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Photo of a docked boat in Southampton. Photo of a docked boat in Southampton.

Sitting on an impressive peninsula on the south coast of England, Southampton is a city of maritime importance and is home to some of the world’s largest cruise ships. As well as its impressive sea culture, Southampton also played an important role in the development of aviation technology. The Spitfire was designed and crafted here and is celebrated in the city's transport museums.

With Southampton hosting a Sailing Week in May, numerous live music events throughout summer, and an impressive West Quay shopping centre, there’s never a dull moment in this little city by the sea. So what are you waiting for? Get exploring!

Where to stay

Get some zzz to the sound of the sea at the iconic Grand Harbour Hotel. It sits beautifully on the banks of the Southampton waterfront. The hotel has been rated 4.5 stars by one reviewer, describing their stay as perfect. They booked into a wheelchair-accessible room before ‘embarking on a voyage aboard one of Cunard’s even more disabled-friendly ships.’ Not only has the hotel been praised for its brilliant access there’s also a top tip on how accessible Cunard Cruises are. ‘Cunard have hoists on Queen Mary 2 which enable carers to cope with those with severe mobility problems.’ Read on to find out more about the Queen Mary 2!

If being by the sea isn’t for you then why not book into The Bartley Lodge Hotel in Cadnam, just a 20 minute drive from Southampton’s city centre. This picturesque hotel sits in the New Forest National Park surrounded by the gorgeous Southern English countryside. One reviewer gave this hotel a whopping 4.5 stars. ‘The accessible rooms are on the ground floor and equipped with spacious wet room. Dining rooms are fully accessible - there's a long ramped passageway from reception to lounge/dining room. Beautiful, grand setting. Clear online booking system, which clearly identifies accessible rooms and what they include.’ This guest also gives a glowing review of the staff stating, ‘the waiting staff were extremely helpful, checking the suggested table was appropriate, moving chairs, offering physical help if I wanted it. Couldn't fault them.’ Top tip: the hotel is dog friendly.

Feeling peckish?

If all the fresh, sea air has built up your appetite why not head to the countryside for a bite to eat? Just North of Southampton, in South Downs National Park sits The Bugle Inn. This contemporary Gastro-Pub has been rated 5 stars by one reviewer! The guest who uses a powerchair said it had, ‘great food and service in an interesting and easily accessible venue. Ramped entrance to dining area and wheelchair-friendly tables. Locally-sourced food. Excellent beers and wine list. Good value.’ It seems they can’t fault the place, so why not pop along and see for yourself? If you do, you could write a review here >>

One cosy pub with a weird and wonderful name is The Old Farmhouse Hungry Horse. It’s been given 4.5 stars by one reviewer describing it as a ‘busy family pub. Wheelchair ramp to the left hand side. Busy inside but plenty of ramps to access all areas.’ There are two accessible parking bays and a ‘large toilet meaning you can manoeuvre easily in your wheelchair’. The food has been described as ‘good value for money and very nice’. Lovely!

Aquatic Adventure

The Queen Mary 2 is a passenger liner that sets sail from Southampton. They’ve been given an outstanding review of 5 stars by one guest telling us that ‘thanks to Cunard I have, in my wheelchair, touched The Great Wall of China and enjoyed Carmen at Sydney Opera House.’ What an exciting getaway! The guest described the cruise liners as having ‘level surfaces, lifts and helpful crew it is an excellent holiday. Since becoming disabled I have found Cunard Cruises ideal as the bathrooms in their dedicated disabled cabins are superb and put hotels to shame’. So if you’ve got itchy feet, and fancy seeing more of the world, this recommendation is worth exploring!

If you want to take a trip to the Isle of Wight while down on the South Coast then Red Funnel Ferries have been recommended by one reviewer with a glorious 4.5 star review. They said, ‘personally I have found this is the best way to travel to the Isle Of Wight whether disabled or not. The ferries are far better than competitors and staff are really great.’

Awesome Activities

The modern WestQuay Shopping Centre has two glowing reviews on our site. One with 4 stars and one with 5! If you fancy some retail therapy this modern centre was reviewed by one visitor who said, ‘everything is accessible. Toilets, parking, shops all easy to navigate in a wheelchair.’ Toilets are ‘clean, wide, and plentiful’ and parking is fantastic with ‘lots of well signed and monitored disabled bays.’ This guest loved her time in Southampton saying, ‘Southampton is a great place to visit and I will definitely be returning!’

Now, if you’re more into sport than shops then St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton Football Club is for you. We have a 4 star review on our site stating ‘probably the most accessible stadium I’ve been to.’ Praise indeed! The reviewer said, ‘everything about St Mary's seems to have had disabled fans like myself thought about. From easy of access entry doors, more than enough disabled toilets (clean too). The club also can boast the highest number of wheelchair "seats" in the premier league well above the legal requirement. For myself (on sticks) their was just a few seats to negotiate to get to our seats, with ample leg room, 3 rows behind the Saints Dugout.’ This reviewer concluded saying it was ‘by far the best sports venue I've to in terms of access and staffing. Great active Disabled Supporters Association that's free to join and assist fans to attend games.’ 

Marwell Zoo Image.

Marwell Zoo, a 20 minute drive from Southampton is a fun day out for all the family. It’s been reviewed with a fab 4.5 stars: ‘the whole site is very accessible with a few slopes so possible in Manual Chair but as the site is so large best with power chair. The viewing platforms above the animals are also wheelchair friendly allowing the wheelchair to get right above the large cats. Some of the enclosures have large glass windows allowing good visibility of the tigers for example. Main major plus is the 'Changing Places' toilet which is full size and full 'H' track hoist.’ It’s also easy to get from one side of the park to the other with the zoo’s internal road trains. This reviewer says that one has a compartment that can take a wheelchair.

If you’re a thrill seeker one recommendation is for Paultons – Family Theme Park. It has two amazing 5 star reviews describing it as ‘very accessible!’ and ‘a great day out!’ The staff are great, being described as ‘friendly without being overbearing, willing to help with my chair or getting my daughter on and off rides if I wasn’t able to accompany her, cafe staff offered to carry trays to the table for us. Really good service all round. The entrance staff were very helpful with info for us as first time users of the park with a wheelchair.’ Toilets are described as ‘fabulous, clean, well signposted, roomy toilets’. There are lots of parking bays right by the entrance too! A top tip: ‘Wheelchair users get into the park for free, and there is a queue assist pass available for those who have difficulty queuing.’

Beaulieu image.

Beaulieu, one of the South’s leading visitor attractions, with a stunning collection of over 250 vehicles from many eras is a wonderful step back in time for any motor enthusiast. Two reviewers have given this attraction 4.5 stars! ‘A packed day out, fantastic access. Free mobility scooter hire (there are wheelchairs too, all need advance booking at busy times) made this visit great.’ Sounds like a fun day out! This wheelchair user wrote: ‘the restaurant is fully accessible, right down to an automatic door. Palace House is only partly accessible but they make up for this with a handheld DVD player that gives you a guided video tour. Staff throughout were amazing.’ There’s plenty of blue badge parking nearby and various accessible loos across the site.

Have you been to Southampton?

So, with all of this to offer we don’t think you’ll be stuck for excitement in Southampton! If you do visit and come across somewhere new with great access, why not write a review here >>>

Last Updated - January 2017