A city surrounded by the sea, Portsmouth's history is strongly linked with the Royal Navy. The city houses some superb military and maritime museums including Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery,and the Royal Marines Museum. And for some of the best views of Portsmouth, don't miss the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill near Fareham.
During the summer, the Portsmouth Harbour Waterbus links the four major attractions of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Explosion!, Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Gunwharf Quays.
The Historic Dockyard is the jewel in Portsmouth's crown, home to the world famous historic ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860, and the Mary Rose Collection. Take the ferry across the harbour to Gosport, home of HMS Alliance at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower.
Together with interactive Action Stations, The National Museum of the Royal Naval and Harbour Tours, plus a fun-packed annual events programme, there truly is something for all ages.
A short walk away from the Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays is a buzzy hotspot and premier waterfront destination, open night and day, with over 95 designer shopping outlets, art gallery, cinema, casino, nightclubs and restaurants with al fresco dining.
You can find Portsmouth's newest attraction here, the 170m Spinnaker Tower, which has stunning views over the Solent. On a clear day you can see up to 23 miles over to the Isle of Wight, Chichester and the South Downs. Walk on air on the glass floor if you dare!
Places to Visit
The Victorian seafront at Southsea has a funfair and swimming complex, and the large open green spaces are perfect for lazy picnics, gentle strolls and kite flying. The underground passages at Southsea Castle are well worth exploring, or discover local and tropical marine life at the Blue Reef Aquarium, a great day out whatever the weather.
In August, Southsea will be transformed into the family friendly festival Victorious and the annual International Kite Festival.
Portsmouth's Old Town
The cobbled streets of Old Portsmouth used to be the haunt of vagabonds, thieves, seafarers and press gangs but life is quieter there now, with traditional pubs, tea rooms and fish markets offering a welcome distraction.
Step back in time and discover the charms of the Old Town and hidden secrets such as Portsmouth's AnglicanCathedral dating back to 1185.
The choice of entertainment in Portsmouth is a vibrant mixture of pubs, bars and clubs, an exciting theatre and film culture, as well as a live music and comedy scene.
Theatres in Portsmouth offer a wide selection of performances to cater for all tastes. The New Theatre Royal boasts a year round programme of drama, comedy, dance, workshops and children’s shows. There is also the Kings Theatre in the heart of Southsea which hosts a range of shows, including circus, rock & roll, workshops and comedy.
Portsmouth’s live music scene includes regular sessions, day and night, at many of the pubs and bars featuring a range of music where you will be spoilt for choice. The Wedgewood Rooms is a renowned live entertainment venue, playing host to many national and international live acts in the world of music and comedy.
Food and Drink
But all that exploring makes you hungry! Whether you like fish and chips, fajitas or fine dining you’re sure to find it in Portsmouth.
Two celebrity chefs have chosen to locate their restaurants at Gunwharf Quays, adding cachet and a European feel. Brasserie Blanc, owned by Raymond Blanc, offers quality French food in relaxed brasserie style while Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant offers authentic and affordable Italian menus
Southsea has a diverse range of restaurants serving food from all corners of the globe - including African, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine. For something different, wander down to Pie and Vinyl for a locally sourced pie followed by a browse through the record shop. Southsea Common, meanwhile, has allocated BBQ areas overlooking the Solent.
Don’t miss the Southsea Food Festival in July which offers food markets, tastings, demonstrations and live music.
Hampshire Farmers’ Markets also come to Palmerston Road in Southsea once a month, bringing their speciality local produce.