Polish those buttons, stand to attention, and salute as you dock in the seafaring city of Portsmouth, the hub of all things naval in the UK for over 800 years. There will be no need for a press gang to get youraround the many attractions here – but you will need to allow plenty of time to pack them all in. First and foremost has to be a trip to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home to HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s command, which led the charge at the Battle of Trafalgar. The rescued wreck of the Mary Rose is also found here, Henry VIII’s favourite flagship, which made his heart sink when he had to watch it sinking on leaving Portsmouth back in the 16th Century. The famous ship is currently undergoing restoration but artefacts and its fascinating story can be viewed in the Mary Rose Museum.
Portsmouth has been busy getting ship-shape in the form of a spanking new shopping, restaurant and entertainment complex, the Gun Wharf, plus, visitors can head for the ultimate look out post, The Spinnaker – a 170 metre tall sail shaped structure. The glass based viewing tower will test even the bravest of landlubbers.
PORTSMOUTH'S TOP 10
10. Portsmouth Cathedral portrays the city’s history and is a real classical beauty.
5. Royal Marines Museum All about HM’s elite force.
9. Clarence Pier Amusement Park is one of the biggest on the south coast.
4. Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Where the great storyteller was both born in 1812 and features the couch where he took his last breath in 1870.
8. Portsmouth’s Southsea seafront is the place to head for beaches, playgrounds and spaces to fly a kite.
3. Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium is a uniquely hands on attraction, if slippery fish are up your street.
7. Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms are the best for music events, and comedy in town.
2. HMS Warrior is a magnificent warship which if it didn’t have such competition would be firmly centre state, housed at the Dock.
6. D-Day Museum tells of how Portsmouth was the departure point for the Allied forces in 1944 for one of the most important events in modern history.
1 .The Royal Naval Museum Huge museum with five galleries of naval history. Take command of a battleship, try to cure the crew’s scurvy and avoid mutiny. Excellent fun.
Enjoy a picnic in the park at the South Coast Proms. Held annually in the picturesque Whale Island Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy, during July.
Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays becomes the top attraction for foodies everywhere during Food and Real Ale Festival every July.
The Armed Forces Weekend is one not to miss. Portsmouth offers spectacular airborne displays with the likes of the Red Devils and Flying Tigers in July.
Southsea Seafront Carnival is a July event which features a Carnival Procession, Parade Bands and Lions Fair – a Portsmouth yearly highlight in July.
Portsmouth Film Festival comes to town but once a year in July at a number of city venues.
Southsea Folk & Roots Festival takes place in August. Let your hair down at this annual Portsmouth event.
Portsmouth International Kite Festival One of Pompey’s funnest events and a day in the fresh air at Southsea.
Southsea Fest is a multi venue music festival featuring some top performers from the world of comedy, and literature too, in Portsmouth during September.
Portsmouth BookFest has the very best in fiction and non-fiction for all age groups and takes place in the city during October and November.
Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays Fireworks takes place at the end of October. A spectacular display of noisy bangers.
WHEN TO GO
· Portsmouth’s location on the southern coast of England ensures a mild climate and some of the sunniest weather in the country. Due to its coastal location Portsmouth manages to avoid cold northerly winds – although it can get a bit blustery.
· Summer temperatures are on average around 25°C but can peak at 30°C on the sunniest days. Winter temperatures remain mild at around the 6°C mark, but can fall below freezing, especially at night.
· Portsmouth has its fair share of rainy days with the wettest months generally November to February. Overcast days can be expected at any time of year.
· Portsmouth is around 60 miles from both London airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, and is within easy reach of Southampton International Airport which has a wider range of domestic and European flights.
· Regular bus services operate between Portsmouth and most intercity destinations. National Express has seat prices starting at 99p between Portsmouth and London! There are also Greyhound Coaches with a trip to London starting at £1. Doesn’t get much better than that.
· Portsmouth railway station is connected to most main towns and cities in the UK with direct links to London, Bristol and Cardiff. There is also a direct service to Gatwick airport.
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