On the mouth of the Solent, Southampton is famous for being a major port city and gateway into Southern England. The city started life as a Roman settlement and gained prominence due to its location on the south coast. Much of the wall that surrounded the older part of Southampton during the Middle Ages still stands, most notably on Bargate. Today, Southampton is developing a reputation as a modern and forward-looking city. The city is home to one of the region’s biggest shopping centres, two major sporting venues, a number of boutique hotels and restaurants serving cuisine from all four corners of the globe. It’s also a major terminal for cruise liners.
Most of central Southampton is off-limits for cars due to pedestrianized streets. However, for the rest of the city, a hatchback or small family car is enough to get around the suburbs.
Driving in Southampton
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
A little further away from the city centre, there are several places where you can park for free. However, there are plenty of places to park in the centre, especially around West Quay.
Although traffic isn’t quite as bad in Southampton as in other major English cities, it’s still worth avoiding the morning and evening rush hours.
The main tourist information office is at the Oceans Tea Rooms and Gift Shop on the High Street. Maps, souvenirs and important information are all available.
Highlights & Hotspots
The Sea-City Museum, located on the west wing of the Civic Centre, goes through over a century of Southampton’s maritime history. One exhibit is dedicated to the city’s involvement with the Titanic, while the other shows how it was a gateway to the world.
St Mary’s Stadium, a 32,000-all-seated football ground, is home to Premier League side Southampton FC. They play some of the best clubs in the world every season and have some world-class stars in their team too.
The Mayflower theatre is the biggest of its kind on the South Coast. West End productions and blockbuster musicals and plays come here all year round, while it’s a great place to see live ballet and opera performances.
West Quay Shopping Centre is home to well over 100 shops. It’s a good place to go if you want some retail therapy, while there are plenty of restaurants where you can rest your feet after finding a few bargains on sale.
Southampton Airport is four miles north of the city. It has one main terminal building and handled close to 1.7 million passengers last year. Flights to major European cities such as Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam are available.
The airport is close to the junction between the M3 and M27 motorways. The junction has easy access to the centre of Southampton as well as Portsmouth, Poole and Bournemouth.