With the New Forest, South Coast, and various cities nearby, Southampton is the perfect hub, from which you can start many exciting journeys. Why not use your weekends to discover more about the area in and around this university city?
The University of Southampton has another campus in nearby Winchester, which is a beautiful, historic city. Home of the famous Round Table of King Arthur in its Great Hall and the stunning Winchester Cathedral, this city has plenty of historical hotspots to visit and learn about. Around the Cathedral are the Valley Gardens, which is a lovely place to sit with friends and enjoy an ice cream, if the sun is out! Also at Christmas around the Cathedral is an amazing Christmas market, with its own ice rink. Definitely worth a visit then! If you prefer more hustle and bustle, in the centre there are plenty of shops, including a new shopping centre, popular restaurants, and usually some market stalls selling all kinds of things. Sometimes you can buy a new rug, some scented candles, or beautiful posters. Getting to Winchester is really easy from Southampton. The Uni offers a free bus for students between the Highfield Campus and the Winchester School of Art Campus, and then you can walk to the centre from there. If you have a Bluestar/Unilink bus pass, you can use this to take the number 1 bus from Southampton to Winchester. Or if you prefer a faster journey, you can take the train from Central Station or Airport Parkway straight into Winchester in about 10-15 minutes. So many options, making it so easy to get there.
Between Southampton and Winchester is a place for animal lovers: Marwell Zoo. The zoo is 140 acres and home to a huge variety of animals, from giraffes to penguins, tigers to meerkats, there are plenty of animals to see. In line with COVID restrictions, you need to book your tickets in advance so that the zoo can manage the number of visitors. The price for adults is £22.00 (including an optional donation) and £19.50 (with the donation) for students with a valid ID card. This ticket allows you into the zoo for the whole day. They also have cafes, picnic areas, and a gift shop for you to enjoy! To get to the zoo, you can drive there and park in their car park for free or you can catch a bus from Winchester and get 20% of your ticket or take a taxi. Normally, there is a bus that runs from Southampton to Marwell Zoo, but this service is currently not running. Or, if you like a bike ride, you could cycle the 10 miles from Southampton!
Fancy a day at the beach? Then hop on a quick half an hour train to Bournemouth. This coastal town is home to seven miles of beautiful beaches and some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK. Plus, there’s an arcade to try and win a cuddly toy and a pier to visit. However, you do have to pay to go on the pier, unlike in other seaside resorts. The cost is £1.30 for an adult and 90p for a child. Also, in the town centre, there are plenty of bars and restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines, including the seaside classic of Fish and Chips. Other fun activities you can do in Bournemouth include mini golf, both indoor and outdoor, sightseeing tours, and the Bournemouth Oceanarium.
New Forest National Park
On Southampton’s doorstep is the New Forest, a beautiful part of the UK. In the New Forest, there are plenty of walking and cycling trails for nature lovers, along which you could catch a glimpse of the famous New Forest ponies. There’s also plenty of places to stay, whether that be in a B&B or on a campsite, to continue the exploration for a few days. If you aren’t so outdoorsy and fancy a bit of town or village life, you could visit places like Lymington or Lyndhurst. These towns have lots of independent shops and art galleries for you to enjoy and country pubs for you to sit in and while away a few hours with a glass or two of your choosing. The easiest way to get to the New Forest is to take a train from Southampton heading west and choose one of the towns to get off at and start your exploration.