There really is no substitute for staying overnight somewhere to really get the most out of a trip. Daytrips are wonderful ways to get out of the house and go exploring, but you can't quite settle when you have half your mind on your watch preparing for the return journey home.

So why not settle in and book a longer stay in Portsmouth? After all, there's way more than you can squeeze into a daytrip - and that's just considering the big attractions. If you want to really get a feel for what the Great Waterfront City has to offer you'll need at least a weekend, or probably even longer.

Bag packed for a short break

Here's all the info you need for planning a short break by the coast.

Accommodation in Portsmouth

First off you'll want to book somewhere to stay. Thankfully there are options to suit all needs and budgets. Whether you have a favourite brand you want to stick with, prefer to do your own thing in a self-catering apartment, or want to try a small, local business, there's plenty of choice.

First up, the big chain hotels. We've got everything from Holiday Inn to Marriott, Village Hotels, Premier Inn and Ibis. So if you're a regular and like to stick to what you know, the only choice you have to worry about here is your ideal location - by the coast, in the thick of the action, or at the city's outskirts?

As well as the big chains we have scores of independent hotels, guest houses and B&Bs where you'll be able to sample something a little different. The Queens Hotel is perhaps the best known, with the building dating back to 1861 and it having welcomed many royals and dignitaries over the years. Elsewhere, you have the Mercer Collection of boutique B&Bs, offering luxury accommodation in the heart of Southsea.

Hotel bedroom in blue and yellow decor

Of course, the different options are too many and varied to go into in any depth here. Head to our Accommodation listings, though, and you'll find all the information you need to make the right decision for your visit.


Travel to Portsmouth

Once you've booked somewhere to stay, you'll probably want to start thinking about how to get here. Travel by car remains the most popular option for visitors - though be sure to check the parking arrangements at your accommodation before you travel, as many of the city's residential streets have permit parking.

Alternatively you can go for a greener mode of transport. Portsmouth can be reached by direct train from London, Brighton, Cardiff, Bristol, Winchester and beyond. It's a similar story on the buses, with direct coaches connecting the city to London, Birmingham, Oxford, Coventry and more. See National Express and Megabus for more details and routes.

First bus driving along Southsea Seafront, with cyclists in the foreground

Coming from further afield? Southampton Airport is just a 35-minute drive away, whilst Gatwick is around 70 minutes, or via direct train taking under an hour and a half.

We also have Portsmouth International Port, linking the city with Caen, St Malo and other destinations in France, as well as Bilbao, Santander, the Channel Islands and more.

There are also regular crossings to and from the Isle of Wight - including via Hovertravel, the world's only year-round passenger hovercraft service still in operation.


Things to do in Portsmouth

Once your accommodation and transport is sorted, now comes the fun part - planning what to do when you get here!

Your first port of call - if you'll pardon the pun - could be Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where giants of naval history sit alongside their modern counterparts. With just one ticket you get entry to all the Dockyard attractions, meaning you can step aboard Nelson's HMS Victory, tour the mighty HMS Warrior 1860, and visit the world-renowned Mary Rose museum. You can also head out onto the water with a harbour tour, take in the Submarine Museum over at Gosport, and see how old boatbuilding traditions are being kept alive.

Children seeing how ropes are made at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard's Boathouse 4

It's far more than you could fit into one visit - thankfully your ticket lets you return as many times as you like over the course of a year. So time to think about the return visit!

Mere metres away from the Dockyard you'll find Gunwharf Quays - the waterfront outlet centre. Get your fill of retail therapy at the 90 or more big-brand outlets offering up to 60% off RRP. Browse everything from clothing to cookware; cosmetics to confectionary.

As well as the shops, Gunwharf Quays is also home to over 30 places to eat and drink. Rest and recharge after a trip around the shops at one of the numerous bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops. Whether you want a light bite, an evening meal, or to dance into the small hours, there's certain to be something to suit.

If that wasn't all, there's also a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, contemporary art gallery, children's play area, Miniport and more, all within the Gunwharf Quays compound. Not to mention the Spinnaker Tower…

Spinnaker Tower view decks by day

A true emblem of modern Portsmouth, the Spinnaker Tower has become rather iconic. The stunning sail shape is a thing to behold from the ground - but head up to the three view decks (at 100 metres above sea level) to get an outlook that will really take your breath away. With views stretching out in 350 degrees, for 23 miles, the Spinnaker Tower is an absolute must-visit.

It's not just about getting up there and looking out, though. At View Deck 2 you'll find The Clouds - a café that serves high tea in every sense of the word! You'll never have had scones with a view like this. Then, head up to the 'sky garden' on View Deck 3, where the open roof puts you amongst the elements as the sea breeze comes in.

Of course, it's one thing to see the view out over the coast from the top of the tower, but another thing to go for a leisurely stroll along the water's edge. In Portsmouth you'll find miles of coastal paths to explore - be it Southsea Promenade (where you can look out over the beach and out to the Isle of Wight) the walkways along Portsea Island's eastern edge (where semi-rugged common areas offer a more rural option) or ]even along Hilsea Lines to the north (to enjoy views of Portsbridge Creek or a walk under the canopy of Foxes Forest).


Food, drink and entertainment

As the days turn into night, it's time to sample some of the evening entertainment - and you can start with food from all over the globe.

Chef serving up food at Croxtons in Southsea

Whether you want fancy French fayre, hearty British pub grub, an Indian feast, or something else altogether - you're almost certain to find it. As well as all the big name chains you know and love, Portsmouth has a host of independent eateries waiting to be discovered. Gunwharf Quays is a good place to start if you want to stick to your familiar favourites, or if you want to try something new, Osborne Road, Castle Road and Albert Road are good places to start.

Of course, there are incredible restaurants to enjoy right across the city - see our food and drink listings for all the details.

And to wash it all down? How about some locally brewed ales, gins or rums? There are a whole array of craft breweries to discover, selling new and boundary-pushing ales - everything from trendy IPAs to punchy stouts (and all points in between). You can also explore Portsmouth Distillery Co., which has award-winning rums, delicious gins, and even a cross between the two - a botanical rum that'll be unlike anything you'll have tried before.

After that it's back to your accommodation, where it'll be time to get some well-earned rest, before another packed day of things to do at the Great Waterfront City.





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