Portsmouth – England’s Island city
Portsmouth on England’s south coast is in fact an island. You’d hardly notice though as the city sprawls out beyond Portsea island, filling the pretty seaside landscape. Once a fort back in Roman times, the remains of Portchester castle tells you that this place has a lot of history worth exploring.
It’s also the birthplace of Charles Dickens and the popular holiday home of Rudyard Kipling. But let’s not name-drop, there are lots to see and do here and it’s the perfect short break getaway.
The real reason the Romans loved the place is its geological makeup. Perfect for setting up a port to the English Channel. Over the hundreds of years since Portsmouth harbour has seen it all with a lot of interesting stories to tell. Since Tudor times it’s been the home to the Royal Navy and it’s dockyards have built some of the most famous navy ships of all time.
The most famous of them all has to be HMS Victory which still sits in the dockyard and is a popular tourist attraction. Launched in 1765, she’s a mighty ship well worth exploring. She was present at Lord Nelson’s famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Navy ships don’t get much more historical.
You can also visit the Iron clad HMS Warrior and the remains of Henry IIIV’s Mary Rose which has an impressive museum too. If Navy ships really are your thing then hop on a quick ferry to Gosport where you can visit the HMS Alliance and Submarine museum. You can also get boat tours of the modern Navy ships in the harbour as well.
Museums in Portsmouth
As you’d expect from a Navy city there’s a fair number of museums dotted around, like the Royal Marines Museum and the D Day Museum but there’s more to Portsmouth than just military history. The Natural History Museum has a wonderful butterfly house and the City Museum tells the story of Portsmouth from Roman fort, naval base to seaside holidays. The Charles Dickens Birthplace museum is also an interesting place to visit, situated in his original home. There’s a host of Dickens related events in various theatres around Portsmouth.
Portsmouth is one of the great British seaside resorts and has everything you could want, from traditional seaside entertainment to modern-day attractions. The South Parade Pier is great for a stroll, some ingenious crazy golf courses and Clarence Pier, filled with arcades, fair ground rides and great views of the city coastline. There’s also the Spinnaker tower which you can’t fail to see. At 170 metres tall the views from the top are great and well worth the trip.
Picnics in the Parks
If you’re looking to get away from the beach there are some lovely english parks in and around the city. Victoria Park is one of the best and Canoe lake, famed for its swans and it’s boating. A great place for families. There’s also Milton Park and further out-of-town is Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
Other activities in Portsmouth
There’s some great walking tours around the city leading you through the heart of the historic centre and out to the dockyards. From the harbour you can walk along the Millennium Promenades which passes many of Portsmouth’s landmarks. You can even get Audio-guides from the Tourist Information Centre located at the D-Day Museum on Clarence Esplanade.
Getting to Portsmouth
It’s very easy to get to Portsmouth either by road or train. The A3 goes straight from London to Portsmouth and the M27 also links Portsmouth to other motorways in the south. There are also frequent trains from London Waterloo, with the journey taking around 1 hour 45 minutes.