Perched in the south of England, the city of Southampton has heaps of history, galleries and museums to explore. There’s honestly a shed load of the best things to do in Southampton dotted all across the city.
This all makes it the kind of place that’s perfect for a day trip or a longer weekend getaway.
Not only that, but it’s also a great city to base yourself on for a trip around the wider region (that’s totally stunning). You’ll be spoilt for choice, especially with South Downs National Park, dramatic coastlines and the Isle of Wight close by!
So, to make sure you get the most out of your trip, I wanted to share some gems you can’t miss in Southampton.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Southampton. Have the most amazing trip!
1.) Tudor House and Garden
Considered one of Southampton’s oldest and important Tudor buildings, the Tudor House and Garden is a dazzler you can’t miss in the city.
Holding over 800 years-worth of the city’s history, the half-timbered structure was built way back in the 15th century. At the time, it was a wealthy private home that stood proudly in the much smaller Southampton. Nowadays, it’s a museum that explores the vast history of the region and is great for a little gander inside.
Take a wander through each of the rooms and exhibitions that’ll give you the lowdown of everything from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We love it here.
3.) Titanic Trail
Did you know, Southampton is closely tied to the iconic ship – the Titanic? It was the first port it left before sinking after hitting that iceberg on its route to New York City.
To commemorate that fateful journey from Southampton, numerous sites have been constructed and dedicated to the ship and the overall tragedy all across the city.
To make sure you see them all, Southampton has its very own Titanic Trail that’s really easy to stroll over an hour, or so.
Beginning at the Civic Centre it takes you to a ramble to the memorials themselves.
Along the way, you’ll get to see a heap of significant places to do with the Titanic. In all, there are around 13 spots to see, like the Titanic Engineers’ Memorial in East Park. It’s a pretty distinctive bronze and granite monument that is built in memory of the 35 engineers who lost their lives when the ship sank.
Along the way, make sure to look out for the Titanic Musicians’ Memorial which gives homage to the ship’s musicians.
Plus, can download the free Titanic Trail map (Pdf) and follow it right from your phone.
This medical gatehouse has seen a lot of things over the years! It’s part of the city’s long history and was built way back in the 12th century.
Although a visit to Bargate won’t take you long, it’s still worth taking a gander as it’s right in the centre of Southampton and so easy.
Afterwards, head across in the afternoon and grab a bite or wander the high street stores (in West Quay Shopping Centre) that’s nearby.
We loved the chilled out vibe of Heartbreakers for some of their cocktails. You might even catch some live music on the weekend.
5.) SeaCity Museum
If you love museums, then the SeaCity Museum is a place you can’t miss!
Paying tribute to Southampton’s seafaring history and heritage, it’s one of the best things to do in Southampton to get a rounded history of the city.
Being one of the major ports in England, the two permanent exhibitions pay tribute to their connection with the sea. One celebrates the city’s role as the gateway between the UK and the rest of the world, while the second is the city’s connection with the tragic story of the Titanic.
Aside from a model of the Titanic, the museum has a disaster room that retells the 1930s enquiry into the ship’s ill fate. There are even reenactments and audio accounts from the survivors that you can listen to.
Oh, and another spot to see is a one-ton replica of the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, too.
6.) Medieval City Walls
City walls were a feature of many medieval cities in England, with Southampton being one of the greats!
Without getting into a long history lesson, it was actually a heap of French raids in 1338 that led to Southampton surrounding the city by the wall.
This vast wall, separated by eight gates and supported by a whopping 29 towers was the pride of the city; with some still standing to this day.
A one-kilometre walking circuit has been retained along Bargate Street, Back of the Walls, Town Quay and the Western Esplanade. It’s well worth taking a gander and one of the best things to do in Southampton if you love history.
7.) New Forest National Park
One of England’s national parks, New Forest is a perfect place to visit if you fancy a little getaway from the city itself.
With heaps of trails, rolling hills, heathland and woodland, it’s the kind of place where you can really get away from it all.
We love the Solent Way Walk that’s totally gorgeous. Yes, it’s about 60-miles in length but you don’t need to do it all in one go!
Also, if you’ve got time, take a little peek in the New Forest Water Gardens. It’s totally beautiful and such a gorgeous little spot on a sunny day.
Oh, and if you fancy more of a beach day in the New Forest area, then head across to Calshot Beach. Just be sure to pack your sunblock, that wind can be deceiving on your skin!
8.) Solent Sky Museum & John Hansard Art Gallery
As much as Southampton is closely associated with the sea, it’s also deeply connected with the skies, too; and the Solent Sky Museum will tell you why.
Housing an impressive collection of models and photographs from the golden age of aviation, it’s the kind of place that’s great for a gander if you love aviation and tech history.
Whilst here, you’ll get to explore the early decades of the 20th century, too. This was when Supermarine, an aviation manufacturer, settled in Southampton where it designed the iconic Spitfire.
It’s well worth going if you’re into your aviation but you might wanna give it a miss if not. If that sounds like you, pop over to the John Hansard Art Gallery instead.
Right within the Cultural Quarter, it has a heap of exhibits and seasonal highlights that are well worth checking out.
9.) Medieval Merchant’s Hall
A stone’s throw away from Southampton’s centre is the Medieval Merchant’s house.
Inside the English Heritage property, you will find replicas of furniture, wall hangings, and living conditions as if you’re back in the 14th Century. It’s well worth taking a look, especially if you want more of the cities long (and pretty epic) history.
Oh, also, don’t forget to visit Westgate Hall (about a 1-minute walk away) or Netley Abbey (around 3-miles away).
Although in ruins, it’s one of the best surviving abbeys in all of southern England.