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Nine reasons to visit the vibrant port city of Southampton

Southampton port cruises

Southampton is a vibrant port city rich in history and vibrant cultural attractions, surrounded by scenic beauty and intriguing places. It’s also a great departure point, as there is a vast programme of cruises from Southampton offered by MSC Cruises. Whether you’re drawn to its maritime heritage, sprawling parks, or proximity to the picturesque New Forest, there’s lots to see and do in Southampton before embarking on a cruise journey. Here’s our guide to the area’s best attractions.

In Southampton 

1. SeaCity Museum The SeaCity Museum is a compelling attraction that tells the story of Southampton and its connection to the sea. 

2. Southampton City Art Gallery Art enthusiasts will find Southampton City Art Gallery an excellent spot, boasting an impressive collection of over 5,000 works of art spanning six centuries. Located in the heart of the city, this gallery offers free admission and features everything from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary works, providing a broad artistic experience. 

3. Solent Sky Museum The Solent Sky Museum showcases the aviation history of Southampton and the surrounding Solent area. The museum highlights the development of aircraft from the first seaplanes to the legendary Spitfire, which was developed in Southampton. It offers an engaging experience with its collection of aircraft and related memorabilia. 

4. Old Town A stroll through Southampton’s Old Town is like stepping back in time. This area features medieval walls and historical buildings including the Bargate, a medieval gatehouse that served as the main entry point to the city. Walking tours are available, offering insights into the city’s past, including stories of the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed from Southampton to the New World.

Around Southampton 

5. New Forest National Park Just a short drive from Southampton, the New Forest National Park offers a stark contrast to the city with its ancient woodlands, open moors, and traditional heathlands. The area is home to the famous New Forest ponies and a perfect spot for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. The park also hosts quaint villages where you can enjoy local cuisine and crafts. 

6. Beaulieu, Home of the National Motor Museum For motor enthusiasts, Beaulieu is an unbeatable attraction. The National Motor Museum houses a collection of over 250 vehicles from throughout automotive history. Beaulieu is not just about cars; it also features Palace House, the Montagu family home, and the historic Beaulieu Abbey, surrounded by lush gardens. 

7. Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway Exbury Gardens is a stunning 200-acre site located near the edge of the New Forest. These gardens are renowned for their spectacular collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. Spring is particularly magical, but the beauty persists with seasonal blooms and vibrant colours throughout the year. The charming steam railway that runs through the gardens adds a unique touch to the visit.

8. Winchester A short journey from Southampton, Winchester is a historic city that was once the capital of England. It is home to Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe with a history stretching back over a millennium. The city’s ancient streets, lined with shops and traditional pubs, offer a delightful day out. 

9. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Less than an hour’s drive from Southampton, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard presents an extraordinary collection of historic British naval ships. Highlights include the HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, and the HMS Warrior 1860. The dockyard is a treasure trove of British naval history and a thrilling experience for all ages. 

Southampton and its surrounding areas offer a rich tapestry of attractions suitable for all tastes. From deep dives into the history of seafaring, aviation, and automobiles, to enjoying the tranquil beauty of nature and exploring ancient towns and cities, the region promises memorable experiences. Whether you’re planning a day trip, a longer stay or a departure from the port’s bustling cruise terminal, Southampton serves as a perfect base to explore the treasures of southern England and beyond.

Found out more about MSC Cruises from Southampton

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Eve Herbert

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