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The best things to do in Southampton

If you’re thinking about spending some time away around the UK, Southampton represents a great option you might not have thought of. Indeed, when it comes to things to do and see, the port city is somewhat of a dark horse tourist hotspot thanks to its array of historical landmarks and lively cultural scene.

If you've popped down to the south coast for a day or two, you’ll find countless interesting and fun things to do in Southampton. Here, we’ve listed five of our favourite suggestions to see the best of Southampton’s tourist attractions.

Explore the city’s living history

Historians believe Southampton has been an inhabited city since the Stone Age. The city itself has numerous examples of its medieval past, many of which are well worth a visit. First and foremost are the city’s 14th-century walls, which are the third-longest unbroken length of city walls in the UK and track around many of the city’s other historical visitor points. As such, you’ll find numerous guided and self-guided tours available.

Other ye olde places that attract plenty of footfall are the Medieval Merchant’s House on French Street and the standout Tudor House in St. Michael’s Square – the latter of which is now a museum. All the above offer fascinating insight into life in the city in centuries gone by.

a large stone building

Watch a show at the Mayflower Theatre

For culture vultures, likely the number one Southampton attraction worth a visit is the 2,300-seat Mayflower Theatre – a Grade II listed building that has welcomed plenty of high-profile acts since it opened as the Empire Theatre in 1928.

Past performers at the Mayflower include the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Queen, although the theatre is now largely dominated by musicals, productions and stand-up comedy. The theatre still attracts plenty of big-name stars and shows to this day, making it a great spot to see some top-tier entertainment.

Visit a museum or two

Two of Southampton’s best attractions for families come in the form of modern history museums – SeaCity and Solent Sky.

SeaCity opened in 2012 as part of a multimillion-pound revamp of the Civic Centre complex. It documents Southampton’s history as a port town and city, with a one-ton replica of the famous RMS Queen Mary one of the standout attractions, as well as the “Titanic Story”, which follows the fateful debut and final voyage of the most famous ship in history.

Solent Sky takes things to the air, featuring many old aircraft including a Spitfire F24, which was made by Southampton-based aviation manufacturer Supermarine. Between the medieval haunts of the city and these two museums, you’ve got a great air, sea and land triple threat of history to enjoy.

a fighter jet flying through a blue sky

Watch some top-tier football

A list of things to do in Southampton wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Southampton FC, the city’s Premier League football team who play at the 32,000-seat St. Mary’s Stadium. Undoubtedly the sporting pride of the city, you can go see a game if there’s one on while you’re there. Serious football fans can arrange to take a tour of the stadium too.

a large city landscape

Track the trail of the Titanic

One of the best free things to do in Southampton is take on the Titanic Trail, which offers up numerous sites around the city devoted to the fateful maiden voyage of the vessel, which departed Southampton for New York in April 1912.

You can find maps of the trail from the city’s local tourism offices as well as other attractions around the city. Once you’re on the trail, you’ll find several impressive sites, including the Titanic Engineers’ Memorial and the Titanic Musicians’ Memorial.

Getting to Southampton

Heading down to Southampton soon? Now you know where to go and what to see, you need to figure out how you’re getting there. We’d suggest one of the many trains to Southampton running daily from all over the UK – offering a cost-effective, hassle-free and family-friendly travel solution that avoids pesky fuel costs and parking worries.

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