I am ashamed to say that after living in London for 2 years, I have seen little of England itself. While I jetted off to concur Europe, one of my favourite countries in the world was left neglected.
Now Pete and I are back in the UK – not for forever, unfortunately – and we’re trying to make the most of the little time we have here. In between spending time with family and catching up with friends, we took a short journey over to Portsmouth.
Since we’re staying in Hampshire, we decided to rent a car. The process was far more difficult than I expected (more to come on that another time), but in the end we wound up with a super adorable car at a great rate.
The road trip was really simple and as soon as we remembered what side of the road to drive on, we were on our way. Driving gave us the flexibility to cut through the countryside and take in the old English charm.
If you aren’t in the mood to drive, trains are readily available from Waterloo station in London. Journey time is approx. 90 minutes.
What to do
1. Hop aboard an old-time war ship at the Historic Dockyard.
Home to historic and upcoming Royal Navy ships, museums and other attractions, I am sure you could spend an entire day at the Historic Dockyard. Pete is all about his naval history. I am not. We compromised with a ticket to see the HMS Victory.
Built in 1759, the HMS Victory is one of the most famous ships in the British fleet. Walking around this piece of history was truly interesting. My only criticism is that there is no visual or audio information, so you really are just wandering without gaining any real knowledge. Staff are located throughout the ship, so I suppose you could ask any questions if you want.
Cost: Currently GBP18 per person.
Time: 30 minutes
Tips: Watch your head!
2. Stroll around Gunwharf Quays
Now a modern-day, outdoor mall, Gunwharf Quays is home to many shops and restaurants. Take a walk around the area and stop for lunch at one of the port-side restaurants.
3. Cruise the harbour
Included in your HMS Victory ticket is a complimentary harbour cruise. After lunch, we re-entered the Historic Dockyards and boarded the two-story boat. The cruise lasts just shy of 1 hour and is filled with some really interesting information. Even someone as uninterested in me found it worthwhile.
If you weren’t planning on exploring the dockyards, the tour can also be arranged at Gunwharf Quays.
- If heights are your thing, take a ride up the Spinnaker Tower for great views of the harbour.
- Leave early and head over to the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately, we didn’t give ourselves enough time on this journey, but I wish we had. Spend your morning in Portsmouth and the rest of your day on the island.
- Head over to Spice Island. Historically lined with pubs and brothels, the once “seedy” area is now a great place for some sea-side pub food.
Unfortunately another day of our England journey has come to an end, but we are left with some great memories and a desire to continue exploring all that England has to offer.
For more information on UK travels, click here. If you make it to Portsmouth, please let me know what magic you find!