As a major port city and the cruise capital of Europe (the port is home to some of the world’s biggest cruise ships), your list of things to do in Southampton should include some time on the water. Plenty of companies in the city offer boat rides up and down the river, on speed boats or mini-cruisers, or, for those who prefer to stay on solid land, strolling through the city’s marinas and admiring the enormous cruise ships is a great alternative.
With the city’s history and economy centred on the water, the excellent SeaCity Museum is one of the top attractions in Southampton. A high-tech museum that’s entertaining for all ages, SeaCity has two permanent exhibition galleries. One cleverly uses artefacts to tell the story of the city through the people who have arrived and left via the port; the other focuses on the Titanic and the impact of its sinking on Southampton, the ship’s port of departure for its fated journey in 1912. A 1:25 scale interactive model of the ship is a particular highlight.
Attractions in Southampton run the gamut from sea to sky. After exploring SeaCity, head to Solent Sky Museum for a peek into Southampton’s part in aviation history. The Spitfire is the city’s most famous invention, but the museum has other planes on display as well. Kids will especially enjoy sitting in the cockpit of a jet fighter and climbing onto flight decks.
Southampton’s long history has left it some beautiful historic buildings, of which the Tudor House and Garden is one of the finest. Recently restored, this timber-framed building was erected in the Old Town in the late 15th century. Audio guides are included with admission; these detail the lives of the lords, merchants and milliners who lived in the house over the centuries. The building also displays a collection of quirky and photo-worthy artefacts, like the 19th century “penny farthing” bicycle, with one enormous wheel and one tiny wheel.