A Very Southern Retreat: Things to Do in Portsmouth

Hints of the holiday season are adrift on the new spring breeze, with the clocks already having leapt forward to hurtle us into blissful later nights. Sunnier days are on the way, and it’s becoming ever harder not to turn one’s mind to the idea of getting away from it all.

Whether your mind is turned to the next term holiday and entertaining your family, or taking a long weekend with your beau for some much-needed quality time together, the best way to get the right amount of bang for your buck is to head to the coast. What better coast than the south coast, and what better southerly destination than Portsmouth? Here are some of Portsmouth’s major merits, to show you how grand a weekend by the sea can really be.

Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower

However you arrive at Portsmouth Harbour, you are greeted by a stunning example of architectural engineering; Spinnaker Tower, a 170-metre tall observation tower that resembles a billowing sail. The gleaming white spire pierces the sky, and allows you travel upwards to see the best view of Portsmouth – and of Gunwharf Quays below.

Gunwharf Quays is Portsmouth’s retail heartbeat. It is a comprehensive shopping centre right on Portsmouth Harbour, and home to outlets for all manner of designer brands. As well as a pitch-perfect shopping experience, Gunwharf Keys offers access to numerous diversions, from the cinema to the casino and beyond.

Canoe Lake

A stone’s throw from the South Parade Pier, and a pebble’s throw from the beachfront, Canoe Lake can be found, nestled in green splendour and bounded by immaculate beds of bright and beautiful flowers. Canoe Lake is a manmade one, but no less wonderful for it – and the perfect destination for a moment of quietude in an otherwise activity-packed afternoon.

Not that you’d be free from activity here, mind; Canoe Lake is a boating pond, with pedal boats available to hire. Pootling around Canoe Lake is a wonderful afternoon of diversion for all the family, and a great opportunity to get a little closer to the swans that often call it home.

Clarence Pier

Clarence Pier, south of Old Portsmouth, is the ultimate family destination. It is an amusement park of considerable size, with countless rides and activities for the kids to get stuck into – or you and your partner, if you’re seeking some silly fun on a romantic day out. Not only are there ample rollercoasters and white-knuckle attractions to raise your goosebumps, but also multiple indoor arcades featuring new and classic games to get stuck into.

Historic Dockyard

The Historic Dockyard is one of Portsmouth’s biggest cultural draws, north of Spinnaker Tower. It is, as indicated, a mecca for Portsmouth’s maritime history; here, you can explore various historical attractions, including the shipwreck of the Mary Rose and Nelson’s HMS Victory. There is also the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which explores maritime history in a – sometimes literally – explosive manner, perfect for children to learn more of Britain’s rich naval past.