Southampton is a historic port town located in the county of Hampshire on the South Coast.
The city first became an important port in 1066 when the Normans arrived.
Southampton became famous for being a liner port from the middle of the 1800’s, and in 1912 the famous liner, The Titanic, departed for its fateful maiden voyage.
Alongside this Southampton had been crucial in the second world war and is still a valuable commercial port today.
If you’re looking for some of the best things to do in Southampton there are lots to chose from including the Tudor House and Garden, Southampton City Art Gallery and Ocean Village.
Things To Do In Southampton
1. Tudor House and Garden
The Tudor House is Southampton’s most important historic building and is located in the heart of Southampton city centre.
When you first enter Tudor house you get a pre-show that explains the 800 years of history of the building.
As you explore and move through the house, you’ll discover each room’s unique story telling about its former inhabitants.
Going further inside Garden Tudor house, you’ll have lots of exhibits to read about and artefacts to see.
The old building and creaky floorboards add to the feel and make it a great museum to visit.
Outside visitors can admire the beautifully restored formal Tudor garden and visit the onsite café that offers a variety of refreshments and ice cream.
Address: Tudor House and Garden, Bugle Street, Southampton SO14 2AD
2. Explore the City’s Historic Walls
A lot of Southampton’s history can be found by exploring the City Walls.
Along with the Bargate, Southampton has one of the longest stretches of medieval walls in Britain representing a wonderful example of medieval architecture.
The Wind Whistle Tower on Western Esplanade offers a great view of Southampton’s medieval walls from the 14th century.
Continue along the walls south to Mayflower Park, which features a monument dedicated to the Pilgrim Fathers adjacent to it.
The remains of God’s House Tower, a 12th-century hospital formerly dedicated to St. Julian, are located near by on Winkle Street.
Visitors can take guided walking tours of the medieval vaults and ancient walls, as well as self-guided tours with a ‘walking map’ available online.
Address: Southampton City’s Historic Walls, Southampton SO14 1JU
3. Southampton City Art Gallery
The Southampton City Art Gallery was founded in the Art Deco Civic Centre complex in 1939.
The collection consists of over 5,000 pieces dating from eight centuries with rotating displays, work by local artists and national touring exhibitions.
The core of the collection is from world-renowned 20th-century and contemporary British painters, sculptors and photographers.
The gallery is free to visit, and visitors can enjoy gallery trails, a fantastic range of activities for all ages and art clubs.
Southampton City Art Gallery is one of the best art galleries in the south of England and is well worth a visit.
Address: Southampton City Art Gallery, Civic Centre, Commercial Rd, Southampton SO14 7LY
4. SeaCity Museum
The SeaCity museum located in the former police station and magistrates’ court wing of the Civic Centre complex, tells the story of the people of Southampton.
There are 2 main permanent exhibitions available for visitors.
In “Gateway to the World,” Southampton is celebrated for its role as an important harbour in England, showcasing people and items that have passed through the city since the Middle Ages.
The “Titanic Story” gives a unique perspective on the world’s biggest maritime disaster from the point of view of the ship’s crew, something that is rare to find.
You can then watch reconstructions from the court inquiry into the disaster and listen to survivors’ audio testimonies.
The SeaCity Museum is good for anyone interested in the Titanic, but also has hands-on activities for children and touch-screen exhibits.
Address: SeaCity Museum, Havelock Rd, Southampton SO14 7FY
5. Solent Sky Museum
To narrate the tale of Southampton’s aviation history, Solent Sky has a wonderful range of models and photos, as well as numerous fantastic aircraft.
The area became renowned for its cutting-edge work between 1908 and the late 1960s, perhaps most famous being the Spitfire.
The huge Sandringham flying boat and the Supermarine racing seaplane are two of the museum’s main attractions.
Great for anyone interested in aviation, with a large collection of vintage aircraft, engines, uniforms and memorabilia, it’s a fun place to visit.
Address: Solent Sky Museum, Albert Rd S, Southampton SO14 3FR
6. Mayflower Theatre
This 2300 capacity theatre has been reinvented several times since it originally opened in 1928.
When it first opened as the Empire Theatre it quickly grew to be a popular venue for live music, hosting artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
Mayflower Theatre is now listed as a Grade II building and tickets for productions can be bought online.
Inside you’ll find several musicals and theatre productions running throughout the year, you’ll also find concerts, stand up comedy and opera hosted regularly.
The theatre also runs backstage tours where visitors can explore behind the scenes of the theatre with an experienced guide.
Address: Mayflower Theatre, 22-26 Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GE
Bargate is a Grade I listed gate and one of the best preserved relics of the old city walls.
The Bargate, located in the center of High Street, was built as the primary entrance to medieval walled town circa 1180 AD. Out of all the town gateways in Britain, it has been deemed as one of the finest.
Originally built in the 12th century from flint and limestone, the final form of the gate didn’t take shape until 100 years later when arrow loops were added alongside two drum towers.
The gate is a great spot to snap photos and soak up the history.
Address: High St, Southampton SO14 2DJ
8. Medieval Merchant’s House
The Medieval Merchant’s House, located near the heart of the city, is another great old house to explore.
This stately townhouse, built in 1290, has gone through a full restoration and is now one of the only remaining examples of this type of architecture from a medieval city.
While visiting, you will be able to view collections of furniture and wall hangings, as well as unique architectural features that give you a look at the luxurious lifestyle of an wealthy 13th-century family.
Visitors can take a step back in time as you learn about the history of Southampton’s old town.
Address: Medieval Merchant’s House, 58 French St, Southampton SO14 2AT
9. West Quay Shopping Centre
The West Quay Shopping Centre is a perfect place to grab some food or do some shopping.
The mall is modern, air conditioned and spacious so you won’t have to struggle with crowds.
The shopping centre has all of your typical shops you expect in a UK shopping destination like John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and more.
You’ll also be able to enjoy some great food from Wagamama’s, Pizza Hut and many other chains.
The shopping centre also has a cinema if you have some spare time you can drop by to enjoy a movie.
Address: West Quay Shopping Centre, Harbour Parade, Southampton SO15 1QF
10. Ocean Village
Ocean Village is a bustling dock area that has been newly renovated into a contemporary leisure and shopping centre.
In front of Canute’s Pavilion, visitors can admire the many luxury yachts docked in the harbour.
This area also has designer boutiques, movie theatres, brasseries, fine dining restaurants and steakhouses.
If you’re looking for some additional activities, Ocean Village offers sailing, boat trips and opportunities to see the magnificent cruise ships docked in the Eastern Docks.
Address: Ocean Village, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 3QF
11. Steamship Shieldhall
The SS Shieldhall, which you can normally find berthed at Berth 110 in Southampton Docks, is the largest working steam ship in Europe.
The Shieldhall was originally used for moving sewage down the River Clyde in Scotland to then be dumped at sea.
In addition to its regular duties, the SS Shieldhall operated as a cruise boat during summer months.
The vessel is now run by volunteers and offers tours of the boat, with Cruises offered from May to September.
Address: SS Shieldhall, 110 Berth, Southampton SO15 0HH
12. St Mary’s Stadium
St Mary’s Stadium is an iconic football stadium located in the heart of Southampton.
The stadium has been home to Southampton Football Club since 2001, and has also hosted numerous other sporting and musical events over the years.
The stadium is renowned for its atmosphere and passionate fans, and has a capacity of 32,384.
It is one of the largest stadiums in the Premier League and has hosted some of the biggest names in world football.
Tours of the stadium are available on non-matchday weekends where visitors can see the changing rooms, walk down the tunnel and more.
The Stadium is truly a unique place to watch football, and is a must-visit for any fan of the beautiful game.
Address: Britannia Rd, Southampton SO14 5FP
13. Hythe Ferry
Not only is Southampton one of the world’s biggest and busiest ports, but it also functions as a vital ferry terminal for local passenger traffic.
Even if you are only taking a short trip, riding on a Southampton ferry can still be a lot of fun.
From the Town Quay, take a 15-minute journey (just for foot passengers) to Hythe while enjoying superb views of both the city and large cruise ships.
The RMS Titanic left from these docks on her final journey and you’ll be taking the same route out.
The Hythe Pier Railway is the UK’s oldest pier train and has been operational since 1909, transporting passengers to and from the ferry departure point at the end of a long pier.
The excitement for many comes from just getting to ride on this historic train.
Address: The Pier, Prospect Pl, Hythe, Southampton SO45 6AU
14. New Forest National Park
Only a short drive from Southampton lies one of the UK’s most cherished national parks.
The New Forest National Park is home to the greatest surviving stretches of unenclosed heathland and woods in south-eastern England.
The scenery is flat and ideal for cycling, with a network of broad, signposted roads and hire stations in towns.
If you take a peaceful stroll through the old beech forests in the New Forest wildlife park, you might catch views of roe, fallow, and red deer and if you’re very quiet, they may even cross your path.
The New Forest Ponies, a breed of ponies that descend from horses who arrived many years ago, also live in the New Forest and roam freely.
The New Forest is extremely popular for outdoor activities particularly for a bike ride, horse ride, rambling, camping and for anyone who just loves nature and the outdoors.
Address: New Forest National Park, Hampshire
Where is Itchen Valley Country Park in Southampton?
Itchen Valley Country Park is located just off the A27 in Southampton.
It has 440 acres of woodland, meadows, nature trails, a cafe and a visitor centre located beside the River Itchen.
What is Southampton famous for?
Southampton is famous for being the departure point of the RMS Titanic.
It is also known for classic museums and maritime history.
Is Royal Victoria Country Park Southampton worth a visit?
Royal Victoria Country Park covers over 200 acres and has outstanding natural beauty.
Great for nature lovers the park has mature woodland areas, grassy open spaces, ponds, and a shingle beach.
Is Manor Farm Country Park in Southampton?
Manor Farm Country Park is approximately midway between Southampton and Portsmouth.
The Farm makes a great family day out if you’re visiting Southampton.
Manor Farm Country Park has Alpacas, Sheep, Cattle, Geese, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and much more.
Where is the Southampton Boat Show?
The Southampton Boat Show is held every year in September in Mayflower Park, Southampton.
The first Southampton Boat Show took place in 1969.