Sailing by: What to see and do in Southampton

Southampton combines gorgeous coastal views, fascinating seafaring museums and plenty of shopping – all within easy driving reach. If you’ve hired a car in Southampton, there’s plenty to discover up and down the Solent with these exciting day trips. 

Seafaring heritage

Southampton’s costal ties stretch all the way back to the Normans, who shipped goods and people to and from the seaport. Shipbuilding also became a big part of the local economy, with famous ships including the Mayflower and Titanic launching from these very waters.

Discover more about the history of seafaring Southampton at SeaCity Museum (SO14 7FY). Park up in the city centre and walk across to see the changing face of the seaports through time and read the exciting stories of the people who built this city. 

Southampton shopping

Westquay Shopping Centre, on Portland Terrace, is one of the city’s biggest shopping outlets, with big brands sitting alongside smaller retailers. Grab a bite to eat at one of the mall’s many food stops and relax with a brew amid comfortable surroundings.

Elsewhere in Southampton, you’ll find The Marlands mall just by Palmerston Park, with several recognisable brands spread over two levels and on site parking.

There’s also Bargate Market, which plays host to a range of exciting monthly events. Visit to try new foods and local produce at the Hampshire Farmers Market and a browse the wealth of arts and crafts supplies on offer.

History and mystery at Stonehenge

A scenic drive on the A36 takes you across the outskirts of the beautiful New Forest National Park and towards Salisbury. From there, it’s a short hop to Stonehenge (SP4 7DE) and the chance to uncover the ancient mysteries behind this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It may look like a collection of paving stone Jenga, but these standing relics were assemble with purpose. It’s said the locals carefully placed each column in such a way that they could divine the movements of the Sun. Twice a year - on the summer and winter solstices - the stones line up exactly with the position of the sun, as it rises on the longest day and sets on the shortest.

There’s more to this mystical site than the stone circle – park up at the onsite parking to explore the surrounding Neolithic houses and head for the visitor’s centre to get the full story.

Live like a royal at Windsor

Explore more of Hampshire and Berkshire’s stunning surroundings as you travel north on the M3 to Windsor, west of the capital. Take the famous Long Walk towards Windsor Castle (SL4 1NJ) and get the royal treatment down this tree-lined avenue. Join the free 30-minute tour around the castle’s precincts and see how its occupants defended their home. Then, wind your way through opulent apartments, past suits of armour, and other historical artworks on the walls.

We can’t let a trip to Windsor leave out the brick-filled buzz of LEGOLAND® (SL4 4AY). Take a world tour through faithful recreations of iconic landmarks and treat the kids to a feast of fun rollercoasters and rides.

Start your south coast saunter the right way – book car hire from Southampton, and go further.