As you’d expect from the cruise capital of the UK, Southampton docks is the bustling heart of this vibrant coastal city. But there’s no need to feel despondent after you’ve waved off the latest lucky group of passengers heading off on the cruise of a lifetime. Southampton seafront has plenty to offer for both an action-packed and relaxing few days enjoying the seaside, city-style.
A break at the seaside is even more enjoyable when you’ve got all the attractions of the city on your doorstep.
Southampton may not be blessed with miles of golden sand, but the good news is that Weston Hard Woolston Beach is within easy walking distance of the city centre. Situated at the mouth of the River Itchen as it flows into the Solent, this small beach has a marina and is used more for sailing than sunbathing. However, it’s a great place for a stroll and to watch the boats bobbing on the water. For proper bucket and spade days on the beach, you don’t have to travel far to find a slice of seaside heaven. The Isle of Wight is a mere half an hour away by ferry, or why not try the lovely beach at Milford-on-Sea in the New Forest?
A Seaside Stroll
The spectacle of the regularly departing cruise ships from Southampton is the focal point of many a dockside stroll in the city. But if you’re keen to don your walking boots and explore further afield, why not try the seven mile walk along the Solent Way from Southampton to the charming village of Hamble-Le-Rice? The route starts at the town quay and takes you east across the Itchen Bridge to a coastal path which passes through the Royal Victoria Country Park and provides gorgeous coastal views to enjoy as you make your way to Hamble. Your picturesque village destination has plenty of good pubs, cafes and restaurants, making it an ideal place to take a refreshment break before heading back.
A Lively Marina
The Ocean Village Marina in the heart of Southampton city centre is the natural hub of the city. Famous as a starting and finishing point for international round-the-world yacht races, it’s an excellent place to watch the yachts that are constantly coming and going. It’s also the perfect location to enjoy a drink and bite to eat at one of the many dockside venues like the Maritimo Lounge or the Banana Wharf. You can also catch the latest blockbuster at one of the two cinemas here.
Sail Out to Sea
It wouldn’t be a trip to Southampton without a boat trip or two. Luckily this seafaring city has a huge range of options for getting out on the water, to suit all tastes and abilities. Seasoned yachtsmen share the water space with novices embarking on one of the many beginners’ sailing courses available from companies like First Class Sailing. Alternatively, if you’d rather relax and enjoy the views as a passenger, you can take a day or themed night cruise on the Solent, River Hamble or other itineraries with companies like Blue Funnel. Or if you’re up for thrills, spills and splashes, why not sign up for a high octane RIB (rigid inflatable boat) experience?
No British city has stronger links to the sea than Southampton. The city’s maritime heritage is a long and proud one and contains great highs, such as Southampton establishing itself as the country’s premier passenger embarkation port in 1907, and lows such as 500 of the town’s households losing a family member in the Titanic disaster in 1912. To get a feel for this rich history, a visit to the SeaCity Museum is a must. Highlights include an interactive scale model of the Titanic and a vivid portrayal of how life was for the iconic ship’s crew.