Southampton, the county of Hampshire’s largest city, is home to over 250,000 Sotonians. With so much on offer culturally, historically and socially, we are unsurprised by its popularity. Whether it’s the spirited nightlife, the beautiful woodland walks, the ties with the Titanic or the music of Craig David that lures you to Southampton, you can be sure to be kept thoroughly entertained throughout your stay.
Southampton is the UK’s number one vehicle handling port, Europe’s leading turnaround cruise port and the UK’s most productive container port. Southampton has a population of approximately 250,000 people. Not surprisingly for a city with two universities, the largest segment of the population is young people.
The city lies at the confluence of the River Test and the River Itchen, which come together to form Southampton Water. This body of water flows into the Solent, which separates mainland Britain from the Isle of Wight. Thus, a ship coming to Southampton would leave the English Channel near Portsmouth, sail up the Solent and turn right at Southampton Water. It would then sail up to Southampton past Calshot and the big oil refinery at Fawley to the docks in Southampton.
Gardens and Relaxation
Southampton is home to some beautifully picturesque walks, surrounded by wildlife. Stroll down the river and you’ll be greeted by salmon, water voles, kingfishers, dragonflies, otter, various warblers and sometimes even cuckoos! For a more rural walk, the sound of the birds and the stunning backdrop of bluebells and forest woodland of Southampton will keep you entertained!
The Tudor House and Garden is a dignified 15th-century house on Bugle Street that became the first museum in the city when it opened to the public in 1912. The half-timbered Tudor House and Garden was renovated during a nine-year closure up to 2011, and inside you can get acquainted with the people who lived and worked here down the centuries. In its time the house has contained artist studios, a bonnet-makers, dyeworks and a bookbinder, and by the 19th century was a notorious slum, crammed with unhealthy, outdated properties that had limited running water.
In the Renaissance-style garden is King John’s Palace, a Norman dwelling from the 12th century, while the house also has a stately Georgian wing hired out for functions. What better way to get a taste of old England than to have a personal chauffeur supply you with an airport taxi transfer to Southampton?
From themed pubs like the Hobbit, to bookstore/alehouse hybrids, Southampton has an array of individual and kooky joints to sink your favourite craft beer or cocktail. A varied and lively nightlife, allows you to let your hair down with like-minded people after a long day exploring the history of this wonderful city. If you find yourself needing a little ‘you time’, take advantage of one of the 15+ spas open for business, offering you therapeutic treatments for your healing, rejuvenation and relaxation. Services include Thai, deep tissue and sports massage, as well as saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs.
Southampton’s music scene is vibrant, varied and ever-growing, from dedicated concert halls to pubs and clubs hosting DJ sets and open-mic nights. Some huge names have been on display here including Groove Armada, Ben Howard and Two Door Cinema Club. 2018 promises to be no different!
Not far away in Romsey is the glorious 72-hectare Sir Harold Hillier Gardens arboretum founded in 1953 by the horticulturalist Harold Hillier. This is all in the grounds of Jermyn’s House, Hillier’s former home, where you’ll now find a tearoom. Coursed by winding paths and formal alleys, the park has more than 42,000 trees and shrubs, representing around 12,000 taxa, and the collections of rhododendrons, oaks, camellias and magnolias are particularly noteworthy. Some of the many highlights are the 250-metre Centenary Border, Winter Garden, Himalayan Valley, Azalalea Woodland and Hydrangea Walk. There’s fun for youngsters too, at the bamboo tunnel, tree house, wobbly bridge and flying carpet swing.
Whether you go by road or take the ferry across to Hythe, one of the UK’s most beloved national parks, New Forest National Park, is less than ten miles from Southampton. The park contains the largest surviving swathes of unenclosed pasture, heathland and woodland in England’s southeast. The landscape is low-lying and is cycling heaven, with a system of broad, signposted paths and hire stations at villages like Brockenhurst and Burley. The ancient beech glades in the New Forest are spectacular, and if you’re quiet, roe, fallow and red deer will cross your path. Out on the heaths are semi-feral New Forest Ponies, descending from equines that were here before the last ice age, 500,000 years ago.
University of Southampton
The University of Southampton is a world-leading university based on the south-west coast of England. It’s a founding member of the Russell Group, a network of leading research universities. Currently, it’s home to more than 6,500 international students from over 135 countries.
The University of Southampton is a public research university located in Southampton, United Kingdom and is a founding member of the Russell Group. It is a member of the European University Association, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and is an accredited institution of the Worldwide Universities Network. Southampton is systematically ranked in the top 15 of British universities and in the best 100 universities in the world. Besides being recognised as one of the leading research universities in the UK, Southampton has also achieved consistently high scores for its teaching and learning activities. It additionally has one of the highest proportions of income derived from research activities in Britain.
The Art Galleries and Theatres
With much greater studying opportunities and learning experiences now on offer, it was only a matter of time before Southampton became home to some of the finest up-and-coming artists, not only in the UK but the world. Visit the ever-changing displays of internationally renowned Southampton City Art Gallery, explore the next big thing at Solent Showcase, learn a thing or twenty at the John Hansard Gallery or enjoy a friendly atmosphere and warm cup of tea while discussing local pieces at Art House Gallery and Café.
Offering an award-winning restaurant, VIP boxes and meeting rooms for hire, fully licensed bars and the chance to be a part of a 2,300-strong crowd, the Mayflower Theatre produces some of the finest performances in the UK, according to discoversouthampton.co.uk. From UK touring musicals, opera, ballet and musicians, we do not doubt for a second that you will be able to find the perfect show for you.
One of the top cultural draws for Southampton is its 2,300 capacity theatre, which has reinvented itself a few times since it opened as the Empire Theatre in 1928. The Mayflower is a Grade II listed building, and when it was known as the Gaumont between 1950 and 1986 hosted The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Queen. Now the programme is dominated by theatre productions and musicals like the adaptation of the Kite Runner, War Horse, Blood Brothers and the Full Monty. Read more in this article on our site.
Some Old England
The Medieval Merchant’s house is an English Heritage property a little way from Southampton’s city centre. The half-timbered house was built in 1290 by John Fortin, a merchant trading with Aquitaine, and after centuries of changes, damage in the Second World War revealed its Medieval origins. It was soon bought by the city council and restored to its 14th-century appearance.
The owner would have conducted his business from the open shop front in the porch, and goods like wine would have been stored in the vaulted undercroft beneath the building, which keeps a steady cool temperature all year round. On the first floor you can look around the bed chambers, fitted with replica Medieval furniture but with timbers that bear the maker’s marks from hundreds of years ago.