It is to the east of the South East Dorset conurbation, and faces Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight which is connected to it by a car ferry, operated by Wightlink. The town has a large tourist industry, based on proximity to the New Forest and the harbour. It is a major yachting centre with three marinas. According to the 2001 census the Lymington urban area had a population of about 14,000.
The town has many shops, catering for tourists and sailing enthusiasts alike. There is a local market every Saturday, which takes place in the main High Street. The market is fairly typical for southern England, selling a selection of cheap general household items, craft items and a selection of food produce from the local area.
Lymington is also famous for its sailing history, and in recent years, has been home to world famous regattas such as the Royal Lymington Cup, Etchells Worlds, Macnamara's Bowl, and Source Regatta. The strong tides make it a challenging race track, and together with the shallow depth of the river, has resulted in Lymington losing a lot of regattas to the Central Solent, principally run from Cowes. Nevertheless, Thursday Evening Racing takes place with up to 100 boats registered to race every Thursday night during the summer, hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Started in the 1990s, it has continued to become more and more popular.