The Southampton port, which is the largest city in Hampshire is located on the peninsula between the mouths of the Rivers Test and Itchen. It features one of the biggest natural harbours in the country. Until the 1930s, England was the busiest port for transatlantic passenger travel, and giant liners like Queen Mary were constructed in local shipyards.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants fled the world on ships travelling from here, including the Titanic. It’s still a busy harbour, and it’s a great spot to stop to see the huge cruise and the freight ships come and go. The views are particularly strong from the excellent Hythe Ferry line, which operates daily across the Solent, a 20-mile-wide strip that divides the Isle of Wight from the mainland. But there’s more to it than just a maritime history. Here is a guide to things to do in Southampton and where to go in one of the most ancient and warmest cities in the UK.
Visit Mayflower Theater | Things to do in Southampton
The Mayflower Theater is the main theatre on the south shore. Their goal is to introduce a broad variety of shows to Southampton and to offer a mixture of dazzling travelling works, ranging from music to dance, opera, theatre, comedy and ballet.
Visit Southampton Football Club | Things to see & do in Southampton
It is a stadium with a capacity of around 32,384 people plus a supermarket, dining services, bars and stadium tours. The house of the Southampton Football Club (a The Saints), daily football matches is conducted here during the season. Outside the football season, the stadium is used as a venue for concerts as well as recent acts, such as Take That and Rod Stewart.
See the Town Walls | Things to do in Southampton
The old town of Southampton is defended by some of the most full medieval defences in the country. These have their roots when Southampton was relocated which was in the 10th century. In 1338, Southampton experienced a French attack, and later that century the reaction was to rebuild the walls with a two-kilometre curtain, breached by eight gates and fortified by 29 towers. A one-kilometre walk on the north and west sides of Bargate Street, Back of the Walls, Town Quay and the Western Esplanade can be found. There are panels illustrating the design and some of the activities that have taken place at these sites.
Shop at Bargate | The top things to do and see in Southampton
The finest relic of the old walls is the Grade I gate that commands Southampton’s main shopping district. It was first constructed from limestone and flint at the end of the 12th century. Bargate took on its current shape a century later when it was flanked by two strong drum towers and arrow loops.
Also modified at the period, the south side of the gate became even more ornamental, with a series of four lancet windows over five Gothic arches.
In the niche above the central portal is a statue of King George III in Roman attire, dated to 1809 and substituted by a wooden representation of Queen Anne, who reigned at the beginning of the 18th century. The gate is used for short-term exhibits at Southampton Solent University.
Visit Steamships Shieldhall | Things to do in Southampton
Steamships Shieldhall is the biggest operating steamship in the UK. As a part of the National Historic Fleet, she acts as a sea that pays homage to Britain’s maritime heritage. Passengers will witness the golden age of steam by scheduling an excursion or visiting Southampton. Shieldhall is also eligible for private charter or on-site rental.
Visit Tudor House and Garden | Best places to visit in Southampton
Tudor House is Southampton’s most significant historic building which reveals over 800 years of history in one captivating location at the heart of the city’s Old Town, in Bugle Street, opposite St. Michael’s Square. Tudor House provides a fascinating and atmospheric overview of the lives and times of both its inhabitants over the years and of Southampton itself. It appeals to guests of all ages and preferences who find family-friendly games, immersive technologies and a fascinating mix of a very favourable combination.
Originally developed in the 16th century, the garden was seen as an expansion of the house itself. The new garden is a reproduction of the Tudor Knot Garden, planned by garden historian Dr Sylvia Landsberg.
The garden is focused on manuscripts and other historical documents. Garden amenities include parapets and mounts, a fountain plot, a seat arbour, and a bee bole.
Visit SeaCity Museum | Things to do in Southampton
Inaugurated in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the departure of the RMS Titanic from Southampton, this is a multimillion-pound museum. SeaCity is in a restored wing of the Civic Center building that used to house a police station as well as a magistrate court.
“Gateway to the World” is a celebration of Southampton’s existence as a central port in England, capturing the citizens and goods that have passed through the region since the Middle Ages.
The head-turner is a one-ton reproduction of the RMS Queen Mary ocean liner, which operated between Southampton, Cherbourg and New York until 1967. The “Titanic Story” provides a new take on the most infamous maritime tragedy in the world, telling the story from the perspective of the crew, most of whom were located in Southampton.
Visit Sir Harrold Hillier Gardens | Things to see & do in Southampton
Not far away in Romsey is the splendid 72-hectare arboretum, established in 1953 by the horticulturalist Harold Hillier. This is all on the grounds of Jermyn’s Building, Hillier’s old residence, where one can find a tearoom. Surrounded by twisting pathways and formal alleys, the park has more than 42,000 trees and shrubs, containing about 12,000 taxa, and the collections of rhododendrons, oaks, camellias and magnolias are especially notable.
Any of the highlights are the 250-metre Centenary Border, Winter Garden, Himalayan Valley, Azalalea Woodland and Hydrangea Walk. It’s fun for girls, too, in the bamboo maze, the treehouse, the wobbly bridge and the flying carpet swing.
Visit New Forest National Park | Things to do in Southampton
If anybody is on the path or riding a boat over to Hythe, one of the UK’s most beloved national parks is less than ten miles from Southampton. The park includes the greatest remaining swathes of unenclosed farmland, heathland and forest in the south-east of England. The landscape is low-lying and is cycling heaven, with a grid of large, signposted paths and hire stations in villages like Brockenhurst and Burley.
The ancient beech glades in the New Forest are magnificent, and if you’re still, roe, fallow and red deer might cross one’s path. Out on the heaths are the semi-feral New Forest Ponies, originating from equines who were here until the last ice age, 500,000 years earlier.
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