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Southampton City Guide 🇬🇧

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside

Take a deep breath in and get a gulp of sea air. You’re in beautiful Hampshire in the city of Southampton, home to the UK’s second largest port. Gawp at cruise ships the size of hotels, and zip around the old city on a Voi scooter and immerse yourself in maritime history. From the ancient walls built by the Normans in the 12th and 13th century, right through to the vegans and gamers of today, this city is truly moving with the tide, yet there will always be the echoes of sea shanties in the wind.

Bargate

What better way to make an entrance than to walk through the Grade 1 listed medieval gatehouse? Built by the Normans in the 12th century, it was once considered one of finest town gateways in England. Now’s the perfect time to visit, as the two iron lions which stand guard outside the main entrance have just returned after a long trip to the restoration salon. The 278 year old pair are now looking fiercer than ever, and probably exactly how they would’ve appeared when Queen Victoria popped to Southampton on a jolly.

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Cafe Thrive

The all-vegan food emporium has created a massive buzz in the city where sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, salads, smoothies and milkshakes populate the menu. Eat in, or order a takeout and head to Houndwell park, only a stone’s throw away. Find a shady patch and plan the rest of your day from here. Rumour has it the fried ‘chicken’ burger, made from seitan, with dairy free ‘cheese’ and coleslaw is 10/10 vegan fare. All the packaging used at Cafe Thrive is recyclable too, so you don’t need to feel guilty about amassing swathes of plastic.

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Solent Sky Museum

Open daily, visit the birthplace of the Spitfire and fly high in the world of aviation. Housing over 20 aircraft, it’s home to the famous Supermarine S.6 seaplane which competed in the 1929 Schneider Trophy Air race, one of the most dangerous sports in history, seeing speeds rocketing from 40 mph to 400 mph. You can even sit in The Harrier cockpit and live out your jet-fighter fantasies; sound effects included. Don’t forget to explore the Hampshire Police and Fire Heritage Collection, for when you need to be brought back down to earth.

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Shamrock Quay

Time to hope on a Voi, and zoom along the marine parade to gawk at the 70-metre superyacht and observe all the modern nautical goings-on in this 255 berth marina. Named after the famous J-class yacht Shamrock V built in 1931, it’s still a thriving marina, accommodating all your boating needs and many specialist traders are still in operation today. Most importantly though, there’s a handful of restaurants, cafes and bars if you just fancy mooching around trying to think of as many nautical metaphors as possible, before getting your fill of old maritime history.

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Titanic Memorial

Neeeeeear, faaaaaar, wherever you are, it’s about time you get to know the real story of The Titanic. This memorial was built to pay respects to the engineers who built the renowned boat. Southampton played a crucial role in Titanic’s history where it docked in 1912 to pick up passengers and begin its ill-fated voyage. As Sir Archibald Denny Bt said so poignantly about all those working on the ship, ‘They must have known that pumping could do no more than delay the final catastrophe, yet they stuck pluckily to their duty’. You’ll find a treasure trove of information at SeaCity museum.

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SeaCity

SeaCity might be one of the most important and beautiful museums in the city which is split into three parts: The Titanic story, which needs no introduction, Gateway To the World, which looks back 200,000 years to some of Southampton’s earliest settlers, and finally, Southampton Stories where you can find local history, and explore important relics. Open daily, with the last entry at 2.30pm, be sure to seek out the Titanic replica, and why not treat yourself to an R.M.S Titanic mug as a souvenir.

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HighScore

Ready player one? It’s time to head south, because the arcade awaits. Gamers rejoiced as High Score recently made its debut in Southampton town. Forget ‘insert coin’ because one ticket gives you access to every game, which you can play as many times as you like within the allocated hour. You’ll find the world’s largest PacMac, air hockey, a two-player dance machine, Indiana Jones pinball, and loads of other retro classics. There’s every chance you’ll miss dinner if you get too carried away. But maybe a trip to a fabulous local brewery could tempt you away from the flashing lights and dizzying heights of the arcade. Read on...

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Dancing Man Brewery

Housed in one of the last remaining Wool Houses in Europe, this delightful independent brewery is a cave of wonders, trinkets, artworks, twinkly lights, and has been voted the best pub in Southampton, twice! They take pride in their beer, which is brewed on site and if you want more tales on the ales, you can book a tour and meet the gang: the crook, the king, the wizard etc. Naturally, these are the names of the stainless-steel fermenting barrels. There’s tasty grub on offer too, and even a beer painting menu. 95% of customers leave dancing. Don't forget, never drink and ride.

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Regata

Rumbling belly? Head to this Spanish tapas establishment for a proper Costa del Southampton moment. Flooded with natural light, tall ceilings, brightly coloured tiles and rustic wooden furniture, you’ll immediately feel relaxed. The extensive tapas menu includes all the big hitters such as, chorizo, tortilla, patatas bravas, as well as large paellas to feast on as you reflect on what you’ve learnt about the lives of sea-farers. All this can be washed down with one of the Riojas on offer, or perhaps a jug of sangria? Make sure you save room for churros.

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The Frog and Frigate

Self-described legendary spit-n-sawdust pub, the Frog and Frigate is the place to go if you’re feeling lively. One of the best, and only live music joints in town, it's been entertaining crowds since 1983. Traditionally, seasoned froggers have enjoyed dancing on tables, and singing their heads off alongside the bands, all with a rum, whiskey, or fine ale in hand. Check the website for events, but it’s really not one to miss for its unpretentious approach. A proper fun night out. Fair winds, one and all!

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