Portsmouth Travel Guide
Portsmouth travel guide
Situated in Hampshire, Portsmouth has a rich heritage, world-class attractions and an important naval history. From the Historic Dockyard to the harbour, there’s plenty to explore here, making it a great choice for a UK break.
Aside from its nautical attractions, Portsmouth has fantastic restaurants, shopping spots and beaches to enjoy. Read on for our complete guide to this south coast city, featuring the best places to visit and dine.
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Why visit Portsmouth?
Portsmouth is one of the UK’s most popular visitor destinations, with a beautiful coastline and endless places to visit. It’s a prime spot to learn about all things nautical, with several historic ships and other maritime attractions.
Old Portsmouth is the place to explore the city’s medieval history, home to cobbled streets and hidden gems such as the cathedral. To the south of the city centre is Southsea, a charming seaside resort with shops, quaint cafés and a beautiful beach. Whether you want to relax on soft sands, indulge in some retail therapy or tour the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth promises plenty to see and do.
History of Portsmouth
As one of Britain’s oldest coastal cities, Portsmouth is steeped in history. Here are some key facts about this dynamic UK location:
- Origins – the city was founded by Jean De Gisors around 1180 when he established a settlement in South-West Portsea Island
- Geographical location – Portsmouth is the UK’s only island city. It’s located on Portsea Island and separated from mainland England by the Portsea Creek
- Naval base – the city is home to a significant naval base, housing two-thirds of the Royal Navy’s ships. Situated on Portsmouth Harbour’s eastern shore, it has been an important part of the city since 1194
- Literary history – Portsmouth was once the home of English author Charles Dickens. It has also featured in several literary works, including Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
Things to do in Portsmouth
Here are some fun things to do in Portsmouth to learn more about the city:
Explore the Historic Dockyard
Visit the Historic Dockyard to learn about Portsmouth’s naval history. Step aboard historic ships, such as the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, and listen to first-hand accounts from Royal Navy members. Open all year round, the Historic Dockyard is a great attraction for people of all ages, where you can explore Portsmouth’s rich maritime heritage.
Spend an afternoon at Gunwharf Quays
For a spot of retail therapy, head to Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays. This is the UK’s only waterfront outlet shopping centre, home to over 90 well-known brands. Whether you’re looking for a new outfit or home accessories, enjoy discounts of up to 60% at this prime shopping spot.
Places to visit in Portsmouth
Here are some of the best Portsmouth attractions to tick off your itinerary:
Spinnaker Tower is one of the top attractions in Portsmouth. Opened in October 2005, this 170-metre observation tower provides a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape. The tower has three viewing platforms and two cafés to grab refreshments during your visit.
Built in 1544 to protect the country from enemies, Southsea Castle is one of Portsmouth’s best historical attractions. There’s lots to do here, from walking on the ramparts to visiting the keep. The castle is free to visit between April and October – perfect if you’re looking for things to do on a budget.
Where to eat and drink in Portsmouth
Portsmouth is a foodie haven. Thanks to its coastal location, the city benefits from delicious local produce. The farmer’s markets are the best place to sample regional food, while many restaurants use ingredients from local suppliers in their recipes.
Whether you’re on a budget or want to enjoy fine dining, there’s something for everyone in Portsmouth. From Italian restaurants to cosy British pubs, the city has it all. Some of the best places to eat include Restaurant 27 and The Spinnaker Café, while must-visit pubs are The Still & West and the Hole in the Wall.
The best restaurants in Portsmouth
Enjoy a delicious meal at Restaurant 27, one of Portsmouth’s best fine-dining restaurant. Here, the chefs use the finest ingredients to create unique, tasty dishes with British flavour. Whether you book for a weekday dinner or a Sunday lunch, Restaurant 27 promises a fantastic dining experience.
The Spinnaker Café
Nestled in the heart of Old Portsmouth, The Spinnaker Café is a great place to stop for lunch. Serving a range of homemade food, including tasty sandwiches, this welcoming café has something for everyone. It’s close to Gunwharf Quays and has fantastic views of Spinnaker Tower.
The best pubs in Portsmouth
The Still & West
The Still & West is a Grade II listed pub in Old Portsmouth. With incredible waterside views, this country pub is ideal for a drink on a sunny day. If you fancy a bite to eat, browse the main, sandwich and children’s menu. Boasting classic nautical charm, The Still & West offers a superb place to relax in Portsmouth.
Hole in the Wall
Located in Southsea, the Hole in the Wall is a friendly Portsmouth pub with a brilliant selection of real ales and other beverages. If you’re feeling peckish, choose something from the homemade food menu or visit the pub’s very own sweet shop!