First of all, you must explore the city itself and the best way is through car hire in Southampton...
Whether you land at Southampton Airport (SOU) or embark from the UK's premier cruise-ship port, Southampton offers a gateway to southern England's treasures. With a busy central shopping area, a top flight football club and great views across the harbour, there is plenty to explore.
Hire a car to take you to the city centre and walk along the QE2 Mile. This is a pedestrian walkway through Southampton's historic old town and cultural quarter and is named after the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship. The walk connects the city's war memorial, the Cenotaph, with a memorial to the Titanic, a famous liner that sank in 1912 in the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
Sailing is the life blood of Southampton, so why not visit the Water Activities Centre, where you can learn to sail? Perhaps one day you'll be able to sail out from the Solent into the English Channel.
Southampton is an ideal base for exploring the county of Hampshire. With a great road network you can easily access all the sights...
Visit Portsmouth to the east, the home of Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory. Drive west towards Christchurch, an important 9th-century port but today an extension of Bournemouth.
The New Forest is just a short drive from the city and Southampton car hire will take you to Exbury Gardens. These were created in the 1920s and are a stunning example of horticultural beauty, especially in springtime. You can also take a 20-minute ride on the steam railway around the gardens.
Hampshire is Britain's unheralded garden. It is the home of watercress, the best English asparagus and tasty pork. The county town and King Alfred's English capital, Winchester, is just eight miles north east of Southampton. Here you can explore the magnificent Winchester Cathedral, which has been welcoming visitors for over 1,000 years and take some time to listen to the music at lunchtime or during the evening.
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