City Guide

Things to Do in Portsmouth

Ben Maples  · Aug 18th 2020
Portsmouth docks landscape

Portsmouth is one of the UK’s most well-known harbour cities and has been of huge importance to British history. It is also one of the most popular cities in the UK to study in.

In this guide, we will show you the things to do in Portsmouth.

Things to do in Portsmouth


One of the jewels of the South Coast is the port city of Portsmouth, located in the ceremonial county of Hampshire. With a rough population 205,400 according to the most recent figures, it is the only island city in the whole of the UK and the only city in the Uk with a larger population density than London!

Things to do in Portsmouth?

The nightlife is always a huge draw of going to university whether it be the crazy nights out with friends at the best nightclubs or just a chilled night out with friends in the local pub, every city has their immersive nightlife. Portsmouth is no different, and we’ve compiled a list of three places that we think could be perfect for you!

First up we have Liquid & Envy, which is a nightclub based in Stanhope Road and has a huge following from everyone with everything from live music all the way through to the best in new cocktails. We thoroughly recommend coming here if you want a good night out! Secondly, we have The Astoria which is one of the best nightclubs on the South Coast, with a hugely popular VIP section and offers different themed nights as well, as well as their own Dirty Disco which encourages you to dance the night away and enjoy the chilled atmosphere of the club at the same time. And finally, we have Popworld, which is one of the trendiest nightclubs in Portsmouth, with everything that you could want! Friendly staff, trendy music and the best alcohol that you’ve ever had! You’ll be coming back time and time again that much is for sure.

Portsmouth is very proud of its heritage, and it’s the city commemorates the history in some of its many museums. The museums litter the city and are affordable and accessible to all members of the public. There are numerous museums such as; Portsmouth City Centre, D-Day Museum, National Museum of the Royal Navy and the HMS Warrior.

The city also has a number of cinemas too to showcase some of the very best to come out of Hollywood right now! Whether it be Vue Cinemas, the Odeon or No6 Cinemas, these cinemas offer the very best of the silver screen right now. However, if you’re looking for more independent features, then we recommend that you join one of the city’s many film societies.

Portsmouth has an awful lot of festivals that are run all year with everything from comedy festivals all the way through to music festivals too. One of their most famous and popular events is the Victorious Festival; some of the biggest acts from around the world come and perform every year without fail. Make sure you get those early bird tickets early before it’s too late!

Things to do with kids in Portsmouth


Portsmouth has a hugely efficient transportation system with everything from bus services through to train services and cycle routes.

The main bus services in the city are Stagecoach South East and First Hampshire & Dorset. There are also other services like Hovertravel, Countryliner and Xelabus. National Express also operates in the city as well and provides a number of different services for people looking to travel to major cities such as Bristol, Bradford, Birkenhead and London.

There are four train stations in the city, Hilsea, Fratton, Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth & Southsea. There are services provided by South Western Railway, Great Western Railway and Southsea Railway.

The city used to have an airport in the city, Portsmouth Airport, which closed in 1973. Nowadays, the closest airport to Portsmouth is Southampton Airport in Southampton.

Universities in the City

There is only one university in the city, the University of Portsmouth, which was initially established in 1870 as the Portsmouth and Gosport School of Science and Art, after several re-brands the institute received university status in 1992 and re-branded as the University of Portsmouth.

The student body of the university is represented by the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union (UPSU), which is a registered charity and represents all of the university’s students. The union offers a number of useful advice services on matters like academic issues and non-academic issues.

The union also represents a number of different clubs and societies as well, the union also looks after the interests of the various sports clubs at the university, mainly through the university’s Athletic Union, the union also runs a number of different volunteering projects.

The university’s student union also represents a number of the university’s student media outlets as well such as The Galleon, the student newspaper, Victory Studios, the student TV station, Pugwash, the student magazine and PureFM, the student radio station who work alongside the local radio station ExpressFM.

Things to do with family in Portsmouth


Portsmouth was first built as a fort by the Romans called Portchester, and was used as a strategic advantage for the Romans. However, eventually, Portchester was massacred by the Danish and the town changed hands.

Work on the city’s first docks began in 1212 and was used as a way for the army to set sail for other countries and was used for importing goods. As a result, the city’s commercial and industry began to grow with the export of things like corn, grain, livestock and wool.

In 1539, Henry VIII built the Southsea Castle, which was financed by the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was created in anticipation of a French invasion. He also ensured that the city was well invested in other areas too, such as the dockyard, which became even bigger.

In 1628, Portsmouth was home to one of the first recorded assinsation attempts, as the hugely unpopular George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham was stabbed to death by war veteran John Felton who was later hanged for his crimes and his body put on display as a warning to others.

Over time, the town began to grow in its importance as more and more ships began to dock in the city and the town’s forts and barracks were rebuilt and modernised, which turned Portsmouth into one of the most heavily-fortified places in the world at that time.

The world’s first mass-production line was established at the Portsmouth Block Mills and soon, Portsmouth became the largest industrial site in the world, with a workforce of over 8,000 people. Portsmouth was eventually granted city status on the 21st of April 1926.

By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Portsmouth was widely known as the world’s greatest naval port and this continued right up to World War II, naturally, this made it a rather attractive target for the Luftwaffe. The city had over 65 raids carried out on the city which destroyed over 6,000 houses and damaged 6,549 others. The raids caused 930 deaths and further wounded almost 3,000 people.


There is an extensive series of sports in the city.

The main sport in the city is football, with Portsmouth FC being the main team, as they play their home games at Fratton Park and play in League One. The club shares a fierce rivalry with Southampton FC, who play in the Premier League, aided mainly by the Portsmouth and Southampton rivalry as a city as well. There is also Moneyfields FC, who play in the Wessex Football League, United Services Portsmouth FC & Baffins Milton Rovers FC who play in the Wessex League Division One.

The main rugby teams in the city are United Services Portsmouth RFC and Royal Navy Rugby Union, both of whom play their home matches at the United Services Recreation Ground. There is also Royal Navy Rugby Union who play in the annual Army Navy Match at Twickenham.

Portsmouth also has a proud Cricketing tradition as well, having hosted first-class cricket in the city at the United Services Recreation Ground since 1882, Hampshire County Cricket Club matches used to be played at the United Services Recreation Ground from 1895 to 2000, before moving to the Rose Bowl in 2000.

Who’s from Portsmouth?

There are a number of famous people from Portsmouth including; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Maggie Sawkins, Peter Sellers, Geeta Basra, Sir Frederic Madden and Alan Pascoe.

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