Are you considering living in Portsmouth? We have put together this easy guide full of information about the amazing city.
Portsmouth is a port city and naval base on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is the UK’s only island city – it’s mostly located on Portsea Island.
Portsmouth is best known for its maritime heritage and Historic Dockyard. Today Portsmouth is a vibrant city and has taken its waterside location and seafaring culture and reinvented them with 21st Century spin, making it an exciting prospect for first-time buyers, investors, and families alike.
How many people live in Portsmouth?
There are around 251,169 people currently living within Portsmouth as of 2022. Portsmouth is home to around 25,000 students attending the University of Portsmouth, ranking impressively in 21st place in the UK in the Guardian’s University league tables for 2020.
The city has so much to offer and without a doubt there is something for everyone.
What is the cost of living in Portsmouth?
The average price for property in Portsmouth stood at £265,299 in April 2022. If you’re looking at renting the average cost to rent is between £451 and £1,480 per calendar month, depending on the type of property you are looking for.
There are multiple ways you can travel around and in and out of Portsmouth and the cost of travel varies depending on the service.
By train: Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth & Southsea serves the dockyard, old town, ferry port, university as well as Gunwharf Quays, and the Portsea areas of the city. Other train stations within the city located across the same line include Fratton, Hilsea and Cosham.
Offering regular services to London (90 minutes on the fast train), Southampton (45 minutes), Cardiff (three and a half hours), Littlehampton (50 minutes) and Brighton (90 minutes). Making it easy to commute for work or pleasure.
The price of a Season Ticket from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo per annum costs around £4,984 according to National Rail. Commuting to Southampton Central from Portsmouth Harbour will cost you around £2,432 per annum with a Season Ticket. If you’re looking at traveling to Littlehampton via Portsmouth Harbour, it will cost £2,000 per annum. And to Brighton from Portsmouth Harbour a season ticket per annum works out at £2,856 all tickets can be purchased directly via National Rail.
By bus: Portsmouth bus routes are covered by two main bus operators – Stagecoach and First Bus. For long-distance journeys coach operators are National Express and Megabus which operate from the coach and bus interchange at The Hard in Portsea, next to Portsmouth Harbour train station.
Portsmouth City Council operates a Park & Ride bus service providing a quick, easy way for visitors and out-of-town shoppers to get to Portsmouth city centre, Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and the Historic Dockyard.
Bus tickets can be purchased daily, monthly, or annually to suit your travel needs. A First Bus Portsmouth annual ticket will cost you around £500, which you can purchase directly from First Bus online.
By car: Portsea Island is connected to mainland Hampshire by the M275. This with the M27 westbound to Fareham, Southampton, and Eastleigh, and on into the New Forest National Park. To the east, it connects with the A27 to Chichester, Brighton, and Eastbourne.
London can be reached in less than two hours via the A3 northbound through the South Downs National Park.
Portsmouth has multiple car parks throughout the city costing around as little as 50p per hour. All car parks and costs can be located on the Portsmouth City Council website.
By air: Southampton Airport is 30 minutes away from Portsmouth by car and an hour away by train.
From here, passengers can reach a variety of domestic and European destinations for low cost. For international flights, Gatwick Airport is less than 90 minutes away by road or rail.
By ferry: Regular ferry crossings are available from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, France and Spain. If you fancy a day out to explore, you can travel from Portsmouth to Ryde on the Isle of Wight for as little as £10.30 for a day return ticket. Find out more information about travelling to the Isle of Wight visit the Wightlink website, and Brittany Ferries to the Channel Islands, France and Spain.
By Hovercraft: The city also has the world’s longest running hovercraft service. Passengers can travel from Clarence Pier in Southsea across to Ryde on the Isle of Wight in just 10 minutes, making it by the fastest option for reaching the island for as little as £24.60 for a return ticket. Use the Hover Travel website for bookings and enquiries.
There is an abundance of coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars throughout Portsmouth varying from well-known chains to independently owned businesses. Why not grab a coffee and a cake in Southsea’s ever popular tearoom, The Tenth Hole located on the Seafront, adjoined to a 9-hole golf course for as little as £6. Or if you’re feeling like getting dressed up for the evening visit Gunwharf Quays and dine in the likes of Brasserie Blanc or Loch Fyne and continue your night in the popular bars and nightclubs such as: All Bar One, The Alchemist, Eden and The Liquorist.
Things to do in Portsmouth
Historical: Within the city of Portsmouth you are surrounded by history visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and journey through time. There are exhibitions, artefacts, and ships of the past, its famous collection includes the 16th-century Mary Rose, Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and the world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, HMS Warrior 1860. Leave nothing undiscovered with a Full Navy Ticket.
Have a taste of Tudor times and visit Southsea Castle, historically also known as Chaderton Castle, South Castle and Portsea Castle, an artillery fort originally constructed by Henry VIII. Alternatively, during the Summer months the courtyard opens its entrance to host the highly popular Southsea Castle Champagne Bar, which hosts live music. Celebrate the summer with a glass of bubbly on the barracks and watch the sunset across the Solent.
Other historic places of interest include Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery, Portsmouth Natural History Museum, Eastney Engine Houses, Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum and the D-Day Story.
Cultural: The Portsmouth Guildhall is a key venue that stages music, comedy and dance performances, as well as events and exhibitions. Its Portsmouth Music Experience gallery introduces the city’s unique music scene and history of the Guildhall as a venue.
If you’re looking for visual arts the Aspex Gallery offers a busy programme of events, workshops, screenings and displays, continue your visual tour and take a short walk from the Aspex Gallery to the Hot Wall Studios bringing together designers in a unique heritage, with its popular café and bar the Canteen just next door if you fancy a bite to eat.
Take a trip to the renowned Wedgewood Rooms, an independent alternative music venue on Albert Road. It has been known to help launch the careers of festival headliners of the future.
During August purchase a ticket for Portsmouth’s very own music festival Victorious. A three-day long festival held in the Castle Field and on Southsea Common, headlined in the past by the likes of Madness, Dizzee Rascal, Kaiser Chiefs and many more well-known bands and artists.
Bars and restaurants also host live music such as The Fat Fox, The Lord John Russel, Rosie’s Vineyard and the Wine Vaults.
Shopping: Gunwharf Quays is a key retail area within the city, it is the South Coast’s leading designer shopping outlet and home to over 90 stores with up to 60% off all day every day.
Further shopping opportunities can be found within the city centre within Portsmouth’s Commercial Road and Cascades Shopping Centre playing host to big brand such as H&M, Primark & Topshop.
If you are looking for something unique travel into Southsea and visit its quirkier independent antique and vintage shops at the western end of Albert Road.
Or venture to Southsea’s Palmerston Road for more big brands, also host to a Waitrose supermarket.
The Bridge Shopping Centre in Fratton also boasts an array of shops including Asda, Clintons Cards, Newlook, Savers and many others.
Cosham High Street is also home to array of well-known brands such as Superdrug, Card Factory, Newlook, Iceland and Costa Coffee.
Be spoilt for choice with Portsmouth’s variety of shopping destinations.
Food and Drink: In addition to the vast choice of shops Gunwharf also accommodates a wide range of eateries, varying from quick bites to elegant evening meals.
Visit Albert Road’s variety of cafes, bars, restaurants, and pubs. Hosting independent restaurants that are extremely popular within the city such as the Gin & Olive and Nicholson’s Tapas restaurant, you will not be disappointed.
The cities Palmerston Road also plays host to an arrange of bars and nightclubs.
Further nightlife areas can be found within the Portsmouth’s Guildhall area, home to one of the city’s most popular nightclub Pryzm.
Sport: The city has several gym facilities for you to choose from such as the Mountbatten Centre, Village Hotel Gym, PureGym and David Lloyd and independently run gyms depending on what it is you are looking for.
Fancy taking in some of the scenery why not take a boat trip? Charters can be arranged from the harbour for fishing, diving, and sightseeing. Yachtsmen and women, motor cruisers or RIB and sports boats users can also enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and convenient location of Southsea, Gunwharf or Port Solent Marina’s.
If you have a passion for water sports you should head to the Southsea Rowing Club, the Portsmouth Watersports Centre or South Coast Wakepark.
There are also great routes around the city for cyclists and runners alike, take in the beautiful scenery along the way.
If those aren’t ticking the boxes for you try Southsea Skate Park, open all year round and welcome to everyone from beginners to pros.
The Southsea Volleyball Courts are also a great place to keep up fitness and entertain the kids.
Looking for something else?
If you still have not quite found what you were looking for try your luck in the Arcade at Southsea’s Clarence Pier, brave the ferris wheel or bumper cars – fun and entertainment for all ages. Or visit the popular Grosvenor Casino located in Gunwharf Quays.
Take a trip up Portsmouth’s iconic Spinnaker Tower, it is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. The towers design reflects Portsmouth’s maritime history by being modelled and named after a spinnaker, a type of sail that balloons outward.
Want to keep the kids entertained? Visit the Southsea Blue Reef Aquarium the ultimate undersea safari.
Gunwharf Quays is also home to the Hollywood Bowl, designed to offer a complete family entertainment experience with each centre offering at least 12 bowling lanes. Or for adults there are large comfy sofas and big screen TV’s, and a stylish bar serving mouth-watering refreshments.
Free things to do in Portsmouth
There are lots of free things you can do within Portsmouth without having to spend out.
Visit Portsdown Hill as mentioned Portsmouth is famous its centuries of naval history, in the past the city has frequently been central to defence against threats of invasion. There are several forts built on Portsdown Hill to defend the city from attack. Fort Nelson has been restored as an artillery museum which is free to enter and see how the fort would have been operated in the 1890s. There is a visitor centre and café alongside the galleries and exhibits – with over 350 guns on display! Portsdown hill also offers stunning views over Portsmouth and the surrounding countryside and is a great place for a picnic.
Southsea castle is free to visit however be aware that it closes for winter, excluding some seasonal opening days in December and January. There is also a café located within the courtyard area.
Portsmouth Natural History Museum – at the Natural History Museum you can discover how nature lives and thrives in the habitats of the local area, from the riverbanks to the woods and explore how wildlife copes in urban areas. There are amazing insights into the nature here that visitors of all ages will love – including the butterfly house. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday all year round and is free to enter. Keep in mind that the butterflies only fly between May and September.
Canoe Lake is also a favourite place to visit by locals and guests to the city. There is a large play area with a sand pit and a zip wire which kids will love. The boating lake is the main attraction to the park and pedal boats can be hired for a small fee; the lake is open all year round. There is also outdoor gym equipment that can be used free of charge.
Located in the centre of the city, Victoria Park is spread over 15 acres. Providing a peaceful space for those in need of a walk or a beauty spot for a picnic. Within centre of the park you’ll find a surprise in the form of an aviary containing peacocks and exotic birds! There is also a small animal area, with rabbits and guinea pigs for the kids to pet and feed.
Visit the Eastney Beam Engine House, Eastney. Admission is free for all. This is a stunning Victorian building that showcases two classic Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps that have been restored to their former glory in 1887. Learn about the history behind these impressive machines and how they were pivotal in managing and preventing contagious diseases in the Victorian era such as cholera.
Portsmouth libraries host a variety of free groups and events for babies, toddlers, and children. Such as Scrabble clubs, or colouring and story time are just some of the free activities.
Visit the Hilsea Lido, there are picnic tables and plenty of space for sunbathing and you are welcome to bring your own seating and picnic. Entry into the lido is low cost and can be accessed by adults and children. For more information visit their website.
Best areas to live in Portsmouth
Portsmouth suits all budgets and there is a huge variety of properties.
Top places to start your property search are…
Southsea: One of the most popular residential areas in the city, and perhaps the trendiest. Its proximity to the university makes Southsea a good area for investment. It has a large student population, especially to the north near the campus and lively Albert Road and Elm Grove.
You will find lot of Victorian and Edwardian style architecture. There are networks of terraced streets offering two and three-bedroom properties, some with bay windows. Perfect for first-time buyers, couples, small families alike and buy-to-let investors.
Southsea also offers a huge variety of flats. Period conversions, modern maisonettes and apartments are all up for grabs here.
Along the seafront roads of Clarence Esplanade and South Parade, Victorian seaside architecture sits side-by-side with modern apartment blocks, such as Homeheights on Clarence Parade. Here and on neighbouring roads such as Auckland Road East and West, prices tend to be higher and student lettings are few and far between.
Southsea is also home to sought after addresses including the magnificent Craneswater Park, with its large Edwardian villas, as well as the grandiose Queens Crescent conservation area. Eastern Parade, close to the canoe lake, also boasts desirable double and triple-fronted villas complete with stunning sea views. These luxury homes often fetch in excess of £1 million.
Gunwharf Quays: Gunwharf Quays is the most prestigious contemporary development in Portsmouth.
The luxury apartments of Brecon House, Anson Court, the Crescent Building and Jupiter Court carry a substantial price tag. However, they also offer spacious living areas with modern fittings, terraces, balconies, and parking spaces.
Residents have direct access to the marina, the iconic Spinnaker Tower and an abundance of retail and leisure amenities. Most highly prized are the apartments that boast panoramic views over the harbour and out across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
Old Portsmouth: The most historic properties can be found within Old Portsmouth – the original 18th-century city location. And is particularly a sought-after area of the city, with large townhouses – many holding fascinating histories and plenty of original features – hitting the market for £700,000-plus.
Fratton: Fratton was formally the industrial area or Portsmouth, now it consists of Victorian terraced houses. It is also home to the Portsmouth Football Club’s ground Fratton Park. Fratton also has its own train station, perfect for individuals who are looking to commute. Fratton is a sought after are for first time buyers and families looking to get onto the property ladder; the average price of a property within Fratton in 2021 was around £183,976.
Milton: Milton is perfect for families seeking a little more space but wanting to remain close to the city hub. Milton is located on the eastern side of Portsea Island.
Featuring both period and modern homes, with three and four bedrooms, and access to green areas such as Milton Common nature reserve. If you’re looking to purchase within the Milton area the average price for property as of September 2021 stood at £257,278.
Stamshaw: Stamshaw is a residential district of Portsmouth, located on the north western corner of Portsea Island. Consisting of terraced housing built during the late 19th century and early 20th century for dockyard workers and their families. Now Stamshaw is a sought-after area for first time-buyers and young families alike with an average house price at £228,423.
Hilsea: Located at the northern end of Portsea Island Hilsea is district within Portsmouth. Hilsea is known for its nature reserve and local public swimming facilities, Hilsea Lido. It is also home to the Mountbatten Centre one of Portsmouth’s most popular recreational facilities. Hilsea is a mixture of residential and industrial areas and one of the major routes into Portsmouth still runs through the area. In addition, a small station serves the area. Properties within Hilsea as of September 2021 had an average house price of £250,281.
Cosham: Cosham is a northern suburb of Portsmouth, located on the opposite side of the M27/A27 Havant Bypass in mainland Hampshire.
It is a large area with modern housing estates and newly built properties as well as 1920 – 30s semis and terrace houses. It’s a great spot for families seeking spacious three and four-bedroom homes with driveways, gardens and good schools nearby with an average house price of £308,257 in September 2021.
Drayton & Farlington: Drayton & Farlington unlike the majority of the city lies on the mainland rather than Portsea Island. Farlington was incorporated into the city in 1932 and now forms a continuous development with Drayton and Cosham. Drayton and Farlington boasts a wide variety of properties including newly built developments. The average cost of a property in 2021 within the Drayton area sits at £349,261 and £354,631 for Farlington.
Drayton & Farlington also has excellent access to major roads and motorways such as the A3(M) and A27.
Paulsgrove: Paulsgrove is an area of northern Portsmouth which lies on the mainland. Paulsgrove previously existed as a small hamlet on the old Portsmouth to Southampton road for many years. Modern day Paulsgrove has an array of local amenities and is also nearby to the local Hospital Queen Alexandra. Houses within Paulsgrove are mainly semi-detached or terrace properties, making them very attractive to first-time buyers and young families. It also has a local Primary and Secondary School. The local property price average as of 2021 stood at £218,717 for the Paulsgrove area.
We hope that you will love the Portsmouth area and everything it has to offer as much as we do.