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It's a great idea to rent a car in Southampton during your trip. There are some excellent cities nearby, a coast to explore and some rural heritage sites as well. Having a car while on holidays in Southampton is not only convenient but doesn't limit your trip to only that part of England. Search for a cheap car rental on liligo.com at the same time you search for your flights to Southampton, killing two birds with one stone. At the airport head to the Car Rental Reception Centre, opposite the terminal and pick up the cheapest car renal in Southampton from Hertz, Avis, Europcar, National, Alamo or Enterprise.
If you'd rather choose from the car rental deals in Southampton's city centre, you'll find Europcar and Hertz along Quay Road West, WizzCar Go and A 2 B Cars near the train station Thrifty is located in Ocean Village.
Parking in Southampton is very easy. There are many Pay & Display spots in the city centre and most car parks allow free parking for up to 2 hours. If you're willing to walk a bit you can even find free parking on the city street just outside the centre. Parking becomes scarce however during the annual Boat Show, when it's best to use the organized Park & Ride scheme set up at Junction 1 on the M271.
Alternatively you can park at your hotel in Southampton when you plan to stay in the city and only use it when travelling out to the surrounding region.
Winchester has a long and interesting history. It has been settled for 2000+ years and is easily reached via the M3 from both Southampton and London. Start off at the Winchester Cathedral, then head to the Dean Garnier Garden. The city centre's narrow streets and medieval architecture are charming. Wolvesey Castle and the Westgate shouldn't be missed either.
Portsmouth is a must-see if you're interested in discovering something about the naval history of Britain… British history in general actually. You can even visit Lord Nelson's HMS Victory which was used in the Battle of Trafalgar more than 200 years ago. Tour the dockyards and then head into the city. There are two beautiful cathedrals there, an aquarium and the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum.
There are three things that you can do in Bournemouth: shop, go to the beach and party all night long. Fancy any of those and you've got your day planned when you drive to Bornemouth. The city's famous pine forests were thought to revitalize your health and the likes of J.R.R. Tolkein and D.H. Lawrence used to stroll these forests. Take the M27 to A31, passing the New Forest. Take exit A338 to Bournemouth and ever via Wessex Way.