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The UK's best connected port

Great discoveries start here


Portsmouth contrasts exciting contemporary attractions against a rich maritime history. On the approach to dock, the Spinnaker Tower represents the pinnacle of the bustling shops and restaurants of Gunwharf Quays.

Best of Portsmouth

  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard: www.historicdockyard.co.uk  HMS Victory, the magnificent HMS Warrior (cutting-edge Victorian technology) and Henry VIII’s doomed flagship Mary Rose. Take a harbour tour to see current frigates and destroyers. Children love the interactive displays, simulators and climbing wall at Action Stations.
  • The Mary Rose Museum: www.maryrose.org opened 31 May 2013. The Mary Rose is a Tudor ship, built in 1510. In service for 34 years. Sank in 1545. Discovered in 1971. Raised in 1982 and now in the final stages of conservation, she takes her place in a stunning and unique museum.
  • Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum: www.charlesdickensbirthplace.co.uk The brilliant writer was born in 1812 in this modest house while his father worked in Portsmouth for the Navy Pay Office. The Regency household objects and decorations show how the family would have lived, and Dickens memorabilia includes the couch on which he died at his house in Kent, his snuffbox, inkwell and paper knife.
  • Spinnaker Tower: www.spinnakertower.co.uk Soaring high above glittering Portsmouth harbour, this 21st century icon has already had two million visitors. At 170 metres tall, it provides breathtaking 350º vistas of the South coast, the Solent and the Isle of Wight after a fast lift ride to the top. Views stretch up to 23 miles and Europe’s largest glass floor enables intrepid visitors of all ages to virtually ‘walk on air’! 
  • Gunwharf Quays: www.gunwharf-quays.com Home are more than 90 outlet shops all on the water’s edge, and each offering up to 60% off RRP. It’s not just about the shopping at Gunwharf Quays, with 30 cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy, so you can take a pit stop to refuel for more bargain hunting, or relax after a day's retail therapy. It's also home to Aspex contemporary art gallery, Hollywood Bowl and a multiscreen Vue cinema.
  • The D-Day Story: theddaystory.com The D-Day Story is the only museum in the UK dedicated to the Allied Invasion in June 1944. It tells the unique personal stories behind this epic event.There are also extensive displays featuring maps; uniforms and other memorabilia; several vehicles and even a real LCVP landing craft. At the centre of the museum sits the Overlord Embroidery, which was commissioned  as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those men and women who took part in Operation Overlord.
  • Blue Reef Aquarium: www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk/portsmouth Enjoy close encounters with seahorses, tropical sharks, otters, a giant octopus and hundreds of incredible aquatic creatures. Blue Reef takes visitors on a journey through more than 40 habitats from the bustling Solent to exotic tropical seas and a beautiful coral reef. There are talks and feeding displays throughout the day.

For more information on Portsmouth visit www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Where can I drive to?

The beautiful historic city of Chichester is 18 miles east and extraordinary Chichester Harbour stretches for miles with wonderful inlets, coastal villages and glorious views. It is heaven for sailors, walkers and bird watchers.

Stonehenge, 52 miles away, and London, 75 miles, are well within reach for superb day trips.

Half an hour north of Portsmouth the rolling hills of the South Downs open up, with fantastic opportunities for walking and country pubs aplenty in villages such as South Harting, Elsted, Buriton and in the Meon Valley.

There's so much to see and do in Portsmouth, why not stay overnight before or after you sail - with a wide range of hotels, apartments and B&Bs to suit all budgets there are plenty of choices for visitors.

Portsmouth has so many places of interest to offer, why not spend some time in the city before your sailing. 

Did you know?

Portsmouth is the UK's only island city, located on Portsea Island jutting out into the Solent. Its nickname is Pompey.

It is a naval city through and through. Richard the Lionheart summoned a fleet here in 1194 and in 1787 11 ships set sail to establish the first European colony in Australia. Nelson left for the last time in 1805 for the Battle of Trafalgar. Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy and starting point for many of their ships through the ages.

The closing chapters of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park are set in Portsmouth, hometown of its heroine Fanny Price. Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was from Portsmouth. Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812, his childhood home is within half a mile of the Port.

Spice Island, part of Old Portsmouth, was once infamous for sailors’ pubs and houses of ill-repute because when the city gates were closed it was literally outside of the law. It now offers family pubs, sea views and the Camber Dock fish market.

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was a British Flag officer in the Royal Navy and noted for his inspirational leadership. His love of the sea was gained from his adventures around the rivers of his home county of Norfolk and his uncle, who he accompanied on an Atlantic expedition at the age of 12. After many victories, losing an eye in Corsica and his right arm in Tenerife he was fatally wonded at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, at the moment of victory.