Treat yourself to a cultural break

If your idea of a perfect holiday is more about sightseeing than sunbathing, more go out than chill out, Portsmouth could be the ideal spot for your next break.

Experiential holidays are on the increase - showing a real desire for people to actually go out and do things on their holidays, rather than simply lounging by the pool. Coming back rested and refreshed is all well and good, but what could be more invigorating than brand new sights, memories and - crucially - experiences?

Portsmouth has an abundance of cultural things to do, from a year-round programme of music, theatre and comedy, to a look back through its centuries of rich history.

History

How much history can you cram into a relatively small island? The answer, it seems, is rather a lot. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson's final steps on British soil were in Portsmouth, Henry VIII built a castle here to his own design (and upon which he stood whilst his prized flagship the Mary Rose sank), D-Day soldiers marched through the city before embarking on the landings that would change the course of World War II… The list can (and, indeed, does) go on.

Portsmouth isn't content to just have a rich history, though. We shout about it.

Routinely called the 'City of Museums', Portsmouth shows off its varied heritage. Where else can you see the home where Charles Dickens was born, take a walk along what was once the world's most feared warship, and have a coffee from within the walls of a 16th century castle - all of which are within walking distance of each other?

Arts

Though the city is known as being inextricably linked to its military past, Portsmouth's cultural offering doesn't start and end there. In fact, Portsmouth played a huge role in the lives and work of a whole host of globally renowned figures from the world of art and literature.

Charles Dickens, as noted above, was born in the city. His first home is now a museum, frequently attended by the writer's direct descendants. It's also where his snuff box is held, and the couch on which he died.

Portsmouth was also the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the place where his iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes, first sprang into existence. Whilst working as a GP in the city, Doyle whiled away his spare time writing on the adventures of a 'consulting detective' - one that would go on to break records, win fans from across the globe and change the canon of detective fiction forever.

Richard Lancelyn Green was an eminent scholar of all things Doyle-related; an authority on both the writer and his renowned detective. In his will, Green bequeathed his collection to the city of Portsmouth. Now, a small part of it is on display at Portsmouth Museum, with the rest being kept in the archives to be preserved and studied.

If you'd prefer something a little more modern, the likes of Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth Guildhall and Jack House Gallery all offer frequent installations by artists from the local area and further afield, be they up and coming or fully established.

Cafes

Café culture is alive and well in Portsmouth, with a number of quirky independents taking their place alongside the big players. The Canteen (which is nestled among the brand new artist studios inside old military fortifications) offers coffee and gluten-free treats with views overlooking the seafront. Alternatively, for a bit more of the city feel, head to Southsea Coffee Co. on Osborne Road or Home on Albert Road for your caffeine and sugar hit.

If you fancy something a little stronger, Portsmouth has a great many pubs from which to choose, many of which host live entertainment on a regular basis. There's jazz at Bar 69 and Rosie's Wine Bar, or an eclectic mix every Sunday at the wonderfully named Sir Loin of Beef. If your visit coincides with the likes of Icebreaker or Southsea Fest, a whole host of pubs along Albert Road will play host to live bands (though you're likely to need a wristband to get in).

For a city that has 'centuries of history' this is, of course, barely scratching the surface. We have plenty more on offer to those who want to explore a rich heritage, all housed within a small, easily accessible area.

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