Things to do in Southampton

Enjoy Local Activities in Southampton

You’ll find plenty of exciting things to do in Southampton, from enjoying the stunning scenery on land or on water to treating yourself in the city’s shopping centre.

It’s famous as the cruise capital of the UK, but it would be a great shame to only ever visit the vibrant, friendly city of Southampton when embarking on a ship destined for further flung places. With the stunning scenery of the New Forest on the doorstep, the beautiful Solent strait separating the Isle of Wight from the UK mainland and the modern attractions of the city itself, Southampton has plenty to offer everyone, whether they want to explore, sail, shop, dine or just relax on the south coast.
Sailing and Cruising
Whether you’re an experienced yachtsperson or would usually stick to dry land, no trip to Southampton is complete without at least one boat trip. Blue Funnel provides Hamble river cruises, Southampton harbour tours and trips on the gorgeous Solent as well as themed night time party cruises. If you’d like to go one step further and learn how to captain your own vessel, there are plenty of opportunities to learn to sail, including through the two-day beginners courses offered by the University of Southampton’s experienced Royal Yacht Association instructors. Or if you’re looking for an adventure with extra excitement, why not try your hand at river rafting or tubing with Seadogz Rib Charter?
Evenings Out
Southampton has no shortage of places to enjoy a drink or two in the evening. The shabby chic Overdraft Craft Ale Bar on Shirley Road is a must-visit for beer aficionados and Bring & Mix serves cocktails with a twist – you bring your favourite spirits and their mixologists will do the rest. Italian restaurant Enoteca is a firm favourite in the city centre, but if you fancy a nautical flavour to your meal, Quay FIFTEEN at Shamrock Quay Marina is a great bet for excellent British cooking. Oceana is the biggest nightclub in town and night owls also flock to the 70s-inspired Orange Rooms.
Serious Shopping
Serious shoppers should make a beeline for the WestQuay Shopping Centre, which hosts big name brands like Apple, John Lewis, Zara and M&S across three spacious levels with plenty of places to refuel including Wagamama and Ed’s Easy Diner. However for a true taste of shopping, Southampton style, don’t miss the boutiques and shops of Bedford Place, including the chic Devernois and shoe lover’s paradise Scarpini. The city centre is also host to a rotation of antique, craft, artisan food and vintage markets on Saturdays.
Day Tripping
One of the best things to do near Southampton is board a Red Funnel ferry for a day trip to the Isle of Wight. There’s no need to book and you can pick up great value foot passenger return deals on the regular service which takes just 25 minutes to reach West Cowes. Alternatively the car ferry takes an hour to get to East Cowes. Once there, you can enjoy a day on the beach or visit the many attractions on the island including Monkey Haven, Osborne House and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The scenic delights of the New Forest are less than twenty minutes’ drive from the city centre, too.
Seeing the Sights
Southampton has plenty to interest keen sightseers, with many of its main attractions reflecting the city’s rich maritime heritage. The SeaCity Museum in the city centre memorably brings to life the story of Southampton’s association with the Titanic, but if planes are more your thing, don’t miss the Solent Sky Museum which is dedicated to the history of aviation with special emphasis on the native Spitfire. The Tudor House and Garden in the Old Town is also worth a visit. This painstakingly preserved house dates all the way back to the 15th Century and visitors are treated to a vividly presented look at how life was for the city’s residents over 800 years ago.
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