Southsea – a guide for visiting this seaside resort in 2023

Southsea Pier

Southsea is a seaside resort with a twist - yes you've got the tourist attractions and the traditional seaside fare, but there is also a real lived-in, trendy feel to the area which we really love. It's a great place to visit for a bit of everything, whether you're looking to relax on the beach, visit some historical sites, or do a bit of shopping, Southsea has it all. We wanted to publish a guide about Southsea for anyone planning to visit in 2023. Let's get into it:

Where is Southsea?

You'll find Southsea about 2 miles to the South of Portsmouth's city centre, in the county of Hampshire. It's almost 2 hours exactly from here to London by car, so it's quite a popular weekend trip for many people from the capital.

What is there to see and do in Southsea?

Despite being a relatively small area of Portsmouth, there is quite a bit to see and do in Southsea. Here are some of the highlights:

Head along the seafront

There is quite a bit to see and do along the seafront, with Southsea Common being a great place to visit in particular - you'll often find events being held in this park throughout the year, but even when an event isn't on, it's a great place for a relaxing stroll. Clarence Pier is a great traditional pier with plenty of arcades, lots of rides, and all the unhealthy (but tasty) food and drink that you'd expect to find at a place like this. Some of the rides could maybe do with a bit of a refresh, but honestly, we think this is all part of the charm. It's not too expensive and if you've got kids with you it is definitely worth a visit. If you head West along the seafront you'll reach Eastney Beach, a very nice pebble beach which is great for a quiet walk (although if you walk all the way along you'll eventually reach a nudist beach). And of course, the South Parade Pier is not to be missed fo a range of interesting shops and places to grab a bite to eat, as well as the views across the sea. It's also enjoyable to watch people fishing off the pier or to get involved yourself.

Head to the museums

One of the interesting things about Southsea is that you've got quite a significant amount of museums all within a concentrated area, and we'd say all of them are worth a look. If you're interested in military history, the D-Day Story museum on the Clarence Esplanade is a great place to visit for an in-depth look at Operation Overlord which took place during the Normandy D-Day landings. You can also visit the impressive Landing Craft Tank LCT 7074, which is the last surviving Landing Craft Tank from D-Day. Elsewhere, the Eastney Engine Houses museum is a fascinating building which is home to 2 150 hp James Watt & Co. beam engines dating from the Victorian period. If you're an engine geek this is a great place to head. The Cumberland House Natural History Museum has some amazing displays to see, including a section dedicated to Dinosaurs as well as the Observational Beehive and The Butterfly House.

Visit Southsea Castle

This amazing fortification was built in the 16th century by Henry VIII to protect England's coasts, and upon visiting Southsea Castle you'll certainly get the sense that it was quite effective at keeping people out - it's an impressive piece of architecture. The history attached to Southsea Castle is very interesting and is outlined via a number of displays within the fortification, but even if you're not particularly interested in the history of the castle you should still visit Southsea Castle for the amazing views you can enjoy across to The Isle of Wight. We really recommend a visit, and it's also free to enter the castle which is great. Learn more here -

Go shopping

In recent years you could find both a John Lewis and Debenhams in Southsea, but both have closed and are being converted into other things. However, that isn't to say that there is no longer any good shopping to be had in Southsea - in fact, the closure of the large department stores has probably been quite good for the smaller independent shops. For example, the area is full of great gift shops such as Coastal Remedy and Southsea Rock, where you can pick up locally made items ranging from a stick of rock to a bath bomb. Bored of Southsea is a skate and clothing shop which, as the name suggests, has a lot of attitude and is a lot of fun. There is still a New Look in Southsea if you're looking for something a bit more straightforward, but smaller clothing shops like Dress Code Folio, and Strong Island might be a bit more interesting.

Go to The Kings Theatre

Open since the early 20th century, The Kings Theatre is one of the most popular arts venues in the whole of Portsmouth. Throughout the year you'll find a range of shows and performances taking place here, with everything from stand-up comedy to ballet theatre and more. Even if you don't fancy seeing a show, the building itself is well worth having a look at - it's a Grade II* listed building and very photogenic. Learn more and book tickets for a show here -

Head to the restaurants

You're only a short bus journey away from some great restaurants in Portsmouth, but if you'd rather eat in Southsea then you've actually got some great options, particularly along the seafront. If you're wanting to be nearer to the sea, restaurants such as Restaurant 27, The Briny, and The Courtyard are all within reach of the seafront, and are all good choices. The Southsea Beach Cafe is great for a more casual option, as is The Jolly Sailor. Sopranos, The Rocka Restaurant, and Marmion House are good options which are a little further inland.
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant area of Portsmouth. If you're looking for other great areas of cities to visit, check out our guide to North Laine in Brighton and Liverpool's Chinatown. If you want to visit other seaside locations in England then you can check out our guides to towns like Cromer, Worthing, or Sidmouth.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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