From rule Britannia to cool Britannia, fabulous Portsmouth delivers
Six thousand trees were used to make HMS Victory. And 800 crew fought and died on board. But visitors who see her next to modern warships are often moved by her comparatively small size. You’ll get a good view of Nelson’s flagship from ships leaving Portsmouth, but why not combine your departure with a look around the city? There’s loads to see and do.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a great place to start. Part of the city’s world-class collection of maritime heritage, it also hosts The Mary Rose, the only 16th century warship on display anywhere. Sunk in 1545, Henry Vlll’s pride and joy was raised from the Solent seabed nearly 500 years later.
As well as cannon and longbows, achingly poignant items on show include jugs, combs, leather shoes and even the skeleton of the ship’s dog Hatch. Bringing things up to date are the Victorian HMS Warrior and World War 2 era submarine, HMS Alliance. Nearby is The Point, where crooked houses line cobbled streets and pubs serve fish and chips to eat as you watch ships slip past Henry V’s Round Tower.
Too much history? Well, retail therapy is just a musket shot away. Gunwharf Quays offers glitzy bargains in 90 stores – and restaurants – in restored 18th and 19th century buildings.
For a crow’s nest view of the city climb the 170m Spinnaker Tower. It has three viewing platforms one with a glass floor and panoramic views stretching 23 miles on a clear day. If the Isle of Wight looks appealing from up there, hop on the world’s only scheduled hovercraft service for the 10-minute journey.
Literary Portsmouth anyone? You might know Charles Dickens’ birthplace is now a museum in Landport. But did you know Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet, here. Learn more in the City Museum.
Take the kids to the beach, storm the ramparts of Southsea Castle and enjoy a close encounter with sharks, rays and other creatures of the deep at the Bluereef Aquarium. Now you are ready to take that ferry…