There are tons of fun and interesting things to do around the city of Portsmouth. The top 10 things to do in Portsmouth shows you the best activities the Waterfront City has to offer. There's something to do for everyone ranging from arts and sightseeing to free music and great vantage points. When you visit Portsmouth, these 10 activities are not to be missed.

10. Visit Charles Dicken's Birthplace Museum

The small terraced house at 393 Old Commercial Road was the birthplace of Charles Dickens in 1812.Charles Dickens' Birthplace MuseumCredit: Simon Burchell The famous writer of novels such as Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol lived here until he was three years old, when he moved with his parents to London.

The house has been restored to reflect the Regency Style which was prevalent in 1809, when Dickens' parents John and Elizabeth first rented the house. Three of the rooms are now open to the public: the parlour, the dining room and the bedroom in which Dickens was born. In the exhibition room, you can find a number of memorabilia such as the couch on which he died, his inkwell and paper knife.

There are also regular readings of Charles Dickens' works, particularly favoured by fans of culture and literature.

9. Visit Spice Island

Spice Island was once a major port, so called for its import of spices from around the world. The areaSpice Island - Old Portsmouth was infamous amongst sailors for its pubs and other entertainment. Take a stroll around the cobbled streets of Spice Island and admire the historical buildings and the hotwalls, the fortifications for the harbour entrance. Alternatively you could join one of the many guided walks through the area. The Spice Island Ghost Walk is deserves particular recommendation.

8. Visit The City Museum

The City Museum lets you follow in Sherlock Holmes footsteps with its interactive exhibition "ACity Museum PortsmouthCredit: Basher Eyre Study in Sherlock Holmes: Uncovering The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection". Explore the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation of Sherlock Holmes or get submersed in a new Sherlock Holmes mystery "The Case of the Queen's Surgeon". Recently voted the Best Exhibition by The News Guide Awards this stunning exhibition is a must-see when visiting Portsmouth.

If history sparks your interest then the City Museum has just the thing for you. The museum boosts a large permanent exhibition on the life and hobbies of Portsmouth's inhabitants ranging from the 17th century to present.

For those who like art, the museum boasts a large Fine and Decorative Art Gallery featuring art from the 17th century onwards. And the Portsmouth Picture Gallery has an impressive collection of paintings, prints and drawings of the area.

7. Follow the Renaissance Trail

Marked by a chain effect paving, the Renaissance Trail guides you through Old Portsmouth and alongFortifications along the Renaissance TrailCredit: Peter Trimming the Historic Dockyard. You'll walk along the old fortifications of the city and the Square Tower (in Tudor times the residence of the Governor of Portsmouth), then climb the Round Tower to get a unique view of the harbour. Along the trail, information panels give you an interesting view of the city's history.

6. Visit Southsea Castle

The fort built in 1544 by King Henry VIII to protect the city from invaders is located right at theSouthsea Castle - PortsmouthCredit: James Denham seafront. It was here that Henry VIII watched how his flagship the Mary Rose was sunk in 1545. In the following centuries, the castle's defences were strengthened multiple times and in the 19th century, a tunnel was built to help defend the castle. Later the castle was used as a military prison and in the 1820's a lighthouse was installed which is still in use for shipping. 

The castle has free entry so why not go down the tunnel to see how the castle would have been defended against invaders, or head to the top of the keep for a unique view of the Isle of Wight.

5. Shopping at Gunwharf Quays

With over 90 designer outlets, 30 bars and restaurants, a cinema, bowling centre and comedy club,Gunwharf Quays PortsmouthCredit: Patrick Gueulle Gunwharf Quays is a shopper's paradise. Shop in the pedestrian avenues and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere in this newbuilt shopping centre. Located next to the harbour, the centre has easy access by public transport and offers excellent views across the harbour.

4. Visit Portsdown Hill

This 120 metres high chalk escarpment forms the northern border of Portsmouth. This Site of Specific Scientific Interest doesn't only offer spectacular views of the city; it also offers the opportunity to spot some rare butterfly varieties such as the Chalkhill Blue and the Small Blue. The site is also perfect for seeing wild orchids, birds and spiders (over 29 species have been recorded so far).

Portsdown Hill Portsmouth

3. Enjoy free music at the Bandstand

Located at the seafront, just next to Southsea Castle, the Southsea bandstand is the place to be on aPortsmouth bandstandCredit: Doug Glading hot Sunday afternoon. Sporting a different style of music every week, the bandstand is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or a barbeque while listening to the live bands. Or why not be a bit more active and show off your moves on the dance floor.

2. Visit the Historic Dockyard

As you step through the gates of the Historic Dockyard, you'll truely take a step back in time. You'llHMS VictoryCredit: Christine Matthews see the historic ships that shaped British history: the HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior 1860 and the Mary Rose. Discover the history of the Royal Navy at the National Museum of the Royal Navy or test your own skills and bravery in the Action Stations high-seas adventure. Or if you fancy something a little quieter, why not take a boat tour around the harbour or take a look at the Trafalgar Sail, the largest original artefact having survived the battle of Trafalgar.

1. Climb the Spinnaker Tower

Portsmouth's newest landmark, the Spinnaker Tower, has quickly become a national icon, offeringSpinnaker Tower PortsmouthCredit: Roland Turner spectacular 350 degree views across the harbour from three platforms. Opened in 2005, the 170 metre high tower is higher than the London Eye and Big Ben. 'Walk on Air' on the platform's glass floors or let the wind blow through your hair on the third platform, also known as the Crow's nest, which is open to the elements. The Tower Cafe allows you to enjoy tea and cake while taking in the stunning views.


These are just 10 of the top things to do in Portsmouth. However, there are so many more things the Waterfront City has to offer such as the Eastney steam engine, D-Day Museum, Commercial Road and Cascades Shopping Centre, Albert Road and Guildhall Walk. There are plenty of exciting things to see and do here in Portsmouth.