For other places with the same name, see Portsmouth (disambiguation).
Portsmouth City

Portsmouth (pronounced "ports-muth" and nicknamed "Pompey") is a large city in the county of Hampshire, on the south coast of England. Portsmouth plays a major role in British history, especially naval history. Its rich heritage offers a variety of attractions, including the Historical Dockyard, which houses some of the most historical warships in the world – HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship used at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and the Mary Rose, a Tudor-era warship. Portsmouth has two cathedrals, including the Romanesque-style Portsmouth Cathedral, twelve museums, most of which are free, and two theatres. The City offers excellent shopping facilities in the Gunwharf Quays complex, home to a variety of designer stores including Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Barbour, as well as the striking 557 ft landmark Spinnaker Tower, which offers excellent views of the Solent and City.

Portsmouth is also known for its literary history, as the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the famous Victorian era novelist, and the pioneering engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Other famous figures to have lived here are HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling. The city is well served by three musical venues, The Wedgewood Rooms, Guildhall and Pyramids, which regularly host major musical and comedy acts.


The majority of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island, though it is separated from the mainland only by a roughly 30 m wide stretch of sea water, so is perhaps more accurately thought of as a peninsula. Historically, Portsmouth has long been an important naval port and builds on its rich heritage with memorials, museums, trails and the fascinating Historic Dockyard. It has four miles of seafront, including pebbled beaches. It is a university city, home to the University of Portsmouth, and has a large multicultural student population.

Portsmouth has a population of 200,000 people and is the most densely populated city in the UK, outside of certain parts of London. The entire Portsmouth Urban Area is home to more than 442,000 people.

Get in

Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, also known as Portsmouth Cathedral

By train

National Rail trains run frequently from Waterloo Station in London and take between 1 h 30 min and 1 h 40 min via Haslemere, or about 2 h 10 min via Winchester (you may arrive earlier by taking a later train via Haslemere than going via Winchester). A cheap day single is about £33. Other major services include Brighton (1 h 40 min), Cardiff (3 h 10 min) via Bath and Bristol; and Southampton (1 hour). There are also direct trains from Gatwick Airport (1 h 20 min).

Alight at Portsmouth Harbour station for the Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and ferries to the Isle of Wight. Alight at Portsmouth & Southsea station for Portsmouth City Centre shopping, Portsmouth Guildhall and a short walk to the seafront. Alight at Fratton station for Fratton Park football stadium. Hilsea station is situated in the north east of the city - it's sited to serve the local industrial estates and most visitors would have no reason to alight here unless they are visiting Portsmouth Rugby Club. Note that some trains do not stop at this station.

When departing by train those unfamiliar with the stations can easily miss them even when only a few feet away. Portsmouth Harbour is behind the bus station at The Hard. Portsmouth & Southsea is easily found at the bottom of Commercial Road if you look out for the railway bridge just south of the building. Fratton can be found to the east of the road bridge at the bottom of Fratton Road and north of the roundabout between Victoria Road North and Goldsmith Avenue. The less frequented Hilsea Station is underneath the road bridge at Norway Road and Cosham station is on the Cosham High Street.

By car

Portsmouth is easily accessible by car via the M275 via the M27 and A27. From London, take the A3 or M3 south. As Portsmouth is an island city, routes in and out are limited, and so congestion can be a problem, especially during rush hour. Be advised that the large majority of residential roads have a 20mph speed limit.

Parking is plentiful both on street (about £1/hr) and in pay-and-display car parks. The city centre and Gunwharf Quays both have multi-storey car parks, and Southsea has on-street parking. Note that some roads have a time limit on parking for non-residents and these limits are enforceable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Portsmouth has a Park & Ride scheme allowing parking for a reasonable cost and free bus travel to the city centre and the The Hard. The buses run until the early or late evening depending on the day. Note that their is no access for cars from the Park & Ride car parks into the city proper - only buses are permitted to leave the car parks in this direction - this is to avoid residential roads being used as rat runs by cars entering the city.

If you stroll a little away from the city centre and tourist hot spots (sometimes just around the corner in Southsea), parking can be found for free or in time-limited bays.

Motorcycles can park without a residents permit and within the marked bays. Gunwharf Quays also has a dedicated motorcycle bay in the underground car park.

If you're visiting the University, you can obtain day car passes from University House. However, the car parks are very busy during term-time.

By bus

Local bus routes stretch as far afield as Havant and Southampton. Day passes can be bought for £3.70 which allow unlimited travel in the Portsmouth City area or £4.80 for the whole of Hampshire.

National Express travels into the Hard (few hundred yards from harbour and historic dockyard) with links to many of the country's major cities.

By boat

There are ferry services from four ports in France and Bilbao in Spain.

There are services to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

The Isle of Wight is under 60 min by ferry or 10 min by hovercraft.

The ferry to Gosport (for Submarine and Explosion museums) runs every 7 min at peak times and every 15 min at other times until midnight for £3.30 return.

By plane

The nearest airport is Southampton Airport, around 20 mi from Portsmouth in Eastleigh. Over 47 European destinations are served from here. From the airport it is simple to get to Portsmouth by train, traveling from Southampton Airport Parkway and changing at either Southampton Central or Eastleigh.

Get around

By bus

Several bus companies operate within Portsmouth and the surrounding areas: Firstgroup and Stagecoach

A day travel ticket can be bought for £3.60 (£2.40 concessions). It is also possible to travel between the harbour and the city centre using the train. It is a compact, flat city however, and nowhere is a very long walk. There are two local minicab companies - City Wide Taxis (90+ vehicles) and Aquacars (700+ vehicles) that can be prebooked and many actual taxis that can be flagged down in the street or found and taxi ranks scattered around the city. As of February 2016, Uber now operates in the city as well.

At night, if you can find an elevated position you can navigate via the chain of blue lights along the sea-front, to the south.

Here are some of the local names for the areas which may be useful for people visiting


Spinnaker Tower at night
Southsea castle


If you like a bit of nightlife, there are four parts of town you should visit;


The University of Portsmouth is a modern university with a population of about 20,000 students. Portsmouth is also home to Highbury College .



Portsmouth has hundreds of restaurants catering to all tastes. Towards Fareham, the marina Port Solent offers a variety of restaurants in a pleasant environment with a multiplex movie theatre nearby, and ample (free) onsite parking.

Best places for curry: Portsmouth offers a variety of Indian restaurants thanks to its prominent Asian community. The best places are Albert road where the curries are cheap as there is a restaurant literally every couple of shops, and Palmerston road which is more expensive.

Best Indian takeaway:


As to be expected from an historic port town, and a current university city, there is an abundance of drinking establishments in Portsmouth, from traditional pubs to chic and trendy waterfront bars. The bars and clubs along Guildhall Walk are a popular spot but despite heavy police presence, a certain degree of vigilance is advised to ensure you have a fun and safe night out.


Gunwharf Quays

Old Portsmouth


Accommodation in Portsmouth can be browsed online via the official VisitPortsmouth website and the Visitor Info Centre can make bookings/check availability on your behalf: +44 23 9282 6722.

Stay safe

As with most other large English cities, there can be a problem with violence around the city centre at weekends, around pub and club closing times (around 11PM and 2AM), but with a little common sense, the risk is minor.

The main place to avoid is Somerstown, the highrise council estate near the city centre, especially after dark. Buckland situated to the north of the city centre should also be avoided at night.

Nothing should be left on display in vehicles and it's sensible to park your car in a Park Marque scheme facility (ask at the Visitor Info Centre +44 23 9282 6722).

Due to football rivalry, wearing a Southampton football top may cause some problems in the city. In fact, anything with red and white vertical stripes (Southampton's colours) is probably a bad idea.

Go next

Portchester Castle Keep
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.