Rentals, and Boat Tours
Famed for its maritime heritage, Portsmouth is a fascinating port on the south coast of
England and the United Kingdom’s only island city. Since the Middle Ages, it has
been an important assembly and launching point for maritime campaigns, with iconic
vessels now moored at its Historic Dockyard. It’s a destination that’s not to be missed
for anyone interested in the British Empire’s military past and the innovations of
today, with outstanding museums, storied forts and scenic harbour cruises.
Where to stay in Portsmouth
Portsmouth offers a wide range of accommodation, with everything from charming
terrace houses and guest suites to modern condominiums. Through online rental
platforms such as as Rentola, you can easily find a property that suits your needs,
whether you’re after exclusive use for the extended family or a budget-friendly
private room. Look for properties near the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard if you want
to be in the heart of all the action.
Things to do in Portsmouth
Visit the Mary Rose Museum
Take a step back in time to experience naval life during Tudor times at the Mary
Rose Museum, which is named after a 16th-century warship that sank during the
Battle of the Solent. After being hauled from the seabed, it now serves as the
centrepiece of this impressive museum, accompanied by artefacts discovered amidst
the wreck. Get up close to surgical instruments, leather shoes and gold coins from the
reign of Henry VIII while learning about the efforts behind the Mary Rose’s
Tour the HMS Victory
Originally launched in 1765, the HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship that served
during the Battle of Trafalgar. Despite her age, she is still in commission and is
currently on display at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. You can hear about the
final voyage of Lord Nelson and tour the cabin of Sir Thomas Hardy, then see eight
of the guns used during the Battle of Trafalgar. Adjacent are the historic buildings of
the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which showcases 300 years of British naval
Take a scenic harbour cruise
From the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, board a boat cruise around the harbour to
admire the city from the water. Accompanied by full commentary, you’ll learn about
Portsmouth’s coastal defences and the history of Portsea Island, which was
transformed from a Middle Ages mustering ground into one of the British Empire’s
most important naval bases. Along the way, you’ll pass by historic warships and
helicopter carriers, both past and present.
Visit the Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery
Occupying a 19th-century former barracks building is the Portsmouth Museum and
Art Gallery, which features a reconstructed Victorian parlour and a dock worker’s
kitchen. You can see match balls from the local football team, Portsmouth F.C., as
well as decorative arts dating from the 17th century to the present day. A highlight of
the Portsmouth Museum is the exhibit dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a local
medical practitioner who went on to pen the “Sherlock Holmes” series.
Learn about the D-Day Story
This immersive museum details the events of Operation Overlord, a World War II
Allied invasion as part of the Normandy D-Day landings. Told in three parts, it
explains how Portsmouth was a key embarkation point for the landings and the role
of Southwick House as the headquarters for Dwight D. Eisenhower. In addition to
vintage tanks and artefacts from Operation Overlord, the museum also showcases the
34-panel Overlord Embroidery, which took seven years to complete.
Soak up the views from Spinnaker Tower
Rising to 170 metres above the retail stores of Gunwharf Quays, this impressive
tower was designed to resemble a spinnaker sail in homage to the city’s naval
heritage. It features three observation decks, including one at 100 metres in height
with a glass-bottomed walkway. From the top, there are 360-degree views across
Portsmouth Harbour and the tower is beautifully illuminated at night.
Explore the artillery exhibits at Fort Nelson
One of five forts built atop Portsdown Hill in the 1860s, Fort Nelson has been fully
restored and is now home to the Royal Armouries’ artillery collection. It was
designed to protect against a possible invasion by Napoleon III’s forces, complete
with high ramparts and underground tunnels. After browsing the centuries-old
cannons and guns that are on display, be sure to pay your respects to those who lost
their lives in the Falklands Conflict at the “Standing with Giants” art installation.
How to get to Portsmouth
Portsmouth is around 25 minutes’ drive from Southampton Airport, which has flights
to destinations across Europe. Regular trains connect from London to the Portsmouth
Harbour railway station, from where many of the city’s sights are accessible on foot.
Portsmouth is an ideal base for exploring England’s southeast and Cornwall,
including the picturesque coastal town of Newquay.