The city of Southampton offers a wealth of activities that will keep you entertained throughout your time here. However, in those initial summer months you may want to make the most of Southampton’s location in England by visiting other parts of the South, before you settle in for your time in the city. Here’s ten of the best within an hour of Southampton…
How to get there: Get the train to Portsmouth Harbour in 47 minutes
First on the list is Southampton’s sister city that local residents love to hate. The Portsmouth-Southampton rivalry goes back a long way, but don’t let that put your off checking out some of Portsmouth’s best bits. The Historic Dockyard is right next to the train station and is home to HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose (a ship that belonged to Henry VII). Located inside Gunwharf is the Spinnaker tower which at 110m tall offers glorious views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
How to get there: Get the train to Winchester in 17 minutes
The ancient capital of England, Winchester is your quintessential English city. Filled with cobbled streets, historic buildings, traditional pubs, and a gorgeous cathedral, its a city worth taking an afternoon to get lost in. Highlights include King Arthur’s Great Hall and Round Table, or a visit near Christmas offers the best local Christmas market complete with an ice rink.
How to get there: Get the train to Portchester in 39 minutes
Rich in history, Portchester castle is a medieval castle built within a former Roman fort. This ancient monument is well worth a visit as it is steeped in history, and set in lovely green surroundings with views across to Portsmouth.
How to get there: Get the train to Chichester in 51 minutes
An old Roman town, Chichester is well worth a visit if for no reason other than enjoying excellent shopping in a more scenic setting than West Quay (the big shopping centre in Southampton). As well as numerous independent cafés and restaurants that are well worth a visit. Other highlights include the Cathedral, and the secret Bishop’s Palace Gardens for a secluded quiet space in the heart of the city.
How to get there: Get the train to Ashurst New Forest in 10 minutes
The New Forest is renowned for its gorgeous countryside and wildlife, including cute New Forest Ponies that roam freely across the fields. Lyndhurst and Bolton’s Bench are gorgeous green spaces that allow you an escape from city life and enjoy a traditional pub lunch.
How to get there: Get the train to Bournemouth in 30 minutes
A typically English seaside town combined with a social hub – Bournemouth can offer a relaxing day at the beach and a trip to the shops, and is equally renowned for its nightlife if you’re wanting to stay late, with clubs such as Halo, Cameo and The Lost Garden offering a great night out. If you want to be really British, get some fish and chips and eat them on the beach.
How to get there: Get the train to Lymington Pier in 35 minutes
Another New Forest gem, the town of Lymington is a beautiful Georgain market town and a renowned sailing resort with two marinas and two sailing clubs. This small town offers independent boutiques to shop round and is well worth a trip just to walk along the water’s edge. Highlights include a market in the High Street on Saturdays the origins of which probably date back to the 13th century.
How to get there: Get the train to Salisbury in 29 minutes
Another fabled historic city filled with a rich history of over 1,000 years. The focus of Salisbury is its huge cathedral which has the tallest spire in England. Salisbury offers a range of bars, cafés and restaurants, as well as a renowned selection of museums based in the centre of town.
Isle of Wight
How to get there: Get the U1 bus to Town Quay, then get the Red Jet High Speed Ferry to West Cowes in 25 minutes
The bus journey and ferry trip from Sothampton docks to Cowes takes roundabout an hour, meaning the Isle of Wight just about makes it onto this list, but it is well worth the journey for a fabulous day trip. The island is home to lovely beaches, with a very English seaside feel. There’s history to be seen as well in the form of Queen Victoria’s beloved Osborne House, as well as dramatic scenery in the form of white cliffs and serene sand dunes.
How to get there: Get the train to Romsey in 11 minutes
This small market town is so close to Southampton its worth visiting. Romsey Abbey can be found in the centre of town, famous for its rare medieval hall house built in the 12th century. For more history visit King John’s house and heritage centre next door, and be sure to try out a quaint little tea shop.