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On one hand, Portsmouth is a city steeped in maritime history. On the other, it’s a bustling 21st century hub, with an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants, making it the perfect destination for a summer break with the family. Our round-up of the best things to do in Portsmouth will guarantee a memorable holiday from start to finish.

Explore Portsmouth’s maritime past

There’s nowhere better than Portsmouth to discover England’s fascinating maritime history. Begin by heading to the Mary Rose Museum, showcasing the lead vessel of Henry VIII’s impressive fleet, which he famously watched sink before his eyes from Southsea Castle, and was carefully recovered in 1982.

Just a short walk away, you’ll find the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where you can visit ancient vessels including HMS Warrior, flagship of the famous Battle of Trafalgar, and HMS Victory, the largest, fastest and most powerful ship of her day. An 11-attraction ticket offers the best value for money, with family tickets also available.

HMS Warrior

Location: Both sites are located just off Main Road, PO1 3PY

Take in stunning views from the city’s historic waterfront

Located within the Gunwharf Quays is the Spinnaker Tower, a stunning 170m observation platform offering 23-mile views over Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and South Downs National Park. Here you can enjoy the spectacular views with a glass of fizz, or even high tea! Looking for that adrenaline fix? Thrill-seekers can abseil down the side of the iconic structure or even experience a 25-metre drop. Make sure to book online for a 10% discount.

Just a few steps away is the Gunwharf Quays Premium Retail Outlet, housing over 90 stores, 30 restaurants, bars and coffee shops, a 14-screen cinema, bowling alley, nightclub and casino. Here, you’ll also find Aspex, Portsmouth’s leading contemporary art gallery with a year-round calendar of exhibitions and workshops. So, whether you’re in need of some retail therapy, a relaxing day out with the family, or even a night out with friends, you’ll find it all on Portsmouth’s historic waterfront.

Enjoy a day out at Stansted Park

Just a 20-minute drive from our Portsmouth hotel lies Stansted House, a beautiful Edwardian country house set in an 1,800-acre estate within the South Downs National Park. Whilst the house itself is enough to warrant a visit, the stunning grounds also host the Chapel of St. Paul, the Stansted Maze, the Pavilion Tearoom and the Stansted Park Garden Centre. It’s the perfect place for adults to relax and kids to get tired!

Stansted House

Location: Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, PO9 6DX 

Experience history at Southsea Castle and the D-Day Story

Southsea Castle was once a fort constructed by Henry VIII to protect the country from invaders. Having had several uses throughout its recent history, it has since been restored to its 19th century appearance, and is open to visitors from March to October. Enjoy views from the Keep and relax at the Courtyard Café. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can also visit the castle’s very own microbrewery!

A stone’s throw from the castle, you’ll find the D-Day Story, the UK’s only museum dedicated to the Allied Invasion in 1944. Following a £5m transformation funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the museum tells the story of individuals on the shore in Portsmouth as well as those making their way across the English Channel to Normandy. With many previously unseen exhibits, the museum is a truly unique recollection of an extraordinary event in British history.

Location: Both sites are located just off Clarence Esplanade, PO5 3PA

Portsmouth is a vibrant waterfront city, packed with things to do and see – these are just some of our favourites! Our modern Portsmouth hotel, opened in November 2017, has everything you need for your stay including a gym, Starbucks, restaurant and bar – enjoy your trip!