Swerve any airport stress by boarding a cruise that departs from Southampton. Credit: Shutterstock

Your guide to a pre- or post-cruise stay in Southampton – what to see, eat & do

Author: Lucy Abbott

Published on:

Updated on:

Southampton is a popular port destination for cruisers across the UK and beyond. Discover what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Southampton before you embark on your cruise.

As the busiest port in the UK, Southampton is a bustling seaside city for cruisers before or after their holiday. Yet why is Southampton overlooked as a cruising hotspot itself?

With plenty of lively bars, expansive green spaces, small boutiques and tasty restaurants, Southampton provides all the ingredients for a good time.

So, if you are in Southampton before embarking on a cruise or after your return, we’ve put together a handy guide from first-hand experience.

We’ve planned out the ultimate two-night stay in Southampton to ensure you know Southampton like a local.

Read on to discover the very best places to eat, what shows to see and what hotel to stay at…

Related articles

Hotels in Southampton central

It comes as no surprise that Southampton, a busy port town, features an impressive array of hotel options. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the many options, then book in at our tried and tested recommendation – Leonardo Royal Southampton Grand Harbour on West Quay Road.

Leonardo Royal Southampton encompasses all the intimate, thoughtful touches that a small chain possesses, such as complimentary scented toiletries and countless spa treatments.

With 173 bedrooms, a heated indoor pool, gym and free unlimited Wi-Fi, this hotel is the perfect pre- or post-cruise escape to get you used to the life of having everything you need at your fingertips – or to carry on the feeling of indulgence for that little bit longer!

- READ MORE: Disabled cruises from Southampton - the best cruise lines to sail with -

We can particularly recommend opting for the Junior Suite, which boasts a sea view, balcony, flat-screen TV and a robe and slippers – you might even be able to spot your cruise ship from your balcony!

The Leonardo Royal acts as the perfect cruise base, at only a five-minute drive away from the Port of Southampton – and is also easily walkable for anyone looking to get their steps in.

You must opt for bed and breakfast as there is nothing better than waking up and leisurely strolling down to the impressive light-filled atrium to gorge on fresh pastries or a full English from the breakfast buffet – yum yum.

Southampton Art Gallery showcases an extensive array of local art. Credit: Shutterstock

Activities in Southampton

Once you have settled in nicely to your hotel you can start to explore the vibrant city of Southampton.

Southampton Art Gallery is a must-do to appreciate the local talent that Southampton holds. Nestled in the city centre, the Art Gallery showcases local artists as well as other pieces borrowed from collections all over the country – the best of British.

If you are blessed with some sunshine, you can navigate your way from the gallery to the remains of the city walls via a gorgeous, large stretch of green.

- READ MORE: Best food and wine pairings at sea from expert sommeliers -

To get an extensive understanding of the history and hidden treasures of Southampton, enlist the help of See Southampton, which run a range of exciting and in-depth tours of Southampton.

We would particularly recommend the 90-minute history guided tour to history buffs – after all, what’s better than learning more about good ol’ England?

The tour lets you go behind the scenes of intriguing destinations such as hidden wine vaults underneath seemingly normal-looking houses as well as access to Southampton’s towers to discover a unique view of the city.

At only £7 per person, this is truly a bargain and a great way to ease yourself into the exploration mindset.

Step into the spooky Tudor House to learn about its extensive past. Credit: Shutterstock

Find your ideal cruise

Search the best cruises from Southampton

Another crowd-pleaser is the Tudor House and Gardens, where you can step back in time and gain an insight into the lives of its residents across the last 800 years.

We love the relaxing nature of the pristine gardens that feature an array of gorgeous plants – a must-see, especially during the summer blooming months.

If you love all things spooky, then be sure to take part in the Tudor House ghost hunt where you’ll be informed of the many ghosts that traverse the corridors – in fact, former owners of the Tudor House have refused to enter specific parts of the building after the sun goes down!

- READ MORE: Discover the top maiden voyages for 2022 -

Use the knowledge of an expert medium who has been studying the Tudor House for over a decade and has seen paranormal occurrences first-hand.

If it’s an evening activity that you are after, then head to the Mayflower. We enjoyed a performance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Glitter, glamour and a good hearty laugh epitomise the show – simply sit back and watch the heart-warming story of three friends who travel around the outback of Australia (with plenty of singing and dancing along the way of course).

We certainly enjoyed singing along to our favourite feel-good songs – from Hot Stuff to It’s Raining Men – hallelujah!

Opt for a steaming hot curry for dinner in Kutis Brasserie. Credit: Shutterstock

Where to eat in Southampton?

Nestled in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter, which features a cluster of cafes and eateries, Mettricks is only a short walk from the station and our ultimate recommendation for a yummy brunch.

The relaxed, friendly atmosphere heightened by glittering fairy lights and rustic wooden touches decorate the exterior and interior of the café – the ultimate place to catch up with friends.

There is also a good range of options for the whole family – no matter how fussy. From a vegan breakfast wrap to a full English, portion sizes are plentiful (and actually look like replicas of the artful food pictures decorating the interior!)

Soak up some sun and opt to eat outside to observe those who pass by while sipping on your morning pick-me-up coffee.

- READ MORE: How to pick a cruise - What size cruise ship is best for you -

With this delicious brunch filling you up for your explorations, you will be peckish enough to thoroughly appreciate Kutis Brasserie for your evening meal.

Go fancy or go home we say, as this is an award-winning restaurant winning the Tiffin Cup for best Indian UK Restaurant in 2019. You can have a preview of the high quality of food that you’ll be indulging in onboard your cruise from Southampton – perhaps even better!

Kutis Brasserie is set in a Grade II listed building right on Southampton’s waterfront and serves up an impressive selection of Indian cuisine and views – imagine every type of curry you could ever crave!

You won’t regret ordering the onion bhaji’s as they are a crispy, fragrant delight – all you’ll need to worry about is not eating the entire plate! The Peshwari Naan is also a highlight and comes sliced into golden triangles, perfect for dipping into your curry of choice.

We hope you enjoy our handy recommendations as much as we did. Make your pre- or post-cruise stay in Southampton one to remember!

Most recent articles

About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is an experienced cruise journalist, who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy reports on what it’s like to be a young cruiser and is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.