The 10 most popular tourist attractions in Southampton
The port of Southampton is located on a peninsula between the mouths of the Test Rivers as well as the Itchen and boasts one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Until the 1930s, it was England’s busiest port for transatlantic passenger travel, and giant liners like the Queen Mary were built in local shipyards. Hundreds of thousands of emigrants left the country on ships sailing from here, including the Titanic. It is still busy with ports and is a great place to watch large cruise and cargo ships come and go, especially from the excellent Hythe Ferry which runs regularly through the Solent, the 20 mile wide strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland.
Excellent shopping facilities are both in and out of town, one of the best Westquay , and the town also hosts numerous cultural events such as the Southampton International Film Festival , Other popular places in Southampton: New Forest and Isle of Wight , and nature lovers will also appreciate the city’s many green spaces and parks, including the 326-acre Southampton , Another area of countryside is near Itchen Valley Country Park, a beautiful 440-acre hotel offering great hiking and biking.
See also: Where to stay in Southampton
1 Medieval City Walls
Medieval City Walls
The best views of Southampton’s 14th-century medieval walls-the third longest continuous section of city wall in Britain-are obtained at the West Esplanade and the site of the Evening Tower of Whist. The only remaining medieval church in Southampton is St. Michael’s Castle, built in the 11th century and containing Norman relics and a font of Thurn marble.
Follow the walls south to Mayflower Park, which is opposite the Mayflower Memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers and the Woolen House, a 14th-century warehouse. Also nearby is the Tower of God House on Winkle Street, a 12th-century hospital dedicated to St. Julian’s. (A variety of entertainment, guided walks through the old walls and medieval vaults are available).
Location: Bargate, Southampton
2 Tudor House and Garden
Tudor House and Garden
The magnificent Tudor house in St Michael’s Square was built in the late 15th century for a wealthy merchant family. The museum now features exhibits from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as periodic exhibitions spanning more than 900 years of local history. Visitors can use free audio guides while enjoying reconstructed kitchens and numerous artifacts, including Georgian and Victorian jewelry and archaeological finds from the medieval and Tudor periods.
Another classic old house to visit is the Medieval Merchant’s House on French Street. Built in 1290, this historic townhouse – one of the only surviving examples of its kind – is filled with period furniture, wall-mounted windows, and unique architectural flourishes that offer a fascinating insight into the living conditions of a wealthy 13th-century family.
Location: St Michael’s Square, Southampton
Official website: www.tudorhouseandgarden.com
An easy 14-mile journey southwest of Southampton through parts of the New Forest , the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is one of the world’s largest museums devoted to the automobile. Its many exhibits include the official collection of original James Bond vehicles as well as other famous movie cars, including the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter .
Also of note is the fantastic Palace House and Gardens, formerly the Great Gatehouse of 13th-century Beaulieu Abbey, with its immaculate lawns and paths overlooking the Beaulieu River.
Location: Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
4 Maritime Museum
The SeaCity Museum tells the story of Southampton’s residents and their role in Britain’s rich maritime history, including the stories of those who have left (or arrived) at the port over the centuries. It also tells the story of Southampton’s connection to the ill-fated Titanium , which sailed from the port in 1912.
The Art Deco 1930s Civic Center where this fascinating museum is located is also the Southampton City Art Gallery, with its interesting selection of some 3,500 works, including old masters and English artists from 1750 to the present, as well as a valuable collection of ceramics.
Address: Havelock Road, Southampton
Official website: http://seacitymuseum.co.uk/
5 Titanic Trail
titanium went to Southampton on her doomed maiden voyage to New York, and as a result, numerous places around the city are associated with it. One of the best ways to learn about the city’s connections to the ship is through the informative Titanic Trail (maps are available from local tourist offices and many popular tourist attractions around town).
Along the way, you’ll visit the remarkable Titanic Engineers Memorial in East Park, a beautiful bronze and granite monument that opened to a crowd of 100,000 Southampton residents in April 1914 (none of the ship’s 35 engineers survived). Nearby is the Titanic Musicians Memorial, dedicated to the ship’s musicians.
6 SS Shieldhall.
SS Shieldhall Les Chatfield / photo modified
Part of the British National Historic Fleet, the SS Shieldhall is the largest surviving working steamer of her type in Europe. Built in 1954 as one of the Clyde this impressive vessel is fully restored and serves as a working example of the machinery typical of the large ships that surrounded the world’s oceans between the 1870s and 1960s.
In addition to educational and sightseeing outings, the ship makes regular appearances at the Southampton Maritime Festival , every summer, which brings together many events, displays and attractions, including historic ships, vehicles and fly-ins on vintage planes.
Location: 110 Berth Street, Southampton
Official website: www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk
7 Solent Sky
Solent Sky Antony *** / photo modified
Solent Sky uses a fantastic collection of models and photographs as well as 19 magnificent aircraft to tell the story of Southampton’s aviation heritage. The region is famous for its experimental and developmental work between 1908 and the late 1960s, the most famous of which is the iconic flashy , Museum exhibits include the huge Sandringham flying ship and the supermarine racing seaplane (predecessor to the Spitfire) that won the Schneider Trophy in the early 1930s.
Address: Albert Road South, Royal Crescent, Southampton
Official website: www.solentskymuseum.org
8 The Old Town and the barges
Old Town and Barges.
Just south of downtown, Southampton’s Old Town has many unique sites associated with famous residents and visitors, including William the Conqueror, Henry V, William Shakespeare, the Pilgrim Fathers, Isaac Watson and Jane Austen.
Originally built as the main entrance to the medieval city, the 800-year-old Bargate marks the entrance to Old Town and is used to house temporary art exhibits and events. Numerous plaques have been laid from Bargate to the shore to mark key events, from early Roman settlement to the opening of the National Oceanographic Center .
Location: Bargate, Southampton
9 Ocean Village
Ocean Village Henry Burroughs / photo modified
Just east of Southampton’s old town, Princess Alexandra Dock has been transformed into a modern leisure and shopping center. Smart yachts are moored in the harbor in front of Canute’s Pavilion, with its designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants, movie theaters (including art house and foreign language films), boat tours, sailing facilities, and great views of the cruise ships moored at East Dock.
Location: Ocean Village, Southampton
10 Netley Abbey.
Nith Abbey Pimlico Badger / photo modified
The magnificent ruins of Nettley Abbey, founded in 1239, have inspired many English writers, poets and artists over the years, most notably the painter John Constable , Nettley Village is also worth visiting and is associated with famous people such as Queen Victoria, who laid the foundations for the Royal Victoria Military Hospital which Florence Nightingale helped design. It was also said that Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional Dr. Watson trained. Nearby is the Royal Victoria Park, which encompasses about 200 acres of woods and parkland, as well as a small pebble beach.
Location: Netley, Hampshire
Official website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/netley-abbey/
Where to stay in Southampton for sightseeing
In Southampton, most of the major attractions are scattered throughout the city, including the Tudor House and Garden, the old city walls, the SeaCity Museum, and the Titanic Walkway. For easy access to all of these attractions, as well as the port, downtown makes a great base – especially for regular visitors. Visitors traveling to the city aboard a cruise ship often stop near the south end of town for easy access to the terminals. Here are some highly rated hotels in these convenient locations:
Luxury Hotels: The elegant, modern and contemporary Novotel Southampton has a fitness center and indoor pool. It is close to West Quay Shopping Center and a 5-minute drive from the cruise ship terminals. The hotel is also conveniently located to the port and less than a five-minute walk from the Tudor House and Garden Hotel. The Grand Harbour Hotel has a glass facade with a triangular shape and a cozy indoor pool. Some rooms have sea views. The Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin, housed in a heritage Georgian building, combines original architectural features with modern decor, steps away from the old city walls and Tudor House and Garden.