GETTING a staycation in south west England has this year been as challenging as securing a Glastonbury festival ticket.
But the UK is home to so many often overlooked coastal spots — some that would even give Cornwall a run for its money. That’s how we found ourselves in Southampton, a bustling port city balancing modern buildings with old-world charm.
WHY SHOULD I GO?
NOT just an upbeat city with a rich culture thanks to its diverse university crowds, Southampton is also rich in history dating back to the Middle Ages.
The south coast port is home to the longest linear quay in the world, and was the departure point for the famous Titanic in 1912.
ARE THESE STREETS MADE FOR WALKING?
YOU can visit most of Southampton’s attractions on foot, so there is very little need for public transport. Consider a walking tour where you will see all the main sights in less than two hours starting from the docks in the south.
See Southampton has great packages (from £8). There wasn’t anything about the city that our tour guide, Godfrey, didn’t know.
ANYTHING FOR THE BUCKET LIST?
BE sure to visit the Tudor House and Garden, which offers a glimpse into the city’s 800-year history.
Built in the 15th century, the timber-framed building was once home to merchants, and now offers an interactive experience for visitors.
Some of the city’s ancient town wall, built by the Normans in the late 13th century, is still intact too and stretches through part of the modern city.
Also check out the SeaCity museum, which tells the tragic story of the Titanic. More than 720 crew members on board the ship called Southampton home, of which 549 sadly perished at sea.
WHERE SHOULD I EAT?
ON the city’s high street, the family-owned Ottoman Kitchen serves up Middle Eastern delights, from mezzes to hotpots and charcoal-cooked favourites. Be sure to book a table in advance.
For a bargain lunch deal head to Mango Thai Tapas Restaurant and Bar, which has two-for-three tapas until 5pm each day. We went back the next day for round two.
AND WHAT ABOUT DRINK?
THE cocktails are always flowing at Orange Rooms, a retro cocktail bar in the heart of Bedford Place, with a tiki-style outdoor area.
Its menu offers a fun take on classics, including a “Round the world” mojito, made with Bison grass vodka, passion fruit liqueur and ginger beer.
If you’re a fan of craft beer, swing by the Dancing Man Brewery.
Formally a wool house, and at one point a prison, people travel from all over to enjoy a pint at this microbrewery, overlooking the docks.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
THE boutique Ennios hotel, which has its own award-winning restaurant, is just minutes away on foot to the main attractions.
OUT & ABOUT: Entry to the Tudor House and Garden costs from £5.50 per adult and £4.50 per child. Book ahead at tudorhouseandgarden.com. Tickets for the SeaCity museum cost from £9 per adult and £6.50 per child. See seacitymuseum.co.uk.
MORE INFO: For more things to do in the city, see visitsouthampton.co.uk.
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