Southampton is a large city in the county of Hampshire. Although it does not often come up in guide books about the UK, the city has a lot to offer to those who are interested in (Marine) history, the Titanic and ports. In this article we have put together a list of the best attractions in Southampton and ranked them into a list of the 10 best things to do in Southampton.
SeaCity Museum Southampton - Titanic Museum
The SeaCity Museum – also known as the Southampton Titanic Museum opened in 2012 to mark the centenary of the iconic RMS Titanic’s departure from the city. This Titanic Museum museum has two permanent exhibitions, one dedicated to the mighty Titanic and the other to showcase the importance of Southampton to the world.
One of the main areas of the SeaCity Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the tremendous impact the sinking of the Titanic had on the city, with much of the crew members being from Southampton. Another area is a permanent exhibition called “Hazards to navigation” which presents the role of a lifeboat station in Southampton during 1824–1854, with displays and photos from then and now.
You will find a 1:25 scale interactive model of the ship and a unique collection showcasing the history of the travellers in and out of the port over 200,000 years, starting from the earliest settlers of Southampton.
The newest addition to the Southampton Titanic Museum exhibits the city’s rich and diverse maritime, local history, archaeology and archive collections. The Museum also houses vast learning opportunities for all ages, inclusive of special tours and purpose-built rooms.
There will also be special events in the Southampton Titanic Museum, such as talks and workshops, a must explore for any history enthusiast. It is a must visit to understand Southampton and explore the rich history this city in Hampshire has to offer.
Pop in for a browse and discover the people of Southampton and Titanic.
The Southampton Titanic museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00 every single day.
Tudor House and Garden - Southampton Museum
The Tudor House & Garden is Southampton’s first museum, opened in 1912. It is located opposite St. Michael’s Square, in Southampton’s Old Town. The house contains many items from Southampton’s past and is run as a museum by volunteers.
This historic monument serves as a museum and one of the most important tourist attractions. The Tudor House & Garden kept evolving throughout the ages, from being part of a Norman domestic dwelling, to a home for influential members of Southampton society, until it became one of the city’s worst slum areas. If you are looking for Southampton attractions or things to do in Southampton with kids, this Southampton museum should be on your list!
Due to its historic value, a local philanthropist renovated it and brought it to its current state. The garden, an extension of the house itself, was re-planned by an influential garden designer and now houses plants that would have been found during the Tudor period. The Tudor house and Garden Museum in Southampton also showcases ornamental garden features from the Tudor period.
It is most definitely worth a visit, for a jump back in time and to explore various artifacts from a lifetime ago. Private group and educational tours can also be arranged for all ages. It is hard to imagine how life would have been in the 1500, but this amazing Southampton Museum offers an insight into this through exhibits, activities and interactive technology.
This Southampton museum opens every day from 10:00 to 17:00 and is closed on Fridays.
Take a Southampton Gin Tour
Looking for something nice or quirky to do in Southampton? Why not have a rum or gin tasting in one of the most amazing speakeasies in Southampton?
1932 once an old bank and the only building left standing on the street after WW2, is now one of the most exclusive & luxurious speakeasies in Southampton. Sample local gins to international rums whilst learning the culture and history of 1932 and some interesting facts about the history of the surrounding area.
You will spend your time learning from our master mixologists & choose the experience that stands out to you: Gin – Try 3 different gin combinations, perfectly paired with mixers & botanicals to complete the perfect serve. During this Southampton gin tasting you will start with a local gin, talking through the gardens of Hampshire and learning how they work so well together in a glass.
Moving over to a premium gin followed by a custom made gin cocktail.
If you choose a rum tasting you will try 3 different rums exploring the depths of a clean white rum, versatile & adaptable with any direction you take it. Moving to a Gold rum, with delicate woody flavours & subtle spices, learn how to compliment these flavours & bring them to life; ending the experience with fire and exploring why Tiki cocktails use a fine mixture of all rums.
All experiences come with an Anti-Pasti board & a side of nuts or olives.
Best things to do in Southampton - Solent Sky
Solent Sky is the aviation museum of Southampton. It showcases the history of aviation in Southampton, the Solent area and Hampshire. The museum is located on the corner of Hoe Road and School Road in Southampton, Hampshire.
It is housed in a hangar at North Stoneham Aerodrome. Since opening in 1997, the museum has created an extensive collection of unique exhibits and works with local historians to explore its rich aviation heritage.
This Southampton museum is supported by donations and memberships, and is mostly run by volunteers.
Sea planes take a center stage here, specially the Supermarine aircraft company based in Southampton and the Schneider Trophy seaplane races. The Schneider Trophy Air Race was the fastest and most dangerous sport in history, and you can learn how these golden planes reached speeds of over 400 mph.
The Solent region was also the center of aviation research and development between 1910 and 1960, which means a lot of important aircrafts have been manufactured as well as flown here. At Solent Sky, you will be able to engage in the history of some of the world’s greatest fighter planes in this beautiful Southampton museum. A great museum in Southampton to visit with your family! If you are interested in how aeronautical engineering works, then you should visit the FlightMuseum in Boscombe which is a 40 minute drive!
Ever been curious to see a flying boat? Southampton was home to the largest flying boat operation in the world, you will be able to climb aboard and experience the whole thrill. Sit in cockpits, see the world’s only jet-fighter-flying boat, and experience some “interactive” exhibits.
This Southampton attraction is open from 10:00 to 17:00 every day.
Southampton City Art Gallery
The Southampton City Art Gallery is a beautiful art gallery in a 1930’s building. The gallery regularly hosts a selection of large touring exhibitions from the National Gallery. Past exhibitions have included works by Caravaggio, Rubens and Van Dyck.
It is a place to experience, feel and learn from. The collection of the Southampton City Art Gallery covers six centuries of European art history and you can witness over 5,300 works of fine art collection. In 2006, The Southampton City Art Gallery became a charitable trust and was renamed the Art Gallery Southampton.
The Southampton City Art Gallery also aims at involving people of all ages who want to appreciate or learn to better appreciate art. There are therefore many educational programs for adults and children to promote art as an everyday part of everyone’s life.
The educational service of the Southampton City Art Gallery works closely with famous professional visual artists to bring the best to its visitors. Ongoing education programmes offer visitors the opportunity to explore their creativity, experiment with different art materials and increase their knowledge of art in a practical way.
The exhibitions vary from contemporary art to historic exhibitions with frequent collaborations with leading artists and arts institutions. The permanent exhibitions of the Southampton Art Gallery star the complete series of works by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones on the Story of Perseus, a haunting series of oil paintings showcasing greek mythology and the Main hall hosts internationally recognized pieces ranging from landscapes to portraits and still lifes.
If you are an art enthousiast this is one of the best things to do in Southampton. If you are traveling wity family and looking for things to do in Southampton, you can easily take your kids as the museum has many educational stations!
The Soutmpton City Art Gallery is open every day from 10:00 to !5:00 and !7:00 on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
Things to do in Southampton - Paultons Park Peppa Pig World
Looking for something to do with the kids in Southampton? Why not head to Paultons Park? Paultons Park is a family theme park just outside of Southampton and the home of Peppa Pig world. There is so much to do for kids of all ages at Paultons Park. From taking your little ones on a magical mystery tour in the Cinderella Coach or zooming around the track on a train with Peppa Pig and her family.
Southampton attractions - Southampton Town Walls
Southampton’s growing prosperity as a trading center led to conflict with France, which then required fortification and an adequate defense system. The works on these walls began in the 1360s with the entire town being closed off by a 2 km long stone wall comprising 29 towers and eight gates within the next few decades. The Southampton “casemates” refer to a later, 18th-century defense system with 19 further fortifications; these constructions became a part of the Southampton inner city walls.
The gatehouses were sometimes used as important civic facilities, till, in the 20th century, the walls became recognized as a significant historical feature. The walls are now a nice attraction to visit, and a good place to rekindle with some history and the importance of Southampton throughout history. The city wall, the principal town gatehouses and a few other structures have been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
There are self guided walks you can do to visit the remaining parts of the Southampton City walls. They are scattered throughout town and although I would not dedicate a whole day to seeing them, it is nice to walk up to them and read all about the history on the little plaques next to the walls.
Medieval Merchant's House - Southampton Attraction
This is literally a Medieval Merchant’s House located in the centre of Southampton from the late-13th-century building which has been fully restored to its former glory. It’s divided into two sections, one being the upper floor is all open space with a large archway to the great hall, and the other half is behind the original oak door still used today as a private dining room.
The Medieval Merchant’s House in Southampton has sophisticated features such as an undercroft to store wine at a constant temperature, and a first-story bedchamber that projects out into the street to add additional space.
The plan of the Medieval Merchant’s House in Southampton is narrow and the whole house is built to a medieval right-angle. Another interesting thing about the house is that it still has its original foundations. This means that visitors get to see the original timbers that made up the sub-floor, and it gives a sense of history when walking through the rooms and halls of the house.
The Medieval Merchant’s House in Southampton holds architectural importance as it is the only building of its type that has managed to survive and retain its original materials and structures. It is currently run by volunteers and
It is interesting to see and experience the simplicity of the building, and also allows visitors to realize the things people gave importance to back in the day. The walls, for example, have been built of Bembridge and Purbeck stone with a timber frontage. The house also showcases a medieval shop front, where the owner would have been running his business.
The Medieval Merchant’s House is open on the weekends from 10:00 to 16:00.
Best things to do in Southampton - Bargate
The Bargate was constructed as part of Southampton town walls and was used as the main gateway to the city. It is entirely made of stone and flint and has been standing since 1180.
Large towers were added to the Southampton Bargate and extensions created throughout the centuries, with it gaining more and more importance in the town. The Bargate has played an important part in Southampton’s history, it was once the prison and a witness stand to many witch trials in the late 16th century.
The room above the Southampton Bargate itself also went through several important uses, used as Southampton’s guildhall till the 1770s. The fourth Marquis of Winchester, who bought the Bargate in 1860, later set up a civic museum there in 1877. In the 21st century the Southampton Bargate has again been brought into use. Though still owned by the Marquis of Winchester and his heirs, since 1998 it has also become a museum. The upper room even served as The Bargate Monument Gallery, with 42 exhibitions featuring the work of over 250 artists.
Even though demolition was discussed as a possibility to reinvigorate the Southampton City Centre, it was soon established that the Southamptom held too great a value. Make sure to check out the 11 Heraldic Shields on the north side of the Bargate.
God's House Tower - Southamptom Attractions
Where art and heritage is concerned, Southampton never fails. The God’s House Tower in Southampton is a 13th century gatehouse leading to the old town of Southampton. God’s House Tower houses a beautiful art collection, whose pieces are displayed in the lower halls. It was commissioned by Bishop Henry de Blois and built by Master Walter.
It originally served as the gatehouse leading to marshlands outside Southampton. It has served as the town gaol and housed the Museum of Archaeology back in the day. As you walk into the Tower, look up at the dark medieval wooden roof and beautiful beams.
God’s House Tower is now an arts and heritage venue and is a Grade I listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. It continues to host to contemporary art shows and important works from prestigious South Coast collections. You can still see the remains of a mural stairway, double portcullis, and windows.
John Hansard Gallery
The John Hansard Gallery is a contemporary visual art gallery and is part of the University of Southampton. The gallery was founded in 1967 by the University of Southampton, and named after John Hansard, who worked on the “Hansard” reports, which are a public record of the British Parliament. John Hansard Gallery is based in the Fine Art Department at the University of Southampton, and as such mainly features work by students and staff at the university.
It was built in 1959 with the intention of housing the tidal model of Solent. It is now one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries and boasts about developing, engaging and presenting art from extraordinary artists from all over the world.
They’re also a dynamic part of Southampton life. It brings to focus current affairs through exhibitions and hosts various events and temporary exhibitions. It is a must see for any art enthusiast.
Things to do in Southampton - Visit St-Mary's Stadium
Southampton is known for its beautiful stadium and famous football team. When visiting Southampton as a football fan you can choose to visit the football stadium or even go to a football game yourself.
St Mary’s Stadium replaced the old stadium The Dell in 2001. The name refers to the club’s original name, which was founded in 1885 as Southampton St Mary’s by members of the St Mary’s Church Young Men’s Association.
To visit the football stadium, head to St Mary’s Stadium. It is open for guided tours throughout the year except for a two week period during May or June.
Southampton Titanic Tour
If you are visiting Southampton to learn more about the famous Titanic, you should definately take a Titanic walking tour through Southampton. This is the best way to learn more about the people that boarded the Titanic in Southampton, the businesses that supploed the ship and of course the horrible things that ensued.
Southampton is ofcourse a well-known port and ferry-terminal. That is why this tour will also teach you about other famous ships that harboured in Southampton or passed through such as the Queen Elizabeth Two.
This Southampton tour is not only a great way to learn more about the Titanic but is also a nice way to discover the streets and harbour of Southampton.
Sail around the Isle of Wight and UK Coastline
Are you looking for a luxury experience in Southampton? Why not head out on a tour that will take you onto a sailboat for a luxury champagne experience in the Southampton waters?
You can choose between either morning or evening sailings on one of their 45 to 50 foot sailing boats. The crew will provide you with either lunch or dinner and a glass of champagne. The food is freshly prepared on the boat, and after lunch or dinner you have more than enough time to kick back and relax in the sun while the crew steers the boat past the Isle of Wight and the UK coastline.
Don’t forget to take your swimming costume as you get a chance to swim when passing the Isle of Wight. If the weather is not as good, you can take one of the many blankets stowed away downstairs.
Go to the beach in Southampton
Also read: Best beaches to visit in Southampton
Art and history is great, but if you visit Southampton, the beach is definitely on your mind. Located in the south coast of Britain, Southampton offers a blend of old towns and a cosmopolitan town center.
While in Southampton, you can also visit famous, breathtaking beaches like Calshot Beach, just over half an hour’s drive from the center of Southampton and has a mile-long stretch of shingle. You can also engage in numerous watersports here, ideal for the whole family.
About 35miles out of Southampton you will find the award-winning Blue Flag Alum Chime beach, mainly catered to families and young ones, with also a huge, pirate-themed adventure playground. Between Dorset and Hampshire you will find Highcliffe Beach, known as one of the best in the region. This beach is popular with both families and surfers, with grassy sand dunes creating a wonderful background. There are many nature trails in the area, such as Rufus Wood nature trail, located just to the east of Horndean.
Southsea beach located in Portsmouth is also one not to miss, a popular spot for sunbathing since the early 19th century. Ideal for families with children or whoever wants to soak up magnificent views of the Isle of Wight and The Solent. Tanners Lane, the closest beach of these, is quiet and picturesque, perfect to escape the city.