If you're looking for things to do in the Solent, you won't be disappointed with what's on offer.
From watersports, family attractions to leisurely beaches, this fantastic 20-mile stretch of water off the UK's south coast never fails to keep visitors entertained. From Lymington to Southampton to Portsmouth, and many other picturesque Hampshire spots, you’ll discover areas of great natural beauty combined with maritime history.
On the Water
An obvious draw of the area is the strait of water which separates mainland England from the northern shores of the Isle of Wight. Naturally the Solent offers many watery recreational pastimes along its shoreline and on its waters including:
Sailing - Follow in the footsteps of Britain’s greatest sailors and get on board the Solent’s best-known activity. Plenty of marinas and sailing schools along the English coast or on the River Hamble mean you can learn to sail in dinghies or yachts in the Solent’s tidal waters.
Watersports – Take advantage of the great sheltered waterways to enjoy all kinds of water sports such as windsurfing, kite-surfing, canoeing and jet skiing at watersports centres along the coast
Boat or yacht trip – Sit back and take a leisurely sightseeing trip around the famous Solent waters. Catch beautiful views of the mainland, the famous Solent forts and the Isle of Wight including its renowned ‘Needles’, jagged stretches of rock pointing skyward and left intact from a bygone age. Of course if you want to experience Solent yacht charter then who better than ourselves? We can take care of you and your companions and give you an experience to remember.
Ferry trip – Take the 45 minute ferry ride from one of the ports on the mainland side of the Solent (e.g. Portsmouth or Lymington) and head south to Isle of Wight, Queen Victoria’s favourite holiday place. Enjoy the Island’s oldest town, Yarmouth, the famous yachting town of Cowes or a day on the beach.
On the coast
If you’re not ready to take the plunge onto water, there’s still loads to do around the waterfront and coastline:
Seaside beaches – Enjoy clean Blue Flag beaches on Hampshire’s Hayling Island or Southsea beach or hop over to the Isle of Wight to experience beach life at Colwell Bay, Ryde or Sandown. The Solent offers sand and singles beaches – ideal places to relax and enjoy the sun, sand and sea, or the waterfront cafes and restaurants when the weather’s not so good.
Waterfront harbours and Quays – visit Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth or Southampton's Ocean Village to enjoy shopping and bars or leisure activities such as bowling or cinema. For free fun, take a waterfront walk along Portsmouth’s Millennium Promenade.
Fishing – the Solent is home to some of the best fishing spots –try Portchester Castle near Portsmouth Harbour for bass, flounders and eels or Southampton’s creeks and beaches for Dover sole. There are said to be over 60 angling clubs in the area (great to get advice!) mainly doing shore based fishing although some use boats.
There are loads of attractions to visit in its cities and towns if you want to enjoy the Solent from dry land. Museums, castles, parks, galleries, shops and bars – there’s something for everyone, from fun-seeking families to adventurous singles. Why not try:
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – this interactive museum at Portsmouth offers great family fun – kids can be pirates for the day and the ticket includes entry to numerous historic ships such as Lord Nelson’s world famous flagship HMS Victory. A visit is a great opportunity to get a flavor for the history of the Solent. Take the waterbus to nearby Gosport to visit the Royal Navy Submarine Museum where and you can even climb inside a real submarine.
Emirates Spinnaker Tower – enjoy impressive views over the Solent from Portsmouth’s 170-metre tall landmark Tower. Walk the amazing glass Sky Walk and then enjoy the Sky Garden, the highest point, giving unique views of the surrounding area. If you dare, you can abseil 100 metres down the side of the Tower.
Visit Southampton – an inlet, Southampton Water, runs from this major City port into the Solent. The bustling city offers many insights into its long history since Roman times. The best known sites include the grand City Art Gallery, the arty Bargate space and the annual Southampton Boat Show held each September.
New Forest National Park – enjoy nature, wildlife and walking in Hampshire’s coastal park or stick to the New Forest shoreline where you'll find Lepe Country Park, Hurst Castle and the Calshot Activities Centre.