It’s easy to spend all your time exploring Portsmouth’s beaches and coastline, but with an aquarium, escape rooms, cinema complexes, bike trails and city walking tours, there’s much more to the city.
Activities in Portsmouth
Kids big and small will love Clarence Pier. One of the largest amusement parks on the south coast, you can ride roller coasters, try your hand at the arcades and over a dozen rides including classics like the dodgems, the waltzer and carousel. Located less than a minute’s walk from our Southsea hotel, there’s also an indoor adventure playground if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
For more fun and games, head to the Funland Amusement Park on the other side of the harbour on Hayling Island. With a log ride, runaway mine train, crazy golf, dodgems and over 200 slot and arcade machines, it’s a popular amusement park that’s fun for all the family.
A short distance from Clarence Pier is the Southsea Skatepark, an action-packed concrete skatepark that’s been welcoming BMXers, scooters and skateboarders for the last 40 years. Open from Wednesday to Monday, the park also hosts special mini-wheeler sessions every weekend morning as well as Friday night sessions.
It’s probably quicker to list the range of activities that the Peter Ashley Activity Centre doesn’t hold. Spanning climbing, horse riding, mountain biking, bushcraft, karate and more, the activity centre located in an old Victorian defensive fort is open for kids and adults and offers a range of sessions including family adventure days.
Discover the city’s amazing aquatic history from water level with the Portsmouth Harbour Tours. Leaving from either Gunwharf Quays or the Historic Dockyard, the 40–50-minute tour takes in the dockyard, the amazing navy ships and the bustling harbour.
Emirates Spinnaker Tower
Over the road from Southsea Castle, the Portsmouth Pyramids Centre is a great place for a rainy day. The city’s largest leisure centre, it’s packed with activities including a gym, three-level soft play, a wave and flume pool, an 80-station gym, a range of classes and much more.
There are few better places to take in Portsmouth and the south coast than at the top of a 170-metre viewing platform with a partial glass floor – well, unless you’re scared of heights, in which case you’d be better off waiting at one of the nearby cafés in Gunwharf Quay. On a good day, you can see nearly 25 miles from the top of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower thanks to its stunning 360-degree views while adrenaline junkies might want to check out The Drop, a harnessed 25-metre drop that plunges you down towards the harbour.
If you need to work that adrenaline off, Laser Quest Portsmouth is an indoor, multilevel arena designed for adults and children over six years old. Located next to the Historic Dockyard, it’s just a short walk from Spinnaker Tower.
Much less heart-attack-inducing is the Blue Reef Aquarium, a compact but informative underwater attraction near Southsea Castle that’s home to sharks, tropical fish and an underwater viewing tunnel.
A live action game designed for three to six people, choose from three challenges at The Real Escape including Dr Ryddle’s Memories, The Guardians of the Elixir or The Chamber of the Deep.
Finally, relax in one of 14 ultra-modern cinema screens at Vue Cinemas at the Gunwharf Quays, a huge complex that can seat over 3,000 popcorn munchers.
Head to our Portsmouth beaches page to find out more about Southsea Beach, Eastney Beach and Hayling Island Beach.
If you’d prefer to take in the city on two wheels, there are plenty of cycling trails in Portsmouth. The Colour-Coded City Cycle Routes are perfect for less confident cyclists who prefer a quieter trip with less traffic to contend with. There are 10 in total, spanning different areas across the city including Fratton Park and the seafront.
Those with a little more experience may prefer the Portsmouth to Chichester Cycle Route. Just shy of 15 miles and flat throughout, the route starts at Baffins pub on Tangier Road and finishes in Chichester town centre – perfect if you fancy locking up and going for lunch.
If you’d rather not venture out of the city, then try the Portsmouth Circular Cycle Route. The 17-mile trip circles the city taking in some of the best landmarks including Spinnaker Tower, Southsea Common and seafront and Clarence Pier.
Or go one step further and take on the Portsmouth Bike Tour. You can either explore the whole city on a three-hour ‘Grand Tour’ where your guide will take you around Portsmouth’s best spots, or you can unwind with a 90-minute ‘Sundown Tour’ which involves a gentle ride along the coastline silhouetted by the setting sun.
If cycling isn’t for you, then why not tour the city with a leisurely stroll? If you would like to be shown around by a local expert, then sign up for the Free Walking Tour of Portsmouth. The tours are given by city greeters who all give a unique insight into the city, influenced by their own experiences growing up and living in the area.
If you want a ghoulish take on Portsmouth, the Supernatural Tours take in some of the spookiest sights in town including The Dolphin Inn and The Square Tower, with extra theatrical thrills along the way.
If you would rather explore the city at your own place, then the Nelson Trail Self-Guided Walk is a popular tour that delves into the history of Portsmouth’s old town with a focus on Vice Admiral Lord Nelson.