When you’re planning a trip to Southampton, England, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of things to do and see. By the time you’ve booked your hotel or B&B, reserved a rental car, purchased train tickets and arranged a tour of Stonehenge, you could be out of vacation days. Don’t worry. We’ve done the hard work for you.
The city is filled with fun activities for every taste and interest.
Here are some things to do in Southampton.
Southampton Castle: This impressive stone castle sits high above the city on a hilltop overlooking the mouth of the River Itchen. Southampton Castle was built in 1124 by Henry 1 as part of his defense network against invading forces from France. It served as an important military installation until the 16th century. Today, visitors can explore more than 40 acres of gardens and parkland that include the remains of the original castle walls and keep.
In summer months, “watch” is held nightly at 7:30 p.m., when cannon firing reenactments take place between June and September (weather permitting). You’ll also find several special events such as jousting tournaments throughout the year at Southampton Castle.
With the Beatles having played their first live gig at the Casbah Coffee Club in the early 1960s and their producer George Martin hailing from the city, it’s little wonder that Southampton has a long-standing association with popular music. It is also home to one of Britain’s leading opera companies, Opera South.
A long-established venue for national touring theatre productions, as well as being home to several local amateur groups that have gone on to achieve major success with national tours and West End transfers, Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre is a Grade II listed building that has a capacity of 1,200 people.
The New Forest is a unique area of outstanding natural beauty. This large stretch of woodland covers more than 130 square miles (340 km²) and encompasses more than 260 miles (420 km) of public rights of way. The New Forest National Park was created in 2005.
For an authentic food experience, stop by one of the local restaurants in town. You’ll find all sorts of cuisines from Italian, to French, and even Thai cuisine on offer. For something more traditional, you might want to try La Fortuna Italian restaurant for some delicious pizza or pasta dishes.
Southampton’s beaches have been attracting visitors for hundreds of years. During the summer months, sun-seekers flock to the city’s golden sands to soak up the rays and swim in the warm waters of Southampton Water, an inlet of the English Channel that lies between Southampton and Hythe. If you like, take a boat ride along Southampton Water to see the yachts and cruise ships that make their home here.