Portsmouth Tourist Information & Travel Guide
Portsmouth, the Waterfront City, is the UK’s only island city. Separated from the mainland by a narrow creek, it has only three approach roads with which to enter the city. The Main M275 links from the M27 down into the centre of the city, the A2030 “Eastern Road” into Southsea, and the A3, the main arterial road through the city.
Portsmouth’s early life began with a Roman Fort in the Saxon era, which still remains today as Portchester Castle. As now life here revolved around the sea, little did the Saxons know that their little fishing village would develop into a major garrison town which would go on to become the main naval base of one of the greatest empires in history. Over the centuries, Portsmouth has also been home to some of England’s finest. It was the birthplace of Charles Dickens and sometime home of Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle and Peter Sellers.
To the west of the island lies Portsmouth Harbour and Historic Dockyard, while to the east is the nature reserve of Langstone Harbour and the Farlington Marshes. To the north, Portsdown Hill occupies the view while Southsea lies to the south, and across the water, the Isle of Wight. In Southsea, you’ll find attractions such as the Royal Marines museum, Southsea Castle and the D-Day Museum with its beautiful centrepiece, the Overlord Embroidery.
Portsmouth’s history is rich and varied, its harbour has witnessed some of the most momentous occasions of England’s maritime and wartime past, etched forever in the history and spectacle that is today’s tourist trail. From its origins in Tudor England, Portsmouth has been one of the centres from where the Royal Navy controlled the seas. Bombed and flattened in WWII, Portsmouth has been the seat of the Royal Navy for over five hundred years. Although fortifications have stood here since the Roman era, Portsmouth’s golden moment in history came on 6th June 1944 with the launch of Operation Overlord.
Portsmouth is renowned for its Naval History probably the most famous of all is Nelsons Flag ships “HMS Victory”. This is situated in the Historic Dockyard, one of the top ten heritage attractions in the UK, along with HMS Warrior the first “Iron Clad” warship and Henry VIII’s ill-fated “Mary Rose”. In Gosport, a short ferry ride away, is the Submarine museum with HMS Alliance. All four of these vessels can be toured.
The more modern naval ships can be viewed by boat by taking one of the harbour tours that start at several locations across the city.
For those who decide to stay within the City walls and would like to do something under cover there is a wealth of other historic venues including the City Museum, Royal Marines Museum, Southsea Castle, Natural History Museum, Charles Dickens House and the D Day Museum with the OverLord Tapestry.
We also have the Blue reef aquarium.
Attractions that are outside include The Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth tallest building with panoramic views, The Model village, South Parade Pier, Clarence Parade with its Funfair, 9 hole Pitch and Put on the beach front, Millennium Walk, Southmoor Wildlife Reserve on Farlington Marsh, Historic Dockyard with HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose.
There are numerous parks within the city Victoria Park, Canoe Lake, Southsea Common, Milton Park, and Bransbury Park, with Staunton Country Park and Queen Elizabeth Country Park a short drive away.
The Renaissance Trail is a self-guided, historic tour, which will take you from Spur Redoubt in Old Portsmouth to the gateway of the Historic Dockyard.
The Millennium Promenades stretch over 6km on both sides of Portsmouth Harbour and your tour will take you to some of Portsmouth’s most famous landmarks and attractions. The trail is marked by a chain motif set into the pavement and information boards to mark historic spots. Audio-guides are available from the Portsmouth Tourist Information Centre.
The Nelson Trail will take you through the old parts of Portsmouth relating to Vice Admiral Lord Nelson and Portsmouth at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Of course as you would expect with a waterfront city we also have numerous beaches ranging along the length of the city.
Shopping in Portsmouth is located in three main areas, Cascades Shopping Centre, Southsea Shopping centre and Gunwharfs Outlet shopping.
Outside the city, only a short drive away on the M27 to the west is another outlet-park – Whitely village.
The main area for a night out is Gunwharf Quays where you can find the Spinnaker tower, over 20 bars and restaurants, Cinema, Bowling Complex, Casino, along with a large underground car park. There are lots of other places to go including Port Solent Marina just outside the city.
Just outside of the city only a short drive away there is still plenty to do.
Portchester Castle lying to the west of Portsmouth is a well preserved castle providing a mirror into some 2000 year’s of Britain’s history.
To the North along the A3 there is Staunton Country Park, with 1000 acres of landscaped parkland with ornamental lake, The south’s largest glasshouse, Golden jubilee maze. For the children there is a farm and play area.
A little further along the A3 is Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Hampshire’s biggest country Park. It has over 20 miles of trails for walker’s cyclists and horse riders and the highest point on the South Downs. It also has 1400 acres of open access woodland and downland and Butser Hill National Nature Reserve
Only a short distance across the water is the Isle of Weight, there are several means of travelling across the water. As a foot passenger you could use the Hovercraft or if you would prefer to take your car to explore a little further there are regular ferries leaving throughout the day.