things to do in portsmouth

Last Updated on: 31st January 2024, 09:24 am

Hello, fellow adventurers! If you’re looking for a city with plenty of activities and attractions, look no further than Portsmouth. From historic sites to seaside pleasures, there are myriad things to do in Portsmouth UK for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re seeking indoor or outdoor activities, cultural or recreational pursuits, this vibrant city has something to offer you. Explore the rich history and heritage of the city, immerse yourself in contemporary art, or just enjoy a day at the beach.

So, if you’re wondering about some of the top Portsmouth UK attractions and activities, read on for our comprehensive guide below.

Explore Historic Ships at the Historic Dockyard

If you’re a history buff like me, then the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a must-visit attraction. Here, you can explore the historic ships that played a vital role in the city’s Naval history. Step aboard the HMS Victory, the flagship of Admiral Nelson, and experience what life was like on board this famous vessel. Alternatively, visit the Mary Rose Museum to see the remains of Henry VIII’s warship, which lay on the sea bed for over 400 years before being brought to the surface.

Enjoy a Stroll Along Southsea Seafront

When in Portsmouth, a walk along Southsea Seafront is an absolute must-try experience. The beautiful seafront offers an array of activities along with a serene atmosphere to relax, making it an ideal destination for all kinds of travelers.

One of the major attractions here is the sandy Southsea beach, where you can relax, sunbathe and soak up the seaside vibe. For adventure seekers, there are plenty of water sports activities to choose from such as jet skiing, kayaking and paddleboarding. You can also take a dip in the sea to cool off on a hot summer day.

Southsea beach attractions

Another highlight of the seafront is the Seafront Promenade, where you can take a leisurely stroll and admire the stunning views of the sea. The promenade is dotted with various shops and cafes, providing ample opportunities to grab a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs. While here, you can also explore the nearby amusements and attractions.

Southsea seafront activities Southsea beach attractions Seafront promenade Portsmouth
Water sports (jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding) Sandy Southsea beach Shop, dine, and walk along the Seafront Promenade
Outdoor concerts and entertainment Southsea Castle Relax with an ice cream or fish and chips
Seasonal events Blue Reef Aquarium Explore the nearby amusements and attractions

Southsea Seafront is an excellent destination for family outings and romantic dates. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder Southsea Seafront is a local favorite and a highly recommended attraction for tourists visiting Portsmouth.

Visit the Spinnaker Tower for Panoramic Views

If you want to witness the best panoramic views of Portsmouth and beyond, don’t miss the opportunity to head over to the iconic Spinnaker Tower Portsmouth located at Gunwharf Quays. This magnificent structure stands tall at 170 meters above sea level, giving you an uninterrupted view of Portsmouth city, the Solent, and the Isle of Wight.

Once you enter the Tower, step into the high-speed lift and in a matter of seconds, you’ll be at the observation deck Portsmouth, where you can enjoy the breath-taking views in all directions.

Take the time to explore the two lower levels, where you can find exhibits explaining the unique construction of the Tower, and learn about the history of Portsmouth. You can also take a look at the Sky Garden at the bottom of the Tower.

The Spinnaker Tower is open all year round, but the opening times vary depending on the seasons. Admission fees are reasonable, and family discounts are available. For specific timings and prices, visit their official website.

Immerse Yourself in History at Portsmouth Historic Sites

When it comes to history, Portsmouth has a lot to offer. There are plenty of historic sites and museums to explore, from Victorian forts to literary landmarks. Here are some of my top picks:

Fort Nelson

If you’re a fan of military history, Fort Nelson is not to be missed. Built in the 19th century, this impressive Victorian fort has stunning views across Portsmouth Harbour. Explore the ramparts, tunnels, and gun batteries, and learn about the fort’s role in defending the city.

Fort Nelson Portsmouth

Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum

Step into the world of Charles Dickens at the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum. This small museum in Old Commercial Road is dedicated to the life and works of one of England’s greatest novelists. See the room where he was born, and discover the objects and artifacts that inspired his writing.

Portsmouth Museums

Portsmouth’s museums offer a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past. From the history of the Royal Navy to the lives of local people, there is a wealth of information to explore. Highlights include the D-Day Story, the Portsmouth City Museum, and the Royal Marines Museum.

Portsmouth Historic Sites

Site Description
Fort Nelson An impressive Victorian fort with stunning views across Portsmouth Harbour.
Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum Dedicated to the life and works of one of England’s greatest novelists.
Portsmouth Museums Offering a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.

These historic sites provide a glimpse into the city’s past and offer an educational and enjoyable experience for visitors.

Discover Modern Art at the Aspex Gallery

If you’re an art enthusiast, you don’t want to miss the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. Aspex offers visitors an opportunity to explore modern art in a contemporary space. The Gallery celebrates diverse and innovative works by reputed local, national and international artists. Visitors can experience thought-provoking exhibitions that challenge the conventional wisdom of the art world.

The rotating exhibitions at Aspex aim to showcase the creative expression of contemporary artists from different backgrounds. As you walk through the gallery, you might discover unexpected installations, sculptures, photography, or videos. Aspex provides a platform for up-and-coming contemporary artists, whose work offers different perspectives and ways of seeing the world.

The Aspex Gallery is not just for the art elite. It offers free workshops, educational programs, and curator-led tours for visitors of all ages and interests. It also supports the local art scene by partnering with artists and cultural organizations in and around Portsmouth.

Explore the world of contemporary art at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth and discover a new appreciation for the works of modern artists.

Aspex Gallery Essentials

Location The Vulcan Building, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth PO1 3BF
Opening Times Tuesday – Sunday 11:00-16:00
Contact +44 (0)23 9277 8080 (General enquiries)

+44 (0)23 9277 8181 (Bookshop)

Admission Free (Donations welcome)

Located in Gunwharf Quays, the Aspex Gallery is easy to reach and it’s a mere five-minute walk from the Portsmouth Harbour train station. The Gallery has a great cafĂ©, stunning shop, and is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth to witness the Art of Tomorrow!

Experience Family Fun at Clarence Pier

Looking for a fun day out with the family? Look no further than Clarence Pier, the premier amusement park in Portsmouth.

Located on the city’s seafront, Clarence Pier offers a wide range of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained. From classic rides like the carousel and bumper cars to thrilling roller coasters that will get your heart racing, there’s something for everyone at this traditional amusement park.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Clarence Pier also offers a variety of games and attractions, from arcade games to mini-golf, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment.

amusement park Portsmouth

Family Fun for All Ages

At Clarence Pier, we pride ourselves on offering activities that cater to visitors of all ages. For younger children, we have a dedicated Kiddie Land area with age-appropriate rides and games. For the older kids, our selection of thrill rides are sure to satisfy their cravings for excitement.

And for parents? Relax with a cup of coffee or a bite to eat while the kids enjoy the attractions. With waterfront views and a variety of dining options, Clarence Pier is the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon.

Plan Your Visit

Clarence Pier is open daily during the summer months, and on weekends during spring and autumn. Admission to the park is free, but rides and attractions require tokens which can be purchased on-site.

And the best part? Clarence Pier is located just a short walk from other popular attractions, like Southsea Beach and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, so it’s easy to make a day of it and explore everything that Portsmouth has to offer.

Don’t Miss Out on the Fun

Next time you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in Portsmouth, make sure to add Clarence Pier to your list. With its classic rides, exciting attractions, and stunning waterfront location, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the top-rated amusement parks in the area.

Take a Trip to the Isle of Wight

If you’re looking to venture beyond Portsmouth and explore more of the stunning South Coast, why not hop on a Portsmouth to Isle of Wight ferry? It’s just a short ride from Portsmouth, and you’ll find yourself on the beautiful Isle of Wight in no time.

Renowned for its breathtaking coastline, picturesque villages, and outdoor activities, the Isle of Wight offers a perfect day trip from Portsmouth. Take a stroll along one of the island’s many beaches, visit the charming villages, or go hiking in the countryside.

For those interested in history and culture, the Isle of Wight has a wealth of attractions to explore. Check out the striking Carisbrooke Castle, built in the 12th century, and often visited by ill-fated king Charles I during his imprisonment. Or visit Queen Victoria’s former holiday home, Osborne House, set in stunning gardens, its beautiful grounds make it no surprise it was one of her favourite locations.

If you’re looking for something a little more active, why not try your hand at one of the many outdoor activities available on the island? Go horse riding in the countryside, try some water sports on the beautiful beaches, or even visit the Isle of Wight Zoo to see their collection of big cats.

There’s something for everyone on the Isle of Wight, so why not include it in your next trip to Portsmouth? With its proximity to Portsmouth and numerous Isle of Wight attractions, it’s not to be missed.

Enjoy Shopping and Dining at Gunwharf Quays

If you’re a shopaholic or a foodie, Gunwharf Quays is a must-visit destination in Portsmouth. Situated on the waterfront, Gunwharf Quays offers a unique and enjoyable shopping experience.

Explore the wide selection of designer outlets, from high-street brands to luxury labels, and indulge in some retail therapy. From clothing and accessories to homeware and beauty products, there’s something for every taste and budget.

After shopping, treat yourself to a meal at one of the waterfront restaurants. From fine dining to casual eats, Gunwharf Quays offers a diverse range of options, perfect for enjoying waterfront dining Portsmouth. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic view while savouring your meal.

Gunwharf Quays Portsmouth

Gunwharf Quays Shops (Selected)

Shop Name Category Location
Hugo Boss Clothing Central Square
Le Creuset Homeware Guildhall Courtyard
Kate Spade New York Accessories Central Square
Links of London Jewelry Central Square

Whether you’re looking for a new outfit, a special gift, or just some inspiration, Gunwharf Quays Portsmouth has plenty to offer. So, make sure you add it to your list of shopping Portsmouth destinations.

Explore the Underground Tunnels at Fort Widley

If you’re a history buff like me, then a visit to Fort Widley is a must. Located just outside Portsmouth, Fort Widley is a well-preserved example of Victorian military architecture, constructed to protect the city during the height of the British Empire.

But what’s even more fascinating than the imposing above-ground structures is what lies beneath them. A network of underground tunnels, stretching for miles, crisscrosses the fortifications and provides a unique insight into how soldiers lived and fought during times of conflict.

The tunnels have been opened to the public as part of historical tours, and visitors can join guided walks to learn more about the fort’s history and see firsthand how these tunnels were used. It’s a chance to step back in time and experience a piece of Portsmouth’s military past that few people have ever seen.

The guided tours are informative and engaging, taking visitors deep into the tunnels and sharing stories of soldiers who spent months living and working in this cramped and dark environment. It’s a unique perspective on the fort’s history and one that is not to be missed.

Unusual Things to Do in Portsmouth: Discover Offbeat Attractions

As a resident of Portsmouth, I’ve had the chance to explore some of the city’s hidden gems. If you’re looking for something different to do, why not check out these offbeat attractions?

1. The Cumberland House Natural History Museum

Nestled in the heart of Southsea, this small museum boasts an impressive collection of taxidermy animals, fossils, and rocks. It’s a great place to learn about the natural history of the area and see some rare specimens up close.

2. The Kings Theatre

Tucked away on Albert Road, this charming theatre hosts a variety of shows, from plays to pantomimes. Its stunning Edwardian architecture and cozy atmosphere make for a memorable evening out.

3. The Round Tower

Overlooking the seafront, this circular tower was built in the 19th century as part of Portsmouth’s coastal defenses. Today, it’s a great spot to take in the views and learn about the city’s military history.

4. The D-Day Story

While not exactly off the beaten path, this museum offers a unique perspective on the D-Day landings and their impact on Portsmouth. Interactive exhibits, personal stories, and original artifacts bring the history to life.

5. The Portsmouth City Museum

Located in the heart of the city, this museum is home to a diverse range of exhibits, from local history to contemporary art. It’s a great place to spend a rainy afternoon and learn about Portsmouth’s rich cultural heritage.

6. The Southsea Skatepark

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not visit one of the oldest skateparks in the world? The Southsea Skatepark boasts a range of ramps, bowls, and rails, and welcomes skaters of all levels.

These are just a few of the many unusual things to do in Portsmouth. Venture off the beaten path and discover the city’s hidden treasures for yourself!


What are some popular attractions in Portsmouth, UK?

Some popular attractions in Portsmouth, UK include the Historic Dockyard, Southsea Seafront, the Spinnaker Tower, and various historic sites and museums.

What can I do at the Historic Dockyard?

At the Historic Dockyard, you can explore historic ships such as the HMS Victory and visit the Mary Rose Museum.

What can I do at Southsea Seafront?

At Southsea Seafront, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, relax on the sandy beach, try water sports, and indulge in delicious seaside treats.

What can I expect at the Spinnaker Tower?

The Spinnaker Tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. Don’t forget your camera!

What historic sites and museums can I visit in Portsmouth?

Portsmouth is home to Fort Nelson, the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, and other sites that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history.

What can I see at the Aspex Gallery?

The Aspex Gallery showcases contemporary art by local and international artists through rotating exhibitions.

What does Clarence Pier offer?

Clarence Pier is a traditional amusement park where you can enjoy a range of rides, games, and attractions suitable for the whole family.

How can I visit the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth?

You can take a short ferry ride from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, where you can explore its stunning coastline, villages, and outdoor activities.

What can I expect at Gunwharf Quays?

Gunwharf Quays offers a vibrant shopping and dining experience, with designer outlets and waterfront restaurants to enjoy.

What can I explore at Fort Widley?

At Fort Widley, you can explore the underground tunnels and learn about the fort’s history through guided tours.