Portsmouth is a city that has a bit of everything, from historic castles to a thriving art scene, as well as some of the best shopping in the country. With so much to do, it can be a little overwhelming trying to fit it all in, so we’ve rounded up seven of the best things to do to make the most of your visit.
1: Get a bargain at Gunwharf Quays Designer Outlet
If a bit of retail therapy is your thing, head down to Gunwharf Quays, the South Coast’s leading designer shopping outlet. It’s only a 5-minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour train station and features lots of famous international brands, from Karl Lagerfeld to Michael Kors, most offering discounts of up to 60%. Mind you, there are many more attractions than just shopping at Gunwharf Quays, such as bowling, powerboat rides and a recently refurbished casino. We also recommend the harbour tour where you can catch sight of the Royal Navy’s ships docked in port, and an unobstructed view of the beautiful Portsmouth skyline.
2: Have fish and chips by the sea at Fisherman’s Kitchen
Recently crowned a semi-finalist in the 2019 National Fish & Chip Awards, the Fisherman’s Kitchen is definitely worth checking out. The restaurant has a dedicated fan following and is known for using only the freshest local produce from environmentally sustainable sources. There are lots of options on the menu, including grilled alternatives to deep-fried fish for the health-conscious, a selection of wine and beer, and all-you-can-eat chips.
3: Visit 13 galleries under one roof at Hotwalls Studio
Hotwalls Studio is an exhibition centre and eatery that features 13 individual galleries all in one place. You can catch artists of a variety of disciplines working on their craft, with the finished products available for purchase. Hotwalls Studio also features regular workshops for you to flex your creative muscles - just check the schedule so you know what’s going on beforehand.
4: Learn more at the D-Day Story
Take a step back in time to relive one of modern history’s most significant and heroic events: the allied invasion of Normandy, otherwise known as D-Day. The museum offers a unique perspective of the men and women on the shores of Portsmouth that day, as well as the brave soldiers that landed in Normandy in June 1944. Watch archive footage from the war, or browse extensive displays featuring memorabilia, maps and uniforms, several vehicles, and even an authentic landing craft. The museum has step-free access, and facilities for hearing and visually impaired visitors.
5: Play with guinea pigs, ducks and rabbits at Victoria Park
Portsmouth’s first-ever public park has 15 acres of grassed area, and lots of fun attractions for the whole family. There’s a petting zoo with rabbits and guinea pigs, an aviary with exotic birds, and a play area for the kids. You can also take a stroll around the park and catch sight of all the monuments associated with the Royal Navy. And if you want to get all the details of the park’s flora and fauna, take a guided ‘Tree Walk’ at any time of the year. Victoria Park is conveniently located adjacent to Portsmouth and Southsea railway station and walking distance to the city centre and the beach.
6: Get a tipple of gin or rum at Portsmouth Distillery
Nestled in a corner of the historic monument of Fort Cumberland, the Portsmouth Distillery offers guided tours on the history and processes involved in creating rum and gin, with a full tour of the facilities. These very engaging tours are often led by the founders of the business, so you may have the opportunity of picking the brains of industry insiders over some of their product. The first glass is included with the £15 ticket price.
7: Take a step back in time at Southsea Castle
Henry the VIII’s Southsea Castle is a great way to walk through Tudor history while also getting panoramic views of the city and the sea. There’s a courtyard café where you can enjoy a bite to eat before taking a free guided tour of the castle tunnels (open during the summer season) or check out one of the many events and exhibitions that the castle hosts all year round. The castle and its courtyard are free to visit all year and the Keep is open to explore during the summer so make sure you plan your trip accordingly.