Southampton is the cruise capital of Europe. This historic city is home to one of the world’s busiest cruise ports and is a remarkable place to spend a weekend.
If you’re planning to take a cruise from Southampton, arriving a couple of days early is a great idea. Even if you’re not a cruiser, Southampton is still a great place to spend a couple of days and you’ll find lots to see and do.
Southampton’s history dates back to the Stone Age. When the city was bombed extensively in World War II, many of the ancient buildings were destroyed. However, there are interesting ruins dotted about the city and plenty of museums where you can learn about Southampton’s fascinating past.
Whether you’re travelling with kids, with a loved one, or on your own, here’s how to make the most of two days in Southampton.
This is a guest post by Jenni Fielding of cruisemummy.co.uk.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.
Table of Contents
- 1 Two Days In Southampton: Where To Stay
- 2 How To Spend Two Days In Southampton, A Perfect Itinerary
- 3 Practical Information For Your 2 Day Southampton Itinerary
Two Days In Southampton: Where To Stay
Budget: Southampton’s Holiday Inn is ideally located in the heart of the city centre and right by the City Cruise Terminal. I’d recommend requesting a room on one of the higher floors for the best views over the city.
When you check out at the end of your stay, the hotel staff will be happy to look after your luggage, which is very handy if you have a few hours between check-out and the boarding time for your cruise. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Mid-Range: If you like a modern and quirky hotel, then look no further than Moxy Southampton. This funky city centre hotel is super cool with a video wall in the lobby and hand-written messages on whiteboard everywhere, including your room. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Luxury: For a luxurious, five-star experience, Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa is hard to beat. Located on a small private marina and designed to look like a superyacht, rooms at this contemporary hotel have stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
If you’re driving to Southampton for a cruise, it’s a good idea to choose a hotel that will allow you to leave your car while you go on the ship. While there are lots of car parks offering cruise parking in Southampton, it can be much cheaper to park at your hotel as part of a stay and park deal.
Some of the best Southampton hotels which allow you to leave your car include DoubleTree by Hilton and Elizabeth House Hotel.
How To Spend Two Days In Southampton, A Perfect Itinerary
Southampton in 2 Days: Day One
Explore the Old Town
Southampton is a city that’s best explored on foot. You’ll find several guided walking tours that will show you the most interesting historic buildings.
It’s also possible to explore the Old Town independently, as you’ll find lots of maps around the city and signs that explain the history of each building or ruin.
Southampton has walls around the city that were built in Medieval times. You can walk along the top of the walls and on some walking tours, the guides will have keys to unlock the vaults beneath!
Admire the Cruise Ships
After your tour of the Old Town, you’ll be in a great position to head down to the seafront to admire the cruise ships, boats and ferries.
You can use a cruise ship tracker tool to find out which cruise ships will be in Southampton when you visit, and which terminal they will dock at.
There are four cruise terminals in Southampton, but for the best view of the ships, you could take a pleasure ride on the Hythe Ferry.
Enjoy dinner at Ocean Village
In the evening, the best place in Southampton to be is Ocean Village. This lively marina berths hundreds of private yachts and has some fine dining restaurants and trendy bars.
On a nice evening in the summer you can enjoy al fresco dining while admiring the tall ships in this beautiful waterside location.
Southampton in 2 Days: Day Two
Southampton is a great city for shopping. The Westquay shopping centre has hundreds of shops to explore as well as lots of indoor and outdoor dining venues. There’s even a cinema and a bowling alley which are both great places to spend a few hours on a rainy day.
Visit the SeaCity Museum
No visit to Southampton would be complete without a visit to the SeaCity Museum. This world-famous maritime museum tells the story of the ill-fated Titanic and how its sinking affected the city.
With interactive exhibits, both kids and adults will enjoy learning about the history of Southampton, including maritime and archaeology collections.
Step inside a Medieval house
One of the quirks that most fascinates me about Southampton is how you’ll stumble across the most wonderful old buildings mixed in with modern council-owned flats.
One such building is the Medieval Merchant’s House. Owned by English Heritage, this 14th-century house is open for visitors to explore between April and September.
Practical Information For Your 2 Day Southampton Itinerary
Know what to expect
If you’re hoping for quaint thatched cottages and historic English architecture around every turn, you may be disappointed with Southampton.
Some of the buildings are modern, some are ugly and some appear to be almost falling down. But that’s the charm of Southampton. It’s the real eclectic mix of styles and genres that make it so intriguing
It’s always a good idea to book tickets for any of the attractions that you wish to visit. Southampton can get very busy, particularly in the summer, so make sure you have your spaces booked to avoid any disappointment.
Check the events calendar
Southampton has a year-round programme of exciting events. From Seaside in the Square (where a whole beach of sand is delivered to the city centre) to high-profile art exhibitions, there’s likely to be an event on during your stay, particularly if you visit at the weekend.
Check the events page on VisitSouthampton.co.uk for more information.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Southampton?
The best time to visit Southampton is in the summer as this is when you’ll enjoy the best weather and have the most events and attractions open for visits.
The second half of July and the whole of August are also the busiest times, as children are out of school. Therefore, June, the first half of July or September may be the sweet spot between avoiding the crowds and everything being open for you.
Of course, the weather in the UK is never guaranteed and, even in the height of summer, there’s a good chance that it may rain at some point during your two days in Southampton. For that reason, it’s good to always carry a light raincoat with a hood or an umbrella.
How to Get from the Airport to the City Centre
The easiest way to get from Southampton Airport to the city is to take an Uber. This will cost around £12 one way and it’s worth it if there are two or more people travelling or you have a lot of luggage.
If you’re on a budget, then the train is another great option. Southampton Airport Parkway train station is right outside the airport and trains run to the city centre every ten minutes. Tickets cost from £3.90 each when booked in advance.
It’s also possible to get a bus from Southampton Airport to the city centre. The Uni-link U1C operates every 7 or 8 minutes during the week, every 10 to 15 minutes at the weekend and every 20 minutes in the evening.
How to Get Around the City
The easiest way to get around Southampton is on foot. The city isn’t large and is mostly flat so it’s easy to explore the city centre on foot.
If you enjoy cycling, you’ll be pleased to know that Southampton is a bike-friendly city. Hiring a bicycle will give you the freedom to travel a little further afield and to cover more ground than you might do on foot.
It’s also really easy to get around Southampton by taxi. Ubers are almost always available and they work out much cheaper than taxis that you can get at taxi ranks on the High Street, at the airport or by the Westquay Shopping Centre.
Author bio: Jenni Fielding is a family cruise blogger who writes at cruisemummy.co.uk. She has visited Southampton many times before or after embarking on cruises from this port city.