Living in Portsmouth



What is life like in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is one of the UK's most historic cities, known for its strong links to the Royal Navy over several centuries and a world-famous dockyard.

It is notable for being the only island city in the country, as it sits mainly on Portsea Island, and it is the second largest settlement in Hampshire, after Southampton. Portsmouth is home to the oldest dry dock in the world as well as several famous ships, such as the HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose and the HMS Victory.

The most significant landmark in the city is the Spinnaker Tower, which is 170 metres tall and opened in 2005. It provides stunning panoramic views over the surrounding area.

In 2009, Southern Railways compared Portsmouth with Malta as part of a promotion campaign, with a spokesman for the company stating: "Like Malta, it has a long naval history and beautiful coastlines, with green open space."

Sun lovers can head towards Southsea beach for fun on the waves or a spot of bathing, while there is also the flagship Gunwharf Quays shopping centre located next to the harbour for the very best retail experience in Portsmouth.

Away from the coast, Portsmouth has large residential areas where people will find high-quality housing with ideal links to both the city and the motorway.

Check out available properties to rent or buy in Portsmouth.



Portsmouth was founded in about 1180 when a merchant called Jean De Gisors set up a small town in the south-west corner of Portsea Island. A parish church was built five years later, and this went on to become Portsmouth Cathedral.

The city was tremendously important during the 15th and 16th centuries when it was used by the military. Henry VIII enlarged the dockyard and built Southsea Castle, and even watched on as his warship the Mary Rose sunk in the Solent.

Expansion of the dockyard continued into the 18th century, with new docks and warehouses being added on a regular basis. With so much work taking place in the harbour, the town itself reached bursting point and the first suburb was built.

By the 20th century growth was continuing and the village of Copnor and the Hilsea area had been swallowed up by Portsmouth. The boundaries of the city were extended to include Portsea, Drayton and Farlington.

In World War II, Portsmouth was a clear target for the Germans as it was such a powerful naval base, and almost 1,000 people lost their lives in the city due to bombing during the conflict.

Portsmouth has been blessed with a number of famous sons, including a trio of literary greats -Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle.

The comedian and actor Peter Sellers is another who was born in the city, while another of its most legendary residents was Sir Isambard Kingdon Brunel.

Days out

Entertainment, sport and days out

Gunwharf Quays is packed with leisure facilities in addition to its many retail outlets, with these include a bowling complex, multiplex cinema and casino.

Southsea seafront is another hugely popular place with local people, as it offers beautiful beaches as well as an aquarium, golf course and swimming centre. This is in addition to the numerous amusement arcades and play facilities that are located in this area.

The town centre boasts plenty of shops and the Kings Theatre and the New Theatre Royal, where people will be able to enjoy performances from some of the country's most famous musicians, comedians and actors.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the ideal place to enjoy a fascinating day out, as visitors are invited to explore some of the historic ships located in its waters.

Of course, every resident should head to the top of the Spinnaker Tower at least once to take in the magnificent views of their city it offers. For a fun-packed day out, why not jump on the ferry and visit the Isle of Wight? It takes only 30 minutes or so to reach the island from Portsmouth.

Portsmouth FC is the city's local football team and they are incredibly well supported by the local population, despite their fall from the Premier League in recent years. Home matches take place at Fratton Park, where a good atmosphere is all but assured.

Things to do

Eating, drinking & shopping

There are plenty of great dining options in Portsmouth, such as at Gunwharf Quays where several popular chain restaurants include Café Rouge and Las Iguanas are located. The complex is also home to a number of bars and pubs, many with views over the Solent.

More restaurants and bars can be found in the town centre and in Southsea's Albert Road, which is one of the most fashionable parts of the city.

For shopping, many locals tend to head to Commercial Road, which is flanked by the Cascades Shopping Centre. Dozens of the UK's largest retailers have stores in this area so it is the ideal place for those with a lengthy shopping list.

Alternatively, visiting Gunwharf Quays for its designer and factory outlets is a good idea, particularly as it is located in a beautiful waterside position.


Schools & healthcare

There are many schools open to pupils of all ages in Portsmouth, ensuring no parent needs to worry about being able to find their child a good education. The City of Portsmouth Girls' School and the Portsmouth Grammar School are among the most prestigious institutions, while other options include Copnor Junior School and St Edmund's RC.

For those seeking higher education, the University of Portsmouth is a fast-growing and ambitious organisation and offers a wide range of courses.

St Mary's Hospital is the largest medical facility in the city and will provide a high standard of care in the event of an accident or illness. There is also the Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre for everyday needs and services.

Getting around

Getting around

A local bus service and several train stations in the city make travelling around Portsmouth by public transport easy. There is also a good supply of local taxis so getting around does not have to be a pain.

When travelling further afield, locals can make use of the excellent rail and road links that serve the city. Trains from Portsmouth to London take about 90 minutes to reach the capital, while Brighton and Southampton are also easily accessible.

The M27 runs directly past the northern boundary of the city and ensures it is easy to travel along the south coast, while the A3 runs directly to London.