When I left Manchester to move to The Lake District, I had to stay in Southport for couple of weeks. I was not impressed by this idea… Well first of all I have never been there before, it is a seaside resort and that always makes me think of tacky shops and fish and chips on every corner. Boy, I was wrong!
Southport is just 1.5 hours drive from Manchester and is located on the West Coast of England. And you know what it means? Beautiful sunsets and loads of amazing pictures!
Let me start by saying that the town itself is very clean and well looked after. There is so much space! In case you are conscious about your daily step targets, you will smash it in Southport and will enjoy every bit of it! There are so many areas just to enjoy a quiet walk. The town was designed for upper class people back in the day and you will not find any area that feels “cramped”. We arrived on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised that considering the amount of people in town, it never felt that I had to “push my way through”.
Maybe the weather is not looking too good for a weekend? No worries! The main shopping area is under the roof so it is almost impossible to get soaked. Shop, have a snack, enjoy a glass of wine and hope that the weather will get better haha!
In case you are travelling with kids, Southport has got you covered again – there is a huuuuge play area in the park, a 2 min walk from Southport Pier, Southport Pleasure Land and quite few shops offering cheap fudge, candies and amazing ice cream! Me and my hubba went to Pleasure Land and enjoyed few rides and games. Hubba even won me a pink whale haha! Keep in mind that if you would like to try some rides or games, you must buy tokens. 1 token = 1 pound. Prices for rides vary 2-4 tokens per person but trust me, small or big, you will have fun! We spent around 15 pounds (considering how much fun and laughs we had, I think it is pretty cheap) and I got a whale toy.
Now let’s talk accommodation… There are so many Bed and Breakfasts around town! Prices vary from £55 upto £150 per night including breakfast. However, I strongly suggest to call the place directly and book your stay. This way extra charges (on booking sites) will be avoided. We did not know this at first and it costs us at least extra £20 per night! Don’t forget, it is quite old-fashioned town, people are absolutely lovely and welcoming, support small businesses. Also, if you book directly, be prepared to pay cash. We stayed at two places and both of them did not accept cards.
Where to snack/brunch/lunch on Main Street
So the main street in Southport is Lord Street. It is very long and offers a lot of cafes and restaurants to lunch or enjoy dinner.
If you fancy just a simple atmosphere, cheap good quality food and love chips – head to DIVA. It is a canteen style café perfect for lunch. The service was very friendly and nothing was too much trouble! We have not tried their fish and chips (we don’t eat fish) but paninis and chips were very very nice! I am still drooling thinking about those chips.. Another bonus, you can pay by card. I could not find their official closing times, but during summer months I believe they closed at 6pm. Approx lunch price for two people, including coffee around £12-15.
Address: 219 Lord Street, Southport PR8 1PF
If you are looking for something a bit more special, I cannot recommend Westminster Tea Rooms enough. It caught our attention because they were advertising a vegan (!) menu. There is always a queue outside but don’t panic – it is definitely worth the wait. The atmosphere inside will take you back in time. We enjoyed amazing vegan dishes (vegan sausage and mash + lasagne), we were looking forward to try their cakes however the portions were quite big and we did not manage to leave some space for a cake (I guess it is one reason to come back). Their non-vegan menu is very impressive and offers very delicious sounding foods, cakes, afternoon teas, Sunday roast… Also, they have sooo many choices for tea! Absolutely amazing place. Oh, just one thing… Cash only. Which is quite a let down as this place seems so popular yet it does not accept cards. They close at 5pm. Approx lunch price for two people, including tea around £20-25.
Address: 165 Lord St, Southport PR8 1PF
Very close to the main street on London St you will find Love To Eat. I have mixed feelings about this place. It is good for lunch, the food was great (we ate vegetarian lasagne), great value but… It is understaffed and during busy times it could get quite annoying. Also, on our second visit my hubba’s lasagne was cold but this was sorted out very quickly as soon as we mentioned it to the waitress. They have a great menu for cakes, unfortunately I did not have a chance to try it. I would recommend you pay it a visit, but avoid very busy times (typically from 12 to 2pm). I do not remember if you can pay by card (we paid cash both times) but there is a cash point right in front of this café, therefore you should not have any problems. Closing time is around 5pm and unfortunately after 4pm they serve only tea and cake (not hot food). Approx lunch price for two people, including tea and coffee £18-£20.
Address: 3-5 London Street, Southport PR9 0UF
Where to enjoy dinner in Southport
Once you have walked around Southport, you will notice that there are A LOT of Italian places. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Well… We went to few Italian restaurants and to be honest it was quite disappointing. The food was bland, very average and not worth the price. I would not do “name and shame” here, therefore let’s move on what is actually worth visiting.
Of course, you will find popular places like Wetherspoons (if you are looking for cheap “ok” quality pub food), Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Zizzi, Subway… You can expect pretty much the same quality doesn’t matter where you go if you choose a chain restaurant. One night we went to Pizza Express. Gorgeous place but the service (understaffed) and portions were disappointing, would not recommend.
So there is this gem 5min walk from Lord St – New China City. It is located on King St and we found it accidentally while wandering around. I am glad we did! We did not make a dinner reservation and it was not a problem – the place was very smart, waiters were wearing traditional Chinese clothes and they were very attentive. We were spoilt for choice (of course, we were interested only in vegetarian menu) and the food was absolutely amazing! After living in Manchester and visiting the best family owned restaurants in China Town, it is quite hard to find high quality Chinese food but this was it! Absolutely loved it, on the pricey side but totally worth it. We were absolutely bursting and almost licked the plates, it was THAT good! Let me add, the service was outstanding and nothing was too much trouble. I believe they close around midnight and card payments are accepted. Approx dinner price for two people including a bottle of red £45-55.
Address: 18-20 King St, Southport PR8 1JZ
A few minute walk from Lord St and you will find Thai Rice Restaurant located on Bold St. The clue is in the name – it is a traditional Thai restaurant. Not that long ago I discovered how amazing Thai cuisine is and let me tell you – this place will not disappoint you if you love Thai food. So many choices for vegetarians (and not only), high quality dishes, ambient atmosphere, great service, reasonable prices. It might look nothing special from outside but it is definitely worth the visit. You can pay by card and takeaway is available as well! Closing time is around 10pm. Approx dinner prices for two people including few drinks £35-45.
Address:20B Bold St, Southport PR9 0DB
If you are looking for a place to go for drinks, you will see that there is a bar on almost every corner. Prices are pretty much the same everywhere. If you are looking for something special, I would strongly recommend you visit Rum & Cider bar Le Grog located a 5 minute walk from Lord St. It is amazing – great choices of rum and cider (there is a separate menu explaining what is what and what it tastes like!), variety of other drinks, clean, stylish and very welcoming. The service was superb, the cocktails were very generous and excellent quality (you can tell if alcohol was good by judging how bad your hangover is: we did not have any hangover the next day after quite a few cocktails..). Let me add that the prices were very reasonable (varying from £6 to £12 per rum cocktail) and it is definitely worth every penny! Not sure of their opening hours though. Also, card payments are accepted. Always a bonus!
Address: 3 Seabank Rd, Southport PR9 0EW
There are a lot of activities around – beach, cinema, bingo, bowling.. Let’s not forget that absolutely gorgeous Formby beach is just a 20min drive away!
Southport is a place that everyone can enjoy and find something interesting. Long walks? Check! Cheap activities? Check! Good food and atmosphere? Check! Sea? Check check check! Let me tell you, if you are looking to go somewhere for a weekend and don’t have a huge budget – Southport is the place and you will not be disappointed.