The city of Portsmouth boasts world-class attractions, fabulous restaurants, cutting-edge culture, top-class shopping and a stunning maritime heritage, making it a great destination for a break away
Why visit Portsmouth?
With a wealth of attractions and activities, as well as great shopping and restaurants, the city of Portsmouth is a fantastic destination to visit with family and friends.
The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard celebrates the city’s rich naval and maritime heritage and provides a truly memorable family day out. Highlights include the Mary Rose Museum and Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. Other historic attractions include the D-Day Museum, which tells the story of the Normandy landings, and Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII to protect the port from the French fleet.
The 170-metre high Emirates Spinnaker Tower is not to be missed. Stand on one of its viewing platforms on a clear day and you can see for 23 miles across the surrounding coast and countryside. At its base you’ll find Gunwharf Quays on Portsmouth’s historic waterfront. It’s full of designer outlets, buzzing bars, coffee shops and restaurants – a great place to grab a bargain or two, then relax with friends.
If you’re looking for a spot of culture, Portsmouth has it in spades. The city boasts more than a dozen museums featuring everything from naval firepower to literary giants such as Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Visit one of the city’s art galleries: you’ll find cutting-edge contemporary work from around the world at the Aspex Gallery, and 500 years of fine and decorative art at Portsmouth Museum.
The city also offers plenty of opportunities to get active. Try your hand at sailing, kayaking or surfing at the Portsmouth Watersports Centre. On dry land you can join a guided city walk, enjoy a stroll along the beach, or take part in one of the city’s many running events. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be spoilt for choice, as Portsmouth has a wealth of places to eat and drink. They range from bars, cafes and pubs for a relaxed meal with family or friends to fine dining waterside restaurants for a romantic candle-lit dinner.
As the sun goes down, Portsmouth’s nightlife swings into action. Enjoy live music and comedy at pubs, clubs and top entertainment venues, or opera, ballet, West End productions and drama at one of the city’s theatres.
A brief history
Evidence of occupation in the Portsmouth area dates back to Pre-Roman times, although the town itself is thought to have been founded in 1180. Portsmouth gained its Royal charter in 1194 and was soon developed into a naval base. The city’s permanent fortifications were started by Henry V in the early 15th century and work on the country’s first dry dock was completed in 1495. The First Fleet set sail from Portsmouth in 1787, carrying the earliest British settlers to Australia and just eighteen years later in 1805, Admiral Nelson departed Portsmouth for the final time to command the British Fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. HMS Victory and the Tudor warship, Mary Rose, can be seen at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The dockyard is situated within a working naval base and its many exhibitions help to tell the fascinating story of the city’s maritime heritage.
When is a good time to visit Portsmouth?
Portsmouth’s many attractions make it a wonderful destination to visit throughout the year. It also hosts a wide range of events and festivals so why not plan your break to coincide with the celebrations?
Portsmouth Bookfest celebrates the city’s literary heritage during late February and early March and features appearances by popular authors. Music lovers will enjoy the Victorious Festival, which takes place in August, and is one of the most popular music events on the south coast.
For a fabulous family day out, head for the Portsmouth International Kite Festival, which celebrated 25 years in 2016. This free festival in August features kite flyers from around the world, food and craft stalls, and children’s entertainment.
Sports fans should make a dash for the Great South Run, which is held in Portsmouth each October. The event was founded in 1990 and is one of the world’s most popular road races over a 10-mile distance. Previous winners include Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe.
Why not get into the festive spirit on one of your short breaks? Portsmouth holds its Victorian Festival of Christmas at the Historic Dockyard from the end of November. You’ll find street performers, Father Christmas and real ales at Fagin’s Tavern, all coming together to create a wonderfully festive atmosphere.
Portsmouth is easily accessible, taking about two hours from London by car and 90 minutes by rail. There are also coach connections from across the UK. As a ferry port, Portsmouth has links to France, Spain and the Channel Islands, as well as ferry and hovercraft services to and from the Isle of Wight, Gosport and Hayling Island. Once in Portsmouth, there are regular bus services to all parts of the city and surrounding areas. Portsmouth is flat so it’s easy to explore on foot or by bike.
So come and see what this historical port city has to offer and take a loom at what hotels in Portsmouth we have to offer.