Autumn is a great time to visit Portsmouth. There's still plenty to see and do - with our attractions open all year-round - and you get a bit more space to enjoy them without so many of the crowds we see during peak summer season.

Narrow image of Portsmouth, viewed from Portsdown Hill at dusk

So whether you've waited for some of the summer visitors to go, or are looking for a wonderful short break destination to enjoy the changing season, Portsmouth should be top of your list.


All the great attractions, easily accessed

Portsmouth is far from being one of those seaside destinations that closes down at the end of summer. In fact, autumn is a popular time for visitors without young children who can take advantage of not having to book their getaways during school holidays.

It's easy to see why - you get to visit all the great attractions and take your pick from a host of top events, all the while still getting plenty of daylight hours (and off-peak prices to boot).

HMS Warrior at dusk, against a purple sky. Image provided by Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Why not start at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard? Here you get to not just see some of the most famous ships to ever take to the seas, but go on board. Walk around Nelson's flagship HMS Victory and se up-close the fascinating restoration works that will ensure she can be enjoyed for generations to come. Or how about HMS Warrior 1860, the warship that is said to have made all others obsolete when she was first laid down (but one that never actually fired a shot in anger)?

You also have the world class Mary Rose museum - which is celebrating a huge anniversary this autumn.

October marks 40 years since the ship was raised from the seabed, in what was the largest marine salvage operation ever undertaken. The hull was raised to the surface after more than 430 years underwater, to undergo an enormous conservation project. Thankfully, the most intensive part of this is now complete, meaning visitors get a better view of the ship than ever before; long gone are the water jets, huge tubes and tiny windows. A visit to the museum today couldn't be further away from the one you may have taken on a school trip.

Plus, there's also the cache of Tudor artefacts - a collection so large that it changed the way we think about that period of history.

Spinnaker Tower in golden autumn light

After the Historic Dockyard, it's just a short walk to a more modern icon of Portsmouth - the Spinnaker Tower. The emblematic sail-shape building is stunning enough from ground level, but it's when you take the high-speed lift to the three viewing platforms that you'll really be wowed. See out for up to 24 miles on a clear day, in 350 degrees. You'll enjoy vistas across the city of Portsmouth, as well as beyond to the South Downs, out to the Isle of Wight, and across the Solent.

You might even want to enjoy a very high tea, with The Clouds café - set 105 metres above sea level on View Deck 2. It's unlikely you'll have had a cream tea with views like this before!

Finally, head up once more to View Deck 3, aka the roof garden. Here, a little more exposed to the elements, you get a real feel for just how high up you are.

After all that, come back down to terra firma and you'll find yourself within Gunwharf Quays - the waterfront outlet centre.

Two people sat on a bench at Gunwharf Quays looking at the sunset

More than 90 big-name brands have outlets here, offering some hefty discounts. From Adidas to Zwilling and with plenty more in-between, you'll certainly not be stuck for choice. It's a shopaholic's paradise, and with views out across the harbour there's as much to enjoy outside the shops as in.

Gunwharf Quays is also home to more than 30 bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes and coffee shops. So whether you want a quick pick-me-up as you shop, or relax after a successful day with some great food and drink, you'll be able to choose from cuisine the whole world over.

And if all that wasn't enough, you'll also find at Gunwharf Quays a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, Miniport, contemporary art gallery and more - not to mention the Gunwharf Quays site itself, which is brimming with history thanks to its former use by the military.


Big events to enjoy

We don't just keep our big events for the summer months. In fact, one of Portsmouth's most popular falls right in the middle of autumn - the Great South Run.

Runners passing HMS Victory at the Great South Run

Athletes from across the globe come to Portsmouth every year to compete in the world's premier 10-mile event. It's a fast, flat course which makes it ideal for setting personal bests, whilst the scenery along the route (taking in Old Portsmouth, the Historic Dockyard and Southsea Seafront) detracts from any tiredness participants may be feeling or any blisters quickly forming.

As well as this we have a host of theatres (including two designed be eminent architect Frank Matcham), some renowned live music venues, and a host of museums - all offering things to do throughout the year.

Take a look at our event listings to see everything that's coming up, or refine by your holiday dates to narrow down the search.


Enjoy the great outdoors

Of course, autumn isn't just about visiting attractions or hitting the shops. Sometimes it's nice to just get out and enjoy a bracing walk and take in some of the year's most glorious sunsets.

Southsea beach at dusk

For this, you just need follow what the majority of our visitors do, and head to the coast. Time and again, we are told that it's not a trip to Portsmouth unless you visit the seafront - and it's easy to see why. The miles of promenade running alongside the beach allow you to enjoy some fresh sea air, with views out across the Solent. Plus, the busy shipping channel means there's always something new to see, whether that's huge cruise ships coming in, the world's only year-round passenger hovercraft, or small yachts gently sailing by.

Near the western end of the promenade you'll also have fine views looking inland, with Southsea Common providing a vast expanse of green parkland right alongside the coast. If you've travelled with a dog this is an ideal place to enjoy a walk, or you can play some ball games, with acres of room to enjoy.

After all that, you'll be in need of somewhere to eat - the only difficulty here is choosing where to go! From fine dining to pub grub and a great selection of Indian cuisine, you'll have choices for all tastes and budgets.

The Spice Island pub in Old Portsmouth by night

In addition to the previously mentioned big names that are available at Gunwharf Quays, you also have a host of independents along Albert Road, Castle Road and Osborne Road - to name just three. Plus, don’t miss out on sampling some local ales, gins and rums at the city's many pubs, where you'll almost certainly be able to try something new.

Your best option is to check out the Food and Drink listings for full details of all we have on offer.




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