Adventures around Portsmouthwith PlusBus

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As the UK’s only island city, you’re never far from the sea in Portsmouth. It's been a port since Roman times with a coastal fortress at Portchester Castle. Pompey is the local nickname for Portsmouth football team and for the city itself. Some people think it refers to the ancient city of Pompeii; other explanations involve sailors’ slang, the French word for “firemen” or the Roman general Pompey the Great. Whatever the reason, Pompey is a vibrant modern city on the sea with attractions ranging from the Tudor flagship Mary Rose, which sunk in 1545, to the 170-metre-high Spinnaker Tower, which opened in 2005. To get around the sights, ask for PlusBus when you buy your train ticket and get unlimited bus travel all day long.

  • County: with PlusBus
  • Great for: beaches | boat trips | family | history | maritime heritage | pier | scenic bus | viewpoints |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated in December 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. The Mary Rose and the Spinnaker Tower

    As you might expect from a city with such a rich maritime heritage and home to the Royal Navy, Portsmouth has some really interesting boats to look at. But the scale and variety of the vessels in the Historic Dockyard is astonishing with twelve different attractions. You can board Victory, Nelson’s ship from the Battle of Trafalgar, or learn the story of HMS M.33. Don’t miss the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship, at the far end of the dockyard. It’s inside a purpose-built museum, which opened in its current form in 2016 and is getting a new 4D multi-sensory cinema in 2023 so visitors can relive the discovery, excavation and salvage of this incredible Tudor ship.

    • More than 60 million people watched the live broadcast in 1982 as the Mary Rose was carefully raised from the bottom of the sea. The wooden warship had been lying, half-buried in protective silt, since it sank in the Solent in 1545. The lives of the 500 men (and the ship’s dog) who sank with it were frozen in time on that day and their possessions (including leather jerkins and longbows, pomanders, pepper mills, personalised soup bowls, combs, coins, even a backgammon board) paint a rich portrait of Tudor life. With thanks to the Mary Rose for the photos in our gallery (©Johnny Black).
    • How do I get to the Mary Rose by bus? Bus 3 or bus 23 from near the museum (see 2 above) stop nearby or you can get the buses direct from Portsmouth and Southsea station. Portsmouth Harbour railway station is in walking distance too.
    • To top off a great day in Portsmouth, head for the nearby Spinnaker Tower, where you can get a great view of the whole area, including the Historic Dockyard, Southsea and the Isle of Wight, where some of the boats you can see are heading. On a clear day, you can see for miles and, if you dare, you can stand on the special glass floor and look down 170m.
    • For a real treat, there’s a cafe with great views on the same floor as the viewing platform. A high-speed lift takes you up to the top with steps up to a sky garden on the highest level. The views are particularly spectacular towards the end of the day, when the harbour and the city glow in the setting sun.
  1. Discover more offers and days out in Hampshire with Good Journey. For more money-saving tips see our handy guides to trains and buses.