The Romans may have been the first to lay claim to this seaside town, but Southampton today is a pure reflection of English culture. Filled with theaters, museums and art galleries, this port town enjoys a constant influx of cosmopolitan culture, thanks to international influence and a hearty population of university students. Many visitors who come to Southampton are arriving or leaving by cruise ship, as Southampton is one of the largest ports of call in Northern Europe, and it is worthy of a day or two addition to any cruise itinerary.
The city’s Roman history can still be seen in the suburb of Bitterne, while historic architecture and 800 years of Southampton’s past are on full display at the Tudor House and Garden. This quaint museum is located in the city’s Old Town, where visitors can also see medieval town walls and the famed Bargate that once protected the city.
History is far from the only draw to Southampton. Decades of cruise-based tourism have built Southampton into a destination for shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife. Outdoor markets are held near the Bargate throughout the week, enticing visitors with street food and trinkets. Hundreds of stores delight shoppers at WestQuay Shopping Centre, while Bedford Place is best known for its independent shops, restaurants and pubs. Speaking of restaurants, visitors should also check out Oxford Street and High Street for Southampton’s top dining options.
Performances at The Mayflower and Nuffield Theatre offer a taste of the city’s culture, as do the exhibits at City Art Gallery and SeaCity Museum. One final stop that shouldn’t be missed is Southampton Common, a sprawling outdoor green space where visitors can wander the woodland and wetlands along the nature trails of this 326-acre park. Whether Southampton is the destination or a stop on a cruise itinerary, this seaside town doesn’t disappoint.
Weather in Southampton remains relatively mild throughout the year, though the warmest months are generally June, July, August and September. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, though, the off-seasons of March to May and October to November are the perfect time to visit. Cheap flights to Southampton are also easier to find during these times of year.
Public transportation is plentiful in Southampton, thanks to several bus systems offering comprehensive routes throughout the city. Taxis and car rentals are also options for getting around Southampton. The city is easy to navigate by bicycle or on foot as well.