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Trip List by CruiseSaint

Southampton and Hampshire, England

17 Jul 2007  Like the area and want to help people enjoy it. Especially found fellow cruisers from or to Southampton (that's our favourite holiday) know nothing about Southampton or Hampshire. On the whole , my tips are framed for non-British visitors. I've always enjoyed showing foriegn visitors around and finding the best of England to show them.
4.5 of 5 stars based on 2 votes

I started with Southampton - but if you've a bit more time.......

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Seniors, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Winchester - and King Arthur's Round Table

    Just up the road from Southampton and reachable by car, bus or train. Most famous attraction - King Arthur's Round Table - hanging on the wall in the Great Hall, the remains of the old castle. (NB There's no actual castle now!) Is it real - well, was King Arthur real? But it's well worth a look.

    Plus a cathedral and other old buildings - lovely place for a potter round on a summer's day. The main street is pedestrianised, and on a hill. Good for pedestrians, but would be a problem for the disabled, elderly or rather unfit if they parked at the bottom end of town and walked all the way to the top to see the Round Table. Better to park at the west (top) end of town in the multi -story- but you'll have to fathom the one way system first.

  • 2. Portsmouth

    If you lived on the South Coast of England, you'd know that residents in Southampton (like me) shouldn't have a good word to say about Portsmouth - just 15 miles away - and you'd do well to steer clear of any local football matches between them !

    But Portsmouth does have two major attractions within 200 yards of each other - Gunwharf Keys, and the Historic Dockyards, which we visit regularly, often with our grandchildren 4 and 2.

    Gunwharf Keys is a really well-planned, waterfront, shops and restaurants area - the shops are factory outlets (although true bargains are increasingly rare) and the waterfront cafes cater for most tastes. Local parking, and signs to it,for cars. Our favourite is the tapas bar and restaurant La Tasca - go upstairs to get a great view inside or out - the harbour's usually buzzing. Prices about £3 for each little dish - have about 6 between you for lunch - and house wine is OK. It is a chain but none the worse for that. Place is sufficiently real Spanish for us! - There's also a tower you can go up for a view.

    The Historic Dockyard is a tourist attraction run by the Royal Navy. There are three major attractions .The Victory - built 1755 (Nelson's Flagship), the Mary Rose (Henry VIII's ship raised from the Solent) and HMS Warrior (an 1860 warship) - also trips round the harbour, a hands-on interactive area for kids (Action Stations) where they can play with all sorts of things and (virtually) fly a helicopter plus some conventional museums. It's just a short walk from Gunwharf.

    Dockyard Prices (pay attention now - this gets complicated but could be important ! ! !)

    Not cheap at £12.00 for each attaction BUT

    a ticket to all attractions is much better at £16.50
    AND if you are around for a while, its valid for UNLIMITED entry to HMS Warrior , the Royal Naval Museum and Action Stations for 1 YEAR.(though only Valid for ONE entry to HMS Victory, Mary Rose and Harbour Tours)

    OR (even better value if you can make use of it)

    £30 for a season ticket valid for UNLIMITED entry to ALL ATTRACTIONS for 18 MONTHS.

    Children don't pay till they are 5.

    Go to the web-site above, click attractions, then go to the end of the page and click to search for attractions, choose Historic Ships and GO.
    I noticed looking at this that the site offers a discount voucher to visitors to the Historic Ships - but you have to write in for it - doesn't say if it applies to the season tickets.

    You could either park at Gunwharf Keys and walk over to the Dockyard - or for more fun, why not park near the Dockyard - either in the official paying car-park (rather a walk away on the right as you get close) or in a standard paying car-park nearby - you'll see the signs to the left as you get close - it's supervised as well. Then if you get the all-in tickets you can take the boat trip, which stops at Gunwharf Keys, do the shops and walk back. If you get the unlimited ticket you can get back on the next boat trip to stop at Gunwharf and get back that way.
    If you don't fancy the dock-yard, you can still pay for the round boat trip from Gunwharf.

  • 3. New Forest

    If you are unfamiliar with the area, this is a National Park of woods and heathland, where ponies roam free - and often cattle, sheep, donkeys and pigs too - they own the roads so watch out! If you're lucky you'll glimpse the very shy deer.You'll need a car really - unless you take a coach trip. Or you can get to the major villages by train.

    The place is a gold-mine of little parking spots with walks and streams. plus pretty villages. At a week-end you should come across a village cricket match.

    When I take foreign visitors here I aim for :

    Fordingbridge - the George Pub - fantastic location next to the river. On a summer's day this is essential England.

    Burley - the wild ponies push into the pubs and shops,and pony trap rides run from here. One of the pubs here - the Burley Inn , does decent meals but also serves a great cream tea (or used to a few years ago) - there is also a very quaint tea rooms elsewhere in the village, the Old Farmhouse. Shops can get a bit touristy but quite good fun.

    Beaulieu (pronounced Bewley) The village itself is worth a visit and you can wander around close to rivers and lakes. The pub, the Montagu Arms, is also worth a visit - rather upmarket and very old english. You could take afternoon tea here - but do it by parking round the back and sitting in the wonderful garden hidden away there. Lord Montagu owns Beaulieu , the local stately home - and the village too.

    At Beaulieu Estate nearby, there is an extensive, if a little expensive, day out - the Motor Museum is good, but there is also the old Manor House and Beaulieu Abbey - so I think well worth the money - about £25. You can return for free if you don't see everything and are staying around - ask inside.

    Hidden a short distance away, Bucklers Hard (Museum) is a very evocative place. Two rows of 18th Century cottages face each other and run down to the river - an old ship-building village which retains a special atmosphere. There's a good pub here too.

    If you are new to England you have to try a local beer in the pubs - preferably unpressurised or real ale. It's not served chilled, although sometimes these days a little cooled - so it's an acquired taste - but taste is the operative word compared to lagers or american beers. Ask for a half (a pint) for a start - and try it mixed with lemonade (a shandy) on a hot day - that way you may get it colder!

    Links to most of the attractions are on the website - or enter the village name on a search engine.

  • 4. Romsey

    Another very English market town. The major attraction is the 12th Century Abbey - it survived Henry VIII (who destroyed all the English Catholic monasteries) for a very odd reason - he sold it to the locals for use as a Parish Church!
    One a bit for the connoisseurs maybe.

    Nearby Broadlands is a stately home owned by the Mountbattens, a branch of the Royal family. You can visit the house and there are often events in the grounds.
    Charles and Di stopped here after their wedding - my wife dragged me out to see the car go past - I'd long since had enough of the wedding on TV!

    If anyone's interested, the Royal Family do get around a lot to openings etc.- I've met Prince Charles, Princess Anne , Princess Margaret and Princess Sophie in my work - missed Diane because I was on holiday!

  • 5. Paultons Park

    Something for the (young) kids - Paultons Park

    A little bit outside Southampton and not too easy without a car - though there is a bus X7 from Southampton. This is where we take our grandchildren aged 4 and 2. They sing the park song (Paultons Park, Paultons Park,we're all going to Paultons Park) all the way in the car. Large site with various attractions - rides(lots suitable for very small children) parkland, birds and animals. But the key is - there's not much of interest once children are over, say, 13 - which is great as there's no rampaging teens/young adults - just lots of families with young children. At £15.50 each (about $35) it's not really a cheap option - although there are family tickets and children under 1 metre are free.
    If you're around for a while , the season ticket (one year) is good deal - but you have to go about 5 times to save money. Usual feeding stations - but also plenty of tables etc. to take a picnic.

  • 6. Jane Austen and Hampshire

    Places in Hampshire you can visit associated with Jane Austen. could reach them if here for a week-end, but a bit of a push on a day trip.