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3 Fun Things To Do in Portsmouth

Wondering about the best things to do in Portsmouth? Follow our tips and you will surely have a fun afternoon in Southern England’s historic port city.

Visit Portsmouth England

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So many famous writers lived in Portsmouth back in the day. We’re talking about big time authors like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells – a veritable who’s who list of famous British authors.

But these literary’s greats are only part of Portsmouth’s story. The scenic port city has a current buzz that rivals its storied past.

Top Things To Do in Portsmouth

Emirates Spinnaker Tower Glass Sky Walk in Portsmouth England
Standing on the glass skywalk at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower was a bit unnerving. The only thing between us and the ground was 25 stories of fresh air!

Portsmouth is the kind of city where we would normally want to relax at a pub and soak in the history, but we just didn’t have that luxury due to an aggressive itinerary.

If you’re like us and have limited time when you visit Portsmouth, don’t waste your time being sad. Instead, follow our Portsmouth suggestions for an afternoon of jam-packed fun.

1. Enjoy Tea and Thrills at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower

 Cafe in the Sky at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth England
Scone with a View at Cafe in the Sky at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Holy Moly – It’s a long way from here to the ground!

That’s what we thought as we looked down at our feet and saw the ground 100 meters or 25 floors below us. We knew that we were safe and sound on the sturdy observation deck, but that didn’t stop the adrenaline from rushing through our veins as we proceeded with caution over the glass skywalk.

Appropriately designed in the shape of a sail, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower is a striking landmark in a city filled with landmarks. Our eyes locked on the 30 story building as we approached Portsmouth, but the view from inside, looking out toward the abyss, knocked our striped socks off. We ogled in awe as we gazed at ships of all shapes, sizes and ages through the huge windows that offer a 360-degree perspective.

After walking just a few steps up to the Cafe in the Clouds, we continued to gawk at the view, but in a much more comfortable fashion. As we sipped tea and feasted on home-made scones, we achieved a rare moment of zen in our hectic tour.

Less formal than our afternoon tea at nearby Blenheim Palace, this tea service stands out in our collective memory for its spectacular view and yummy treats.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower is located at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth PO1 3TT, United Kingdom.

2. Experience History at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory in Portsmouth England
The HMS Victory is the crowning jewel at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We were amazed by the depths of the ship during our self-guided tour.

Just a short walk from the Emirates Spinnaker Tower, the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a working Naval base that is also a fantastic maritime museum. Admission provides access to several buildings and ships including the HMS Victory, the Mary Rose and the HMS Warrior 1860, not to mention a harbor tour.

The dockyard’s main attraction is the HMS Victory, the legendary ship on which Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson valiantly died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1905. Open to the public on this site since 1922, the ship is epic in size and oozing with nautical history.

Pirates in Portsmouth England
Based on how good we look in these hats, we may have picked the wrong profession…

As we toured the ship, we kept imagining how difficult life was at sea over 200 years ago. Let’s just say that we can totally understand why the sailors were given a liquor ration each day for reasons of sanitation and mental health.

We also checked out Boathouse 4 during our visit. This newly opened building is an educational facility with revolving exhibits open to the public. We enjoyed seeing the ships used in various wars. We also enjoyed trying on the hats. Ahoy Matey!

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is located at Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3LJ, United Kingdom.

3. Eat Lunch and Drink Wine at Abarbistro

Lunch at Abarbistro in Portsmouth England
Abarbistro is a great spot for lunch and wine when touring Portsmouth. The restaurant serves an excellent Sunday Roast (bottom left) on Sundays.

Let’s face it – touring Portsmouth is fun but exhausting.

We were happy to take a break at Abarbistro, a cute restaurant within walking distance of the city’s major sites. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating and offers an eclectic menu that skews toward seafood.

Since we ate at Abarbistro on a Sunday, we tried the traditional Sunday Roast. It was our first Sunday Roast in England, but it certainly wasn’t our last.

The restaurant has an excellent wine bar with a wide variety of wines available by the bottle or glass. We chose to linger at Abarbistro and sip wine rather than shop at Gunswharf Quays, a massive retail mall in the center of town.

From a happiness perspective, it was the best choice that we made all day.

Abarbistro is located at 58 White Hart Road, Old Portsmouth PO1 2JA, United Kingdom.

Where to Stay and Eat after an Afternoon in Portsmouth

The White Lion is a great place to stay and dine in nearby Soberton. Although it’s just a quick half-hour drive from Portsmouth, the Hampshire countryside location feels like another world. The inn’s guest rooms are the ultimate in modern charm, and the food at the on-site pub is superb.

Click here to find a great rate for the White Lion.

Hungry for More in England?

Check out the must-eat foods in London.

Red Beach Selfie in Santorini

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Disclosures

Sponsorship
We thank Tourism Southeast and Visit Hampshire for their assistance with our visit to South England.

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

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Claire

Thursday 24th of November 2016

Portsmouth is my hometown!! It's weird to see pictures of it from all the way across the world in Phuket. I'm loving travelling the world, but really looking forward to being back there again. Thanks for the memory of home!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Friday 25th of November 2016

We really enjoyed our first visit to Portsmouth. What a nice place to call home.

Hannah

Saturday 27th of August 2016

You look great in those hats!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 28th of August 2016

Hats may be a new look for us in 2017!