Southampton

Southampton is a port city on England's South East coast.

Understand

Southampton has been a settlement since Roman and Saxon times, in Roman times the town was known as Clausentum. The Roman ruins are situated in a suburb called Bitterne Manor. In Saxon times the town was known as Hamwic. Its privileged position on England's south coast made it Britain's premier trading post. The town became walled in the medieval era, and some remnants of these defences remain throughout the city, most notably the Bargate in the middle of the city centre. Southampton was devastated by bombing during the Second World War, meaning that much of the city and its heritage was destroyed. As such the town and its architecture has quite a modern feel to it.

Southampton has grown rapidly in the past 30 years, becoming one of the 20 largest cities in England. The two universities (Solent University and the University of Southampton) mean that there is a large student population.

Get in

By plane

Southampton has its own international airport, located a short distance outside the city in Eastleigh. It receives flights from elsewhere in the UK, as well as Austria, the Channel Islands, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Most of these flights are operated by the airline Flybe.

The alternative is to use another nearby airport and travel on to Southampton by rail, car or bus. The most convenient are:

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Southampton's main station is Southampton Central, on the north-west edge of the city centre. The station has entrances from Blechynden Terrace (north side) and the Western Esplanade (south side), with both providing equal access to concourse and all platforms. From the station, it is a short walk to the city centre, or you can use the free CityLink bus service, which runs every 15–30 minutes during the day and up to about 8pm. The CityLink bus runs from the station via the WestQuay shopping centre to Town Quay, where the catamaran to the Isle of Wight and the ferry to Hythe depart.

South West Trains run regular (at least one an hour) services to Southampton from London Waterloo via Winchester and Basingstoke as well as from Portsmouth and the towns between them along the south coast. Many of these trains continue beyond Southampton to Bournemouth and Weymouth via the New Forest. Megatrain is a new budget ticket option available up to four times a day on South West Trains' services between London and Southampton. If booked some time in advance, tickets can be as cheap as £1 one way, but they are more restricted than the regular tickets, and can only be purchased online via the Megatrain website or by phone.

Southern Railway run services via a longer and slower route from London Victoria, but have the advantage of serving London Gatwick airport on the way.

CrossCountry run longer distance services from the north of England via Birmingham and Reading.

First Great Western runs services from Cardiff, Bristol and Bath via Salisbury.

Local rail connections to nearby towns are described at Three Rivers Rail

Train times can be found on National Rail or by calling 08457 48 49 50 from anywhere in the UK.

By car

The M3 links Southampton with the M25 and London. The M27 leads west towards Bournemouth and the West Country, and east along the coast towards Brighton and the rest of the south of England.

Car parking is relatively easy with many pay and display sites in the city centre. There are also a number of car parks free up to two hours, and if you're willing to park a little further out you can find free on-street parking.

During the period of the Boat Show there is a Park and Ride scheme operating from Junction 1 of the M271 motorway with frequent buses to the show entrance.

There is also a Park and Ride for ticket holders to Southampton Football Club matches. This is easily found and well signposted from Junction 8 of the M27. For more information on either of the Park and Ride schemes see National Park and Ride Directory

By bus

Megabus run a twice daily bus service from London Victoria Coach Station to Southampton from £1.50 for the cost of a single ticket

National Express also run a regular coach service direct to Southampton from London Victoria Coach Station. Ticket prices are less than £20 for a scheduled return.

A free bus service runs every 15 minutes between Southampton Central Station and Town Quay via the city centre.

By taxi

There are a number of Southampton based taxi companies providing long distance transfers from major airports, towns, bus and rail stations to Southampton. West Quay Cars, Jewels Airport Transfers, Soton Taxi, Southampton Airport Transfer Taxi, Southampton Taxi Co, London Drivers and New Forest Taxi provide online taxi booking facility.

By boat

Southampton is a busy port city, and as such has numerous sea links to countries across the world, however the port is mainly used for freight (particularly containers) and cruises. There are no international ferry services (these call in Portsmouth about 20 miles to the east), however regular vehicle and passenger ferries operate to Cowes on the nearby Isle of Wight and the village of Hythe across the water. Southampton is also the port of embarkation for Cunard, offering transatlantic service to New York City on board the Queen Mary 2. Cunard also serves other destinations.

Get around

Map of Southampton (from OpenStreetMap)

My Journey is a website funded by the Department of Transport as a hub for travel information in and around Southampton.

The Southampton Buses Android app features public transport journey planning across all bus and rail operators in the city.

On foot

Southampton City Centre is fairly spread out along a North-South axis, however it is easily possible to walk from the popular Bedford Place student area on the Northern fringe of the central area to the waterfront, much of the route being pedestrianised.

By bike

Southampton has a few dedicated cycle routes; they are not particularly well linked but cyclists should not have a problem navigating the city centre. The city centre itself is mostly flat; Hampshire tends to undulate.

Sustrans Cycle Map

By bus

Southampton has a good network of bus services, with some principal services operating as often as every ten minutes during the day. Most of the services radiate out from the city centre but there are also some cross-city routes. Some services also extend to settlements outside the city.

By train

Southampton's main station is Southampton Central, on the north-west edge of the city centre. Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway and Eastleigh are all served by regular trains on the South West mainline. Other stations in Southampton receive only less-regular stopping services, these stations are, Redbridge, Millbrook, St Denys, Swaythling, Bitterne, Woolston, Sholing.

See

The Bargate
Medieval merchant's house

Do

Learn

Southampton has two universities: the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University .

Buy

Southampton sells itself as the shopping capital of the South Coast and the West Quay shopping centre does nothing to dispel you of that opinion. John Lewis and Marks And Spencer are the major draws, but there are 97 other shops happy to separate you from your hard-earned cash. An extension to this popular shopping centre will open in 2016 and includes a 10 screen 4k Cinema, up to 20 extra restaurants and a public square.

The Marlands is a smaller shopping centre constructed to a PostModern design in 1991. The rent is lower than West Quay and hence the retailers are less salubrious.Retailers include Route One, CEX and The Disney Store.

For more shopping, Above Bar Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfare joining the shopping centres to each other with even more retailers, large and small. You won't be surprised to find that the same stores as are on most British high streets such as TK Maxx, HMV,Topshop and Primark have made this their home. Above Bar Street is also the home of special shopping events. The German Market runs in December, and the area around the Bargate has the Farmer's Market on the second Saturday of each month.

Immediately to the east through either the independent side streets of Hannover Street or East Street is a large Debenhams department store.

A short walk to the north of Southampton's main city centre are Bedford Place and London Road. By day and night, the bars, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants are a hive of activity.

South East of the city centre, Oxford Street hosts independent boutiques, salons, bars and restaurants and maintains a more historic feel.

Eat

There are two main areas for eating out in Southampton; the first is Oxford Street (towards Ocean Village) and the second is around Bedford Place (just North of the city).

Oxford Street has a selection of higher class (and therefore more expensive) restaurants.

The choice in Bedford Place is rather more varied; ranging from Moroccan and Mexican (Cantina Mexican) at the Southern end of the road through student style curry houses and a Chinese to some late night kebab and chip shops. In terms of value for money the Pride Of India is one of best Indians in the city, but most of the restaurants are good value, if not exactly awe-inspiring taste-wise.

Walking distance from Bedford Place is the area of town that used to be known as Hungry Hill; Commercial Road where the existence of the Mayflower Theatre has meant a thriving trade for various restaurants in pre- and post-theatre eating. Again the choice is varied although generally the quality to cost ratio is not as high as it might otherwise be; although Buon Gusto (Italian) and Cafe Pattaya (Thai) are particularly recommended.

There are obviously the usual range of fast food chains spread throughout the city; formerly Burger King and McDonalds faced each other across the Bargate like petulant children with the gate itself acting like a peace-making mother, but McDonalds gave up the fight and fled to the West Quay shopping centre in which you can also find a large selection of 'sit-down' restaurants like Pizza Hut, Nando's, Pizza Express, Yo Sushi!, Wagamama and Cafe Rouge. Furthermore, there are many takeaways in Southampton that do delivery and allow you to pick up the food yourself. Typical meals range from £7-£15. Check with your hotel/hostel if they allow food orders.

Drink

As is to be expected of a large port with two universities, there are a lot of places to drink in Southampton. The city centre features two pubs dating from Tudor times, the Red Lion in High Street in particular is steeped in history.

Portswood is the drinking area of choice for students at the University, so keep away from places like The Hobbit, Clowns and Jesters ("Jesters"), The Gordon Arms and The Mitre if you want to avoid students. While The Hobbit can be studenty, it is definitely worth a look as it is a quirky pub with a massive beer garden and live music every night of the week. The Shooting Star (previously known as Kolebka) is a relaxed jazz bar with live music every Friday night. For those looking for a more alternative atmosphere, there is also The Dungeon Nightclub, with cheap drinks, friendly staff and customers with a varied spectrum of music from metal/industrial on Saturdays to 'cheese', indie and general rock music.

The Talking Heads, further up on Portswood Road, contains a mix of students and locals and provides a good selection of live music. Further up the road, The Brook is a dedicated venue for bands.

The Polygon (also referred to as "Bedford Place") is where most of the clubs and bars in the city lie, such as "Junk" (A club featuring modern dance music), "Orange Rooms" (A club/bar with a wider variety of music) and "Pop World" (A retro themed nightclub).

The Marina area has a good (albeit expensive) selection of seafront bars.

The Red Lion in High Street dates back to Tudor times and is a must-see. It's usually fairly quiet as well. For those looking for something more lively, The Platform Tavern nearby on the waterfront is an excellent bet as it features live jazz and blues music and a superb selection of local real ales.

The Angel located next to one of the central parks is an excellent 'local' type pub in the city centre featuring a free drinks quiz and friendly landlord. The Royal Oak nearby is also an excellent pub featuring regular live music, karaoke and quiz nights as well as drinks promotions, it is also very friendly although it can be a bit studenty.

The city centre also has the usual spattering of chain pubs, including Slug & Lettuce, two Wetherspoon's, Walkabout, Bar Risa and Que Pasa.

Outside of the city centre are the usual local pubs, some of which are excellent and others which are best avoided. The Park Inn in Shirley and the Wellington Arms and Waterloo Arms in Freemantle all have an excellent range of real ales while the Richmond Inn in Portswood is a great traditional pub with a vintage till and real ales. Nearby and next to St Denys railway station are two more excellent pubs, the Junction Inn and South Western Arms. The Rockstone in Bevois Valley is brilliant: it has a great selection of beers, whiskys and rums, and the selection of food is vast, ever-changing and of impeccable quality.

There is a useful directory of the local pubs and bars at which includes maps to find the pub and a few featured pubs as well.

Sleep

Whatever your budget you will be able to find somewhere to lay your head in Southampton. At the top end of the scale the De Vere Grand Harbour is the only 5 star hotel in the city and an exceptional piece of architecture.

In the level below that the Hilton provides 4 star luxury in a pleasant environment, you can expect comfortable and stylish guestrooms.

3 star hotels are much easier to come by, the Jurys Inn has recently opened in the middle of a city centre roundabout, the Novotel , Travelodge , Holiday Inn and Hotel Ibis are all perfectly adequate for providing a night's sleep.

If you feel the need for a less generic hotel experience, The Dolphin hotel and The Star are both on the High Street in traditional coaching inn buildings and will make you feel less like you're just a commodity.

If you're on the cheap, or feel like a more personal stay, then there are plenty of bed and breakfasts; most cluster around the bottom end of Hill Lane which is close to the train station. Simply wander out from the station's main exit (if you see Toys 'r' Us opposite you're on the wrong exit) and take the path by the left side of the HSBC office block. Hill Lane leads up the small hill from the traffic lights. Keep going up the hill until you find one worth staying at; don't forget to check the side streets too.

Tourist Information will almost certainly be able to find you somewhere to stay if you're stuck (023 8083 3333).

Stay safe

Levels of crime in Southampton are similar to other UK cities. Hampshire Constabulary's figures for 2009/10 show fewer incidents of recorded crime in Southampton than in 2008/09. There is a strong police presence in the city centre at night time, especially around the clubs and pubs. A Night Bus Service is available to allow people to get home safely.

Advice on keeping safe in Southampton can be found on the Safer Southampton website.

Cope

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.