This in-depth guide to Southampton city centre’s best craft beer and real ale pubs, micropubs and bars includes recommended pub crawls with maps and directions, plus information on local breweries, getting around, where to stay and more. Comments, improvements, suggestions, corrections? Leave a comment below or contact me.
A few months back, I popped up to Leeds to check out the city’s oft-hyped craft beer scene.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great city with some excellent pubs and bars serving many tasty local beers. But, after hearing so many good things about Yorkshire and its beer, I was a little underwhelmed with what I found up there.
On reflection, the reason for my disappointment was the combination of taking my local city’s beer scene for granted while simultaneously expecting Leeds to be some kind of beer mecca where hops grow up the lamp posts, Tesco Express sells growlers of takeaway beer and the city council only allows brewing in small, limited edition batches.
Craft beer and real ale in Southampton
Seriously though, Southampton’s craft beer and real ale scene is bloody good, especially in and around the city centre.
There are now more than 30 breweries in Hampshire supplying locally brewed beer to the city’s craft beer bars, real ale pubs and bottle shops. And while Southampton probably isn’t as compact (or attractive!) as other craft beer destinations, it’s easy to sample the best the city has to offer in a day – or even better, a weekend – with a little planning.
This guide to Southampton’s craft beer bars and real ale pubs gives you everything you need to spend a day or weekend in the city. There’s information on local breweries, a rundown of the best beer and ale pubs and bars, and advice on getting around.
There’s also three recommended bar and pub crawls (including two you can do on a Friday and Saturday of a weekend), all with maps and directions.
What’s more, if you’re planning on staying in the city, there’s information on how to get there, where to stay, what to do and where to pick up that all-important breakfast to set you up for the day.
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- Getting around
- About the pubs and bars featured in the recommended pub crawls
- Other craft beer and real ale venues in and around the city centre
- Local breweries to look out for
Recommended pub crawls
- Pub crawl 1 – Woolston to the city centre/Shirley
- Pub crawl 2 – Bitterne Park to the city centre
- Pub crawl 3 – city centre
- Pub crawl 4 – Freemantle and Shirley
Information for visitors
Southampton craft beer and real ale guide map
To save the maps in this guide to your Google Maps account, click or tap the star icon in the bar at the top of the map.
Although a relatively small city, Southampton’s best craft beer venues are quite spread out. So, you may need to get a bus or taxi between some of them.
It’s not difficult or expensive to use the bus. And, if you don’t fancy bussing or cabbing it, you can visit many of the best pubs and bars on foot. I’ve included both options in the pub crawls below.
Using the bus
Buses run up to every few minutes, all the venues featured below are all close to major bus routes, and it’s only £3.20 for an all-day “city zone” ticket on First Bus (which you buy on the bus or via the app). This ticket gets you to all venues in this guide. (Please note, I can’t guarantee that the back seat or the front seats on the top deck of the bus will always be available.)
It’s best to pre-book taxis where you can, as picking them up from cab ranks can prove more expensive.
Uber is available in Southampton, too.
Here’s an overview of each of the pubs, bars and tap rooms featured in the pub crawls below.
- K – keg craft available
- C – cask ale available
- HF – hot food available
Olaf’s Tun (K,C)
Address: 8 Portsmouth Road, Woolston, Southampton, SO19 9AA
Olaf’s Tun is situated about 1.5 miles from the city centre in the suburb of Woolston on the east side of the River Itchen. It’s easy to get to.
It’s named after King Olaf I of Norway who had a fortified ‘tun’ or town here in the 10th century.
Olaf’s is one of the city’s growing collection of micropubs. It’s in narrow yet surprisingly spacious former convenience store. There’s a couple of low tables and chairs and high seating along one of the walls.
There’s usually around eight cask and keg beers available, from a mixture of independent local and national breweries.
Address: 47 Oxford Street, Southampton, SO14 3DP
Caskaway is another micropub. It’s in Southampton’s historic and trendy Oxford Street. As the name suggests, it’s a nautical-themed venue drawing on the city’s maritime links.
Inside, it’s polished yet quirky with lights, ropes and other sailing items adorning the walls and ceiling.
Like Olaf’s, there’s plenty of seating. There’s a small courtyard at the back and street seating, too.
There’s no bar. So, service comes to you. There are usually 2-3 cask ales and 10 or so keg beers available from local and national breweries.
Address: 1 Bugle St, Southampton, SO14 2AR
The Dancing Man is in one of Southampton’s oldest buildings. Since it was built in the 14th century, it’s been a wool store, a jail for French POWs and a maritime museum.
Now a respectfully restored brewpub and restaurant, the Wool House, as it’s known locally, is a wonderful setting to enjoy a few beers and soak up some history.
The focus at the Dancing Man is on modern-style cask beers, which it produces in the microbrewery behind the main bar. The pub also brews the occasional keg beer and offers guest ales from local breweries.
Belgium and Blues (K,C,HF)
Address: 184 Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DW
This bar and brasserie is in the heart of the city, close to the recently redeveloped Guildhall Square and the city centre’s park network.
It’s on two levels. Downstairs is a classic cellar bar, spacious with a handful of semi-private nooks ideal for small groups. Upstairs is a street-level gin bar and restaurant.
It’s no surprise that B&B offers Belgian-style food and a varied selection of bottled and kegged Belgian beer. There’s also cask and keg beer from Hampshire and UK breweries, including a house saison on keg from the nearby Vibrant Forest Brewery.
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Address: 383 Shirley Road, Southampton, SO15 3JD
Previously a bank, this micropub is located a short bus ride from the city centre in Shirley.
Inside, the pub retains many of the 100-year-old building’s features including a beautiful wood floor and tiled bar.
Seating’s on informal benches and there are even a couple of record decks in the corner of the room that come into use on the weekends with DJs playing anything from rock to reggae. There’s often live acoustic music, too.
Overdraft sources its beer from national independent breweries as well as local ones. There are usually 3-4 cask ales and 8-9 keg beers available.
Address: 10, Belgrave Industrial Estate, Belgrave Rd, Southampton, SO17 3EA
The brewery specialises in Belgian-influenced modern beers using Hampshire-grown malt and yeast sourced from Belgium. The tap room is in the same space as the brewery, overlooking the brewing equipment.
Unity’s core range of beers includes a pale ale (“Conflux”), a 6.2% IPA (“Collision”) and table beer (“Congregate”). There are usually several of these available on keg alongside its regular special and seasonal offerings.
Common Rooms (C,K, HF)
Address: 37-39 London Road, Southampton, SO15 2AD
Formerly the Chalk Valley restaurant, the Common Rooms has four cask pumps, 16 keg lines and plenty of bottles.
Barbecue street food is provided on-site by Bark and Brisket.
Butcher’s Hook Alehouse (K,C)
Address: 7 Manor Farm Road, Bitterne Park, Southampton, SO18 1NN
The Butcher’s Hook was Southampton’s first micropub, opening in 2014. It’s in Bitterne Park on the east side of the River Itchen, a couple of miles out of the city centre.
As the name suggests, this was formerly a Butcher’s shop among other things and it still retains many original features such as tiling and railings.
There’s no space for a bar. So, you order your drinks at the stillage at the back of the pub or beckon one of the staff over.
The Butcher’s Hook usually has around nine draught ales on cask and keg as well as a varied selection of bottled beers. The pub sources local, national and international draught beers.
Bookshop Alehouse (K,C)
Address: 21 Portswood Rd, Southabmpton, SO17 2ES
Recently named South Hampshire’s pub of the year, the Bookshop Alehouse is exactly that – a pub that sells books.
The pub’s frontage hasn’t changed since its days as a secondhand book shop. Inside, there’s a mixture of raised and routine seating, quirky decor and of course, bookshelves.
The bar area at the back of the pub offers four cask and four keg beers, mostly from local breweries.
Guide Dog (C)
Address: 38 Earls Road, Bevois Valley, Southampton, SO14 6SF
The Guide Dog is a traditional pub in a residential street. It has two rooms (following the recent addition of the new ‘Dog House’) and a beer terrace.
There’s an excellent range of well-kept cask ales – up to 11 at any one time – mostly from local breweries.
Address: 63 Onslow Rd, Bevois Valley, Southampton, SO14 0JL
This pub – which aptly describes itself as a country pub in the city – sits at the bottom of a lane of pretty terraced houses.
Complete with an open fire and carpeted throughout, this pub is cosy in winter and a good option in the warmer months with its front and rear beer gardens.
Probably as famous for its burgers and punderful (sorry) menu as its beer, you’ll find a mixture of up to 15 or so (mainly local) draught beers available on cask and keg.
Address: 18A Upper Bannister Street, Southampton, SO15 2EF
Southampton’s Brewdog bar is tucked away on Upper Bannister Street in the Bedford Place area, north of the city centre.
Split over two floors, the decor is cool and industrial – bare brickwork and lightbulbs, neon signs, a pallet-framed bar and the like. Upstairs is a mezzanine floor, overlooking the main bar.
Like all Brewdog bars, all the draught beer is kegged. There are 18 taps in all, featuring the brewery’s own selection of craft beers plus guest beers from other well-known breweries from home and abroad.
Pizzas are available if you’re hungry.
Sadler’s Brewhouse and Barbecue (C,HF)
Address: 74 London Rd, Southampton, SO15 2AJ
This bar is a joint venture between Midlands-based Sadler’s brewery and the owners of the Rockstone.
The decor and the food is US-inspired with planking and bare wood on the walls and floors and big helpings of marinated, barbecued meat and burgers on the menu.
Beer-wise, you’ll find 8-9 of Sadler’s own ales on cask and in bottles.
London Road Brewhouse (K,C,HF)
Address: 67-75 London Rd, Southampton, SO15 2AB
Opened in January 2017, London Road Brewhouse is part of the City Pub Company chain of pubs. Inside, there’s a downstairs bar overlooked by a mezzanine, which has its own beer pumps too.
The pub has a six-barrel brewery supplying some of the beer, with guest ales also on the bar. Pizza is available.
Waterloo Arms (C,HF)
Address: 101 Waterloo Road, Southampton, SO15 3BS
Owned by the Salisbury-based Hop Back Brewery, the Waterloo Arms is an unpretentious pub in Freemantle – a 15-20 minute from Southampton Central train station.
As well as Hop Back Brewery beers, the pub also regularly offers guest ales from other Wiltshire breweries.
The Witch’s Brew (C)
Address: 220 Shirley Road, Shirley, Southampton, SO15 3FL
Previously a shop serving the new age community, the Witch’s Brew is a micropub serving local cask beer from the likes of Broken Bridge and Vibrant Forest. There’s a good selection of cider too.
Clockwork Bar (C,K)
Address: 323 Shirley Road, Southampton, SO15 3HW
Clockwork is a small bar selling local cask and keg beers from the likes of Unity, Vibrant Forest and Tap It. There’s also good quality wine, gin and cider.
The Wellington Arms (C, HF)
Address: 56 Park Road, Southampton, SO15 3DE
A back street pub in Shirley/Freemantle. There’s 12 real ale hand pumps with six regular beers and six changing guest ales, usually from local breweries.
These pubs and bars aren’t featured in the pub crawls below (I couldn’t find a way to fit everyone in!). But they all serve a good selection of real ales and/or craft beers.
Brewhouse and Kitchen (K,C,HF)
Address: 47 Highfield Lane, Southampton, SO17 1QD
This brewpub and restaurant is part of the Brewhouse and Kitchen chain of pubs, which also has venues in Bournemouth and Portsmouth.
It’s in Highfield, not far from the University. It usually serves around five of its own beers plus a few guest beers on keg.
Junction Inn (C,HF)
Address: 21 Priory Road, Southampton SO17 2JZ
This pub is another one that’s close to St Denys train station. It’s Grade-II listed and has many Victorian features.
It’s a Greene King pub, but four of the eight handpumps are from other breweries.
Platform Tavern (K,C,HF)
Address: Town Quay, Southampton, SO14 2NY
Tucked away in the old walls behind the medieval God’s House tower, this is the original home of the Dancing Man Brewery and close to where the Titanic berthed before she left Southampton.
You’ll find a variety of local and national ales available, plus one craft beer tap and a choice of bottles and cans.
There’s regular live music too.
Bar Marina (K,C)
Address: Kemps Quay Marina, Quayside Road, Southampton, SO18 1AD
Another micropub, this time in a boatyard hanger near the river in Bitterne. Decor is nautically themed with two gigantic pictures of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ships on the walls.
The pub serves several real ales and has recently added keg beers to its line up.
Tap It Brewing Co (K)
Address: Unit 6, Muira Industrial Estate, William Street, Southampton, SO14 5QH
A brewery tap room, located close to St Mary’s football stadium. Open Tuesday and Fridays (5-8pm) and Saturdays (3-8pm – 11am-8pm when Southampton FC are at home).
There are more than 30 breweries in Hampshire, and many more excellent ones over the border in Sussex, Dorset and Berkshire.
Red Cat Brewing
Founded in 2013, Red Cat is run by an ex-publican and an ex-scientist – a perfect combo for a brewery.
The Winchester-based brewery produces beer for cask and keg. As well as a core range of four standard beers (“Prowler Pale”, “Scratch”, “Mr M’s Porter” and “Tomcat”), it brews many one-off specials plus an ever-growing “Untamed” range that includes a seven-hop IPA, a coffee stout, a sour, a brown ale and a German-style smoked beer.
You may also like: Learning about craft ale brewing at the Red Cat brewery
Broken Bridge Brewing
The Broken Bridge microbrewery is situated on the edge of the South Downs National Park in Swanmore.
Head brewer Jim Fullegar only set the brewery up in 2016. But his core range of beers, including a pale ale (“It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere”), a wheat IPA (“No Chaff”) and a couple of porters (“Hygge” and “Broken Biscuit”), have already made inroads in Southampton as well as in Hampshire’s rural pubs.
Broken Bridge also brews specials regularly and recently teamed up with Unity Brewing Co to collaborate on “Old Habits”, a dry-hopped bitter.
Flower Pots Brewery
The list of former staff at the Flower Pots Brewery reads like a Who’s Who of Hampshire brewing and many of the county’s brewers have either worked there or learnt from someone who did.
The brewery, which is situated near Winchester alongside the red-bricked inn it’s named after, focuses on traditional cask-only, hop-forward craft ales.
Vibrant Forest is based in the (you guessed it) nearby New Forest.
Well-known for brewing unfined, vegan-friendly beers, this is another newish brewery dating from 2014. Not that you’d know that from its extensive range of fabulous keg and cask beers – there’s everything from a classic session IPA to an oat and coffee stout to sours, to a Belgian-style dubbel to Russian imperial stouts.
Tap It Brewing Co
Southampton’s newest brewery, Tap It opened in February 2017. The US-influenced brewery has already produced a good range of beers, including a milk stout, session IPA, double IPA, American pale ale and a London porter.
As well as its onsite tap room (see above), it also has plans afoot to open a bar in Oxford Street.
Fallen Acorn is the new name for Gosport’s Oakleaf Brewery, which reopened at the end of 2016 after a brief closure.
In addition to classic cask beers like its “Hole Hearted” golden ale (4.7%) and “Twisted Oak” copper ale (4%), the brewery is now pushing the boundaries with several experimental brews for cask and keg.
Siren Craft Brew
Named best brewery in England in 2015 by the Rate Beer website, Siren is based near the north Hants border between Reading and Wokingham in Berkshire.
Core beers include pale ale “Undercurrent” (4.5%), coffee/chocolate stout “Broken Dream” (6%) and Soundwave (5.6%), which is a west-coast style IPA.
Eight Arch Brewing Co
Eight Arch Brewing Co’s home is a few miles from the Hampshire border in Wimborne Minster, Dorset. The name comes from the number of arches in the nearby Julian’s Bridge.
Eight Arch produces beers for cask and keg, including four core beers and several regular seasonal ones.
Butcher’s Brew Club
Not a brewery as such, but a group of home brewers that regularly work with local commercial breweries to produce beers for sale.
The group, which has met monthly at the Butcher’s Hook Alehouse since 2015, has already teamed up with Vibrant Forest, Dancing Man, Unity and Fallen Acorn. Look out for the name on the city’s pump clips and blackboards.
- Olaf’s Tun
- Dancing Man (hot food available)
- Belgium and Blues (hot food available)
- Overdraft or Brewdog (hot food available)
This bar crawl is ideal on the Friday of a weekend visit to Southampton or as a one-off exploration of the south of the city’s craft beer venues.
It takes you from the Olaf’s Tun micropub in Woolston through the city centre to another micropub, Overdraft in Shirley.
It’s a 25-minute walk from Olaf’s to the second venue, Caskaway. This is a pleasant walk on a nice day. But it’s easier to get the bus (details below). Alternatively, you can start at Caskaway instead.
After Belgium and Blues, you’ll need to take the bus or a taxi to Overdraft as it’s a couple of miles away. If you don’t fancy that by this point, stay in Belgium and Blues or head up to Brewdog, which is less than a 10-minute walk.
Note that Olaf’s doesn’t open until 4pm on a Friday and 6pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you’re arriving before opening time, you can start at Overdraft (open from 12pm on a Friday and 5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays) or Brewdog/Belgium and Blues (both open from 12pm daily) and do the crawl in reverse.
Getting to the first pub
Olaf’s is about 1.5 miles out of the city centre. So, you’ll probably need to get a bus, train or taxi there.
It’s a few minutes’ walk from Woolston train station. But a bus is cheaper and quicker if you’re coming from the city centre – take the City Red 3 towards Thornhill Fairfax Court (up to every seven minutes from the city centre Vincent’s Walk stop or Southampton Central train station), the 6 towards Hamble (approx every 30 minutes from the city centre Vincent’s Walk stop), the City Red 11 towards Woolston (up to every seven minutes from the city centre Vincent’s Walk stop), or the X4/X5 towards Portsmouth/Gosport (up to every 15 minutes from West Quay shopping centre). These buses are all run by First Bus.
The ride is less than 10 minutes. Get off at the first stop after you cross the Itchen Bridge (Bridge Link Road) and then head down Portsmouth Road. Olaf’s is on your left just after the crossroads. It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop.
If you want to start at Caskaway instead, it’s a 15-minute walk or five-minute taxi ride from the city centre.
Olaf’s Tun to Caskaway
This section includes a few minutes bus ride or a 20-minute walk.
From Olaf’s Tun, go right and head up the hill to the bus stop on Bridge Link Road near the Itchen Bridge toll booths. Get the City Red 3, 6, City Red 11 or the X4/X5 towards the city centre (one of these will arrive every few minutes but they are a little less frequent after 9pm).
If you’re on the City Red 3, 6 or City Red 11, get off the bus at Bernard Street and head down Oxford Street to Caskaway, which is on your right-hand side. If you’re on the X4 or X5, jump off at the Dock Gate 4 stop, head across the park and head up Latimer Street. Caskaway is a few yards to your right when you reach Oxford Street.
To walk from Olaf’s, go right from the front door, then left at the crossroads and up the steps to the Itchen Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue straight until the T-junction. Then go left – Oxford Street is the second road on your right. Caskaway is then on the left-hand side.
Caskaway to the Dancing Man
This section is a 10-minute walk. It’s not really worth getting a bus or cab unless you really need to.
From Caskaway, head left and cut through Latimer Street. Then go right, following Queen’s Terrace and then Britton Street until you reach the High Street. Go left.
Near the bottom of the road, cut through the small park on your right-hand-side. When you get to French Street, you’ll see the side of the Dancing Man in front of you.
Dancing Man to Belgium and Blues
This section is just under a 20-minute walk. You can get a bus, but it’s usually quicker to walk because the buses are a little less frequent here.
Head right out the front door and go back on yourself up Bugle Street. At the Tudor House museum, go right past the church, then left on Castle Way. At the mini-roundabout after the footbridge between the city walls, go right along Bargate Street
When you reach the Bargate, head left along Above Bar Street. Follow this for just under half a mile, past the entrance to West Quay, KFC on the crossroads and Guildhall Square. Belgium and Blues is on your right, just after Guildhall Square.
You can also get the U1A/U1E (up to every 10 minutes) or ‘Quay Connect’ bus (usually up to every 30 minutes but every 15 minutes in early evenings on week days) from Town Quay, which is opposite the Dancing Man. Note that Bluestar run these buses, so it will cost you extra if you’ve bought an all-day ticket with First Bus.
If you get the U1A/U1E, get off at the Cenotaph after Guildhall Square. Belgium and Blues is then a few hundred yards back the way you’ve just come, on the left.
If you get the Quay Connect bus, get off at Asda. Cross at the traffic lights, go left and then right along Civic Centre Road until you reach the crossroads at KFC. Go left along Above Bar Street – Belgium and Blues is on your right after Nando’s and the Scholars Arms pub.
Belgium and Blues to Overdraft/Brewdog
Getting to Overdraft
To get to Overdraft, head to the Art Gallery bus stop by the fountain on Commercial Road, which is almost directly in front of Belgium and Blues.
You’ll need to take the City Red 2 (First Bus) towards Windrush Road, City Red 3 (First Bus) towards Lordshill, 4 (Bluestar) towards Romsey, 17 (Bluestar) towards Lordshill, or 18 (Bluestar) towards Millbrook. Remember that your all-day First Bus ticket won’t cover you on a Bluestar bus.
Both First and Bluestar buses are quite regular, even late in the evening. The journey takes about 15 minutes.
Get off at Grove Road. Overdraft is on the right as you head away from the city centre, not far beyond McDonalds.
Getting to Brewdog
If you opt to end the day in Brewdog, go right out of Belgium and Blues and walk up to the main road. Go left then cross the road and go right up Bedford Place. Take the second right at the Vodka Revolution bar and then first left (Upper Bannister Street) – Brewdog is on your right.
Getting back to the city centre from Overdraft
You can get the City Red 2, City Red 3, 4, 17 or 18 bus back. The last First Bus back on a Friday and Saturday is 12.15am while the last Bluestar bus is just after 11.45pm.
- The Butcher’s Hook
- Unity Brewing Co tap room (hot food available occasionally)
- The Bookshop Alehouse
- The Guide Dog (hot food available occasionally)
- The Rockstone (hot food available)
- Brewdog (hot food available) or Belgium and Blues (hot food available)
If you’re on a weekend trip to Southampton, this is a good route for a Saturday.
It takes you from the Butcher’s Hook micropub in Bitterne Park through Bevois Valley to the city centre.
It’s walkable – at most, it’s a 15-minute walk between venues.
Because both Unity and the Butcher’s Hook open at 4pm on a Friday and Unity is closed on Sundays, it’s best to do this route on a Saturday from the Butcher’s Hook opening time of 1pm.
Alternatively, you can do the route in reverse. But bear in mind that Unity is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to get started a little earlier than 1pm on a Saturday, Unity is open from 12pm.
Getting to the first pub
The Butcher’s Hook and Unity are about two miles out of the city centre, meaning you’ll need to get a bus, train or taxi there.
Starting at the Butcher’s Hook
The best bus to get is the City Red 7 (First Bus) towards Townhill Park (up to every eight minutes from the city centre Pound Tree Road stop and the stops on Above Bar Street near Belgium and Blues).
Get off at the clock tower at Bitterne Park Triangle, which is just after you cross the river. The Butcher’s Hook is across the road from the clock.
If you’re arriving on the train, go to St Denys station and exit on the platform 4 side. Go left along Adelaide Road. Then go right when you reach the main road. The Butcher’s Hook is opposite the clock after you cross the river. This is a 15-minute walk.
Starting at Unity
If you want to go to Unity first, get off the City Red 7 at Portswood Broadway (next to the Trago Lounge). Then head out onto Portswood High Street and go right towards Sainsbury’s. Continue past Sainsbury’s for just under half a mile until you reach Kent Road. Go right, then left, and left again into the trading estate. Unity is then on your right. The walk is about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can get the U6H bus (every 30 minutes on Saturday afternoons from the city centre) or 2 bus (every 20 minutes on Saturday afternoons from the city centre). Get off the bus at the Bowden Lane stop, which is a two-minute walk from the brewery. (Note that both of these buses are run by Bluestar not First Bus). Then follow walking directions from Kent Road, above.
Unity is between St Denys and Swaything railway stations. But it’s a bit easier to get there from St Denys. Leave the station on the side of platform 4 and go left at Adelaide Road. Cross the level crossing and main road and continue along Kent Road. When you go under the railway bridge, go right, then left. Unity is then on your right. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the station.
Butcher’s Hook to Unity (and vice versa)
This is a 15-minute walk. Cross the river bridge and take the first right along Priory Road. When you get to Kent Road, go right. After you pass under the railway bridge, go right, then left. Unity is then on your right.
If you’re going from Unity to the Butcher’s Hook, do the route in reverse, obvs.
(The 7 bus runs along the first section of the route from the Butcher’s Hook. But it will only shave a couple of minutes off your journey time.)
Unity/Butcher’s Hook to the Bookshop Alehouse
From Unity’s front door, head left and follow the round to the junction. Then go right and then right until you reach Portswood Road. Follow Portswood Road for just under a mile. The Bookshop Alehouse is on the right.
From the Butcher’s Hook
From the Butcher’s Hook, cross the river and continue for just under half a mile under you get to Adelaide Road on your right. Cross the level crossing and follow the road as it swerves right and crosses the railway on a bridge. Cross the road at the traffic lights and then go left along Lawn Road. When you reach the junction, go right and you’ll see the Bookshop Alehouse across the road.
The Bookshop Alehouse to the Guide Dog
This a six or seven minute walk. Go right when you leave the Bookshop Alehouse, then right at the junction passing the petrol station. Take the second left (Earl’s Road). The Guide Dog is nearer the bottom end of the road.
The Guide Dog to the Rockstone
The Rockstone is a five-minute walk from the Guide Dog. Head to the bottom of Earl’s Road and go right. You’ll see the Rockstone in front of you.
The Rockstone to Belgium and Blues/Brewdog
Leave the Rockstone and go back on yourself along the main road towards the city centre. When you reach the dual carriageway, cross at the lights and continue straight up Bellevue Road.
To get to Belgium and Blues, go left when you reach London Road – cross the main road at the end of London Road and continue along Above Bar Street.
To get to Brewdog, cross London Road onto Carlton Crescent, then go left along Carlton Place. Brewdog is a little way up the second road on the right (Upper Bannister Street).
- Belgium and Blues (hot food available)
- The Common Rooms (hot food available)
- London Road Brewhouse (hot food available)
- Sadler’s Brewhouse and Barbecue (hot food available)
- Brewdog (hot food available)
This pub crawl is a good option if you only have an evening or a few hours to visit some pubs in Southampton city centre.
Getting to the first pub
Belgium and Blues is probably the most central of Southampton’s craft beer venues, situated on Above Bar Street near Guildhall Square.
If you’re in the city, head towards the upper part of Above Bar Street. If you’re coming from Southampton Central railway station, it’s a 10-minute walk. Exit on the platform 1 side and go right. Then simply continue along this road for about half a mile, over the main road and past the Civic Centre on your right. Belgium and Blues is in front of you when you get to the junction with Above Bar Street.
Belgium and Blues to the Common Rooms
Head right past the parks and cross the main road onto London Road. The Common Rooms is on your left after a few moments’ walk.
The Common Rooms to London Road Brewhouse
Head left. London Road Brewhouse is on the corner on your left when you reach Carlton Crescent.
London Road Brewhouse to Sadler’s Brewhouse and Barbecue
Walk over the zebra crossing directly in front of London Road Brewhouse and head left to the end of London Road. Sadler’s is on your right.
Sadler’s Brewhouse and Barbecue to Brewdog
Head back across the zebra crossing to London Road Brewhouse. Then go up Carlton Crescent and go immediately left onto Carlton Place. Brewdog is a little way up the second road on your right (Upper Bannister Street).
- Waterloo Arms (hot food available)
- Wellington Arms (hot food available)
- Witch’s Brew
- Clockwork Bar
This pub crawl, which you can start from the area around Southampton Central station, includes two traditional pubs and Shirley’s three new micro pubs/bars.
There’s a maximum of five minutes’ walking between venues.
Getting to the first pub
The Waterloo Arms is about a 20-minute walk from the north side of Southampton Central station.
From the station, head north to Commercial Road and go left until you get to a mini roundabout. Go up Shirley Road and then take a left at the crossroads along Waterloo Road. You’ll see the pub on your right after around 1/3 of a mile.
From the city centre, get the 12 (Bluestar) bus towards Totton and Calmore and get off at Freemantle Church. The buses run regularly during the day but are less frequent in the evenings.
If you’re planning on getting the bus back from Overdraft, mention it to the driver as it may work out cheaper to get a day ticket.
When you get off the bus, go back on yourself – the pub is a moment’s walk form the bus stop.
Waterloo Arms to Wellington Arms
Head left out of the pub and go left up Mansion Road. The Wellington is on the corner of Mansion Road and Park Road.
Wellington Arms to Witch’s Brew
Go left from the Wellington up Park Road. Then go right at Lisbon Road and left when you reach Shirley Road.
The Witch’s Brew is on the left after the traffic lights.
Witch’s Brew to Clockwork Bar
Go left out of the entrance to Witch’s Brew and continue up Shirley Road.
Clockwork Bar is on your right in a row of shops and takeaways.
Clockwork Bar to Overdraft
Continue towards the centre of Shirley when you leave Clockwork bar. Overdraft is on your right after Lidl and McDonalds.
Getting back to the city centre from Overdraft
You can get the City Red 2, City Red 3, 4, 17 or 18 bus back into town. The last First Bus back on a Friday and Saturday is 12.15am while the last Bluestar bus is just after 11.45pm.
Information for visitors
If you’re heading to Southampton from out of town, here’s how to get there, where to stay, where to grab breakfast and what to do if you have any time to kill.
Southampton’s easy to get to by train, bus and car.
Southampton is easy to get to from the M27 and M3 motorways.
You’ll find all the usual hotel chains in the city as well as plenty of independents.
The major hotels located nearest the city centre are Jury’s Inn (five-minute walk to Belgium and Blues and 10-minute walk to the main local bus terminal) and Premier Inn Southampton City Centre (10-minute walk to Belgium and Blues and eight-minute walk to the main local bus terminal).
There are scores of places serving a good breakfast in Southampton.
Here are some recommendations from those in know.
Kate’s Cafe (recommended by Dunx)
Address: 227 Portswood Rd, Southampton, SO17 2NF
Kate’s is on Portswood High Street, close to many of the pubs in pub crawl 2 making it an ideal place to start the day if you’re doing that crawl.
Options include the famous Kate’s “Hash” breakfast and lighter bites, including vegetarian dishes.
The Artisan (recommended by Southampton Bloggers)
Address: Guildhall Square, Southampton, SO14 7NN
Overlooking Guildhall Square in the heart of the city, the Artisan is part of Southampton Solent University but open to the public as well as students.
Breakfast options include an English breakfast, a spicy “Boston” breakfast and lighter meals like eggs Benedict.
Halladays Tea Rooms (recommended by Jane Evans and Soton Beer)
Address: 6 Bedford Place, Southampton, SO15 2DB
It’s not just tea and cake at Halladays Tea Rooms – the breakfast options include traditional and vegetarian fry ups, waffles and pancakes.
Halladays is on Bedford Place, close to the city centre parks and about five minutes’ walk from Guildhall Square.
Mettricks (recommended by various)
Address: Four locations across the city
The first Mettricks opened in 2013. There are now five of them across Hampshire and the New Forest with three close together in the old town, by the Bargate and on Guildhall Square.
Primarily a place to get great coffee, Mettricks also serves hot food all day. Breakfast options include full English, beans on toast, muffins and more.
Need a break from the beer or have some time to kill before the pubs open? Here are a few things to do in Southampton near the city centre.
Go to the SeaCity Museum
Address: Civic Centre, Havelock Road, Southampton, SO14 7FY
This is Southampton’s snazzy maritime museum, which was housed in the Dancing Man until 2012.
As you’d expect, RMS Titanic features heavily with an exhibition telling the story of the ship through the perspectives of the crew.
There’s also a look at Southampton’s role as a hub for emigration and a special area that changes exhibition every few months.
Adult admission is £8.50 or you can buy a ticket that gets you into the SeaCity Museum and the Tudor House and Garden (below) for £12.
Visit the Tudor House and Garden
Address: Bugle Street, Southampton, SO14 2AD
Located in the old town area within the medieval walls, the Tudor House is a Grade I listed timber-framed house built in the late 15th century.
The house and gardens give an insight into what life was like for the various residents of the house over the last 500 years or so. There are even restored Tudor and Victorian kitchens.
Adult admission is £5. Note that it’s closed on Fridays.
Walk the parks
Southampton’s five city-centre parks cover more than 50 acres. They’re interconnected and are a great option for a relaxed stroll to clear your head after a night on the beers.
There are various memorials and sculptures dotted around the parks including two Titanic memorials – one dedicated to the engineers who died in the disaster and one commemorating the musicians who died.
Take the Hythe Ferry and Hythe Pier Railway
It doesn’t boast the views of the Stanton Island Ferry in New York, but the Hythe Ferry is an easy and quirky way to get out on the water when you visit Southampton.
The ferry runs from Town Quay to Hythe Pier, where a 1920s tram takes you along a 700-yard narrow-gauge railway to the shore.
On the 10-minute trip, there are great views of Southampton Water and of cruise ships like the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Britannia when they’re in port.
Sailings are every 30 minutes and cost £7 return.
Visit the medieval vaults
Back in the 14th century, Southampton was a major wine importer. As a result, there were once more than 70 wine vaults in Southampton’s old town area.
The townsfolk used many of them as air raid shelters in the Second Word War and there are still around 25 vaults in various locations in the southern part of the city.
See Southampton host regular history walks that include a tour of the vaults as well as other interesting sites.
Over to you
Have you been to any of the pubs or bars in this guide? What’s your favourite pub crawl in Southampton?
Loads of people helped me but this guide together. As well as those who recommended breakfast spots (mentioned above), the following people provided input: Vicci Elliot, Ross Hammerton, DTW Les, the Bookshop Alehouse, Matt Poacher, DD, Ben Wilmott, Clemfandango, Andrew Matthews, Paul Jenks, Dan Mayer, Andrew B, The Butcher’s Hook Alehouse, Jon Cartwright, Hampshire Beer, Grandad Greg and Jonathan Simpson. Plus more who I may have forgotten to add.