vast Festival Place shopping centre, which is home to over 200 shops, plus restaurants, cafes, a multi-screen cinema, a sports centre and Basingstoke Discovery Centre, a library and community hub. The bus station and a multi-storey car park are also incorporated into Festival Place.
Beyond the glass and steel, there are still some smaller-scale delights to discover in the town centre. A wander round the pedestrianised streets surrounding the Market Place - known locally as the Top of the Town - will give you more of a flavour of historic Basingstoke. Here there's more of a mix of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, plus a street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Willis Museum, housed in the old town hall, reveals the area's local history and was once, it is said, where famous former resident Jane Austen used to come to dances with her sister.
As well as Austen's house in nearby Chawton, there's a whole host of other attractions in the countryside around Basingstoke, including Stratfield Saye House - former home of the Duke of Wellington - and The Vyne, a National Trust-run mansion with an innovative adventure playground known as the Hidden Realm.