Thousands of years of trade
Despite its pummelling by the Luftwaffe and some disastrous postwar urban sprawl, the thousand-year-old city of Southampton has retained some of its medieval charm in parts and reinvented itself as a twenty-first century shopping centre in others, with the giant glass-and-steel West Quay as its focus.
Core of the modern town is the Civic Centre, a short walk east of the train station and home to the excellent Southampton City Art Gallery that’s particularly strong on contemporary British artists. The Western Esplanade runs alongside the best remaining bits of the old city walls.
Rebuilt after a French attack in 1338, they incorporate God’s House Tower, at the southern end of the old town in Winkle Street, which currently houses the Museum of Archaeology. Best preserved of the city’s seven gates is Bargate, at the opposite end of the old town, at the head of the High Street; it’s an elaborate structure, cluttered with lions, classical figures and defensive apertures. A shore excursion on your MSC Northern Europe cruise from Southampton can be the opportunity to discover the capital of England, London.
For the visitor, London is a thrilling place. Monuments from the capital’s glorious past are everywhere, from medieval banqueting halls and the great churches of Christopher Wren to the eclectic Victorian architecture of the triumphalist British Empire. You can relax in the city’s quiet Georgian squares, explore the narrow alleyways of the City of London, wander along the riverside walks, and uncover the quirks of what is still identifiably a collection of villages.
The capital’s great historical landmarks – Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and so on – draw in millions of tourists every year.
Excursions & Activities
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Reach the Port
From the North, East and London
OPTION 1: Travelling on the M3 South motorway, follow the signs for Southampton. Merge onto the M27 and follow the signs for the M27 West. Leave the M27 at the Junction 3 roundabout and take the exit signposted M271 towards Southampton/The Docks (first exit). At the Redbridge roundabout, take the first exit left and continue along the A3024 towards Southampton, then follow the signs to the dock gate for your cruise shown below.
OPTION 2: From the M3 motorway, follow the signs for Southampton. Leave the M3 at Junction 14 and follow the signs for Southampton Docks, which will take you onto the A33. Keep on the A33 and follow the signs to Southampton Docks. This route will bring you out next to Dock Gate 4.
From the South West
From the A31 Poole/Bournemouth road join the M27 motorway and exit at Junction 3. Take the exit signposted M271 and then turn onto the A3024, following the signs for Southampton Docks.
City Cruise Terminal: Use Dock Gate 8 or 10. City Cruise Terminal is adjacent to Dock Gate 8 and less than ½ mile from Dock Gate 10.
Southampton Central Station is a short taxi ride away from the port area.
Travel time: around 10 minutes, depending on traffic.
Southampton Airport is the closest to the city. Located approximately 6 miles away, it takes just 20-30 minutes by taxi to reach the terminals. Southampton Airport Parkway train station is just a few minutes walk away.
Regular services to Southampton Central run throughout the day. With both national and international flights landing daily, the airport offers a range of services, from left luggage to car rentals.