For those with a passion for maritime history there are few better holiday destinations than Portsmouth. As arguably Britain’s most historically significant naval port, for many centuries the city has been home to both the world’s oldest dry dock and a number of noteworthy ships from the history of the British Navy.
Whilst Portsmouth’s naval base is smaller than its heyday, the dockyard still thrives and the ferry port bids hello and goodbye to thousands of visitors a day as Britain’s best connected ferry terminal – but for the nautical enthusiast it is the efforts that Portsmouth have made to preserve and display their rich maritime history which makes the city such a great holiday destination. So Ttake at least a day to check out some of the following seafaring attractions.
Your first port of call should undoubtedly be Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, where for just over £20 you can visit a great selection of ex-service naval vessels, museums and even a 45 minute harbour tour. Perhaps start you exploration of the Historic Dockyard with a visit to HMS Victory, the imposing 18th century warship which is currently undergoing restoration, on which Lord Nelson took is final fated voyage.
For a really in depth look into Britain’s naval history you can take a short walk to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the only museum in the country devoted to the men, woman and ships of the Navy. You can even get a first hand experience of the Battle of Trafalgar with the museums fascinating walk-through Trafalgar Experience.
Next stop should be – especially for those with kids in tow – Action Stations! Action Stations is an exciting interactive museum that brings the world of the modern Royal Navy to life. From physical challenges such as one of the largest climbing towers in Europe, to simulators which allow you to take the controls of a naval helicopter or command a warship, Action Stations is sure to keep your little ones content for hours.
Moving on from the historic dockyards those of you still with a thirst for knowledge can make your way along the waterfront to the D-Day museum, where you can learn about one of the defining moments and turning points of the Second World War. The most striking exhibit in the museum is the Overlord Embroidery, which at 272feet is the longest embroidery in the world, depicting scenes from the D-Day landings in what has been dubbed by some as the 20th centuries Bayeux Tapestry.