Portsmouth Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, UK)
There are all kinds of different ways to fill your time in Portsmouth, with quality tourist attractions often being based in the Southsea area, such as the Blue Reef Aquarium and the Clarence Pier Amusement Park. However, there is one attraction that dominates all others in Portsmouth, and that is the Historic Dockyard.
The Historic Dockyard is home to a number of historic warships, with the most famous being Lord Nelson's pride and joy, the HMS Victory. Other ships at the Historic Dockyard / Flagship Portsmouth include both the Mary Rose and the HMS Warrior, while further tourist attractions come in the form of 'Action Stations' and related ship museums.
It is easy to spend an entire day at the Historic Dockyard, although be sure not to overlook the Southsea Common, the Millennium Promenade, the Kings Theatre, the Canoe Lake, and the Portsmouth land train, which collects passengers from Palmerston Road and transports them all the way to the attractions of Southsea Beach
Waterships by Water Cruises
Address: Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, UK
To be able to enjoy views of the city from a very different angle, consider taking a cruise around Portsmouth Harbour. These guided cruises include commentary along the way and pass some of the city's most famous naval vessels, including both modern ships and old-timers, such as the historic HMS Victory. Cruises last for approximately 40 minutes and provide the perfect afternoon attraction for those who have spent the morning exploring the nearby Museum of Naval Firepower
Open hours: daily - seasonal variations (book in advance)
Admission: charge, discounts for children
Blue Reef Aquarium
Address: Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO5 3PB, England, UK
Tel: +44 023 9287 5222
Standing between the Clarence Pier and the South Parade Pier, and located within the Southsea area of Portsmouth, the Blue Reef Aquarium is always extremely popular with families. The attractions here are particularly interactive, while the walk-through aquarium tunnel allows you to get up close to the sharks and large turtles that live here. In the past, the Tourism South East association has voted the Blue Reef Aquarium as its 'Attraction of the Year', since there is so much to see and enjoy. Highlights include marine tanks with coral reefs, sea horses, native fish, friendly rays, lobsters, crabs and many other marine creatures from the Mediterranean and the Bay of Mexico, along with tree frogs and Asian short-claw otters. Feeding demonstrations and talks allow you to learn more about the exhibits. The onsite cafe and marine-themed gift shop complete your visit.
Open hours: daily, March to October - 09:00 to 17:00; November to February - 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children, families, students and seniors, children three years old and under are free
Flagship Portsmouth / Historic Dockyard
Address: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Visitor Centre, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3LJ, England, UK
Tel: +44 023 9283 9766
The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is also known as the Flagship Portsmouth, and serves as the number one attraction in the city - and deservedly so.
With no less than three classic ships and a selection of fascinating museums, the Historic Dockyard is a tribute to the Royal Navy of yesteryear. This really does make for a full day out, since there is just so much to see here.
- HMS Victory - this is without question the top attraction at the Historic Dockyard. The HMS Victory was the flagship of Lord Nelson and played an important part in the famous Battle of Trafalgar (1805), leading the fleet to victory, although sadly Nelson lost his life during this battle. In its heyday, the HMS Victory carried a crew of around 900 sailors and was removed from duty in 1922, when it was thoroughly refurbished and transformed into something of a museum. Guided tours last 40 minutes and are highly recommended, with plenty of attractions and humorous anecdotes to keep your interest, including staggering facts such as the daily alcohol rations of the crew - eight pints of beer or two pints of wine! The Victory is filled with Nelson memorabilia and his private quarters are quite authentic in their appearance. Photographs are not permitted, since surprisingly, the ship does remain in commission, which makes it the oldest commission ship in existence.
- HMS Warrior - dating back to 1860, the HMS Warrior was an extraordinary warship of its time, being constructed using state-of-the-art technology, which incorporated an armour-plated iron hull and steam-powered engines. When it was launched in 1861, the HMS Warrior immediately broke many world-records and is today the sole survivor of Queen Victoria's famed Black Battle Fleet. Visitors are allowed to freely explore the ship's four decks and numerous Victorian attractions.
- Action Stations - a relatively new and highly interactive Portsmouth attraction, Action Stations opened as recently as 2001 and is a showcase for today's naval forces. When you first arrive, you will watch a short film, recounting a story when some British citizens were actually kidnapped by pirates from Africa. Other attractions at Action Stations include multimedia simulations, allowing you to try your hand at flying a Merlin helicopter or commanding your very own warship, to see if you have good naval instincts.
- Mary Rose Museum - full of ancient artefacts relating to the salvage operation of the Mary Rose warship.
- National Museum of the Royal Navy - home to a collection of model ships and naval dioramas.
Open hours: daily, April to October - 10:00 to 17:30; November to March - 10:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children, three-for-two tickets and season passport tickets (valid for one year) are also available
Clarence Pier Amusement Park
Address: Clarence Pier, Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO5 3AA, England, UK
Tel: +44 023 9282 1455
Reputed to be the biggest theme park on the whole of the south coast of England
, the Clarence Pier Amusement Park at Southsea features a mixture of fun rides and traditional attractions, such as indoor amusement arcades and a soft-play centre named Pirate Pete's. Younger visitors to the Clarence Pier Amusement Park will be able to enjoy the Tea Cup ride, the Chair-O-Planes and Toon Town. For a little more excitement, the Wild River log flume is always fun, as is the historical Skyways roller coaster, which features spectacular seafront views from the top and two steep drops, as well as lots of tight bends and thrills.
Open hours: arcades and Pete's Pirate Adventure Playground open daily; amusement park open daily, February to October - seasonal variations, open until midnight during the summer holidays
Admission: free, charge for rides using token system, unlimited armbands are available at times