There is so much to see during your stay in Southampton. From historic buildings such as the Medieval Merchant’s House, Bargate and the Town Walls to picturesque parks like the 326-acre Southampton common, your only question will be what to see first. Read on to find our pick of the best Southampton tourist attractions.
Attractions in Southampton
We start our sightseeing tour of Southampton at Bargate, the medieval gatehouse on High Street. It was constructed around 900 years ago, in Norman times, as the main entrance to the city. It is part of the Southampton Town Walls, a 1km circuit of medieval walls built over a period of 300 years. Initially, there were eight gates and 29 towers, however, time takes its toll and nowadays, just six gates and 13 towers are still standing. Both of these landmarks are fascinating to visit to see how the city has evolved over the years, and they also make for a great photo opportunity.
Next up, and following the medieval theme, is the Medieval Merchant’s House on French Street near St. Michael’s Church. A key landmark of Southampton’s ‘Old Town’, it is free to enter if you are an English Heritage member, and reasonably priced if you aren’t. If you are interested in 14th-century life, this is a must-visit destination, along with Holyrood Church. This place of worship on Bernard Street is just a shell of its former self, having been a victim of bombing during World War II. That said, it is still a great site to visit and is used today as a monument to remember those that have died in the Merchant Navy.
Alternatively, if your historical interest peaks at the Tudors, then Tudor House & Garden is a great place to visit and just a short walk away on Bugle Street. Not far away from our West Quay hotel, it is an immaculate example of 15th-century architecture and the garden is stunning, especially if you are visiting in summer.
Eling Tide Mill is a popular historical landmark in Southampton. It is a Grade II listed building which was used for grinding wheat into flour from as early as 1785. Around a 15-minute drive from our Southampton West hotel, you can now visit the museum and stop for a bite to eat at the on-site café. If this isn’t enough, why not take a riverside walk through picturesque Eling whilst you’re there?
As a city steeped in history, you will probably find yourself stumbling across historical monuments and landmarks as you explore Southampton. The Watergate Ruin and the Titanic Engineers’ Memorial are two examples of things you may see. The former is a part of the Town Walls located on High Street, and the latter is a statue in East Park created in remembrance of the engineers who died on The Titanic in 1912.
St Mary's Stadium
Tudor House & Garden
There are lots of parks in Southampton worth visiting. First of all, there’s Southampton Common. Located in the north of the city, it would be a great place to stop off if you’re heading into the city from our Southampton North hotel. There’s plenty to do besides walking at this 326-acre site, with an urban wildlife centre and play areas for the kids.
Head east from Southampton Common and you’ll find Riverside Park. The clue is in the name here, with a great walking path along the River Itchen. It is one of the many free parks in the city and locals flock to it when the sun is shining. If you decided to head west from Southampton Common, you could visit St. James’ Park. This is a recreational park in the area of Shirley, just on the outskirts of the city centre. It has been lovingly transformed in recent years, thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, and is a great place to visit for scenic walks and botanical gardens.
Heading into the heart of Southampton, you have East Park. Its central location makes it a great place to chill out before exploring the city or attending a gig at the nearby O2 Guildhall. It also has a café, mini golf and hard-court games facilities.
Finally, there is Mayflower Park. Located on Town Quay, this unique park overlooks Southampton Port and is a great spot to watch the boats come in and out as you take a break from the bustling city centre.
The O2 Guildhall is Southampton’s leading music arena, but with such a rich history, it could have made it into our Historic Buildings section. The Grade II listed arena started life as a town hall but has since played host to some of the world’s biggest musicians and bands, such as The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Killers. You can find it on West Marlands Road near East Park and adjacent to the SeaCity Museum.
Southampton is home to two fantastic sports stadiums. St. Mary’s Stadium is a 32,500-seater football stadium, home to Southampton F.C. It isn’t just used for football, though. Regular events such as music concerts and festivals take place here during the summer months during the football off-season.
The Ageas Bowl is Hampshire’s county cricket stadium, and occasional host to England’s national cricket team. Located in the east part of the city on Botley Road, it is often used for other events too, such as an outdoor cinema and darts arena. It is worth checking what’s going on during your stay here on the stadium’s website.