Traditionally popular with cruise tourists, Southampton is the largest city in Hampshire, the county on the southern coast of England. Lying between two rivers, Test and Itchen, the picturesque city is home to The Rose Bowl cricket ground where you’ll be watching the India vs. South Africa match on Wednesday. But, before and after the cricket, there’s a lot more to do in and around the city. Here are our top picks for the essential Southampton travel guide.
Catch a show at the Mayflower
The Mayflower Theatre is a grand 90-year-old heritage building that first opened in 1928 as Empire Theatre. A lot is always going on over at the Mayflower so check which event suits your mood on the days you are free and reserve your spot. Over the years, the biggest shows have come to town and you can catch famous musicals like The Bodyguard and Matilda here in June. A Grade II-listed building, the magnificent structure is a sight to behold even if you are not planning to watch a musical – you can opt for the indulgent afternoon tea service instead.
Say cheers at Jane Austen’s old home
Not many people are aware (apart from the Janeites among us of course) of the Austen family connections with this port city. Having visited Southampton a couple of times for short stays, Jane Austen came to live in Southampton towards the end of her live – for almost three years from 1806 to 1809. She lived in a rented home on Castle Square, on a site where today the historical pub The Juniper Berry stands where one can raise a glass of ale to the memory of the beloved author. This is also where you can eat typical British pub fare such as bangers and mash or fish and chips.
Let your love for automobiles drive you to Beaulieu
About 30 minutes from city centre, Beaulieu is a small village where the fabulous National Motor Museum is located. Apart from a great collection of vintage cars, motorcycles and motor memorabilia, you can currently enjoy a lovely exhibition of about 350 sculptures featuring national and international artists. On till July 14, the exhibition is open to public daily from 10 am and is located at the grounds of Palace House.
Buy vintage accesories at Beatnik Emporium
A fabulous (read crazy) shop full of retro goodies, the Beatnik Emporium will delight you from the moment you enter with its collection of vintage clothing for men and women, including hats, scarves, jewellery and even masks. Music lovers will love the collection of old LPs, including albums of classic rock bands like The Doors. The perfect place to buy someone a fun gift, or buy yourself a quirky accessory for the next match!
Take a spooky tour
You are in the UK so ancient history and stories are a part of the parcel – think very ancient and quite dead. Yup! This year Southampton city is offering a tour of its ghostly nooks and crannies, where you can find all about its shady past and its most notorious residents (who might still be around). Tours start at 8:30 p.m outside the historical Tudor House, which is also the city’s prime and most popular tourist landmark.
Eat at Ocean Village
And finally, when in a port city, how can you stay far from the water? Once you are done with all the sights and sounds of Southampton, make your way to the beautiful marina where row upon row of modern fine dining options offer you the fresh produce and latest trends on a plate. With several steakhouses, wine bars, cafes and seafood specialty restaurants, your options are unlimited and you can keep coming back from more. Located by the River Itchen, you can also do fun activities with the family here, such as banana boat or speed boat rides, through the day. It’s located at the southern edge but Ocean Village is the very heart of the city.