A close-up of pebbles on a beach while small waves roll in when you visit Southampton

By the Sea | Visit Southampton

Thoughts from Alanna…

One long weekend, I decided to visit Southampton, England!

The sun sets over a calm sea with buildings far in the distance.I knew nothing about the city and had no idea what to see or do. Cue frantic Trip Advisor and online research! Below are what I did both in Southampton and the surrounding areas during my long weekend. Hopefully it’s some use for anyone’s future plans!

SeaCity Museum

Southampton is a historic and important port for England. SeaCity Museum showcases the history of this area and the massive ships that have come through. One famous liner was the Titanic, departing from Southampton in 1912. A large part of the museum details the ship and how it impacting lives in the area. Overall, a really great museum that gives background to the city.

Location: Havelock Road, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 7FY
Time: About 2-3 hours, much more if you read every single plaque (there’s a lot!)
Cost: For both the museum and the special exhibition, you’re looking at £9.50 per adult.
Opening Times: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway

As the weather was beautiful, I decided to check out the giant Exbury Gardens. Boasting 200-acres of gardens, this place is overflowing with different types of plants, flowers, ponds and trees. On an bright August day, I only ran into a handful of people and the place was beautifully quiet. Of course, I had to take the steam railway to start off my journey, which takes visitors around the grounds. It’s so sweet. The garden is actually located in the New Forest National Park, about a 30 minute drive west from Southampton.

Location: Summer Lane, Exbury, Southampton, SO45 1AZ
Time: About 2-4 hours. If you’re happy to be quiet and outdoors, many more!
Price: £12 per adult, but it’ll depend on which season you’re visiting in
Opening Times: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. depending on season

Hurst Castle

This neat castle is situated on a point of land only 1.5 miles from the Isle of Wight. This location was chosen because of its ease of defence and the castle itself has seen many changes. Built in 1544 by Henry VIII, Hurst Castle imprisoned Charles I in 1648 before being taken to London for his execution. The castle was also modernized during the Napoleonic wars and in 1870 when two 38-ton guns were installed.

Long story short, this castle is old and really cool. It’s impossible to get to by car and because of its location, it’s only open daily from April until the end of October. You can either take a tiny ferry across the water or walk or both. I chose to walk both ways, about 5 miles along a very stoney beach so bring proper shoes! The castle is at the bottom of New Forest, so about a 50 minute drive.

Honestly, my favourite part is climbing up and up the stairs to stand on top of one of the buildings and watch the sailboats manoeuvre around the Isle of Wight.

Location: Saltgrass Lane, Milford on Sea, Hampshire
Time: You could spend all day here and many people do, bringing picnics to have along the sea.
Ferry Price: £6 for Adult Returns or £3.50 if you just want one way.
Castle Price: £4.70 per Adult
Opening Times: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. April until end of October.

Calshot Castle

This castle is quite a bit smaller than Hurst but it’s still cute and boasts its own moat. Calshot Castle is cylindrical in shape and was created in 1540 to protect against French invasions. It offers some great views from the roof and is dotted with plaques about its history.

Location: Hampshire, SO45 1BR
Time: 1 hour
Price: £3 per adult
Opening Times: Closed during winter, English Heritage will post the new times in the spring

New Forest Wildlife Park

Want to see some animals while during your stay? The New Forest Wildlife Park is a great afternoon out, weather permitting! There’s tons of animals, like otters, bison, wolves, deer and foxes to name a few. The park also posts feeding times where you can watch the keepers feed the animals and explain about their routines.

Location: Deerleap Lane, Ashurst, Southampton
Time: 3-4 hours, depending on your pace
Price: £10.95 per adult
Opening Times: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. depending on season

I was able to fit everything into two busy days but I would have liked a full day just to hike around the woods and coast. Either way, I would definitely recommend the area to anyone looking to get out of their usual neighbourhood and visit Southampton!