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Southampton Cruise Port and onto London for RS City Tour - Suggestions Please

We are doing a transatlantic cruise that ends in Southampton in May 2024. We decided to stay a bit longer and join a Rick Steves London City Tour before returning to the states. We will have four days from arrival to joining the tour. We're thinking of staying in Southampton those days and doing some exploring on our own before going to London. We are not going to rent a car and plan on using public transportation.
Any thoughts or suggestions on places to stay, things to do?
Thank you!

Posted by
23464 posts

Southhampton is kind of so, so especially for four days. It is good for a day or two but not four. Unless you have spent time in London, I would encourage going into London.

Posted by
14247 posts

Have you been to the UK before?

For myself I'd probably opt to stay in either Salisbury or Bath and then go in to London the day before the tour starts to get yourself settled and give you some flex time in case of train strikes.

From Salisbury, I'd spend 1 full day in town and then a day using the local shuttle bus out to Stonehenge and back via Old Sarum. There are also some local day trips you can take to stately homes in the area.

From Bath, I'd spend 2 days in Bath, then do a day trip with Mad Max either to Stonehenge or the Cotswolds.

That would be what interests me but it may not be of any interest at all to you guys!

Great call on the Best of London tour. It is a great way to learn a city!

Posted by
16868 posts

I do not know what there is to do in around Southampton (which appears rather industrial on satellite view), so I will offer an alternative for 2 of your 3 nights before London. The historic city of Winchester is a calling point on the direct train between Southampton and London (Waterloo station). We have not been yet but it is “on the list” for our next trip to the UK. I sent for information from their tourist office but there is lots on the local,tourism websites:

Posted by
577 posts

Winchester and Salisbury are both lovely places to stay, easily reached by public transport from Southampton.

I’d lean towards Salisbury as not only does it have the tallest Gothic cathedral in the country (and the most harmonious, in terms of being built all in one go), it’s also very easy to get to Stonehenge via the bus tour and Bath by train.

That said, Southampton isn’t a terrible base. It’s a fairly standard busy English city, but you could easily do day trips to all the above plus Portsmouth (for historic ships) and Brockenhurst for the New Forest, by train. There’s a wide selection of hotels at all price points, a modern shopping centre and some decent dining options, old city walls to discover and a titanic exhibition at the city museum.

But definitely there’s lots to discover in this part of England before heading to London, so I think it’s an excellent idea.

Posted by
909 posts

While Southampton is not the most attractive city it is well placed for exploring the surrounding area. Portsmouth with its historic dockyard and adjacent naval museums, including Nelson’s Victory and Henry VIII’s Mary Rose is close by.

In the other direction you have the New Forest with its attractive towns, wild ponies and lots of walking trails. Probably best reached by bus.

Chichester with a stunning cathedral and Fishbourne Roman Palace are also within reach. Salisbury and Winchester, two more ancient towns with cathedrals are also close by. All can be reached easily by train in less than an hour.

Posted by
6690 posts

There is also the Isle of Wight on the ferry from Southampton- takes you into Cowes on the north coast.

That could be an idea for those days. Hop on a ferry to Cowes straight off the cruise plenty to do on the island for those few days and very good bus services on the island.

Then go to Ryde for the ferry to Portsmouth Harbour station and train to London.

Posted by
16868 posts

For where to stay—-

If you do choose Salisbury, take a look at the Red Lion historic inn. We have not stayed there yet, but I have booked it twice for trips we had to cancel (covid-related) and they were very kind and accommodating. I love the look of the rooms and the history, and will keep trying!

Posted by
8622 posts

The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, not far from Southampton is worth a visit.

You have several suggestions of alternative locations for your days that are excellent.

A taxi from the port to either the bus station or the train station in Southampton will cost you around £10. It is easy to move onto other locations of interest the same day you disembark using bus (national Express) or rail ( National Rail).

Posted by
486 posts

We also have a cruise out of Southampton nxt Aug. We have already spent time in London, so we don’t need to stay and explore there. I too was hoping we could stay Southampton and use as a base for day trips before cruise. Have never been to Cotswolds or Bath. Could both of these be a day trip from Southhampton? Prefer trains…would rather not rent car. Ok on our own. Or would a day tour be recommended and just easier.

Posted by
6690 posts

Bath is an easy day trip by hourly direct train- takes 90 minutes.

For the Cotswolds there is an hourly direct Cross Country train to Oxford- change there for Moreton in Marsh- overall journey 2 hours each way. If you wanted to pick up a tour in Moreton trains at 0613 and 0715 would get you there in time.

Alternatively other threads tell you about Cotswolds tours from Bath.

Closer to Southampton there is also the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, Portsmouth Dockyard, Winchester, Salisbury and Stonehenge (a stop on the Bath train).

For a good value rail Rover ticket see the Freedom of Severn and Solent Rover. That takes you as far as Cardiff and Worcester. (valid after 9 am on weekdays).