Fun things to do in Portsmouth

  • Spice Island from a ferry
    Spice Island from a ferry
    by annase
  • Action stations (for kids and dads)
    Action stations (for kids and dads)
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  • Things to Do
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Portsmouth

  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    Visit HMS Victory

    by stevemt Updated Mar 29, 2013

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    HMS Victory, in dry dock in Portsmouth, is the flag ship of the first sea lord, and as such, the oldest commissioned navel ship in existance in the world.

    Victory was laid down in 1749 and launched in 1765.

    She was famous for being Lord Nelson's flag ship at the battle of Trafalgar.

    You can certainly visit her, and it is well worth a visit to see how the men lived, the cramped conditions, and the realisation that people in those days were certainly shorter than today.

    The tour through Victory is informative, very interesting and certainly historical.

    For a far more detailed history go here and have a look

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Victory and here

    http://www.hms-victory.com/

    for opening times and prices go here

    http://www.hms-victory.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=539

    As an aside to this, my mother actually had a sherry with the then 2nd lord of the admiralty, in Nelsons day cabin when she visited. I was not afforded the same consideration when I went to visit :(

    Nelson's famous flag message

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    Gunwharf Quays - outlet shopping

    by annase Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Gunwharf Quays consists of almost 100 outlet stores, 30 bars & restaurants, a health & fitness centre, 14 screen cinema, a 26 lane Bowling alley, a comedy club, night club, casino and a hotel (Holiday Inn Express).

    There are clothing to suit every style and budget. About half of the stores are devoted to women’s fashion, including designer handbags, shoes, cocktail dresses and jeans. Some of the outlets include Polo Ralph Lauren, Gant, White Company, L.K. Bennett, Timbaland, Guess, Clarks, Karen Millen, Nike, Adidas, Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker, Lacoste, Hugo Boss (for men) and Fred Perry.

    The outlet shopping complex is landscaped in a formerly navy owned property and there are several remnants of its past (there is for example an old crane on the canal side, which has been build in the middle just to make it look like there is a canal).

    Join the Gunwharf Quays Priviledge Club online for free and you’ll be informed about special offers and be invited to exclusive events and special Privilege Club shopping evenings, with great deals in the shops and restaurants.

    Bars, restaurants & leisure facilities are all open 7 days & nights a week.

    General opening hours
    Monday-Friday 10am to 7pm
    Saturday 9am to 7pm
    Sunday* 10am to 5pm
    *Due to Sunday trading law, larger stores are unable to open until 11am on Sundays.

    Some stores and restaurants have opening times that differ from the centre's opening times.

    Old Customs House pub Canal Side, Gunwharf Quays Canal Side, Gunwharf Quays
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    Tour the HMS Victory

    by Tom_Fields Updated Dec 3, 2012

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    This was Lord Nelson's flagship at the historic Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The two hundredth anniversary was observed here just recently. During this great naval battle, Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets. By so doing, he saved his country from invasion by Napoleon's army. From that day on, Napoleon concentrated all his efforts on the Continent.

    The Victory is a fine example of a ship-of-the-line, the type that served as the mainstay of European navies of her era. Launched in 1765 at Chatham Dockyard, she carried a crew of over 800, and was armed with about 100 cannon. Fleets with ships of the line would form battle lines, and fire at each other from a few hundred yards apart.

    Lord Nelson innovated on this basic tactic. Rather than simply fire away at the enemy, he turned his battle line toward the enemy line and slammed his ships right through it. By breaking up the enemy's line, he was able to defeat the enemy fleet, one ship at a time.

    No photos are allowed aboard the HMS Victory. The tours guides are very knowledgable, and point out the very spot where Nelson fell on the ship's top deck. He was felled by a French sharpshooter. They took him below decks, where he died a few hours later---knowing that he'd just saved Britain.

    HMS Victory Bow of the HMS Victory Stern of the Victory
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    HMS Warrior

    by Tom_Fields Updated Dec 3, 2012

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    The battleship HMS Warrior was launched in 1860. At that time, she was the mightiest, fastest, best-armored warship in the world. She had a main armament of 26 muzzle-loading 68 pounders, a crew of 705, and weight of 9,210 tons, Because the Royal Navy enjoyed unchallenged dominion of the seas, she never saw combat.

    After only ten years of active service, the Warrior was relegated to the Reserve Fleet. She then spent many years as a hulk, just sitting around. She is the only survivor of all the battleships of that period. Anyone with an interest in maritime history should tour this historic ship.

    The HMS Warrior HMS Warrior's lower gun deck 68-pounder cannon
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    Historic Dockyard

    by deeper_blue Written Nov 14, 2012

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    Portsmouth celebrates Christmas with a distinctly Victorian feel. Thanks to Charles Dickens' being born in nearby Landport, every December in the historic dockyard there is an enchanting Christmas market in the style of his well known books.

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    Historic Dockyard

    by annase Updated Oct 3, 2012

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    I lived almost a year next to the Historic Dockyard without ever setting my foot into the various museum boats and museums located in this area, including the wreck of the famous Mary Rose ship which apparently was the favourite ship of Henry VIII. The new Mary Rose museum is being built at the moment. It should be finished and opening in early 2013 and it will house the whatever is left of this famous 16th century ship (i.e. the hull). The wreck will be visible in its final phase of conservation. It is being kept moisturised with a spray consisting of wax and water virtually 24/7. The sprays are only turned off for maintenance and inspection of the ship remains. I can't wait to see the new museum when it opens. Currently you can visit the 'old' museum building that houses interesting exhibition about Mary Rose with very informative videos and other interesting facts until 4 November 2012. However, the hull is currently not open to view.

    One of the other historical ships on the dockyard includes HMS Warrior, the first ever warship which was iron-hulled, armoured and powered by both steam and sail. It is constructed of wrought iron. When Warrior was originally built, she was bigger, faster and more heavily armed than any other warship. However, sadly within a decade she became obsolete as the technology on-board was surpassed. HMS Warrior is the only surviving member of Queen Victoria's Black Battle Fleet. It was used as an oil jetty at Milford Haven for 50 years before being restored to her former glory. The former dock workers in Hartlepool made a fab job since the ship is absolutely great. The four decks of this awesome ship show you a glimpse what the life of the Victorian sailor in a 19th century warship was probably like.

    HMS Victory, the third historical war ship on site is currently going through a 10 year restoration. This ship was Admiral Nelson's ship, and she famously fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. Because of the current restoration, visitors have the rare opportunity to see how the great sailing warships of the 18th century were built and maintained at battle readiness. So far at least the ship’s three masts have been dismantled. Next up are the bowsprit and rigging. Curiously, last time HMS Victory was seen without her top masts was in 1944.

    Highly recommended although the admission is slightly expensive (22.95 GBP online, 25.50 at the gate in 2012)

    Opening times:
    April - October
    Last tickets are sold at 4.30pm and the Dockyard gates are closed at 6.00pm.

    November - March
    Last tickets are sold at 4.00pm and the Dockyard gates are closed at 5.30pm.

    HMS Victory Action stations (for kids and dads) Historic Dockyard HMS Warrior
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    Spice Island

    by annase Updated Apr 29, 2012

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    The area surrounding the 'Point' in Old Portsmouth is known as 'Spice Island' as it was the main port for the importation of spices from the Caribbean in the 18th century. Apparently, the area has changed very little since the time when spices were being imported there. Terraces that are typical of the architecture from the 18th century line the streets.

    There are some pubs where you can refresh yourself after an exhausting walk. At the same time you can get a pretty good view of the modern development of the Portsmouth Harbour, Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower from the Point.

    Due to the history of the area, one of the pubs in the Point is called the Spice Island Inn. Another pub next to it (Fuellers pub called 'Still and West') has fab views towards the narrow 'mouth' of the harbour. They also serve traditional fish and chips wrapped in paper if you fancy eating something traditional and greasy. They serve food from 12noon onwards.

    An interesting fact about this place is that they were once hauling a really tall warship through the 'mouth' and it almost hit the 'Point'. There is a picture inside the Fueller's pub. I first thought it wasn't real, but it is.

    Spice Island pubs at the 'Point' Spice Island/Old Portsmouth beach Spice Island from a ferry Views from the Fueller's pub
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  • kevin36's Profile Photo

    Sightseeing

    by kevin36 Updated Apr 12, 2011

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    firstly the Spinnaker Tower is a must,but don't forget theDockyard where you can see
    HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, The Mary Rose not to mention the various Warships in the Harbour.
    We only scratched the surface,but there are so many places to go and see from Portsmouth,it has transport Links to The Isle Of Wight,France, Spain.
    With its array of ferries Fast Cats] or Hover Craft which will take you 10minutes to get from Southsea to The Isle of Wight.
    There is a ferry that crosses regularly from Portsmouth to Gosport all for £1.80p.
    There is a fun fair on Southsea, a Submarine museum at Haslar (Gosport)
    It certainly is the hub to other places.
    Gunwharf is where the Spinnaker Tower is situated 5mins from the Train station or Bus

    HMS Victory Spinnikar Tower HMS Warrior Gunwharf (harbour trips) Gunwharf (Bungy Jump)
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    Historic Ships

    by kevin36 Updated Apr 12, 2011

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    Firstly the Spinnaker Tower is a must,but don't forget the Dockyard where you can see
    HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, The Mary Rose not to mention the various battleships in the Harbour including HMS Victory.
    We only scratched the surface,but there are so many places to go and see from Portsmouth,it has transport Links to The Isle Of Wight,France, Spain.
    With its array of ferries Fast Cats or Hover Craft which will take you 10minutes to get from Southsea to The Isle of Wight.
    There is a ferry that crosses regularly from Portsmouth to Gosport all for 1.80p.
    There is a fun fair on Southsea, a Submarine museum at Haslar (Gosport)
    It certainly is the hub to other places.
    Gunwharf quays is where the Spinnaker Tower is situated 5mins from the Train Station or Bus depot.

    HMS WARRIOR HMS Victory HMS Warrior HMS Victory HMS Victory
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  • LouiseTopp's Profile Photo

    Action stations

    by LouiseTopp Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Once a warehouse Actions stations is now a impressive maritime museum showing navel life, without the thump on the back of the head that is. There’s lots of things to do including a virtual ride aboard a helicopter, the motto says ‘see the Navy, be the navy’.

    There are Five ‘islands’ the Royal Marines, Helicopter Flight Deck, the Bridge, the Operations Room, & artillery provide physical or electronic tests for all ages from 6 years and up. There’s also a climbing wall which you can hang off of and a rowing boat on a PC screen which you can race down. The Operations room is good, you can play games where you have to recognise friendly boats and radar, sometimes it turns out to be the enemy. You can feel the floor move as it would if you were out at sea. Theirs is also a game which is similar to what I have on my X-Box where you can aim at boats and shoot them, each level you work through the ranks with the targets getting smaller and smaller. On this game the highest rank is captain, on the X-Box version it’s Admiral. I notice that someone had downloaded Solitaire on one of the computers. I think the price is covered in the £15.50 season deal ticket.

    Action stations
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    Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

    by LouiseTopp Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Portsmouth historic dockyard is very fascinating with many ships to see, & lots of museums. It’s just up the road from the railway station (Portsmouth harbour), just outside the entry is the TIC. There’s many flagstones in the dockyard so it’s very uneven for wheel & pushchairs, there’s ramps to be used which isn’t a bad thing. The way in has two gold balls on the top, nearby is the busy harbour where P&O ferries can be seen cruising up and down the water. You can also see the ferry for the Isle of Wight & a few battle ships in dock.

    On entering the dockyard there is a reception area where you can get your tickets. You can buy tickets which will last you for a year, so any of the museums you don’t get round to seeing can be visited at a later date. These cost £15.50 per adult, & £12.50 for children & OAP’s. Family tickets for a year are £45. For two years (Season Ticket), it will cost about £28 adults, £23.00 for children and OAP’s. Families are £85.

    ‘Action Stations’ is one of the first places to visit. On the day we went it was closed as it was being used for a conference. This facility shows you how the Navy works; you can see the RN fleet pictured through two-dimensional profiled metal ships. There’s also a climbing wall which you can try, it slides upwards while you hold on for dear life; there’s a soft mat to fall on if you come off. There’s a 275 seated cinema which has one of the biggest film screens in this part of England, here you can watch the Navy in action blowing each other up! There’s also many interactive games to play to see if you have the skills for joining the Navy, there’s a flight helicopter deck, the Operations Room and many other things.

    They also have a recruiting office for all you would be sailors out there. Otherwise they could wallop you on the head with a stick, & you could join that way by waking up in the Navy; but you’ll have a sore head.

    For all my other reviews on the ships, please see other sections. Thank you.

    Hello Landlubbers!
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    Cannon balls & Turds on The Victory

    by LouiseTopp Updated Apr 4, 2011

    There's cannon balls dotted about in straight line’s on the Victory. The stairs are very steep indeed & it’s very easy to bump your head on low ceilings. Life on board was tough, half of the crew were volunteers, while the other half were ‘press Ganged’ into action. The stick which used to clout people on the back of the head is still on display, there’s also a talk about ‘Punishment & Discipline’. Crew members were whipped by the ‘Cat o’ Nine tails’ for: Swearing, blaspheming, drunkenness & fighting. This was done on the top deck in full view of other crew members as a deterrent; it usually took the skin of your back off. Afterwards you were taken down to the surgeon, who put you on the table before putting vinegar or something alcoholic on your backside; ouch!

    There’s a tablet where Nelson fell at the Battle of Trafalgar. His died three hours later. His body was placed in a barrel of brandy, hence the saying ‘there’s body in this drink’. At the bottom of the Victory is gravel which gives the ship ballast, sacks of gunpowder is also kept down here.

    At one end of this section is a copper wall, so rats wouldn’t nibble through & get at the gunpowder (did they ever have exploding rats?). It’s a bit chilly down here. There’s thick rope everywhere which weighs a couple of ton, even more when it’s wet.

    Saw the loo's at the front of the ship; It’s a black box with two holes in it open to the elements.

    The crew used to eat ships biscuit with maggots in. The only heat source was the cooking facility. The ship must have been a cold dark stifling place to be, the only air which came in was from outside. Each crew member had three meals a day out of square plates, hence the saying ‘three square meals’. They had salt to preserve things, & live animals to kill.

    Din Dins
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    Other things at Portsmouth Dockyard

    by LouiseTopp Updated Apr 4, 2011

    ‘HMS Warrior’ was out being spring-cleaned (or hoovered) when we came to visit. This is one of the first iron hulled armoured battleship’s in England. She was ran by steam & sail, there’s a good example of 19th century life to be seen here.

    The Mary Rose is well worth a visit. I have included it in one of my reviews, as there’s so much to write about it. It was brought up in 1982 & can now be seen on display, hopefully for many years to come. Next door is the Mary Rose museum which houses all the artefacts which were brought up from the site, it gives a fascinating insight into Tudor life.

    ‘The Royal Navel Museum’ is good to see. There’s a description of the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, there’s a very realistic sea battle which is quite smoky & noisy. If you don’t like loud bangs, screaming & wartime conditions; then this is best avoided. There’s a brass ships bell (minus the clapper) & lots of interactive quizzes about Nelson, & ships figureheads.

    Talking of figureheads, there’s a big one in the middle of the dockyard of a man in a brown wig (when I find out who he is, I will put it here). There’s two more museums next door. There’s a small gift shop here selling everything to do with boats, Nelson & sailing.

    Having a banging time
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    The mighty Warrior

    by jono84 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Warrior stands large and proud, docked in Portsmouth Harbour..... a constant reminder of times past.

    I pass it on the way to work or university pretty much most days, and i am proud it is has been preserved so well as part of this city's great wartime heritage.

    A real eye-opener is the canon deck, where the canons and methods of loading are very well-explained and demonstrated. There is also access to the tiny, dark prison cells right down in the bottom levels of the vessel, where you can get an idea of what it was like to be a prisoner locked in pitch darkness!!
    Absolutely terrifying!!

    It is part of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and its many levels are open daily to the public and often nightly as well, for large private functions.

    There is no fee to get in the dockyard, but there are entry fees for each of the ships docked, (i think the Warrior is around £5-10 for adults). Alternatively, you can buy a ticket for all three ships in the dockyard, and this works out a cheaper option.

    The Warrior

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    Historical Old Portsmouth

    by jono84 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A short walk away from the hive of activity that is the Quays, and you will stumble upon Old Portsmouth.

    Here it is still possible to recapture some of the essence of the Old Port's heady days when it was full of marines and soldiers from all over the UK, during World War II.

    There are many pleasant places to stop for a drink, with the perfect spot to view the busy harbour entrance from.

    Around the corner, there is also the Southsea Wall with the round and Square Towers placed at either end (pictured, intro). This part of the Wall, with the Old Sally Port and Battery are very well preserved, and offer a great walking opportunity, whilst the views over the harbour entrance from the top of the Round Tower are fantastic!!

    Here, you can practically get to within touching distance of ships as they squeeze into the harbour.

    This extremely narrow entrance to the Harbour is what made it such a good place to house the british navy's finest ships, and made it such a relatively easy place to defend.

    Old Portsmouth

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