Southampton is tied to the sea – it’s the home of the Queen Mary 2, the launching point of the Titanic, and usually the first or last stop on a transatlantic crossing. Learn all about its maritime ties and history at the hands-on SeaCity Museum, or have a wander around its historic city centre to soak in the atmosphere. Although a good deal of the historic medieval centre was destroyed in WWII, you’ll see remnants of its past in attractions like the 12 th -century Tudor House and Garden. Afterwards, relax with a pint in a traditional English pub and imagine the cruisers who came before you.
You may have seen the film, but the SeaCity Museum gives you a whole different side to the Titanic Story with its thought-provoking exhibition. You’ll see photographs of all the passengers, scale ship models, and other interactive displays in this must-visit maritime museum. Another way to learn about the city’s Titanic connections is on a walking tour through the town, to hear tales of the residents who made their home here. Stop off at Southampton City Art Gallery to see a wide collection of centuries-spanning works, and you can sign up for a Heritage Walk to take in the medieval town walls and other historic sites.
Southampton is very pedestrian-friendly, particularly in the touristy areas. It’s a ten-minute walk from the port to Southampton’s city centre, or you can stroll directly outside the terminal to find a taxi rank for getting around. Planning to tour around a bit further afield? Car rental agencies are on hand at Southampton Central Station, and you can also find connecting rail services to London here. National Express coach services run express services between the local bus station and London’s Victoria Station, and if you’re catching a flight there are shuttle buses to London’s Heathrow Airport.
Planning to park and cruise? There are several well-marked parking lots on hand to store your vehicle securely. ABParking is the official cruise car parking for the Port of Southampton, located on Ocean Gate and Atlantic Way within the port estate. There are over 2000 car parking spaces here assigned specifically for Celebrity and Royal Carribean cruises, while Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Saga Cruises offer a meet and greet service. Shuttle services are also on hand to take you from your car directly to the cruise terminal, so no lugging those heavy bags around!
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Southampton is a good city for hanging out and shopping for major UK brands. There are three shopping centres to choose from as well as a bevy of specialist boutiques. West Quay Mall houses high-end department stores, while the High Street offers a pleasant mix of pubs and restaurants. Get out onto the water on a ferry tour, whether you take a day trip out to Portsmouth or a short hop across the water to the town of Hythe. This gives you a different vantagepoint that you won’t see from the bigger cruise ships, as well as access to wider regional sights like the Isle of Wight! The market town of Salisbury’s a short train ride away, with its famous cathedral featuring Britain’s highest spire. Explore the stately Wilton House to admire its painted ceilings and Anthony van Dyck paintings. Stonehenge is also within easy reach from Southampton, rounding out your day trip options. When it comes to dining, choose from typical English fare like fish and chips or upscale bistro cuisine in the Oxford Brasserie. The White Star Tavern is a notable spot for food and drink, once a hotel for sailors and now featuring a chic modern British menu.