The South coast of England stretches from Kent in the East, all the way to Cornwall in the far South West, taking in the counties of West and East Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset and Devon along the way. The town of Bournemouth can be found in Dorset and the two cities of Southampton and Portsmouth are located in Hampshire.
Although all of these places are located on the coast, they are not all equal in terms of their accessibility by sea. Bournemouth doesn’t have a significant port at all and Southampton is no longer a base for cross channel ferries, only providing access to the nearby Isle of Wight.
Of the three, Portsmouth has the busiest ferry port being second only to Dover as to the number of dockings per day. From Portsmouth you can also get to the Isle of Wight, but also to Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and Le Havre in France, as well as Santander and Bilbao in Spain.
Southampton, however, has much more than ferries to Europe to offer in terms of sea travel.Since the mid 1800s it has had a reputation as being one of the biggest cruise departure pioneers in the world. Some of the largest and most prestigious cruise ships can be seen docking here on a regular basis, sometimes for their initial boarding to many exotic destinations around the world.
Southampton can also be seen as a destination in itself. It is home to a number of museums, many of which concentrate on its maritime history.
It is also home the Tudor House Museum as well as the longest stretch of surviving medieval wall in England.
Southampton also hosts an annual boat showwhich attracts over 600 exhibitors every year. The boat show is held as the culmination of the Sea City event which is held every year from April to September, celebrating the city’s links with the sea.
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Portsmouth has a rich history, also heavily associated with the sea. The city boasts the world’s oldest dry dock and at the time of the British Empire was considered the world’s greatest naval dock.
It is home to the British Royal Navy and houses two-thirds of the force’s entire fleet. The must see attraction in the city would have to be HMS Victory, Horatio Nelson’s flagship and the oldest naval ship in the world which is still in commission.
Although Bournemouth is a coastal town, its culture doesn’t involve the sea as much as the former two destinations. It is a university town and has many bars, clubs and restaurants to enjoy. It is a town with a reputation for tourism, entertainment and leisure.
Notable events to look out for in Bournemouth include the ten day annual Food and Drink Festival, the Arts by the Sea Festival and the Bourne Free Carnival.