Fun things to do in Portsmouth

  • Spice Island from a ferry
    Spice Island from a ferry
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Portsmouth

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    Meet Admiral Nelson & Henry VIII

    by rexvaughan Written Nov 14, 2007

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    Much of the maritime history of the UK resides here in the historic dockyard of Portsmouth. It has been the home base for the royal navy for over 8 centuries and a key location in making Britain the leading naval power in the world at one time. There is much to see and do here as you can board Admiral Nelson's ship, the HMS Victory and even where he was fatally wonded. There are several good museums as well which give you a grasp of the sweep of this maritime history as well as the workings of shipbuilding and life at sea.

    Ticket prices can be a bit confusing but you can buy combination tickets which include the museums, Spinnaker Tower, visiting the Victory and Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose and a harbor boat tour. These are (in pounds) 16.50 for adults, 14.00 for seniors, 12 for children (5-14) or 48.00 for a family of up to 5.

    Entrance gate to the dockyards Museum of the docyard apprentice

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    Dockyards Apprentice Museum

    by rexvaughan Written Nov 14, 2007

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    We almost missed this little museum as it is in an unimpressive building behind a gift shop, but it was well worth a stop. Evidently there was a period whtn the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard was one of the largest in the world. This museum represents the crafts and skills employed in 1911 in the construction of dreadnoughts. Models and machines display the details involved, like the cordage machine pictured which wound sisel and hemp into the proper lenght and diameter for the various uses on a ship. Also on display is Admiral Nelson's prayer which potrays his firm conviction that his was a just cause:

    May the great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct,in any one tarnish it, and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself individually I commit my life to Him who made me and may His blessing light upon my endeavors for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen

    Shipbuilders Cordage winding machine Admiral Lord Nelson's prayer

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    The Mary Rose Museum and Ship

    by rexvaughan Written Nov 15, 2007

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    In case you are like me who didn't know much about the Mary Rose, it was the flagship of Henry VIII built betweem 1509 and 1511. It was a favorite of the king and had a pretty successful career over 3 decades. She accidentally sank in 1545 during a battle with, whom do you think, the French. It must have been a most exciting day in Portsmouth when she was found and raised in 1982. There are two displays at the dockyards, one a nice Mary Rose Museum with a lot of displays and information about, and artifacts from the ship, some of which you can even physically examine. The other is the building where the preservation and restoration is taking place. The ship is under a constant spray of a compound to preserve the wood so you have to view it through a glass and the spray. It is hard to get a really good look, let alone a photo.

    The museum is covered on the standard Dockyards admission ticket.

    Model of the Mary Rose in the museum The king himself (Henry VIII) Canon ball and other artifacts from the Mary Rose A fuzzy photo of the hull being sprayed

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    UNUSUAL PLACE - WEALD MUSEUM

    by zuriga Updated Mar 15, 2005

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    I think most tourists to Portsmouth know nothing about The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Singleton near Chichester (also a lovely city to roam through). This village has historic buildings from SE England...rescued from destruction, dismantled and carefully reconstructed on the Museum site. There are lots of farm animals (great for the kids) and a lovely shop filled with tasty things to eat.

    WEALD MUSEUM
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    Portsmouth: The Historic...

    by martin.lees Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Portsmouth: The Historic Dockyard
    Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, HMS victory is the highlight for most, but HMS Warrior (the first Ironclad warship) and the Mary Rose are equally impressive. Set in the heart of the Royal Naval Dockyards there are also modern warships be seen around.

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    Portchester Castle

    by martin.lees Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Originally a Roman fort. The outer curtain walls are Roman. Portchester was occupied by the Normans and used as a Royal Palace. The location is worth a visit for a picnic and a walk around the walls and grounds of the castle. there is an Entrance fee to go in the castle keep.

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    Enjoy the fab views

    by annase Updated Oct 7, 2010

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    The Spinnaker Tower is 170m high above sea level. It is higher than the London Eye, Blackpool tower and Big Ben and at 170m is the tallest publicly accessible structure in the UK. It is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the area's horizon.

    Three different designs for the tower were proposed the Spinnaker design, a tripod design intended to emulate ship funnels and a twin tower design holding a large glass globe at the top. The final decision of the choice of design was given to the residents of Portsmouth, exhibitions were held in various locations around the area, with visitors being able to cast their vote, 13,000 people atended and voted at these exhibitions, with more than 60% favouring the Spinnaker design.

    The design is similar to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. However, the latter being a little less than twice as tall at 323 m. The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping steel arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design.

    The tower opened for business in October 2005, offering panaramic views across Portsmouth Harbour, across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and far beyond.The viewing distances on a clear day are claimed to be 37 km or 23 miles. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 320° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours.

    •Deck1 is at a height of 100m, has full height glass walls and is home to the largest glass floor in Europe.
    •Deck2 is at 105m and is home to the 'time telescopes' and from 18 October 2010 onwards, there will also be a coffee shop on deck 2.
    •Deck 3, known as the 'Crows Nest' is at 110m high and is open to the elements. It is the highest of the three observation platforms and has a wire mesh roof, allowing visitors to be in the elements. Windows extend to above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass.

    The website promises that if you can't see the 3 Solent forts on the day of your visit, each member of your party will be issued with a ticket to return for free within 3 months. To claim your free return visit, you must speak to our Duty Manager whilst you are visiting the Tower.

    Admission: Adults £7.25, children (3-15 yrs) £5.75 (children under 3 FREE), senior citizens (60+) and students £6.50. Valid until 31st January 2011
    Guide Book £3.50, Audio Guide £1.00

    The Spinnaker Tower is open daily except for Christmas Day. Opening times are 10am - 6pm.
    Last admissions 30 minutes before closing.

    Spinnaker Tower from my window
    Related to:
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    • Museum Visits
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  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo

    D Day Museum and the Overlord Embroidery

    by rexvaughan Updated Nov 16, 2007

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    Of course the Overlord Embroidery is the star of the show here but there are lots of other exhibits and presentations which depict the everyday life in the war as well as at home. They provide thoughtful insights into not only the horrors of war but the deprivations at home as well. The Embroidery is a counterpart to the Bayeux Tapestry in France which depicts the Norman Invasion in 1066. This one depicts Overlord, the largest military offensive in history. As it is some 270 feet in length it was a huge task it took 5 years of 20 embroiderers and 5 apprentices at the Royal School of Needlework to finish it. It is housed in a specially designed circular gallery so you can view each of the 34 panels.

    This is a small museum but one which does an excellent job of reflecting on the events of WWII and its effects.

    Admission prices on the website are out of date. We paid 6.25 GBP in Sept. 2007

    One of the Overlord panels Statue in front of the museum Entrance to the museum One of the displays in the museum

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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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    Wildlife Park

    by kevin36 Updated May 18, 2008

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    We came across the Wildlife park while driving through the New Forest.
    Delightful Wildlife park,plenty to see and do.
    The Animals you can expect to see are: Owls,otters,wildcats.Lynx,deer,Fox,Ferrets and Boars to name a few.
    I was pleasantly surprised,I expected the usual zoo atmosphere.
    You have deer roaming around freely in places and do not seem the slightest bit bothered about the public, in fact in one enclosure we had a deer following us around like a domestic dog.
    You need to allow about two hours at least to have a good look round and could easily spend a day looking around and watching the animals at feeding times too.
    I was amazed how Big the Lynx was having never seen one before in the flesh.
    The owls are amazing to see,all sizes and types.
    A good day out for the family.
    Go before 12noon and get the third admission Free (early Bird) check their website first to see if promotion is still on.

    Freindly Deer Scottish Wildcat with kitten Fox having a snooze Owl Otter
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    Tour the Harbor

    by rexvaughan Updated Nov 14, 2007

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    As part of your ticket to the docklands there is a nice 45 minute boat tour of the harbor. It gives you another perspective on the scope of this port as well as some different angles to view things like the Spinnaker Tower and some of the ships like the HMS Warrior. There is a running commentary on what ships are in at the moment, where they are from and what their mission is. Very nice on a good day. The times for the tours are posted at the boarding area. Tours are daily except for some days in winter (when you probably wouldn't want one anyway).

    Spinnaker Tower from the harbor HMS Warrior from the harbor One of the naval vessels

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    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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    Millenium Promenade

    by annase Updated Sep 20, 2010

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    The Millenium Promenade is a walkway that stretches over 6km on both sides of Portsmouth Harbour: 3km both the Portsmouth and Gosport communities. You can follow the Promenade all the way from the Historic Dockyard around Gunwharf Quays and further south into the centre of the Old Portsmouth that has retained much of its 18th century port feel. The promenade finishes at Spur Redoubt near Clarence Pier, Southsea.

    The promenade has been built of natural stone and it was opened in 2001. Once it was opened, it made the part of waterfront accessible to the public after some centuries. The route is marked by a chain motif set into the surface, symbolising partnership between Portsmouth and Gosport & between past and present. Historically it also refers to the chain, which used to be tightened across the harbour entrance at times of potential attack.

    The promenade is lighted by column-mounted lanterns. They were designed to reflect the historic character of blue lights at night that are strung around the harbour.

    The Millenium Promenade A view from the Point Barracks The Point Barracks were built in the 19th century The The Millenium Promenade

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    The ruins of the Old Naval Garrison Church

    by annase Updated Aug 30, 2010

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    Despite being bombed during World War II, the ruins of the Old Naval Garrison Church are still standing on the Grand Parade. The church was originally founded in 1212 as a hospice. It was also used as shelter for overseas pilgrims on their way to the cathedrals at Winchester, Chichester and Canterbury. In May 1662 Catherine of Braganza from Portugal landed at Portsmouth to marry King Charles II.

    There are nearly 300 memorials associated with this church. However, many of the plagues went missing after they had been removed following the bombing in the 1940s. Further problems have been caused by the decision not to replace the church roof which has led to considerable erosion of the plaques. The reasons behind the decision not to replace the main roof and provide a roof to the Nave are the fact that this would probably increase the deterioration of the exposed stonework. Owing to its location next to the sea, the stonework has absorbed considerable amounts of salt solution, which would cause further damage if the salt was able to dry out.

    The church is open from April to end Sept (Mon-Fri between 11am-4pm).

    Admission is free.

    Parking on streets adjacent to the church is permitted, though residents parking schemes operate in some areas.

    For bookings and information about the church phone the Secretary, Friends of the Royal Garrison Church Peter Richmond, on 023 9282 3973 or e-mail peter.richmond1@ntlworld.com

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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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