12 best things to do in Southampton
Southampton is a port city on England’s south coast. Southampton has a historic port where many of the world’s largest cruise liners continue to dock.
One such ship, the Titanic departed from Southampton on its ill-fated maiden voyage.
The city also has an aviation background as the place where the Spitfire fighter plane was assembled in the 1930s.
Southampton was the springboard for the D-Day landings in the Second World War, and earlier had been badly damaged by German bombing campaigns because of its value as a commercial port.
Let find out the best things to do in Southampton.
How to get to Southampton
Southampton city has great connectivity, and internationally with an international airport, Europe’s largest cruise port, two ferry ports and national rail and coach links.
Southampton Central rail station is served by direct trains to and from many cities across the country including:
- South Western Railway
- Southern Railway
- Cross Country Train
- Great Western Railway
Southampton International Airport serves the many UK and European destinations and has flights to and from destinations including The Channel Islands, France, Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Italy. You can get from the Airport just 6 6 minutes by train and 20 minutes by bus to reach the city center.
Southampton port is the cruise industry capital of Europe, home to luxury liners.
There are two Red Funnel ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight departing from Town Quay; a high-speed service for foot passengers (23-25 minutes) and a ferry for vehicles, cyclists and foot passengers (55-60 minutes).
The main Coach station is National Express coach station. Coaches travel to and from various destinations all over the country including many major airports such as London Heathrow and the popular destination of London.
Southampton has excellent road links, with access from both the M3 and M27 motorways. There is lots of parking places around the city.
- SeaCity Museum
The SeaCity Museum is a multimillion-pound museum opened in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of RMS Titanic’s departure from Southampton.
The SeaCity building was once a wing of the Civic Centre complex used to hold the police station and Magistrates’’ court.
The museum showcases Southampton’s life as a key port in England. It documents the people and goods that went through the city since the middle ages.
The main reason people go there is to learn about the famous ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, which sailed between Southampton, Cherbourg and New York until 1967, the Titanic Story. It tells the story from the perspective of the crew.
Open 7 days a week
10am – 4pm
Last admission 2.30pm
2. Tudor House and Garden
This is a 15th century hosue located on Bugle Street. It became the first museum in the city when it opened to the public in 1912. The half-timbered Tudor House and Garden was renovated during a nine-year closure up to 2011, and inside you can get acquainted with the people who lived and worked here down the centuries.
It is a Grade I listed building. This is Southampton’s most important historic building, Tudor House reveals over 800 years of history in one fascinating location at the heart of the Old Town.
Open: Mon-Thurs 10am-3pm (Last entry 2.15pm) | Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Open: Mon-Thurs 10am-3pm (Last entry 2.15pm) | Sat-Sun 10am-5pm Open: Mon-Thurs 10am-3pm (Last entry 2.15pm) | Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
3. Solent Sky museum
In the first decade of the 20th century Southampton was the home of the aviation manufacturer, Supermarine, which designed the cherished Spitfire fighter plane. Solent Sky is an aviation museum in Southampton.
There’s a Spitfire F.24, as well as the Supermarine S.6, which won the Schneider trophy in 1929. There’s a lot of other British-made hardware like a de Havilland Vampire, a Slingsby Grasshopper training glider, a Short Sandringham flying boat and a Folland Gnat.
The museum also has propeller and jet engines by Bristol, Napier, Alvis, and Rolls-Royce.
Mon: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Tue: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Wed: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Thu: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Fri: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Sat: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Family Ticket £20
4. Medieval City Walls
This is a 14th century medieval walls. It is the third longest unbroken stretch of city wall in Britain. A half-mile-long stretch of medieval forts built after a devastating pirate attack persists amid the modern port city.
It is situated behind the modern-looking city. A way-marked trail, “Walk the Southampton Walls,” leads curious visitors around the 1.25-mile perimeter of the old medieval trading town. The walk takes in 13 remaining towers, six city gates, and half a mile of thick stone walls and arcades. Most existing features were built in the 1360s by a population still reeling from an attack by French and Genoese Privateers.
5. Southampton City Art Gallery
This is an art Gallery that is it is located in the Civic Centre on Commercial Road. The gallery holds a ” Designated Collection”, considered one of the strongest in the South of England, made up of 5,000 works spanning eight centuries.
The bulk of these pieces are by luminaries of 20th-century and contemporary British painting, sculpture and photography, like members of the Camden Town Group and the London Group, as well as Richard Long, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon.
Free Entry Ticket
Mon – Fri, 10am – 3pm (Last entry 2.30pm)
Sat, 10am – 4pm. (Last entry 3.30pm)
The Bargate is a Grade I listed medieval gatehouse in the city centre of Southampton. First built from limestone and flint at the end of the 12th century, Bargate took on its present form a century later when it was flanked by two powerful drum towers and given arrow loops.
Also altered at that time, the south side of the gate is much more ornamental, with a row of four lancet windows above five Gothic arches. The medieval Bargate gatehouse was built out of flint and stone by the Normans in 1180, the large drum towers with arrow slit windows were added to the north side in 1290.
7. Town Walls
Southampton’s town walls are a sequence of defensive structures built around the town. The old town is protected by some of the most medieval defence in the country.
The city was raided by the French in 13388. Then the country responded with Southampton’s town walls are a sequence of defensive structures built around the town.
There has been one-kilometer walking circuit has been preserved at Bargate Street, Back of the Walls, Town Quay and the Western Esplanade.. You can find panels explaining the architecture and some of the events that took place at these locations.
8. Mayflower Theatre
One of the draws for the city is its 2,300 capacity theatre, which opened in 1928 and has been reinvented a few times since. The Mayflower is a Grade II listed building, and when it was known as the Gaumont between 1950 and 1986 hosted The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Queen. The Theatre is hosting musicals, opera, concerts and stand-up comedians.
9. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
It is just outside Southampton in Romsey. 72-hectare arboretum founded in 1953 by the horticulturalist Harold Hillier.
This is all in the grounds of Jermyn’s House, Hillier’s former home, where you’ll now find a tearoom. As well as this, it has over over 42,000 trees and shrubs in about 12,000 taxa.
Some of the many highlights are the 250-meter Centenary Border, Winter Garden, Himalayan Valley, Azalalea Woodland, and Hydrangea Walk.
There’s fun for youngsters too, at the bamboo tunnel, treehouse, wobbly bridge, and flying carpet swing.
10. The Medieval Merchant’s House
The Medieval Merchant’s House is a restored late-13th-century building. That was built in 1290 by John Fortin, a prosperous merchant, the house survived many centuries of domestic and commercial.
It was damaged in the Second World War that revealed its medieval origins. It was soon bought by the city council and restored to its 14th-century appearance.
Back in the day the owner has his business form the open shop front in the porch, and goods like wine would have been stored in the vaulted undercroft beneath the building.
On the first floor you can look around the bed chambers, fitted with replica Medieval furniture.
Member – Join now Free
Child (5-17 years) £3.00
Concession tool-tip £4.50
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £13.00
Family (1 adult, up to 3 children) £8.00
11. Beaulieu & the National Motor Museum
This is a Motor Museum that is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to the automobile. It is situated 1 14-mile southwest of Southampton through parts of the New Forest.
It has many exhibitions that include the official collection of James Bonds vehicles. As well as this, it has other famous cars including the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and some from Top Gear.
Also of note is the fantastic Palace House and Gardens. Formerly the 13th-century Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey. It great to explore for its immaculate spreading lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River
12. Netley Abbey
The stunning ruins of Netley Abby were founded in 1239, have inspired many English writers, poets, and artists over the years. The most notably the painter John Constable.
The village of Netley is also worth visitin. Is is only 5 miles outside of Southampton. It is associated with famous people such as Queen Victoria, who laid the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital.