Campsites near Southampton

This historic port is the gateway to the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, and Europe.

95% (993 reviews)
95% (993 reviews)

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Campsites near Southampton guide

Overview

Southampton is one of the UK’s busiest passenger ports, with ferries setting sail for France, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Wight. This port town is more than just a travel hub, though—it’s also a buzzing cultural hub filled with shopping centres, museums, restaurants, and great nightlife. Watch the ships come in from the portside Mayflower Park, walk the old city walls up to Bargate, then hit the shops at the Westquay Shopping Centre. Urban camping options are limited, but you’ll find spacious campsites along the River Hamble to the south, as well as in the nearby New Forest National Park.

Things to do in Southampton

Southampton is all about the water and always has been. It should come as no surprise then to know that most of its sights and attractions have a watery appeal. If visiting Southampton on a camping holiday, you might like to head for the Seacity Museum, which tells the maritime history of the town, from where the Titanic launched on her ill-fated voyage. You may also want to take a cruise on the Solent or catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight. Although the docks are now a thoroughly modern affair, Southampton old town still offers reminders of times gone by, including the Tudor House and Gardens, which reveals 800 years of history.

Away from the sea, Southampton’s other appeal is its location in the middle of the Hampshire coastline. It’s easily reached from London and just a 30-minute drive from the historic city of Winchester, which is a nice place to visit on a camping holiday. It’s also a gateway to the New Forest National Park, where walking, cycling, and horse-riding opportunities abound. Within the boundaries of the national park, Beaulieu’s country house, gardens, and National Motor Museum are additional popular places to visit.

For families with kids who love theme park rides, Paultons Park which includes Peppa Pig World, is hard to beat. For more information and ideas of things to do on a camping or glamping holiday in Southampton, head to Lyndhurst’s New Forest National Park visitor centre.

Where to go

South-West Hampshire

A 10-minute drive west of Southampton, the New Forest National Park has endless options for campers, from family-friendly holiday parks to glamping in the woods. Walking and cycling trails lead the way to wildlife reserves and forest hideaways, and you’re never far from a country pub. To the south, the beach resorts of Barton on Sea and Milford on Sea are a favourite for summer campers.

Isle of Wight

Ferries set sail from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, where rugged sea cliffs and golden sands provide a spectacular backdrop for campers. Hike along the Isle of Wight Coastal Path, marvel at the multi-colored cliffs of Alum Bay, and ride the chairlift over the white chalk rocks of The Needles. Or perhaps time your visit for annual events like the Isle of Wight Festival or Cowes Week yachting festival.

South Downs

North of Southampton, the cathedral city of Winchester sits on the western edge of the South Downs AONB, where you can hike, bike, or horseback ride along more than 2,000 miles of trails. Explore the chalk hills and ancient yew forests, trek along part of the South Downs Way, or head down to the coast to admire the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. Whether backcountry camping or sleeping in a luxury yurt, plan for a late night—stargazing in this International Dark Sky Reserve is an unmissable experience.

When to go

Southampton is a year-round destination, whether dining alfresco in summer or browsing the Christmas markets in winter. July and August are busiest, with a steady flow of travellers arriving at the port, and it’s best to book ahead if visiting at this time. Time your visit for springtime to enjoy hiking and wildlife spotting in the surrounding AONBs, or head to the New Forest in autumn to admire the colourful fall foliage.

Know before you go

  • Southampton has several camping and outdoors stores where you can pick up supplies for your camping trip.
  • Southampton has public transport links to many surrounding towns and attractions, but it is handy to have your own transport, especially if staying at rural campsites.
  • Most campsites require advance booking. Be sure to check opening dates, as some campsites close in the winter months.
  • Wild camping is illegal throughout Hampshire.

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