10 best things to do in Portsmouth

best things to do in southampton

Portsmouth is a great city steeped in history on the Hampshire coast in the United Kingdom. Home to beautiful beaches and some of the most beautiful naval museums in the United Kingdom, Portsmouth has always attracted both tourists in search of some son and beach and a love for naval history. To help you plan your trip to Portsmouth we have put together a list of the 10 best things to do in Portsmouth.

Offering stunning views of the Isle of Wight Southsea, Hayling Island, and the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, Spinnaker Tower should definitely top off your list of the must-go places in Portsmouth.

In this state-of-the-art tower, there are plenty of things for you to do. You can go on an amazing glass skywalk and view the boat bobbing about in the waves below or you can head for an exciting ride of just £4 per person on one of the ‘ribs’ that make up the unique design of the Spinnaker Tower. Also, having done that, you can get to the Sky Garden with an open roof and enjoy the mesmerizing sky as you take sips of your coffee.

Additionally, this futuristic tower has an extremely accommodating staff and an extraordinary service, making it the perfect place for you to go for blowing off some steam.

mary rose museum

Built-in the 16th century, this historical ship is home to Mary Rose and countless other artifacts found in the Solent. Being amongst the first few ships to fire a broadside, King Henry VIII had a great admiration for it.

After surviving for a long time, Mary rose finally sank during a skirmish with the French fleet in 1545, only to be discovered later in a ground-breaking find. 

Thanks to a 34-year conservation project dedicated to it, Mary rose is now fully on display for the artifacts’ lovers within her museum.

On entering the museum, you are given a stylus that you can use to interact with the touch screens. There are three viewing galleries in total and the entrance will lead you to the middle one first. The display cabinets in these galleries are fantastic – having very detailed and explanatory notes.

The gallery at the bottom level has an advanced glass lift that takes you directly to the top level. 

Although Mary Rose Museum is not included in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard 11 Attraction Ticket, you can avail yourself some decent discounts if you possess one.

portsmouth historic dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is another one of your must-go places in Portsmouth. Being located within a working Naval Base, this historic dockyard offers great insight into the life of the Royal Navy.

Whether it is the famous ships like HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, and the M33, or the only remaining World War II-era British Ocean going submarine – HMS Alliance, or the National Museum Royal Navy Portsmouth – there are loads of things for you to see and engage yourself in this historic dockyard.

HMS Victory

Whether you are a fan of the military or a history enthusiast, this Lord Nelson’s 254+ year old flagship is one of the top places to pay a visit when visiting Portsmouth.

Throughout your visit to HMS Victory, you will interact with a very friendly and helpful staff who will guide you along the way to your desired destination or enlighten you with anything that want to learn about the ship. However, if you are headed at the bottom, be sure to duck quite often due to low ceilings.

HMS Victory has been immaculately preserved for quite some time now. Recently, there is an addition of a new feature of audio guides in the system. How it works is that when you reach certain stages within the ship, just point and click at the code reader in order to listen to the story of the ship.

Be sure to avail the audio guide feature to live this experience to the full!

the d-day story

Being one of the six museums run by Portsmouth Museums, part of Portsmouth City Council, the D-Day Story is a national-level museum in the UK. It is is basically a representation of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

This museum has a very decent layout with ample informative videos to sit and watch in case you get a little bored.

The Museum’s management often holds exhibitions and workshops to publicize over 10,000 military-related items that it possesses. This way, the management details almost every aspect of the D-Day invasion.

Recently, there was a transformation project that used up the £5 million Heritage Lottery grant as a result of which the D-Day Story has now shifted its focus from military to the personal tales behind the special day. The museum also houses the Overlord Embroidery, which tells the story of the operation across 34 hand-stitched panels stretching for a total of 83 meters.

south sea castle

The Southsea castle was built in 1544 by Henry III as part of the series of fortifications to protect England from invaders. During the English Civil War, the Parliamentarian forces captured it, exposing the loopholes it had in defense.

Over time, work was continually done to improve the Southsea Castle’s defenses. In the 19th century, a tunnel was built beneath the castle to protect Castle moat. This tunnel is still very much in place.

Besides defense, a lighthouse was built within the walls of the castle which is still used for shipping today. The castle was also used as a military prison. However, in 1960, the castle came out of military control to the Portsmouth City Council. The Council made such modifications to the castle that now, it is back in its 19th-century shape.

There is a great waterfront Gift shop and a micro-brewery and an extraordinary café to freshen you up a bit. Additionally, on Friday evening, champagne is also available in the café. The Southsea Castle remains open from March to October. On top of that, the entry is free of charge.

national museum of the royal navy

The National Museum of the Royal Navy offers plenty of interesting things about the Royal Navy, especially Admiral Nelson.

In this extensive museum, you will find a huge variety of exciting items from the time when the British navy ruled the oceans and sea. There is also a lot of information to gather on ships during the 18th century.

Paying a visit to the National Museum of Royal Navy can especially be a very interactive adventure for your kids and who knows they might come out of the museum, wanting to be submariners in the future!

blue reef aquarium portsmouth

If you are looking to spend some fun time with your family, especially the kids, then Blue Reef Aquarium is your place of choice.

With the display of diverse aquatic life including tropical sharks, fascinating frogs, and adorable otters along with the super easy-to-read informative notes on them, this aquarium can really get your family engaged, particularly the little ones who would spend indefinite time staring at the lovely sea creatures.

charles dickens' birthplace museum

This Museum is basically the place where probably the best novelist of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens was born. This place has undoubtedly changed over time but it holds many interesting artifacts including the chaise lounge on which Charles Dickens died.

Although the place is small, it is well-decorated and furnished to meet up to the standards of the contemporary world. You can find readings of Charles Dicken’s writings here if you are a book reader with interest in Victorian-era, you will find yourself in heaven inside the museum. 

The writers out there must give this museum a visit and indulge in the wee shop inside which has dozens of Dicken’s works.

Do check out the opening times of the museum, however, before you go as it is closed more often than not.

hMS Warrior

HMS Warrior is the first awe-inspiring landmark that meets the eye as soon as you arrive at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Launched back in 1860, this armored warship was the fastest and most robust ship of her time and was rightly so, the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. However, the bright era of this ship was rather short-lived and it soon became obsolete.

On getting restored, this historical ship has now become a ship museum, attracting visitors from all over the country.

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