Portsmouth is a vibrant waterside city that is well known for its maritime heritage. But it’s not a one-trick pony. Perhaps due to its location, the city is one of contrast, culture and character. Scratch away at the surface, and you’ll find a fascinating clash of ancient meets modern day.
Evidence of Roman fortifications adorn the Old Town and beyond. While boutique stores and antiques line the cobbled streets and lamplit walks. From dipping your toes in the sandy Solent to climbing impossible heights, Portsmouth has it all.
Here, we’ve rounded up 7 unique experiences in Portsmouth that need to be on your radar:
Get the best views of the city and beyond
Spinnaker Tower is quintessentially Porstmouth. Standing at a mountainous 430ft (131m) tall, you will get an unhindered view of the stunning harbour across the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
The adrenaline junkies will get a kick out of the abseiling experience, where you can take on the 100ft drop at your own leisure! The sweet-tooths will love an indulgent High Tea in The Clouds cafe. While the foodies can indulge at The Spinnaker Kitchen.
Above the main viewing platform, you can climb further still up to the top floor ‘Sky Garden’ after you’ve walked across the glass Sky Walk!
But that’s not all. You might be fortunate to spot all sorts of rare birds such as peregrine falcons, yellowhammers and whitethroats passing by. And on the clearest days, you can look out across the Hampshire countryside. Magic.
Make your escape
Portsmouth’s premier escape room, Exciting Escapes, offers one of the most unique, unforgettable experiences in town! Why? You get to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the modern-day and step back through time.
With six authentic, adrenaline-pumping escape room games to choose from, you’re in for a real treat. Take on the spooky 80s romp, The Voices We Hear and discover terrifying secrets. Thwart a 1960s assassination plot. Or take on their most challenging game yet, Dark Deeds and Groceries in the romping 1920s art deco adventure!
Fully immersive, challenging and pure fun, this is one Portsmouth attraction you simply can’t miss. Do you think you have what it takes to beat the game and make your escape?
Explore the cultural core of the city
Albert Road needs to top your list if you’re looking for quirky shops, kooky cafes and delicious cuisine. A stone’s throw from the King’s Theatre, the road is home to an eclectic range of indie businesses and vintage boutiques.
As you stroll along, you’ll discover hidden gems such as vintage and antique bookshops, comic book stores, bohemian cafes and must-visit bars. While you’re there, make sure you check out the iconic live music venue, the Wedgewood Rooms and get your fill of world-class performances.
Encounter a Tudor warship
Henry VIII regularly frequented Portsmouth. But it is the demise of his beloved warship, The Mary Rose, that left a lasting mark on the maritime city. After a skirmish with the French during the infamous Batlle of the Solent, a freak accident saw the Mary Rose sink to the murky depths of the Solent as the King looked on from Southsea Castle.
Nearly 500 years later, the vessel was unearthed from the bottom of the sea in one of the most significant marine archaeology salvage operations of all time.
Today, she rests in the purpose-built Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Harbour. There you will discover the stories of the 500 men who lost their lives on that fateful July day. You will learn about the odd circumstances that brought the formidable ship to her knees and get a unique glimpse of what Tudor life was like from the thousands of artefacts on display.
Kids will love the interactive displays, fun activity trail and spotting some of the more bizarre finds from the ship.
Sample the freshest fish and produce
Viviers Fish Market gives you the freshest taste of the sea money can buy. The counters are lined with vibrant colours and tasty treats daily and offer the best seasonal variety of produce and fish.
Tucked away on Camber Quay, the market first opened its doors in 1985. Now one of the city’s most sought-after destinations, it’s no surprise that Viviers has broken into the capital with their groundbreaking London’s Billingsgate Fish Market.
Make sure you sample their mouthwatering fresh fish kebabs and freshly cooked lobster and crab! Delish.
Climb aboard Napolean’s flagship
A stone’s throw from the Mary Rose Museum, you will find the Royal Navy’s most famous warship, HMS Victory. Famed for her formidable career, she is best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar. You can even stand in the exact spot where Admiral Nelson saw both victory and his demise.
But that’s not all of her story. She fought in the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. She is entirely unique and, like the Mary Rose, is a one-of-a-kind vessel you simply won’t find anywhere else in the world.
The Victory is currently a living museum to the Georgian Navy and the Flagship of the First Sea Lord. You will uncover her secrets and learn more about her remarkable past and the lives of the men who served on her decks.
After, make sure you walk through the docks and check out the impressive HMS Warrior and the fantastic Royal Navy museum.
Go on a mystery tour
Check out the Mystery Guide tour if you want to experience the city in a new light. In a fun twist, Portsmouth is transformed into a giant puzzle board that makes you seek out treasure along the way. You will leave no corner of the city unturned as you search every nook and cranny and find out about local history as you go.
A perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon or to while away the hours with your family, there are a variety of tours you can choose from so that there is always an adventure waiting for you in the palm of your hand!
There you have it. Seven unique experiences in Portsmouth that will leave you with unforgettable memories! Which adventure will you choose first?