Located some 75 miles south of London, the city of Southampton enjoys an enviable location on England’s south coast. The Southampton Water estuary connects the city with the open waters of the English Channel, making it a crucial port city for centuries. It also acts as a gateway to the New Forest National Park, a vast area of dense forest, lush fields and delightful quintessential English villages. In other words, it may just be the perfect destination for your next road trip…
Luckily for you, we’re able to point you in the direction of the best things to see and do in and around Southampton. So book yourself a car hire, pack your family or friends into the backseat and head for the Hampshire coast…
Southampton’s maritime history dates back to the early 13th century and it has been an important port city ever since. The famous Southampton Docks were opened in the mid-1800s, and it was from here that the RMS Titanic set off on its ill-fated maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. The tragic events which unfolded in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean just a few days later have been well documented, but a trip to Southampton’s SeaCity Museum will help you to develop a deeper understanding about the vessel and its crew.
Open seven days a week, the museum features a variety of ever-changing exhibitions, as well as permanent features on the history of Southampton’s port and that of the Titanic. Take a close look at the ship through a 1:25 scale interactive model, get a feel for the sights and sounds of the city back in 1912 and learn about the events that led to the ship’s demise in the Disaster Room.
Located in the heart of the city, it presents the perfect opportunity for you to leave the car behind and stretch your legs. The hugely popular West Quay shopping centre is just down the road, perfect for a spot of retail therapy after touring the museum.
Explore the New Forest
Formerly a royal hunting area, it is today one of the most popular destinations in the south of England. You’ll find an array of villages, towns and camp sites dotted around the vast green landscapes, which incidentally lend themselves well to outdoor adventures. You’ll find countless miles of walking and bike trails, whilst the coastal areas are dominated by sandy beaches and quiet harbour towns. And best of all, the entire park is easily accessible by car, thanks to the narrow roads that weave their way past the wild open fields.
Looking to make your journey that extra bit special? Treat yourself to a prestige car hire and cruise the country roads in style before ending up in the picture-postcard village of Beaulieu. Book a table at the lavish 17th century Montagu Arms Hotel and enjoy Michelin star dining at its Terrace Restaurant. Expect mouth-watering dishes with the distinct flavour of fresh produce sourced from the New Forest area.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is located roughly four miles off the Hampshire coast and has long been a popular holiday destination for campers, walkers and road trippers. It boasts dramatic coastlines, a host of quaint villages and no shortage of campsites, walking trails and cosy eateries.
You can easily take your car on the ferry across The Solent to Yarmouth and from here you can hit the quiet island roads in search of secluded nature spots or pristine beaches. Ferries depart regularly from the New Forest town of Lymington, which is no more than a 45-minute drive away from Southampton. Make sure you find time to wander along its cobbled streets and vibrant high street first – it’s the perfect place to grab a spot of lunch before setting off for the Isle of Wight.
Once you’ve reached Yarmouth, you can either head inland towards the capital of Newport, where ample shopping opportunities await, or follow the coast towards Ryde – the largest town on the island, which is brimming with independent boutiques, small cafés and a stunning waterfront.
Peppa Pig World
Time to entertain the kids? Pop Peppa Pig World into your sat-nav and off you go! Just a 20-minute drive north west of the city centre, this popular theme park is the perfect place to spend a day with the young ones. Step into the world of Peppa Pig and prepare to encounter all the characters from the popular show, as well as a host of thrilling rides. You can even snoop around the homes of Peppa and Grandpa Pig, as well as their school, library and campervan. Peppa Pig World forms part of Paultons Park, which is also home to penguins, meerkats and several adrenaline-fuelled rides.
Ready for your next road trip? Check out these travel guides for extra inspiration: