10 Best Things To Do In Southampton, England (that aren’t the boat show)

Tucked away on the South Coast, the city of Southampton has heaps of history, galleries and museums to explore. There’s shed loads of things to do in Southampton dotted all across the city.

You might be coming for the show but Southampton’s also a great city to base yourself on for a longer weekend getaway or even a trip around the wider region. You’ll be spoilt for choice, especially with New Forest National Park, South Downs National Park, and the Isle of Wight close by!  

To make sure you get the most out of your trip, we wanted to share some gems you can’t miss in and around Southampton.

1.) Check out the Tudor Merchant House & Garden

Tucked away just moments from our show entrance you’ll find one of Southampton’s oldest and most important buildings, the Tudor House and Garden. Holding over 800 years of Southampton’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 near the foreshore. Now, it’s a museum that explores the vast history of the region and is great for whiling away a few hours.

2.) Get Afloat

Southampton is the place to make your boating ambitions a reality year-round! You’ll find a wide range of boating schools & businesses offering a full range of RYA, British Canoeing and BSUPA courses, boat charter and kit hire, If you’re just after the thrill, without the qualifications, then why not book an Extreme RIB Experience, raft building or treasure hunt. Ideal for stag and hen parties, too! Take a look at our partner site onthewater.co.uk to find your next adventure

3.) Walk the Titanic Trail

Did you know, Southampton was the first port the RMS Titanic left before sinking after hitting that iceberg on its route to New York? You’ll find numerous locations, experiences and exhibitions (including a 1:25 scale of the Titanic itself) all over the city that will help you understand the important roles the people of Southampton played, as well as the history and fascinating connections with the sea in general. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, Southampton has its very own Titanic Trail that’s really easy to stroll over an hour, or so. Download the free Titanic Trail map (PDF) and follow it right from your phone. 

4.) Explore SeaCity Museum

If you love the sea you won’t want to miss the SeaCity Museum Paying tribute to Southampton’s seafaring history and heritage. Being one of the major ports in England, the two permanent exhibitions pay tribute to the city’s connection with the sea. One celebrates Southampton’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.

5.) Enjoy a drink somewhere a little different

From The UK’s first airline bar experience to the famous Hobbit theme pub, Southampton has an array of pubs and bars to grab that after-show craft beer or cocktail. A varied and lively nightlife allows you to let your hair down after a long day exploring all this wonderful city has to offer.

6.) Explore the Solent Sky Museum

Find out just how much of an influence Southampton had on aviation’s history, Housing an impressive collection of models and photographs from the golden age of aviation, the Solent Sky Museum is the kind of place that’s great for a gander if you love aviation and tech history. 

See rocket fighters, hovercraft, helicopters, spacecraft and loads more! The museum lets you 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.

7.) Take a day trip

Hop on a train New Forest National Park or South Downs National Park, or a Red Funnel ferry to the Isle of Wight and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking for walks and cycle hire or an award winning pub to cosy up in for lunch, there’s plenty to see and do within half an hour of the city.


8.) Shop ’til you drop

With more than 400 shops, ranging from department stores and high street favourites in it’s two shopping centres, to small independent boutiques and a retail park right in the city centre, Southampton’s shopping scene gives online  a run for its money.

9.) Soak up some culture in Guildhall Square

Southampton’s bustling Guildhall Square is well known as the Cultural Quarter of the City. Proud to be the hub of live music venues, museums, galleries, bars, cafes, and restaurants, this part of Southampton has developed immensely over the years to become a vibrant and arts enriched space.

The Cultural Quarter is home to the O2 Guildhall, the Stage Door, Southampton City Art Gallery, SeaCity Museum, John Hansard Gallery (Studio 144), City Eye and MAST Mayflower Studios, the much-anticipated new cultural hub for Southampton.

Not only is there lots to do and see in the businesses surrounding Guildhall Square but the space itself plays host to many events, installations and exhibitions much like Re:Claim Street Festival, Seaside In The Square and Chinese New Year celebrations.

Whether you’re looking for something fun and educational to do with the kids, a great night out, some fantastic food or an entertaining show, there’s something for every occasion in Guildhall Square.

10.) Visit The Quays swimming and Diving Complex

It might be wet and cold outside but why not come inside and enjoy some family-friendly swimming with Active Nation and help maintain your physical and mental wellbeing over the winter period. There’s parent and toddler classes, family sessions, swimming lessons and more at The Quays Swimming and Diving Complex.

Check them out here.

There’s loads more ideas of things to see and do in and around this wonderful city at https://visitsouthampton.co.uk/

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