"England expects that every man will do his duty."
Admiral Lord Nelson
Portsmouth harbour has witnessed some of the most momentous occasions of England's nautical and wartime past. Forever stamped in history and ergo onto the tourist trail, Portsmouth was the seat from which the British Royal Navy controlled the seas in the 19th century. 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 with the sailing of Operation Overlord. This was the union of 12 Allied Nations who joined forces in an attack to liberate France. A turning point in WWII, it caused the fall of Paris and the beginning of Europe's liberation.
Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island which is separated from the mainland by a narrow creek. To the west of the island lies Portsmouth Harbour while to the east is Langstone Harbour and the Farlington Marshes, a nature reserve. To the north, Portsdown Hill occupies the view while to the south lies the suburb, Southsea 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 early life began with a Roman Fort. In the Saxon era, life here revolved around the sea with fishing being the major industry. 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, Joe Jackson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Peter Sellers. On your trip, you'll walk in Nelson's footsteps and see the spot where that great classic, the potato was first brought to Europe by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Despite the large-scale WWII destruction, Portsmouth has invested in its tourist attractions, such as the modern Spinnaker Tower and the Gunwharf Quays. Those with a nautical or historical interest are rewarded with a wealth of gems in Portsmouth's Historical Dockyard; Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory which featured in the Battle of Trafalgar or the HMS Warrior a marvel of her time. As well as attractions such as the famous Mary Rose, there are also a number of museums which are included in the price of your ticket. In Old Portsmouth, attractions include the Portsmouth Cathedral, the Royal Garrison Church and the coastal fortifications.
Attractions near Portsmouth
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. Just a few miles away to the east, birdwatchers and walkers are well-rewarded with a trip to Farlington Marshes and the Southmoor Wildlife Reserve (see below). However, if you've made it this far why not go one step further and visit the Isle of Wight, a short ferry ride 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 information boards and a chain motif set into the pavement to mark historic spots. Audio-guides are available from the Portsmouth Tourist Information Centre.
Those interested in the great outdoors will find opportunities for exploration on the Farlington Marshes, at the Southmoor Wildlife Reserve and on the Langstone Harbour Walk. The areas are also ideal for birdwatchers as they support a variety of local and international wildfowl. Farlington Marshes is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. However, their responsibility is of international importance as Farlington Marshes support a variety of international wildfowl. Migratory birds such as Dark-bellied Brent Goose, the Blacktailed Godwit can be found here. In addition, thousands of waders congregate at the lake at high tide. Farlington Marshes can be accessed from the Langstone Harbour Coastal Path.
The Southmoor Wildlife Reserve is a coastal area composed of wet grassland with an ideal habitat for flowers, it supports a variety of wildfowl. Home to breeding Skylarks, the Lesser Whitethroat and the Blackcap. You'll also find Southern Marsh Orchids and Ragged Robin in the northern part of the reserve. For good views over Langstone Harbour, head up Southmoor Hill. Southmoor Wildlife Reserve may be accessed from the east or west along the Langstone Harbour Walk. For more information call the Portsmouth Tourist Information Office on 02392 826 722 or the Havant Tourist Information Office on 02392 480 024.
Portsmouth : Sightseeing and Attractions
A 16th century structure, Southsea Castle was built by Henry VIII to protect Portsmouth and a foreign invasion in an age of artillery warfare. Your tour includes a 19th century tunnel unusually conducted by a ghost!.. more
Admission: £2.50 Adults £1.50 Children
Address: Southsea Castle, Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO5 3PA Street Map
Contact: PH + 44 (0)23 9282 7261
|The Royal Garrison Church|
Built in the 13th century, the Royal Garrison Church was struck by a bomb in WWII. Although the roof was never rebuilt, you can still visit beautiful stained glass windows, chancel, interesting memorial plaques and the choir stalls... more
Admission: Free entry
Address: Royal Garrison Church, Grand Parade, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 2NJ Street Map
Contact: PH 02392 378291
Portsmouth Cathedral or the Anglican Cathedral of St. Thomas is a medieval church located in Old Portsmouth. Granted cathedral status in the 20th century, this historic attraction has witnessed Portsmouth's most turbulent events... more
Address: Portsmouth Cathedral, St Thomas Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 2HH Street Map
Contact: PH (023) 9282 3300
|The Square Tower|
One of the most popular landmarks in Portsmouth, this historic attraction was built by Henry VIII as part of Portsmouth's refortifications. Originally a gun platform, the Square Tower also served as a residence, magazine and storage. .. more
Address: Broad Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Contact: PH 07541 721422
|King James' Gate|
Rebuilt in 1687, this historic gate protected Portsmouth's genteel residents from the disreputable sailors of the Point. .. more
Admission: Free entry
Address: King James' Gate, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 2EJ Street Map
|Blue Reef Aquarium|
The Blue Reef Aquarium is a showcase for a range of wildlife from the underwater world. There's the Blue Reef Nursery, a breeding ground for aquatic life from native sharks to cuttle fish and tree frogs. Kids will love the blaze of colour of the tropical coral reef or watching otters slide in and out of the water. Other species you may expect to find here are eels, shrimp, lobster, crabs, cuttlefish, sea horses, cane toads, the toxic poison frog and many more.
Admission: £6.95 Adults £4.50 Children
Address: Blue Reef Aquarium, Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO5 3PB Street Map
Contact: PH 023 9287 5222
|Portsmouth Natural History Museum|
For all those interested in natural history, this museum celebrates the biodiversity of Portsmouth wildlife and the range of habitats in the area. The museum provides a microscopic view into the mudflats, marshes, seashores, woodland, grassland as well as the developed areas of the city which all attract a variety of species. You'll can also visit the Victorian Museum, the aquarium and butterfly house or find out more about Portsmouth's geology.
Address: Portsmouth Natural History Museum, Cumberland Hous, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO4 9RF Street Map
Contact: PH (023) 9282 7261
The D-Day Museum in Southsea is dedicated to the momentous Overlord Operation of WWII. It involved some 3 million troops and was the largest seaborne invasion in history. Twelve Allied nations crossed the English Channel to invade Normandy in a battle which would take two months before success in capturing the territory. It was this operation which caused the fall of Paris and the liberation of Europe. The D-Day Museum's pride of joy is the Overlord Embroidery. A similar tribute to the Bayeux Tapestry, the Overlord Embroidery is composed of 34 panels which depict the Blitz, wartime production, planning for attack and the invasion. The work was commission by Lord Dulverton and made by the Royal School of Needlework. It is 82 metres in length and took 20 embroiderers five years to complete. In the D-Day Museum you'll also be able to witness archive film footage, eye witness accounts, factory life and a local section, 'Portsmouth Memories' dedicated to the locals and the part they played at this historic time.
Address: D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery, Clarence Esp, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO5 3NT Street Map
|Royal Marines Museum|
The Royal Marines Museum is housed in a stately Officer's Mess which was built in the 1860's. The history of the Royal Marines dates to 1664 when the first Marine Regiment was created. On your tour you'll see one of the largest medal collections in the world, the Mountbatten Room an opulent dining hall seemingly funded by the slip of an officer's pen and the Eastney Fort East, a Victorian coastal artillery fort. You'll also discover more about the marines in action in the World Wars, Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq and how one determined woman, Hannah Snell deceived them all and obtained her wish to serve as a marine in an age when women had no part in the armed forces.
Admission: £4.75 Adults
Address: The Royal Marines Museum, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO4 9PX Street Map
Contact: PH 02392 819385
|Portsmouth City Museum|
This museum features the living history of Portsmouth with a 17th century bedchamber, a 19th century dockyard worker's kitchen, a Victorian parlour, a 1930's kitchen and dining room, and a 1950's living room. There's also a “Portsmouth at Play” gallery which focuses on the development of Southsea as a leisure resort. Changing exhibitions range from photography and fine art to technology.
Admission: Free entry
Address: Portsmouth City Museum, Museum Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 2LJ Street Map
Contact: PH +44 (0)23 9282 7261
|The Historic Dockyard of the Royal Naval Base|
Winner of the UK Large Visitor Attraction Award in 2005, the Historic Dockyard is Portsmouth's premier tourist attraction. Attractions here include the Mary Rose - a 16th century warship, the HMS Victory - the flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar and HMS Warrior - the first iron hulled battleship in the world... more
Admission: £15.50 Adults £12.50 Children
Address: Historic Dockyard Visitor Centre, College Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 3LJ Street Map
Contact: PH 023 9286 1533
Located in the Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower rises to 165 metres and provides viewing platforms at 100m, 105m and 110m. As long as you've no problems with vertigo, you'll enjoy the ride in the external glass lift. Alternatively, you can take the high speed internal lift which will take you to the second viewing platform in a mere 2 seconds!
Admission: £5.95 Adults £4.80 Children
Address: The Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO1 3TT Street Map
Contact: PH +44 (0)2392 857520
|Portsmouth Tourist Information Centre|
An excellent centre, the Portsmouth Visitor Information Centre has achieved the Charter Standard three times. There are two easily located tourist information offices in Portsmouth. One is at the entrance to the Historic Dockyard and the other is next to the Blue Reef Aquarium. If you plan to visit the D-Day Museum or the attractions at the Historic Dockyard buying your tickets from the Portsmouth Visitor Centre will give you a 10% discount. The Portsmouth Visitor Information Centre also offers free guided tours of the Guildhall on Mondays at 10am and Wednesdays at 11.30am. If you'd like to walk the Millennium Trail and tour the historic Old Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays, the Portsmouth Visitor Information Centre hires out handsets for £5.
Address: Portsmouth Visitor Information Service, Clarence E, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Postcode: PO5 3PB Street Map
Contact: PH +44 (0)23 9282 6722