The Best Day Trips to Take From Southampton

Brighton Promenade
Brighton Promenade | © diego_torres / Pixabay
Emily Hillman

Southampton is fortunate enough to be incredibly well connected to a number of beautiful destinations, providing plenty of opportunities for fun-filled day trips. If you’re keen to escape the city for a while but your schedule is too packed for a whole weekend away, take a day to explore the sights of these nearby locations.

Brockenhurst

A mere fifteen minutes on the train from Southampton Central, Brockenhurst is a quaint village situated on the edge of the New Forest. When the noise and fast pace of city life becomes too much, this is the ideal day trip destination. At only £7.40 for an off-peak return, it won’t break the bank either.

This picturesque getaway can be visited all year round, but make sure to wrap up warm in the winter months, especially if you plan on taking a hike through the New Forest. Why not prepare a packed lunch and head straight into the forest from the station? Spend the day following one of the many walking routes, stopping for a picnic and photo opportunities with the wild horses that roam the national park. Finish off your day trip by heading back to one of the cosy village pubs for a well-earned drink before hopping on the train home again.

Isle of Wight

As long as you’re not prone to sea-sickness, the Isle of Wight is definitely one of the best day trips to be taken from Southampton. Catch the ferry from Southampton Docks to Cowes, which takes around an hour, with an off-peak return coming in at £17.

Music lovers should visit in the summer for the legendary annual Isle of Wight festival, which hosts well-known acts as well as up and coming artists. However, the natural attractions of the island are rather less seasonal and can be explored year-round, although the unpredictability of English weather should be kept in mind. A well-known beauty spot to make a note of is The Needles, a stunning rock formation with coloured sand accessed by a chairlift. It is easily accessible both by car and public transport from Cowes ferry ports, with the drive taking around an hour each way.

Brighton

A quirky seaside city with heaps to offer, Brighton makes for a jam-packed day trip. The best way to get there is to hop on a direct train from Southampton Central, priced at £16.10 for an adult off-peak return. In just under two hours you’ll find yourself in the heart of the town, with vintage shops, foodie hotspots, and the iconic Palace Pier only a short walk away.

Although the winter months tend to be quieter, the best time of year to visit Brighton is arguably in August. The typical British weather is much more forgiving if you’re keen to do a bit of sunbathing, but the real draw in this season is Brighton Pride. Celebrating the LGBTQ community, Pride spreads across the whole city with vibrant parades, music, dancers and more. Get dressed up in your best festival gear, smother yourself in rainbow glitter, and throw yourself into the midst of the spectacular party atmosphere.

Colourful sun loungers on Brighton beach

Oxford

Despite being one of the oldest university cities in the world, there’s more to Oxford than just studying. For visitors who appreciate stunning historical architecture, a walking tour of the city should definitely be on the to do list. Keep an eye out for the many recognisable backdrops used as filming locations in famous movies such as Harry Potter and The Golden Compass.

Oxford is also the perfect place to get immersed in culture, with its wealth of museums showcasing a huge range of historical artefacts as well as modern art. Must-sees include the Pitt Rivers museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Ashmolean, which features exhibits of art and archaeology.

Trains to Oxford take just under an hour and a half from Southampton Central, with an off-peak return setting you back a reasonable £35.50.

Bristol

Well-known for being the home of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Banksy and Wallace and Gromit, the attractions of Bristol will be hard to exhaust in one day. You can head to Bristol on the train from just £34.20 on an off-peak return, with the journey lasting a little under two hours. The bridge is a must-see, as is the floating harbour with its variety of chic bars and restaurants, but why not try something a little bit unique during your day trip?

St. Werburgh’s Church was built way back in the 15th century, but nowadays its tower is a highlight for adrenaline-seekers, as it has been transformed into a climbing centre. Visitors of all ages can make their way up the inside of the church tower walls, in an activity that’s both exciting and great for fitness. When you’re all climbed out, head to one of the many bars and pubs across the city and relax with a local cider.

This article was written in association with Wessex Scene, a student publication based at the University of Southampton.

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