One of the UK’s largest port cities, Portsmouth in Hampshire is a city which in undergoing some sort of revival. With a significant past as a major naval base, Portsmouth is now something of a regional shopping destination on the South Coast, as its revamped waterfront shows. Its prime location means that a trip to the South Downs or the seaside isn’t too far away. As most of the city is actually located on Portsea Island, Portsmouth is unique in that respect. What also makes Portsmouth interesting is that, apart from still being used as a base for the Navy, it also serves as a major terminal for cruises to mainland Europe. The city also has its own beach and the region’s tallest building, the Spinnaker Tower.
Many of the streets in Portsmouth are pretty narrow, so something small and nippy like a supermini or city car would be the best option for getting around the city.
Driving in Portsmouth
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Traffic tends to be pretty heavy on the M275, a small motorway which leads to the M27 going towards Southampton.
Throughout the city, there is a speed limit of just 20mph enforced, although some road signs do state otherwise.
In Portsmouth, be sure to take care when driving towards the ferry terminals. Traffic is often a problem there, especially in summer.
Highlights & Hotspots
The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is by far the best place in the city to learn about its naval heritage. Major ships including the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860 are on show, while the Royal Naval Museum offers an interactive look at how navy ships work.
Not far from the docks is Old Portsmouth, a part of the city which houses St Thomas Cathedral, one of two cathedrals in Portsmouth. You’re also close to the shore, which offers great views of the Solent as well as parts of the naval district.
Gunwharf Quays is the most modern part of Portsmouth. Built fairly recently, it’s a shopping and leisure complex which houses international boutiques, classy bars and the Spinnaker Tower, which stands at over 550 feet in height and offers panoramic views of the Solent.
Blue Reef Aquarium is one of the more family-friendly attractions in Portsmouth. The aquarium in Southsea is one of the largest in southern England and allows visitors to see sea life which isn’t native to these shores.
Southampton Airport is the nearest air terminal to Portsmouth, lying around 10 miles northeast of the city centre. It has flights to destinations throughout Europe, many of them provided by low-cost airlines during the summer months.
Getting there is simple enough. Going onto the M275, you can go north onto the M27 and keep going until the junction with the A335, where the airport is located.