Things to do in Portsmouth – United Kingdom

Welcome to Portsmouth, an historic city on the south coast of England. With a rich naval heritage, stunning landmarks, and a lively cultural scene, there is no shortage of things to do in Portsmouth. Whether you’re interested in exploring history, shopping, or enjoying the natural beauty of the area, Portsmouth has something for everyone.

Key Takeaways:

  • Portsmouth is a historic city on the south coast of England.
  • The city has a rich naval heritage and a range of attractions related to maritime history.
  • Gunwharf Quays is a premier shopping destination in Portsmouth.
  • The Spinnaker Tower offers stunning panoramic views of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.
  • Visitors can enjoy a range of dining options and accommodations in Portsmouth.
  • The city has a lively cultural scene and a variety of family-friendly attractions.
  • There are also hidden gems to discover in Portsmouth for those willing to venture off the beaten path.
  • Practical information for planning a visit to Portsmouth, including transportation options and itineraries, is available.

Explore Portsmouth’s Naval History

One of the most prominent features of Portsmouth is its rich naval history. As a major port city in the United Kingdom, Portsmouth has played a critical role in the country’s military operations for centuries. Visitors can explore this history by visiting several attractions dedicated to the city’s naval heritage.

The Historic DockyardA must-visit for anyone interested in naval history, the Historic Dockyard is home to several historic ships, including the HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, and the HMS Warrior. Visitors can explore the ships, learn about their history, and gain a deeper appreciation for the role Portsmouth has played in British naval history.
HMS VictoryThe most famous ship in the Historic Dockyard, the HMS Victory is a symbol of British naval power. It played a critical role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and visitors can explore the ship and learn about the battle and its significance in British history.
The Mary Rose MuseumNamed after King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose Museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the remains of the 16th-century warship. The ship sank in 1545, and the museum provides a unique glimpse into life aboard a Tudor-era warship.

Explore Portsmouth’s Naval History by Sea

In addition to exploring Portsmouth’s naval history on land, visitors can also take to the sea to gain a unique perspective on the city’s relationship with the water. Boat tours of the harbour are available, providing views of the ships in port and the historic fortifications that have defended the city from attack.

Overall, exploring Portsmouth’s naval history is a must-do for anyone visiting the city. The attractions and experiences available provide insight into a critical part of British history and offer a unique and engaging way to learn about the past.

Discover Gunwharf Quays for Shopping

When it comes to shopping in Portsmouth, Gunwharf Quays is the ultimate destination. From designer fashion and beauty to homeware and accessories, there is something for everyone here. Located in the historic dockyard, this shopping centre boasts over 90 outlet stores, perfect for bargain hunters.

One of the highlights of Gunwharf Quays is the variety of restaurants and cafes available, with options ranging from casual dining to fine dining experiences. Enjoy a cup of coffee while overlooking the harbor or indulge in a delicious seafood dinner at one of the many waterfront restaurants.

AddressContactOpening Hours
Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth PO1 2RY023 9283 6700Monday-Saturday: 10am-7pm
Sunday: 10am-5pm

Aside from shopping and dining, Gunwharf Quays also offers a range of entertainment options, including a cinema, bowling alley, and a casino. It’s the perfect place to spend a day out with family and friends, or even to treat yourself to some retail therapy.

Plan your visit to Gunwharf Quays and experience the best shopping experience Portsmouth has to offer!

Admire Stunning Views from the Spinnaker Tower

If you are looking to experience breathtaking panoramic views of Portsmouth and its surrounding areas, you cannot miss the iconic Spinnaker Tower. At a height of 170 meters, this landmark offers stunning 360-degree views from its observation decks.

Located in the Gunwharf Quays area of Portsmouth, the Spinnaker Tower is the tallest tower outside of London, and it is a must-visit for all visitors to the town. Visitors can take a high-speed lift up to the three observation decks, each offering unique and magnificent views.

The first deck, the View Deck, sits at 100 meters high and features a glass floor, allowing you to look down at the city from a different perspective. The Sky Deck, located at 105 meters, is an open-air deck, providing an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. Finally, the highest deck, the 110-meter high Sky Walk, offers exhilarating views through its glass floor.

Whether you visit during the day or at night, the views from the Spinnaker Tower are truly remarkable. You can easily spend a couple of hours admiring the vistas with the ones you love or exploring the interactive exhibits that tell the stories of the tower and the town.

If you want to make your visit even more special, try visiting during sunset or book a table at the Tower’s Café in the Clouds for afternoon tea or a romantic dinner with a priceless view.

So, when visiting Portsmouth, do not forget to include the Spinnaker Tower in your itinerary, and prepare to be wowed by its stunning views.

Places to Stay in Portsmouth

When planning a trip to Portsmouth, finding the perfect place to stay is essential to making your visit comfortable and enjoyable. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to suit every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel or a cozy bed and breakfast, Portsmouth has it all.


If you’re after a luxurious stay in Portsmouth, there are a number of high-end hotels to choose from. The G! Boutique Hotel is a stylish option, located in the heart of Southsea and boasting unique rooms and a vibrant bar. Alternatively, the iconic Royal Maritime Club offers elegant rooms and excellent facilities, including an indoor pool and gym.


Guesthouses are a popular choice for those seeking a more personal and intimate experience. The Florence Suite Boutique Hotel and Restaurant is a charming Victorian villa offering elegant rooms and a delicious restaurant, while the Seacrest Hotel boasts stunning sea views and a warm welcome.

Bed and Breakfasts

For a cozy and homely feel, a bed and breakfast is the perfect choice. The Ashby’s Boutique Guest House offers comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast, while the Blue Star House is a family-run guest house with a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Self-Catering Apartments

If you’re looking for a home away from home, self-catering apartments are a great option. The Driftwood Beach House is a stylish apartment just steps from the sea, while the Admiralty Quarter apartments offer modern and spacious accommodation in the heart of Portsmouth.

No matter your preference, there are plenty of options for places to stay in Portsmouth that will make your visit unforgettable. Book your accommodation early to secure the best deals and ensure a stress-free trip.

The Best Places to Eat in Portsmouth

When it comes to dining in Portsmouth, visitors are spoilt for choice. From traditional pubs to upscale restaurants, the town offers a variety of cuisines to suit any taste. Here are some of our top recommendations:

  • The Still and West: Located on the waterfront, this historic pub serves up delicious seafood dishes and offers stunning views of Portsmouth Harbour.
  • The Florence Arms: This cozy gastropub is known for its classic British dishes and unique beer selection.
  • The Chambers: For a fine dining experience, head to The Chambers, where you can enjoy modern European cuisine in an elegant setting.
  • The Spice Island Inn: This lively pub serves up traditional British grub with a twist, including their famous homemade pies.
  • Montparnasse: For a taste of France in Portsmouth, visit Montparnasse, a charming bistro that serves up delicious French classics.

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a fancy dinner, Portsmouth’s dining scene has something for everyone. So, be sure to add these top spots to your list of places to eat in Portsmouth.

Explore the Natural Beauty of Portsmouth’s Parks

When visiting Portsmouth, make sure to take some time to explore the town’s beautiful parks and green spaces. From expansive seaside vistas to tranquil gardens, there’s plenty to enjoy in Portsmouth’s outdoor areas.

One of the most popular parks in Portsmouth is Southsea Common. This vast expanse of grassy fields and seafront promenades is perfect for picnics, sports games, and dog walks. The park also features a small lake and a children’s play area, making it a great destination for families.

If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, head to Victoria Park. Tucked away in the heart of Portsmouth, this charming park features immaculate flower beds, a large pond, and a Victorian bandstand. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up some nature.

For those with a taste for adventure, we recommend a visit to Canoe Lake. This scenic lake offers a variety of water activities, including paddle boats and kayaks for hire. There’s also a playground, a cafe, and an impressive model village to enjoy.

Other notable parks in Portsmouth include Milton Park, which boasts a skate park and a BMX track, and the picturesque Foxes Forest, which offers beautiful woodland walks and stunning views of the Solent.

No matter which park you choose to visit, you’re sure to find a peaceful oasis in the heart of bustling Portsmouth.

Discover More:

  • Portsmouth: Find out more about the town’s history and attractions
  • Gunwharf Quays: Explore one of Portsmouth’s premier shopping destinations
  • Immerse Yourself in Portsmouth’s Maritime History: Learn about the town’s naval heritage and museums

Immerse Yourself in Portsmouth’s Maritime History

Portsmouth has a rich maritime history, and there are many attractions that offer an in-depth look at the town’s seafaring past.

One of the must-see attractions is the D-Day Story, which tells the story of the Normandy landings through personal accounts, artifacts, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can learn about the planning and execution of the mission and the sacrifices made by the Allied forces.

Another popular maritime attraction is the Royal Marines Museum, which explores the history of the Royal Marines and showcases their role in defending the UK’s interests at home and abroad. The museum features interactive displays, weaponry, and personal stories from members of the corps.

For a hands-on experience, head to the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, which displays the history of naval ordnance. Visitors can explore the site’s historic buildings, including the magazine complex, and learn about the science and technology behind naval weaponry.

The Historic Dockyard

The Historic Dockyard is one of Portsmouth’s top attractions, featuring several historic ships and exhibits that highlight the town’s naval heritage. One of the highlights of the dockyard is HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. Visitors can explore the ship and learn about life on board during the Napoleonic Wars.

Another historic ship on display at the dockyard is HMS Warrior, the world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship. The ship was revolutionary when it was launched in 1860 and changed the face of naval warfare.

In addition to the ships, the dockyard features several museums, including the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Mary Rose Museum, and the Dockyard Apprentice Exhibition.

Overall, Portsmouth’s maritime history is a fascinating topic to explore, and there are plenty of attractions that offer an insight into the town’s seafaring past.

Experience Portsmouth’s Cultural Side

For those seeking to explore the artistic and creative side of Portsmouth, there is no shortage of cultural experiences to enjoy. From art galleries to theaters to annual events, Portsmouth offers a rich and diverse cultural scene.

Art Galleries

Portsmouth is home to a number of art galleries, showcasing the works of both local and international artists. The Aspex Gallery is a contemporary art space that features exhibitions, workshops, and special events. The Portsmouth Guildhall Gallery is another popular destination, displaying a wide range of art and artifacts.

Theatres and Performing Arts

Portsmouth has several theaters and performance spaces, offering a variety of shows and events throughout the year. The New Theatre Royal Portsmouth is a historic venue that hosts a range of productions, from classic plays to musicals to comedy shows. Meanwhile, the Kings Theatre is another beloved institution, showcasing everything from drama to dance to live music.

Annual Events

Throughout the year, Portsmouth hosts a number of cultural events that celebrate the town’s history and creativity. The Portsmouth Festivities is an annual festival that features a range of events, including music, theater, art, and more. The Victorious Festival is another popular event, featuring live music performances from top musicians and bands.

Whether you’re a fan of art, theater, music, or all three, Portsmouth has something for everyone. Our town’s cultural scene is just one of the many reasons to visit and explore all that Portsmouth has to offer.

Enjoy Family-Friendly Attractions in Portsmouth

Are you planning a family trip to Portsmouth? There are plenty of family-friendly attractions that will keep both children and adults entertained. From interactive exhibits to outdoor activities, here are some of the best things to do in Portsmouth with the whole family.

Blue Reef Aquarium

If you’re looking for an underwater adventure, head to the Blue Reef Aquarium. Home to over 40 different species of marine life, you’ll be able to see everything from seahorses to sharks. There are also interactive displays and daily talks and feeding demonstrations, making it an educational experience for children.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a must-visit for any family interested in naval history. Here, you’ll be able to step aboard real-life ships, including the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. There are also interactive exhibits that bring the history of these ships to life, and a family trail that makes exploring the dockyard even more fun.

Southsea Beach

Southsea Beach is the perfect place to spend a sunny day with the family. The beach is clean and sandy, and there are plenty of rock pools to explore. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hire a kayak or paddleboard and take to the waves.

Flip Out Trampoline Park

If you’re looking for an indoor activity, check out Flip Out Trampoline Park. With over 90 trampolines, foam pits, and obstacle courses, there’s plenty of space for children to jump, flip, and play. There’s also a dedicated toddler area, making it suitable for younger children.

Canoe Lake

Canoe Lake is a beautiful park in the heart of Portsmouth that offers plenty of activities for families. There’s a large play area for children, as well as a boating lake where you can rent pedalos or rowing boats. During the summer months, there are often events and activities taking place, such as outdoor movies and craft fairs.

With so many family-friendly attractions on offer, Portsmouth is the perfect destination for a fun-filled family holiday. Whether you’re into history, nature, or just want to have fun, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Uncover Hidden Gems in Portsmouth

While Portsmouth is known for its rich naval history and popular attractions such as the Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays, there are also plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path experiences in Portsmouth:

  1. The Hotwalls Studios: This creative hub located in Old Portsmouth showcases the work of local artists and craftspeople. Visitors can watch artists at work, browse galleries, and even take part in workshops.
  2. Eastney Beam Engine House: This impressive Victorian pumping station was once used to pump sewage out to sea. Now, visitors can take a guided tour and learn about how the station worked.
  3. Milton Locks Nature Reserve: A peaceful and serene spot, this nature reserve is home to a variety of bird species, as well as an array of plants and wildflowers. Visitors can take a walk along the trails and enjoy the picturesque scenery.
  4. St Mary’s Church: This beautiful church located in the heart of Portsmouth’s oldest neighborhood is a hidden gem. Visitors can admire its stunning architecture and learn about its historical significance.
  5. Portsmouth City Museum: While the Historic Dockyard may be the most popular museum in Portsmouth, the city museum is also worth a visit. Featuring interactive exhibits and a variety of collections, visitors can learn about everything from local history to natural history.

These hidden gems offer a unique perspective on Portsmouth and showcase the town’s diverse offerings beyond its well-known attractions. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and explore all that this charming town has to offer.

Plan Your Visit to Portsmouth

If you’ve decided to visit Portsmouth, we’re here to help you plan your trip with ease. Here are some useful tips and information to help you make the most of your visit.

Getting to Portsmouth

Located on the south coast, Portsmouth is well connected by road, rail, and boat. From London, it’s just over an hour by train or car. If you’re driving, make sure to check parking options in advance as street parking can be limited in certain areas.

Where to Stay

Portsmouth has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. From luxury hotels to boutique guesthouses, there are plenty of options to choose from. Some popular areas to stay include Southsea, Gunwharf Quays, and Old Portsmouth.

What to See and Do

As outlined in the previous sections of this article, there are plenty of things to see and do in Portsmouth. Make sure to plan your itinerary in advance and book tickets for attractions where possible to avoid disappointment.

When to Visit

Portsmouth is a great destination to visit year-round, but if you’re looking to make the most of outdoor activities and events, we recommend visiting during the summer months. Keep in mind that school holidays and weekends can be busier, so plan accordingly.

Travel Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes as Portsmouth involves a lot of walking and exploring on foot.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go and bring appropriate clothing for the season.
  • Download a map or use a GPS to navigate around the city.
  • Check ahead for any events or festivals taking place during your visit.

We hope this guide has helped you plan your visit to Portsmouth. With so much to see and do, we’re sure you’ll have a great time exploring this historic and vibrant city.


As we wrap up our tour of Portsmouth, we hope you’ve discovered the best things to do in this historic town. From exploring its naval history and shopping at Gunwharf Quays to admiring stunning views from the Spinnaker Tower and discovering hidden gems, Portsmouth has something to offer everyone.

Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing getaway, Portsmouth has it all. And with a range of places to stay and dine, you’ll be well taken care of during your visit.

As you plan your trip to Portsmouth, don’t forget to take advantage of the town’s natural beauty and maritime history. And be sure to uncover some of the town’s lesser-known attractions to truly experience all it has to offer.

Thank you for joining us on this tour of Portsmouth. We can’t wait for you to experience all the town has to offer.


Q: What are some of the best things to do in Portsmouth?

A: There are plenty of things to do in Portsmouth, including exploring its naval history, shopping at Gunwharf Quays, admiring the views from the Spinnaker Tower, staying at top-rated accommodations, enjoying delicious meals at local restaurants, exploring the city’s parks and green spaces, immersing yourself in its maritime history, experiencing its cultural side, visiting family-friendly attractions, uncovering hidden gems, and planning your visit with practical information.

Q: What attractions highlight Portsmouth’s naval history?

A: Portsmouth boasts a rich naval history, and some of the must-visit attractions include the Historic Dockyard, HMS Victory, and the Mary Rose Museum.

Q: Where can I find premier shopping options in Portsmouth?

A: Gunwharf Quays is the place to go for shopping in Portsmouth. It offers a wide range of designer outlets, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Q: Which landmark in Portsmouth offers stunning views?

A: The Spinnaker Tower is an iconic landmark that provides breathtaking panoramic views of Portsmouth and its surroundings.

Q: What are some recommended places to stay in Portsmouth?

A: Portsmouth offers a variety of excellent accommodations, including hotels, guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts. Some popular options include [insert popular places to stay here].

Q: Where can I find the best places to eat in Portsmouth?

A: Portsmouth has a vibrant dining scene with a wide range of cuisines to choose from. Some top recommendations include [insert top dining establishments here].

Q: Are there any parks or green spaces to explore in Portsmouth?

A: Yes, Portsmouth has several parks and green spaces where visitors can enjoy nature and outdoor activities. Some notable ones include Southsea Common and Victoria Park.

Q: What other attractions highlight Portsmouth’s maritime history?

A: In addition to the Historic Dockyard, the D-Day Story and the Royal Marines Museum are worth exploring for a deeper dive into Portsmouth’s maritime history.

Q: What cultural offerings does Portsmouth have?

A: Portsmouth is home to various art galleries, theaters, and events that showcase the town’s artistic and creative heritage.

Q: Are there family-friendly attractions in Portsmouth?

A: Yes, Portsmouth offers a range of family-friendly attractions, such as the Blue Reef Aquarium and interactive exhibits at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Q: Are there any hidden gems in Portsmouth?

A: Absolutely! Portsmouth has many hidden gems and lesser-known attractions that offer unique experiences off the beaten path.

Q: How can I plan my visit to Portsmouth?

A: Planning a visit to Portsmouth is easy. You can find information on transportation options, travel tips, and suggested itineraries to make the most of your trip.