Southampton is known as the cruise capital of Europe and every year, over 4 million visitors flock to this harbour city in the South of England. From London, you can get here in about 1 hour and 20 minutes by train and a while ago, I visited the city for 48 hours to see what it has to offer culturally.
I’ve put together the highlights of my visit in this handy one day in Southampton guide for you:
Go on a Themed Walk
The old city center of Southampton is very compact and so it’s easy to see on foot. You can plan your own route or take a guided your, for example with See Southampton Walking Tours.
With their historical tours, you walk through the ages of Romans, Saksons and the Vikings, look at the old city wall, learn more about the ship The Mayflower and why Southampton was a spa town. You also get to know lots about the export of wool and the import of wine in this city, back in the days.
There are also tours aimed at gastronomy, such as the “Barrels & Beer” or “Vaults & Vino” tours, which both end with a lovely refreshment at the Dancing Man Brewery.
See the links at the bottom of this article for an overview of the upcoming tours.
Coffee Break at Mettricks
Mettricks is a company that was founded in Southampton in 2013. You can find great coffee and other drinks here, in a homely, creative space. You can find Mettricks at three places in the city and it’s a perfect spot to refuel for some more sightseeing!
Step back in Time at Tudor House and Garden
If you would like to know more about the history of Southampton and the rest of England, then I can recommend to visit Tudor House and Garden, one of Southampton’s most historic buildings.
This building is over 800 years old and has recently been renovated. Now you can walk through different era’s that passed through this house. In the interactive exhibition, you can find out who lived and worked in this house throughout the years.
Under the building, you can find a war shelter from the Second World War
If you’ve got time left, perhaps you’d like to visit the Medieval Merchant’s House as well, while you’re here. This building is the renovated version of a late 13th century home/workshop. It was build by John Fortin, a rich salesman. Just note that this building is only open on Saturday and Sunday.
Lunch at Pig in the Wall
Are you hungry from listening to all that history? Well, then make a stop at Pig in the Wall, an amazing hotel/deli which is literally built INSIDE the Medieval city wall.
This hotspot of Southampton also has a super funky decor, friendly staff and a great selection of quality food, so don’t miss out. Enjoy a healthy brunch or lunch… or just go straight for the pork pies!
Visit the Titanic Exhibition at SeaCity Museum
Got the energy levels a bit up after that lunch? Well, then it’s time to learn a bit more about the fascinating history of Southampton. one of the best places to do this is the SeaCity Museum, where the permanent exhibition tells you all about the connection of the city with the famous White Star Line Ocean Liner Titanic.
The exhibition itself isn’t that big (I visited a Titanic exhibition in Tallinn in Estonia a few years back and must confess I found that 10x more impressing), but you get a good sense of that time and how the disaster impacted the lives of people in Southampton. Many of them worked on the ships, or had family on board
If by now you still have some energy left, you could visit the Southampton City Art Gallery as well. In this gallery, you can find more than 5000 works divided into 8 time periods, so there sure is something to like for every taste. The core of the collection is British art from the 20th century and modern art, but you can also find many European works.
If you feel that instead of all these cultural activities, you’d rather do something else, then Southampton offers that too. Why not go shopping, for example? You can find most shops over at Westquay and there are plenty of restaurants here too:
Eat & Drink at the Dancing Man Brewery
Ready to stop being culturally responsible? Then you can finish off the day at the atmospheric Dancing Man Brewery. This independent brewery is located in the building of the former wool-storage of Southampton, close to the harbour.
This is the first brewery of the city and besides good tasting beer (and I don’t even like beer that much, so imagine that!), you can also order some great food here. Really a perfect place to relax at the end of a long day sightseeing, or to stick around for some food and music.
See a Show at Studio 144 (Late 2017)
Staying overnight in Southampton and looking for something cultural to do at night? Then, you’re in luck. There are plenty of places with live music, theater and dance and at the end of 2017, Studio 144 opens her doors.
This project combines facilities for film, theater, dance and art in one building. They work together with City Eye (a team of people who give film & video artists and lovers a platform to showcase and watch moving pictures), the John Hansard Gallery (center of modern art, part of the University of Southampton) and NST Nuffield Southampton Theatres (one of the country’s leading theater companies).
During my visit, we got a peek on the construction site and it looked promising! We watched the West End show “The Woman in Black” in the theater of the Uni of Southampton and I LOVED it! If you have the opportunity to watch this (quite scary) show, you must!
Where to Stay in Southampton?
We stayed at the Ennios Hotel (which is an Italian restaurant at the same time) and although I slept really well and everything was clean and decent, I don’t think it was extra special (staff was a bit nervous, breakfast not very inspiring and my room was BOILING hot (and I’m always cold, so can you imagine?). I think this hotel would be perfect for a bit of an older demographic, but if you’re young and hip and got a bit of money to spend, then I would perhaps recommend booking at the funky Pig in the Wall hotel!
What to Do in Southampton?
Here are the links to all activities we did in Southampton:
See Southampton Walking Tours – seesouthampton.co.uk
Mettricks – mettricks.com
Tudor House and Garden – tudorhouseandgarden.com
Medieval Merchant’s House – english-heritage.org.uk/…/medieval-merchants-house
SeaCity Museum – seacitymuseum.co.uk
Southampton City Art Gallery – southamptoncityartgallery.com
Westquay – west-quay.co.uk
Dancing Man Brewery – dancingmanbrewery.co.uk
Studio 144 – southampton.ac.uk/…/studio-144
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