Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire. Located on the edge of the New Forest, the city now has a population of 240,000 and is bursting with history and a vibrant cultural scene. The city is as well connected as any other in the country with its own airport and number of hotels and hostels on offer. The most famous former residents of the city are not human, but two of the best known sailing vessels in history: the Mayflower, which set sail from Southampton Port for America in 1620; and the HMS Titanic which was launched in 1912 and, well, you know the rest. Even if such a rich maratime history doesn't quite do it for you, there is plenty more to keep you entertained in Southampton, whether it be history, arts and popular culture or some good old retail therapy.
Southampton is home to the longest surviving stretch of Medieval wall in England and the settlement has roots dating back to Tudor times. The city has a number of museums showing off its impressive history , including the Southampton Maramtime Museum and the Tudor House Museum. Southampton's main gallery is the City Art Gallery (located at the Civic Centre) and the largest arts venue is the Mayflower Theatre. Music lovers shouldn't miss catching some live music at the Guildhall, which has hosted an impressive array of rock royalty over the years, including Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Amy Winehouse. Incidentally, the city is also the birth place of naughties R&B legend Craig David - bo selecta!
Shopaholics in Southampton won't be disappointed as the city was voted in the top 20 retail destinations in the UK. The WestQuay Shopping Centre is the biggest retail area in the city and was opened in 2000. It hosts most of the major high street chains including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. Ikea Southampton is located in the same retail complex and opened its doors in 2009. Other major shopping hotspots include the Marlands Shopping Centre and the Bargate Centre, both of which link to the city's main outdoor shopping thouroughfare, Above Bar Street. East Street has been set aside as a speciality shopping area with the aim of promoting smaller, independent retailers alongside high street giant Debenhams. Old Northern Road lets you step back in time to a traditional Victorian high street with its selection of antiques and collectables shops. The outdoor Bargate Markets trade on a Friday and Saturday and offer customers everything from local produce, meat and baked goods to orginal arts and crafts.