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Living in Portsmouth
There’s always been a busy atmosphere to Portsmouth. It’s a large south-coast town with a strong navy flavour from it’s long history of sea warfare. However, boats aren’t all you’re going to see if you attend the University of Portsmouth... although we’ll be honest, you will see a lot of them.
When you’re exploring Portsmouth, the seafront is a good place to start. It’s about a 10min walk from the university and is used by the locals as well as tourists and students, so you can start getting a flavour for the place. Portsmouths position on the Solent (the channel of water that runs between the mainland and the Isle of Wight) makes it a good place to launch ships from, so there's almost always something happening down here. There’s a good beach, a funfair on Clarence Pier, some food outlets and shops, and as you head east to South Side Pier you’ll also find a beach and amusements including a boating lake, skate park and mini-golf. Half way between the two are Southsea Castle and Southsea Park.
For shopping you’ve got a lot of options. The Southsea area, particularly Albert Road, is know for it’s quirky shops housing independant traders, boutiques, craft shops, and retro gear. Commercial Road is more of your standard ‘high street’ shopping area. Finally, for those times when some serious retail therapy is needed, you have the Gunwharf Quays. This is a massive complex with over ninety designer outlets and big name brands, all in one area.
Portsmouth’s entertainment scene is large and varied so when night rolls around you’ve got some great venues to choose from. The Kings Theatre in Southsea often hosts touring West End shows, while the New Theatre Royal in the city centre houses performances from across the arts; from music and guest speakers to comedy and dance. For music and comedy acts you’ve got larger venues like the Guildhall down to more intimate places like the Wedgewood Rooms, as well as a host of pubs and clubs.
Getting active in Portsmouth is easy thanks to its great location. As well as all the obvious watersports and outdoor activities you’d expect in a town this size, the nearby Isle of Wight is an internationally acclaimed location for sailing. The most famous is Cowes Week, which sees over a thousand boats take part and the area around the Solent buzzing with visitors.
I really like boats
- HMS Victory: The flagship of half-blind, one-armed Lord Nelson (which makes him sound like a mad pirate. We promise he wasn’t) is moored there and it’s actually possible to go onboard and have a tour, just to remind you how much nicer your student halls are to live in!
- Mary Rose: a sunken Tudor warship that was brought up from the sea. She’s under constant restoration but often on display in a huge misty tank, used to keep the hull damp.
- HMS Warrior: This Victorian battleship was an absolute beast in her day - Britain’s first ever iron-hulled armoured warship. All three ships can be visited at the Historic Dockyard, however they do go off for maintenance sometimes so check their websites to make sure you don’t miss your favourite.
I really DON’T like boats
- Spinnaker Tower: At 170m high, this eye-catching landmarks is taller than the London Eye, and from the open-air viewing platform at the top, the views are epic.
- Gunwharf Quays: As well as all the shops. this massive retail complex houses a gallery, restaurants, cinema, nightclub, and a gym. That should keep you busy for a few hours!
- Go outside: For a good view of from the top and a bit of exercise you could always go up Portsdown hill. And then come down again and spoilt it all with some fish and chips!
Read Portsmouth Reviews
Plenty of places to go and plenty of places to eat, plus Gunwarf at your disposal! Many food shops and supermarkets to shop at spread over many areas making them very accessible. I mostly used the uni bus, but there are plenty of public buses running on a good time scale and there are 3 train stations (fratton, Portsmouth and Southsea, Portsmouth harbour). Shopping is great- Gunwarf, commercial street and Southsea mall